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The crisis in Ireland and Greece. What is really going on?
by Newropeans-Magazine
2011-01-17 08:39:23
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Being a Greek living in Ireland, I am only able to feel double disappointment and anger lately. Last year I had to watch the country I originally come from being humiliated with the IMF loan, this year is the turn of the country I chose to live in. In both cases the citizens were the ones who had to pay for the mistakes and mismanagement of their politicians. If we study what happened in Greece and how things have evolved there, can we expect similar events in Ireland?

In Greece from a “sluggish” economy and a public that favored its socialist structures, things have transformed in a way which can only be compared to what happened in Britain during the Thatcher government in the ‘80s: Mass privatizations, high unemployment and social unrest. For the first time we have things that existed in Britain decades ago, like private parking companies, the destruction of the public sector, the sell off of all national resources and companies and the devolution of the local governments.

Speaking with family and friends from Greece, I am sad that I have to keep listening to frightening news. The public sector employees are particularly hard hit. The public sector is quite large in Greece, but that does not justify pay cuts that in some cases are reaching amounts up to 40% of the original salaries, while the VAT on basic supplies like food is up to 23%.  Pensions and social welfare benefits are also cut and the general climate and feeling among the public is fear, uncertainty and anger. Households do not know how to make ends meet, and they are bracing themselves for 2011 and the new cuts and measures announced by the Government.

In Ireland the Government only announced its new budget this week, and even though the new measures are not as drastic as in Greece, the feelings among the general public are the same. Will more cuts follow a year later like Greece? And why none of the bankers or politicians that are responsible for the current situation is being brought to justice? In Iceland they are taking their former Prime Minister Mr. Geir Haarde to court over negligence that led to the country’s financial collapse. Can we see anything like that in Greece or Ireland? And while the European Parliament warned that austerity might harm growth, why such measures are being forced upon us?

Many say those measures are necessary to save the economy of those countries, the euro and Europe's economy. But why must be the people who will carry the weight of all this and not those responsible? Will Greece for example become like Britain after the Thatcherite years? Has Athens the potential in becoming the London of the Balkans in the future? And if it does, will they allow it to happen? Is this in reality just a transformation period, to change dramatically the economies of countries that for so many years had outdated or dysfunctional financial policies that were hindering their growth? Or are they a part of the plan to promote new social policies in Greece, Ireland and in Europe in general?

There are rumors in Greece that big multinational companies are behind all this that are after the oil and natural gas of the Aegean, and the uranium and gold of the Greek region of Macedonia. They want to bring the country to its knees, make it bankrupt so Greece will be force to sell off all its natural resources for nothing to those companies, exactly as they did to many African countries before. And the same rumors exist here in Ireland about the natural gas reserves. Could this be really as sinister? Other folk in Greece talk about financial slavery and I agree with that. Greece and Ireland have lost their sovereignty to the global marketeers, who can now control their policies and tell them what to do. You cut the salaries, but you raise the taxes. How will people spend their money if they have none, and how can this help the economy recover?

If we add to the mix the financial war to bring down the euro, and the fact that especially Greece has been loathed by the global marketeers for its socialistic attitude and policies so far, we can see that there is definitely a plan. Change the attitude and the habits of the Greeks and make them become like the Germans or Americans. Having one work is not enough to make ends meet in Greece. Studying does not guarantee you a secure career since there are no jobs. The affair of the Greek public with its public sector will end abruptly since the salaries will not be as attractive anymore, the public sector will shrink dramatically and we do not even know if there is going to be permanency in the future. Can the Greeks though be forced to live like the Americans or other northern European nations? Why Europe and the west love them for everything that this nation gave to the world and the western culture, but also loath them because the Greeks do not fit in the Westerners' version of their ancient culture?

 The situation indeed in Greece sounds like a genocide. How can you expect a young couple to start a family when they can not even sustain themselves and expect them to work until late in their 60s while it is not even guaranteed that they are gong to get a pension. Why the only acceptable system is the extreme capitalism and liberalism, and all other political ideas must either be crushed or become outcast like the case of Cuba? And if those new measures are necessary, why at least the Greek politicians don't take cuts like their counterparts in Ireland did, even if the amount of their salaries they agreed to be axed is purely symbolic? If the country is really sinking, how come it is the people on lower income that must pull the country out of the difficult situation?

Who is benefiting from all this mess? And where this will stop? To Portugal, Spain, Italy or Belgium? Will we see other countries suffer the fate of Greece and Ireland? In Greece we had very successful retail companies and light industries and also a huge retail market dominated still by small businesses. All that has been destroyed, small companies are being closed down by the financial turmoil, so large multinationals can eventually penetrate and take over. German, French, British and American companies will replace the small local boutiques and shoe shops of Greece, creating a common fashion to all western countries. They will suggest to us what to wear and become "European", wear what huge retail chains in Europe sell like H&M and M&S. Why? I have always cherished the variety of types of clothes and shoes that existed in Greece, rather to the boring fashion trends of Europe. And besides, we do not need to become "Europeans" we already are! We just follow a different approach in what is called "western culture", a more laid back and humane, comparing to the aggressive, competitive, controlling but stressful "anglosaxon" version of it.

In Ireland on the other hand, the bail out is not to save the allegedly bankrupt Irish state, but its banks and the foreign investors shares in them. So in a way, the Irish public will have to pay to save the shares of American, British, French and German investors in their banking system. Who are those investors and why do they think that they can force a nation pay for their investments? Why Ireland did not invest in a real economy and utilize its natural resources, rather it created a bubble economy, with no real substance and future? Why do the Irish must suffer constant changes from boom to bust and vice versa, while they could have a stable economy and avoid emigration, recession and inequality? Who profits from this financial circle that countries like Greece and Ireland must go through roughly every one or two decades? Who are at last those people who control the financial fortunes and future of this planet and order each state to act  according their plans?



Christos Mouzeviris
Dublin, Ireland

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