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Whose fault is Greece?

Nearly everyone is beating up on Greece. The media paint Greeks as spoiled-brat children, who don’t work or pay taxes and live off the generosity of others. Reality doesn’t actually work that way; there isn’t much real charity in the world, and the Vatican, not European governments, dispenses most of what there is.

Like the crooked mortgage lenders who trolled poor neighborhoods peddling offers of “free” cash with hidden strings attached, and the banks who bought and resold that paper, Greece’s lenders were in it for themselves. Greeks have been targets of exploitation by European moneylenders for centuries. You can read a synopsis of that sordid history here.

This time around was no different from when Greece, a small fish swimming in a large sea, had an imported king imposed on it who promptly put the country into debt to finance his home country’s army. The main purpose of Greece’s EU membership is to create another market for bigger EU countries with goods to unload. That’s why the EU is trying so hard to keep Greece in the EU — not because of any affection for Greeks. Specifically,  “In 2010 Greece was ‘rescued’ by loans from their European partners and the IMF, whose main motivation may have been to provide breathing room for French and German banks that were heavily exposed to Greek debt.” (Same link as above.) This is pure self-interested capitalism, not charity, at work.

In fact, there is zero charity in the EU’s negotiating position. To the contrary, the EU creditors, led by Germany, have insisted on terms that impose extreme suffering on the Greek people: “The debt that remained was unsustainable under any reasonable scenario about growth and two centuries of prior history suggests the logical policy would have been to default and restructure the debt to a sustainable level.” But no. While these governments have been reluctantly willing to let private bondholders take a haircut, so far they haven’t written off a single penny of the debt Greece owes to sovereign entities.

Is this fair? After all, Greece did borrow from them. Not really, for lots of reasons, beginning with the fact (as I pointed out above) that the EU has treated Greece as a trade colony to absorb their economies’ surpluses, and ending with the fact that they have pushed this debt onto Greece and mistreated the Greeks in the process: “Greeks have been ill served by their European allies, the IMF, and their government. By failing to acknowledge the inevitable in 2010 and assuming that Greece could reform itself and begin growing again and service its existing debt, the European allies and the government simply extended the pain and increased the damage to the Greek economy.”

In other words, the Greek crisis is all about big countries exploiting a little country. And wealthy people exploiting poor people. It isn’t pensioners and wage earners who go to sovereign banks and walk out with multibillion-euro loans. Such things are always conceived and engineered by wealthy elites and their political lackeys. Until three months ago, Greece had a conservative government.

Greeks aren’t stupid. They know they’ve been played. In April, they elected a new government led by a young politician who, over the last few weeks, has shown some balls while going toe-to-toe with the EU’s thugs. When he hit a wall of intransigence, he called a snap referendum on the EU’s latest blackmail offer. This put everyone in a tizzy, not least the financial media that kowtows to banksters and corporate interests. That media, by the way, fed the world a line that “polls” indicated the Greek vote was at best for Tsipras a dead heat, accompanied by predictions that “No” would lose and his government would fall, to be replaced by more tractable lackeys. Yesterday, shockingly to some, the little people of Greece voted for their nation’s independence and their own personal survival.

Now, the finance ministers, banksters, pundits, and media flacks are all wringing their hands. Trust me, they’ll return to the bargaining table, and there’ll be no global financial meltdown, because it’s not in their self-interest to walk away from the $360 billion or so they foolishly lent to Greece for the purpose of equity-stripping that country. What is there to talk about? This: “In a report last week, the IMF conceded that it’s likely the international creditors will have to ‘take a haircut’ by reducing the principal amount of the debt they hold so Greece can make its payments.” (Click here for story.)

Of course, those “international creditors” (i.e., the large EU member governments, principally Germany and France, the European Central Bank, and other sovereign entities) could have saved the Greek people from a lot of real-life suffering, could have saved the global financial markets from a lot of turmoil, and could have minimized their own losses if they had done this in the first place. It was only their unwillingness to give up even a penny of debt that obviously couldn’t be paid in order to save what could be saved that created this crisis in the first place and dragged it out for several years. And not a little of this stupid policy was driven by conservative political ideology and its unbending insistence on discredited austerity economics (which, of course, always means austerity for other people and never for those imposing it).

By the way, the 1.6 billion euro debt payment Greece missed last week isn’t that much more than the $1 billion of their personal funds that Charles and David Koch have vowed to spend next year to elect a conservative austerity government here in the United States. If they paid that $1 billion to Uncle Sam as taxes, instead of spending it to buy control of our government, and Congress passed it on to the IMF (a government-funded quasi-public entity) — or even if they and Congress didn’t — the IMF could easily delay or write off that payment and allow Greek banks to reopen so millions of Greeks can get cash to buy food. Greeks are starving because the IMF is part of the cabal trying to coerce them into signing the bankers’ papers shoved in front of them, kind of like an unscrupulous police detective who refuses to feed a prisoner or let him go to the bathroom until he signs a confession for a crime he didn’t commit.

Are the Greece totally innocent victims of EU greed? Mmmmmm, nnnnnnnn, uhhhhhh, not exactly. But let’s remember who, in the Greek power structure, played along with Europe’s banksters and hucksters. In one sentence, not the pensioners, wage earners, or unemployed. Greece, like any other country, is run by a rich elite; in Greece’s case, by people who exacerbated their country’s financial problems by dodging the taxes they were legally obligated to pay. There are some guilty, we can even call them evil, Greeks in this picture. But they’re not the little people.

The answer to the question posed by the headline of this article is: It’s the fault of the usual suspects — the rich and powerful greedheads who run pretty much everything everywhere. In summary, the Greek people in the main deserve our sympathy, while the European and global banksters and their captive governments do not.

oxi-greece-referen_3365503bYesterday, it was the little people who voted “No.” And by doing so, they said, “Yes, we’ve had enough.”

Carry on, little people.

Photo: Greeks celebrating the victory of “No”

 

 

Comment posted on the Horsesass.org blog: “Perhaps Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande might consider repayment terms similar to those offered to Germany in the London Debt Agreement of 1953, wherein German repayments were only due in periods of German trade surplus and could not exceed 3% of export earnings. But of course that’s ridiculous. After all, a big country like Germany can’t continue to run massive trade surpluses by allowing the littles a piece of the action.”

 

 


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