THE ABSURD TIMES — STILL

AUSTERITY V. GREECE

Posted in Uncategorized by @honestcharlie on July 1, 2015

THE ABSURD TIMES

Illustration: Latuff on the Swedish boat trying to reach Gaza.

AUSTERITY V. GREECE

BY

CZAR DONIC, PM[1]

I had already written a version of this but, when I tried to insert the documentation (below), it replaced it. So, here goes again.

First, the question posed in the last article was which was the third country attacked? Kuwait, or province 16. That’s the country where the Ambassador’s daughter appeared before a Congressional committee and cried about incubators. It was a lie of course. The leader regularly kept three wives and a spare who was rotated. He was in the process of replacing one of them when one of his permanent wives reminded his that the prospected bride was, in fact, his daughter.

The problem, this time, was that it was another Shia Mosque that the Neo-Wahabbi Daesh bombed. Now, al Sadr has decided to kill the leader of the Caliphate, so to speak. This al Sadr means business and Saddam Hussein respected both him and his father.

GREECE

The last time we even considered economics here we printed essays on austerity by three Nobel laureates. To the extent that their advice was followed, economies somewhat improved.

Now, the EU, especially Luxemburg (the new Switzerland regarding money) opposed Greece’s “leftist” Prime Minister by demanding cuts in penions. What they don’t tell you is that such a reduction would amount to about one half of one percent of the debt over ten years, a pittance for the wealthy, but a matter of life or death for many of the citizens and, as a result, the P.M. The move is designed to embarrass him. They can not tolerate this concern for the people, and put him in the category of “Socialist,” why even “Scandanavian”. There is no truth to the rumor that Angela Merkel, Prussian though she may be, is considering adoption of the Confederate Battle Flag for Germany.

Having no option left, he called for a referendum giving the people the choice between accepting this blackmail or retaining him as P.M. They would not have both. The EU, or Euro hounds, called this a “Betrayal.” Stocks world wide have plummeted. Now there may be another avenue involving another branch of the system that has some political background and not just Kapitalistic agendas. The vote is scheduled for Saturday. If you have seen the demonstrations in Greece, you have seen signs saying “OXI” This means “NO”, and very strongly.

The last proposal was made this morning and refused, even though it met all of the demands. Humiliation of “Leftist” ideas is clearly the EU agenda here. For those who think it is about money, consider that Greece amounts to 2% of the EU’s GDP. Also, China creates within itself another Greek economy every six weeks. No, with several elections coming up, including Spain, and leftist candidates popular, this is a purely political attack.

Here is the interview with information not available on any corporate press:

TUESDAY, JUNE 30, 2015

As Greece Heads for Default, Voters Prepare to Vote in Pivotal Referendum on More Austerity

Tens of thousands of Greeks have protested against further austerity cuts ahead of a key referendum on a new European bailout. The demonstrations come as the country confirms it will not meet the deadline for a $1.8 billion loan repayment due by 6 p.m. Eastern time tonight, deepening Greece’s fiscal crisis and threatening its exit from the eurozone. Greece will hold a vote this Sunday on whether to accept an austerity package of budget cuts and tax hikes in exchange for new loans. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has urged a “no” vote, calling the proposal a surrender. We go to Greece to speak with Costas Panayotakis, professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of “Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.”

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMYGOODMAN: We begin today’s show in Greece, where tens of thousands of Greeks protested Monday against further austerity cuts. The demonstrations come as the country confirms it will not meet the deadline for a $1.8 billion loan repayment due by 6:00 p.m. Eastern time tonight.

NIKO: [translated] We have come here today because we want to tell the government and the whole of Europe that the government must not back down. Austerity is destroying people. And this must end. The Greek people have suffered a lot.

AMYGOODMAN: The European Commission wants Greece to accept an austerity package in exchange for new loans that would help it avoid a default. But Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has refused to accept the bailout deal, calling it a, quote, “humiliation.” Over the weekend, Tsipras announced a national referendum set for this Sunday on whether Greece should accept the terms of a new bailout. The European Central Bank followed by rejecting Greece’s request to extend an emergency loan program until after the vote. In response, Tsipras announced the closure of Greek banks and the stock market, as well as restrictions on bank transfers. During a nationally televised interview Monday night, Tsipras called the rejection of a loan extension “blackmail” and called for Greeks to vote no this Sunday.

PRIMEMINISTERALEXISTSIPRAS: [translated] If the Greek people want to proceed with austerity measures in perpetuity, with austerity plans which will leave us unable to lift our heads, to have thousands of young people leaving for abroad, to have high unemployment rates and new programs and loans, if this is their choice, we will respect it, but we will not be the ones to carry it out. On the other hand, if we want to claim a new, dignified future for our country, then we will do that all together. People have power in their hands when they decide to use it.

AMYGOODMAN: Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel played down prospects of a breakthrough with Greece in the coming days, but said she would restart talks after Sunday’s referendum.

CHANCELLORANGELAMERKEL: [translated] This generous offer was our contribution towards a compromise, so it must be said that the will for a compromise on the Greek side was not there. We made clear today that if the Greek government seeks more talks after the referendum, we will of course not say no to such negotiations.

AMYGOODMAN: Well, for more, we go directly to Greece, just outside Sparta, where we’re joined by Costas Panayotakis. He is a professor of sociology at the New York City College of Technology at CUNY and author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Costas. Can you just describe what’s happening right now in Greece?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Well, there are capital controls, and the ATMs were closed yesterday, so there is a limit to how much money Greeks can withdraw—60 euros. But tourists can withdraw from foreign accounts, can withdraw, you know, as much as they have in their accounts. Beyond that, politically speaking, there is lots of tension, but the situation, even though it’s an unprecedented situation, it was very orderly. And it was remarkable, actually, on a day when, you know, a government closed down the banks, that there was a massive rally in support of the government, because people are very simply tired and exhausted and angry with austerity measures that have devastated Greek society. So, this is, you know, in a nutshell, some of the things that have been going on in the last few hours.

AMYGOODMAN: So, people are allowed—Greeks are allowed to take out 60 euros from the bank. That’s what? Like 67 U.S. dollars. What has been the response in the streets? I mean, you have a lot of developments here, with the referendum being called for Sunday, mass protests taking place.

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: I lost the connection.

AMYGOODMAN: What has been the response in the streets, Costas?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Well, I think it’s a mixed response. On the one hand, of course, there is anxiety and people, you know, going to the ATMs and trying to get money, and some degree of frustration. But there is also some understanding that the previous policies were not working. So, it’s a mixed response. The same people oftentimes have contradictory feelings. And, of course, there is also a divide within Greek society, with some people being in support of the government and its decisive stand, and others are being more critical.

AMYGOODMAN: Can you explain exactly what the referendum puts to the people of Greece Sunday?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Yeah. There are two documents with the proposals of the Europeans regarding what should have been the measures adopted by the Greek government in order to get the latest installment of the loan that it would need to keep servicing its debt in the coming months. And this has very heavy, very harsh measures. The idea that Chancellor Merkel, as in your clip, suggested that this was a generous offer would seem like a cruel joke to all Greeks, even opponents of the government. We are talking about, you know, reducing pensions even further. We are talking about escalation of sales taxes. We’re talking about undermining the livelihood of people who have seen their living standards already decrease dramatically in the last five years.

AMYGOODMAN: On Monday, the EU Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, accused the Greek government of betraying efforts to broker a deal.

JEAN-CLAUDEJUNCKER: [translated] This isn’t a game of liar’s poker. There isn’t one winner and another one who loses. Either we are all winners or we are all losers. I am deeply distressed, saddened by the spectacle that Europe gave last Saturday. In a single night, the European conscience has taken a heavy blow. Goodwill has somewhat evaporated.

AMYGOODMAN: That’s the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker. Costas, can you respond?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Well, I think there is a contradiction in his speech. He starts, as in this clip, to try to seem like he’s above this dispute and claiming he wants to bring the two sides together, but then, a few minutes later into the same speech, he basically attacked the Greek government as basically lying to Greek people as to what the terms were, and that even as—even foreign journalists, from Financial Times and elsewhere, pointed out that he was the one who was lying when he claimed that there was not a proposal to cut Greek pensions. So, I mean, there is an element of hypocrisy there. And we also have to keep in mind that Juncker was the prime minister of Luxembourg, which has been a tax haven that has systematically undercut the finances of other European nations, that’s, you know, mightily contributed to the debt crisis that now he claims to want to resolve.

AMYGOODMAN: On Monday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras responded to critics who say Greece could be pushed out of the eurozone.

PRIMEMINISTERALEXISTSIPRAS: [translated] The economic cost if the eurozone is dismantled, the cost of a country in default, which to the European Central Bank alone owes more than 120 billion euros, is enormous, and this won’t happen, in my view. My personal view is that their plan is not to push Greece out of the eurozone; their plan is to end hope that there can be a different kind of policy in Europe.

AMYGOODMAN: Professor Costas Panayotakis, respond.

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Yeah, I think—I think Syriza was a little over-optimistic, to begin with, as to the possibility of reversing austerity within the eurozone, and this has created difficulties for them. But I think it’s probably true that Chancellor Merkel, especially, and other leaders would not want to be responsible for the rupture of the eurozone, both for economic reasons that the prime minister mentioned but also for geopolitical reasons.

AMYGOODMAN: So what does this mean for this experiment, for the whole Syriza movement that has arisen in Greece? What do you think is going to happen? And how would you evaluate the prime minister, Alexis Tsipras?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Well, for a long time, Syriza had been making significant concessions to the eurozone’s austerity agenda. I mean, the final offer that the Greek side made, you know, had made significant concessions when compared to the platform of the party. I mean, this is—we are talking about a country that has over 25 percent unemployment, and yet the Greek government was willing to basically propose budget surpluses. I mean, this is a policy—this is not wild leftist. This is a policy well to the right of Keynesian economics. But unfortunately in the eurozone today, there is no real democracy, because basically Keynesianism is bound out of court, and basically what would be a policy that would appeal to the far right of the Republican Party in the U.S. is the only economic policy that is allowed by the eurozone, even though this policy is basically destroying European societies. And Greece is a good example of that.

AMYGOODMAN: So, your book, Costas, is called Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy. What would you say is happening with Greece right now?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Yeah, I mean, my book was a critique of neoclassical economics, which is based on the concept of scarcity and argues that basically the free market is the best way to make effective use of scarce resources. And what we’ve seen, of course, with the Greek crisis is a precise refutation of this claim. An economy where 25 percent of the labor force cannot find a job, even though they need to, they want—they would love to work, obviously, it’s not going to—it’s not an efficient economy. An economy where, you know, the most educated young people have to leave the country, after the country invested in their education, and go somewhere else is clearly not an efficient economy. So, even though my book was not specifically on Greece—it did mention Greece, but it was not just on Greece—I think Greece is a good example of how mythical the neoliberal claim is that free markets lead to efficient use of scarce resources.

AMYGOODMAN: If you might look through the crystal ball for us, Costas, in this last minute we have, what do you think will happen on Sunday? And ultimately, what’s going to happen in Greece?

COSTASPANAYOTAKIS: Well, the first question is whether the referendum will happen on Sunday. I think the European response clearly makes it clear that they want to sabotage the very possibility of a referendum. And, you know, the situation is very, very much in flux. Things have been very orderly, as I said, which is—it is good for the government, and it increases the likelihood of, you know, a “no” vote. But it would be, of course, unwise to try to make a prediction.

And I think one of the factors that will play a role is that if there is a “yes” vote to these measures, Prime Minister Tsipras has said that he would not continue being prime minister, so that would add to economic disruption the possibility of political instability, because then you might need to have new elections. And then you might have a situation where Syriza wins again, because that’s what recent polls have shown. So, I think people who are concerned about economic disruption, or even political instability, may actually find out that—may actually realize that even if they feel frustrated, you know, a “yes” vote would not necessarily solve the problem as they perceive it.

AMYGOODMAN: Costas Panayotakis, I want to thank you for being with us, author of Remaking Scarcity: From Capitalist Inefficiency to Economic Democracy, professor of sociology at New York City’s College of Technology at CUNY. This isDemocracy Now! When we come back, another deadline looms. It’s in Iran. That’s where we’re going. Stay with us.

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