Greece Debt Crisis – Why It Matters
Unless you’ve lived under a rock for the last month or so, you’ve probably heard in some capacity about the Greece debt crisis. But in the middle of Bruce Jenner’s sex change and Gay marriage becoming legal in America, the ramifications (regardless on which way the Greek people decide) on today’s referendum are potentially watershed in the way our societies operate. Yes, our societies. The result of this referendum will have (albeit probably indirect) an impact on us all.
I won’t bore you with a history lesson on the situation at hand. This is the home of the Boob Review, not Greek History in the 21st century. But we do need to go over some numbers here so you can get somewhat of a concept of the magnitude of the situation. Greece was flattened hard by the GFC in 2008. There’s no other way to describe it. As a result, a country that not too long ago hosted the Olympic games was forced into taking a bailout to stay afloat. Greece’s total debt stands at 352 Billion dollars. The 1.9 Billion that it owed the IMF last month was not paid, and there is an 8.5 Billion dollar payment due to the ECB by August. These numbers are extraordinary, and quite frankly, unrealistic when you take into account how badly the Greece economy has shrunk in the last few years.
A major reason for the shrinkage (self high-five for the Seinfeld reference) in the Greece economy has been the stipulations of those loans that included tax increases and cuts to wages and pensions. If the same cuts were imposed in the U.S. over the past few years, we would have seen the hourly minimum wage drop from $7.25 to $5.66, the average government worker’s annual salary decrease from $51,340 to $43,639, and the average senior citizen’s monthly check drop from $1,294 to $776. So while the bailout money kept Greece afloat over the past five years, the larger scheme didn’t work. Greece was able to keep making payments to its creditors, but its overall financial situation continued to spiral downward. Its economy shrunk by a quarter in the past five years, one in four Greeks are unemployed, and as of 2013, 44 percent of Greeks were living below the poverty line. Yeah, I’m really shaking my head in confusion as to why this country can’t meet those repayments. What is actually perplexing is how these geniuses that lend this money out, how they come up with such ground-breaking ways to encourage repayments by further shrinking economies. It’s essentially making someone that is hungry starve in hope that they will become even more desperate and will agree to even more destructive terms in hopes of being fed. It’s wrong on so many levels (and this is coming from someone that has always voted for conservative).
But the most disturbing element of those cuts is how the individuals (once again) are the ones left to make the sacrifices to get their country out of the mess that the politicians and investment bankers got them in. My frustration of the situation is amplified when I look at attempts of control by the banks (particularly the ones in Germany) over the Greek population.The aforementioned cuts to the Greek economy (which is effectively strangling the economy there) along with the closing of Greek banks so individuals can’t even access their own personal money, is nothing short of disgusting. For centuries, money represented opportunity and security. Now, with the combination of unprecedented greed and wealth inequality, it represents power and control. For centuries, banks and other lending institutions have tried similar tactics over individuals, but not entire developed countries. If banks suddenly now have this kind of power over societies, then you can kiss democracy goodbye (which is oh-so ironic because capitalism has always been connected with democracy and creating freedoms).
What all of this exposes is how extreme greed for power and money is crippling society. And quite honestly, we can remove money out of the sentence. It’s not greed of money now. It’s just greed of power. In the history of humanity, there has never been a time where there has been more money in the world than right now. So how is it possible with all this wealth, that we have countries bankrupt? How is it possible that we still have people unable people not receiving health care because they can’t afford it? How is it possible that we are progressively getting dumber as education continues to get cut and become much more standardised? It’s because the distribution of wealth has become so unequal that it is forcing society to capitulate. When there is a more even distribution of wealth, that creates more expendable cash and vibrant economies, which allows people to spend their money on products and services (or, in Greece’s case, pay back loans). But the problem with such unbelievable greed is they want to create a system of power and dependency on them so they can excerpt such extreme power. As I said before, it’s disgusting.
So that brings us back to Greece, and how it affects us. If Greece does pull out of the EU and tells those banks to get fucked (which is essentially what their current politicians are even hoping for), perhaps they can rebuild. But what it could mean is hope. Hope that banks can’t dictate to countries (and perhaps individuals) how they can live their lives. I’m all for loans to be repaid. But I’m also for equal responsibility with these loans. If a bank is reckless with lending, then they should be accountable when payments can’t be made. It’s simple. The problem is they will not accept this as it’s not in their interests. Fair enough. But guess what; it’s not in Greece’s interests to pay back this loan either. So we have a choice: A loan is not paid back, or 10 million people suffer as Greece continues to spiral downward, And Greece would just be the beginning. Look at the debt figures for the United States. Imagine if the economy starts to choke there. I’m not prepared to see society unravel before my eyes in order to appease some pieces of shit who think they have any more right to be on this earth than you, or me, or anyone else. And that is why the referendum in Greece matters to us all.