On Sunday, Greece voted ‘NO’ to the big banks’ austerity measures and their rigged system of socialized risk and privatized profit. Why? Because so many in Greece are now so desperately poor, they’ve got nothing to lose.
Reuters reports a whopping 61 percent of Greek voters soundly rejected the demands of the creditors hovering like vultures over the not-quite-financially-dead-yet carcass of their nation:
Greeks overwhelmingly rejected conditions of a rescue package from creditors on Sunday, throwing the future of the country’s euro zone membership into further doubt and deepening a standoff with lenders.
As Reuters’ newscaster explains (in the video below), people in Greece are fed up with years of misery, sacrifice and belt-tightening to pay off the excesses of a bubble the banks — with the backing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and their nation’s greedy elite — helped create.
“For millions of Greeks, Sunday’s outcome was an angry message to creditors: ‘We’ll no longer accept repeated rounds of austerity measures that in five years have left one in four jobless.’”
Of course the dry phrase “austerity measures” lacks emotional resonance. But a woman expresses her amazement that pollsters ever could have thought the vote would be close, and explains the hardships facing the people of Greece to Reuters in a far more succinct way:
“How can we expect ‘YES’ to win, when we’ve had 10,000 suicides, three million people living under the poverty line, and 1.5 million on food handouts?”
The folks running the big banks have forgotten what any smart business person should know: When people have nothing left to lose, they’re free to say, do and vote however the heck they want.
Yahoo News adds that Greece voting “no” on the referendum in such high numbers is a huge victory for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his far-left party, Syriza. On national TV, Tsipras triumphantly announced the yes/no referendum he put up for vote a scant few days ago:
“Today we celebrate the victory of democracy, a bright day in the history of Europe. We proved even in the most difficult circumstances that democracy won’t be blackmailed.”
Yet — although Tsipras still hopes to leverage his strong support from the people of Greece to negotiate a better deal with the EU, the IMF and the big banks that’s more fair and which involves less suffering for his people — Greece is still in danger of getting cut off from the EU and becoming an economic pariah.
Alas, you can vote for an FDR-like “New Deal” and demand economic expansion from your government until you’re blue in the face, but that won’t give your government the funds or the financial backing (which comes, alas, from the very banks the people of Greece are rejecting) required to get the job done.
Here’s the video with the news report on Greece’s “no” vote on Tsipras’ yes/no referendum from Reuters.
Why The People Of Greece Voted “No,” And Why It Matters.
The thing is, the “no” vote is not just about the people of Greece feeling the pinch of a never-ending recession. If that were the case, American workers would have revolted in a similar fashion years ago. Greece’s massive “no” vote at the polls on July 5th also has a lot to do with national pride and the desire for self-rule.
As Matthew Yglesias explains on Vox, both right- and left-leaning economists (most notably, Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman) thought cramming all of Europe into the European Union and melding all their currencies was a doomed — or at least highly challenging — endeavor. Ygelsias also points out that one of the main sticking points is that Greece’s economy isn’t nearly as well-developed as richer countries like Germany, the UK and the Netherlands. Because of that, Greece has been under immense pressure to reform, increase their productivity, and boost their economic growth since joining the EU.
But is that fair, or even feasible?
Here in the U.S., Yglesias elaborates, we also have drastic regional differences in terms of culture, wealth, worker productivity, and economic output that vary from state to state. Yet things work most of the time because wealthy states with high levels of productivity and growth like New York, Massachusetts and California are mostly fine with subsidizing poorer states like Kentucky, Alabama, and South Carolina, even though some states pay way less in federal taxes than they receive in benefits.
Alas, richer EU nations like Germany and the Netherlands aren’t willing to subsidize poorer nations like Greece. When Greece first joined the EU, its economy got caught up in a euphoric bubble, and now it’s time to pay the piper. Alas, two stubborn facts remain:
- Greece can never repay what they’ve borrowed, at least not in a way that lets the banks make a profit; and
- The people of Greece — as individuals — did not create Greece’s financial crisis and should not be forced to suffer the brunt of economic “reform” or “progress” alone.
If the banks and leaders of the richer nations let Greece off the hook, other poorer nations like Spain and Italy might get some ideas. But guess what? If we don’t help Greece and other financially distressed nations victimized by the untrammeled power we’ve given to big banks and big corporations, they’ll have nowhere to turn than to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and any other world leaders who scare the Hell out of us and are all-too-happy to help them, in exchange for some influence
Thom Feeney’s awesome, long-shot Greek Bailout Fund via Indiegogo’s gone viral and could put a dent in Greece’s debt, but independent donors like us haven’t got a patch on the likes of Putin.