Who has profited from the Goldman-Saks-masterminded/Troika-manipulated Greek incurred debt/austerity measures? And how long will it be before these issues are publicly addressed?
After the Greek Parliament approved the Troika-demanded reforms/bailout bill this evening, the people of Greece took to the street by the thousands.
The Greek parliament has voted in favor of a bill enacting the reforms required by its European creditors as part of a new bailout plan. This paves the way for the controversial 85-billion-euro bailout deal defended by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.And they are being joined hourly by those next in the Troika hokey-pokey line. (Solidarity marches occurred immediately in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, and all over the UK calling for the cancellation of Greek debt. The U.S. austerians are silent.).
An overwhelming majority of Greek MPs voted in favor of the reform package, with 229 voting ‘Yes,’ 64 voting ‘No’ and 6 abstaining. This is despite a notable rift in the ruling party; 39 Syriza MPs spoke against the measures supported by their leader. The name of every member of the parliament was called, and their votes publically noted.
The bill imposes tough economic measures, including tax hikes, an increase in the retirement age, spending cuts, as well as a pension reforms.
The new austerity package was required by European lenders as part of a third bailout plan agreed upon with Tsipras after tough negotiations in Brussels. Tsipras was given until Wednesday to convince the Greek parliament to vote in favor of the measures.
While saying he himself “does not believe in” the new “irrational” bailout/austerity plan, Tsipras lobbied for accepting the reforms, arguing that leaving the eurozone and going bankrupt would be a far worse option for Greece. He stressed that the choice was “imposed” on the Greek delegation by its European creditors, and claimed that they had managed to win milder terms for the deal.
Critics see the new deal as contradicting the results of the July 5 popular referendum, in which over 61 percent of the Greek population voted against the previous terms of the bailout deal with the ECB, EC and IMF. While, at the time, Tsipras told his people their votes would help strengthen Greece’s negotiating position, European officials said it had only made matters worse for the Greek side.
Those rejecting the third bailout point to the fact that Greece, which is suffering from a 25 percent unemployment rate, has had enough of austerity measures under the previous deals – and those did not help its economy to recover.
Among those MPs who voted against the plan are the Greek Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, Deputy Labor Minister Dimitris Stratoulis, and speaker of parliament Zoe Constantopoulou.
A massive anti-bailout protest started Wednesday in Athens on a square in front of the parliament, with police estimates putting the number of protesters at 12,500. The rally, which was held ahead of the parliamentary vote, was marred by clashes after some protesters began hurling Molotov cocktails and rocks at police. Officers responded by deploying tear gas against the crowd.
The agreement on a massive rescue plan for the Greek economy, worth €82-86 billion, was reached on Monday after 17 hours of tough, marathon negotiations between Athens and European leaders.
However, even before the deal was preliminary sealed, the parties to the negotiations had been aware that new IMF projections claim Greece’s debt situation is “unsustainable” and the bailout package cannot save its economy. The IMF analysis was set out in a confidential report first leaked to "Reuters." The IMF, which says it would not step in to help Greece until its debt situation is satisfactory, has called on European creditors to offer Athens a debt relief and/or a 30-year grace period.
Paul Craig Roberts
July 15, 2015
All of Europe, and insouciant Americans and Canadians as well, are put on notice by Syriza’s surrender to the agents of the One Percent. The message from the collapse of Syriza is that the social welfare system throughout the West will be dismantled.
The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras has agreed to the One Percent’s looting of the Greek people of the advances in social welfare that the Greeks achieved in the post-World War II 20th century. Pensions and health care for the elderly are on the way out. The One Percent needs the money.
The protected Greek islands, ports, water companies, airports, the entire panoply of national patrimony, is to be sold to the One Percent. At bargain prices, of course, but the subsequent water bills will not be bargains.
This is the third round of austerity imposed on Greece, austerity that has required the complicity of the Greeks’ own governments. The austerity agreements serve as a cover for the looting of the Greek people literally of everything. The IMF is one member of the Troika that is imposing the austerity, despite the fact that the IMF’s economists have said that the austerity measures have proven to be a mistake. The Greek economy has been driven down by the austerity. Therefore, Greece’s indebtedness has increased as a burden. Each round of austerity makes the debt less payable.
But when the One Percent is looting, facts are of no interest. The austerity, that is the looting, has gone forward despite the fact that the IMF’s economists cannot justify it.
Greek democracy has proven itself to be impotent. The looting is going forward despite the vote one week ago by the Greek people rejecting it. So what we observe in Alexis Tsipras is an elected prime minister representing not the Greek people but the One Percent.
The One Percent’s sigh of relief has been heard around the world. The last European leftist party, or what passes as leftist, has been brought to heel, just like Britain’s Labour Party, the French Socialist Party, and all the rest.
Without an ideology to sustain it, the European left is dead, just as is the Democratic Party in the US. With the death of these political parties, the people no longer have any voice. A government in which the people have no voice is not a democracy. We can see this clearly in Greece. One week after the Greek people express themselves decisively in a referendum, their government ignores them and accommodates the One Percent.
The American Democratic Party died with jobs offshoring, which destroyed the party’s financial base in the manufacturing unions. The European left died with the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union was a symbol that there existed a socialist alternative to capitalism. The Soviet collapse and “the end of history” deprived the left of an economic program and left the left-wing, at least in America, with “social issues” such as abortion, homosexual marriage, gender equality, and racism, which undermined the left-wing’s traditional support with the working class. Class warfare disappeared in the warfare between heterosexuals and homosexuals, blacks and whites, men and women.
Today with the Western peoples facing re-enserfment and with the world facing nuclear war as a result of the American neoconservatives’ claim to be History’s chosen people entitled to world hegemony, the American left is busy hating the Confederate battle flag.
The collapse of Europe’s last left-wing party, Syrzia, means that unless more determined parties arise in Portugal, Spain, and Italy, the baton passes to the right-wing parties—-to Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party, to Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France, and to other right-wing parties who stand for nationalism against national extermination in EU membership.
Syriza could not succeed once it failed to nationalize the Greek banks in response to the EU’s determination to make them fail. The Greek One Percent have the banks and the media, and the Greek military shows no sign of standing with the people. What we see here is the impossibility of peaceful change, as Karl Marx and Lenin explained.
Revolutions and fundamental reforms are frustrated or overturned by the One Percent who are left alive. Marx, frustrated by the defeat of the Revolutions of 1848 and instructed by his materialist conception of history, concluded, as did Lenin, Mao, and Pol Pot, that leaving the members of the old order alive meant counter-revolution and the return of the people to serfdom. In Latin America every reformist government is vulnerable to overthrow by US economic interests acting in conjunction with the Spanish elites. We see this process underway today in Venezuela and Ecuador.
Duly instructed, Lenin and Mao eliminated the old order. The class holocaust was many times greater than anything the Jews experienced in the Nazi racial holocaust. But there is no memorial to it.
To this day Westerners do not understand why Pol Pot emptied Cambodia’s urban areas. The West dismisses Pol Pot as a psychopath and mass murderer, a psychiatric case, but Pol Pot was simply acting on the supposition that if he permitted representatives of the old order to remain his revolution would be overthrown. To use a legal concept enshrined by the George W. Bush regime, Pol Pot pre-empted counter-revolution by striking in advance of the act and eliminating the class inclined to counter-revolution.
The English conservative Edmund Burke said that the path of progress was reform, not revolution. The English elite, although they dragged their heels, accepted reform in place of revolution, thus vindicating Burke. But today with the left so totally defeated, the One Percent does not have to agree to reforms. Compliance with their power is the only alternative.
Greece is only the beginning. Greeks driven out of their country by the collapsed economy, demise of the social welfare system, and extraordinary rate of unemployment will take their poverty to other EU countries. Members of the EU are not bound by national boundaries and can freely emigrate. Closing down the support system in Greece will drive Greeks into the support systems of other EU countries, which will be closed down in turn by the One Percent’s privatizations.
The 21st century Enclosures have begun.
(Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.)
By Stephen Lendman
Global Research, July 13, 2015
Greece is being systematically raped and pillaged. It’s painful to see how easily powerful monied interests can destroy a nation without firing a shot. Financial war is as cruel and ruthless as naked aggression.
Long-suffering Greeks understand better than establishment economists – paid to con people to believe destructive policies benefit them.
Harder than ever hard times awaits Greeks and ordinary people throughout Western societies. Regimes in Europe and America serve their privileged elites alone at the expense of most others, especially their most vulnerable and needy.
Their governments are their worst enemies – in bed with dark forces destroying their welfare and futures. SYRIZA was elected on a pledge of no more austerity. Betrayal followed. It’s just a question of how bad things will be once the dust settles. What’s happening isn’t pretty.
On Sunday, Eurogroup president/Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem gave Greece the Troika’s take-it-or-leave-it harsh ultimatum – a list of stiffer austerity measures than earlier proposed and other tough ones as a condition for more bailout help – now reportedly for 86 – 87 billion euros over three years (10 billion euros immediately for bank recapitalizations).
Greece’s parliament must approve the deal and legislate Troika diktats into law with Tsipras’ signature by July 15. Terms agreed on include:
Higher regressive VAT taxes hitting millions of impoverished Greeks hardest along with broadening the tax base affecting ordinary people most.
Stiff pension cuts (on top of 40% eliminated earlier) including for poor retirees cut no slack.
Adopting a Code of Civil Procedure to streamline procedures and reduce costs – in other words, continued stiff budget cuts harming millions of Greeks already suffering hugely from earlier imposed austerity.
Full implementation of the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union’s key provisions – including mandated spending cuts gutting social services more than already.
Giving foreign investors freer access to plunder Greece’s economy.
Privatizing power generation and transmission along with other state enterprises previously off-limits.
Neutralizing labor rights ahead of eliminating them altogether – including restricting collective bargaining and right to strike as well as eliminating hiring and firing restrictions.
Rescinding SYRIZA enacted laws not agreed on by the European Commission, ECB and IMF.
Transferring up to 50 billion euros worth of Greek assets to a Troika controlled fund based in Athens to contribute to servicing debt and recapitalizing Greek banks.
Possible debt restructuring by extending maturities, not write-downs.
Troika officials will monitor Greek implementation of demands.
Bottom line: they mandate Athens entirely surrendering its sovereign rights to the European Commission, ECB and IMF.
Greater than ever austerity will be imposed, hitting millions of impoverished/unemployed Greeks hardest, including poor pensioners to receive less than their already meager payments en route to eliminating them altogether.
Privatizing state enterprises earlier considered off-limits. Plans are to transform Greece into an nightmarish dystopian wasteland.
It’s hard imagining any government accepting what’s demanded. No responsible one would. Tsipras sold out. His signature on the final deal alone awaits.
Word from Brussels is all parties agreed on a deal. It’s official. Tsipras handed Greek sovereignty to Troika bandits, agreeing to all their unacceptable demands.
European Council President Donald Tusk tweeted: “Euro summit has unanimously reached agreement. All ready to go for ESM (European Stability Mechanism) program for Greece with serious reforms and financial support.”
Greece’s parliament must accept the deal and enact demanded legislation by July 15 complying with Troika diktats.
It’s almost but not entirely certain – defying overwhelming public opposition according to polls.
A Final Comment
Greeks suffered horrifically under Nazi occupation during WW II. It took a terrible toll on millions. Tens of thousands of Athenians alone perished from starvation.
Many thousands more endured barbarous Nazi persecution. Greece’s economy was destroyed. A Berlin-installed collaborationist regime brutalized it own people.
Around half a million perished – from starvation, massacres, assassinations and other forms of brutality. People were shot on sight for no reason. Women and young girls were raped, many then savagely murdered.
Greece is again occupied, a Troika-controlled colony, its sovereignty lost. Tsipras is a modern-day quisling – selling out to monied interests disgracefully. He’ll be remembered for agreeing to a Greek Versailles.
This time financial predators are villains – force-feeding pain and suffering their way. Human need and welfare are sacrificed for unrestricted profit-making the old-fashioned way – pillaging an entire nation, wrecking its economy more than already.
(Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III. http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.)
Do you believe Hillary Clinton has moved leftward in her political stance one iota (no matter what she announces) or that Bernie Sanders will not fold as a serious progressive/socialist candidate whenever Hillary beckons?
Chris Hedges doesn't.
And he's not fearful of calling both political parties "corporatized."
By Russell Mokhiber
Bernie Sanders is the only major party candidate for President who favors a single payer national health insurance system.
What’s not to like?
That was the question Ralph Nader asked Chris Hedges on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour.
“Bernie Sanders wants to break up the New York banks, he wants to impose a Wall Street transaction tax, he wants to regulate drug prices, he’s for full Medicare for all — everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctor and hospital — he wants to get rid of these corporate tax havens, he’s pushing for a $15 dollar an hour minimum wage, he wants to stronger labor unions. What’s not to like?” Nader asked Hedges.
“Because he did it within the Democratic establishment,” Hedges said. “He’s lending credibility to a party that is completely corporatized. He has agreed that he will endorse the candidate, which, unless there is some miracle, will probably be Hillary Clinton.”
“So what he does is he takes all of that energy, he raises all of these legitimate issues and he funnels it back into a dead political system so that by April it’s over.”
“That was the role of Van Jones in the last election,” Hedges said. “He was running around, using the language of Occupy — Occupy the Vote — and that is what Bernie has done. I don’t understand. He fought the Democratic establishment in Vermont his entire career. Now he has sold out to it.”
“Bernie has also not confronted the military industrial complex at all,” Hedges said. “On a personal level, having spent seven years in the Middle East, I’m just not willing to forgive him for abandoning the Palestinians and giving carte blanche to Israel. He was one of 100 Senators who stood up like AIPAC wind up dolls and approved Israel’s 51-day slaughter last summer of Palestinians in Gaza — the Palestinians who have no army, no navy, artillery, mechanized units, command and control.”
Hedges, who was on the show to promote his new book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (Nation Books, 2015), said that we need independent political candidates.
“That’s why I was a strong supporter of your independent runs,” Hedges told Nader. “That’s why I voted for (Green Party Presidential candidate) Jill Stein in the last election. But they have to be outside the system. And we have to begin to build movements that are divorced from the Democratic and Republican parties. My fear is that by this time next year, Bernie Sanders is running around once again repeating this mantra of the least worst and stoking fears against whoever the Republican candidate is. And we’ve gone nowhere.”
“We’ve seen that routine before,” Nader said. “Unfortunately, Dennis Kucinich had to toe the line. He was done by April. They even kept him out of some of the debates. Yes, we have seen it before. They are done by April. And then they are forced into a loyalty oath to whoever wins the nomination. And of course, it’s invariably the corporate Democrats.”
Ralph Nader Radio Hour co-host Steve Skrovan asked Hedges what a liberal feeding frenzy within the Democratic Party would look like and why the Democratic Party was so afraid of a vigorous debate.
“Because the party is completely captive to corporate power,” Hedges said. “And Bernie has cut a Faustian deal with the Democrats. And that’s not even speculation. I did an event with him and Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Kshama Sawant in New York the day before the Climate March. And Kshama Sawant, the Socialist City Councilwoman from Seattle and I asked Sanders why he wanted to run as a Democrat. And he said — because I don’t want to end up like Nader.”
“He didn’t want to end up pushed out of the establishment,” Hedges said. “He wanted to keep his committee chairmanships, he wanted to keep his Senate seat. And he knew the forms of retribution, punishment that would be visited upon him if he applied his critique to the Democratic establishment. So he won’t.”
“The lie of omission is still a lie,” Hedges said. “Bernie’s decision to play the game within the Democratic Party and in essence lend credibility to the party and lend credibility to Hillary Clinton is very destructive. A liberal feeding frenzy within the Democratic Party would see a rise of an actual liberal establishment within the party – I’m not sure one exists any more — that challenged the Party for selling out working men and women.”
Nader said that the retribution by the Democratic Party against their left is pretty harsh, “but not against their right.”
“Senator Joe Lieberman — he goes (in 2008) and he endorses McCain at the Republican National Convention against Obama and he comes back after Obama wins to Washington and they give him a major chair of a major Senate committee,” Nader said.
(Russell Mokhiber edits the Corporate Crime Reporter.)
NC = New Selma?