“UTOPIA ON THE HORIZON”- a documentary on the Greece struggle

ROARMAG.org presents: ‘Utopia on the Horizon’, a documentary for those who chose to struggle.

In May 2011, hundreds of thousands of Greeks swarmed into Syntagma Square in Athens to protest against the firesale of their country, their labor rights and their livelihoods to corrupt domestic elites and foreign financial interests.

In a matter of days, a protest camp was set up — organized on the principles of direct democracy, leaderless self-management and mutual aid — providing a glimpse of utopia in the midst of a devastating financial, political and social crisis. On June 28-29, during a Parliamentary vote on further austerity measures, the state finally responded with brutal force, eventually evicting the protesters from the square and crushing the radical potential of their social experiment.

A year later, Leonidas Oikonomakis and Jérôme Roos — PhD researchers at the European University Institute and co-authors of the activist blog ROARMAG.org — returned to Athens to speak to activists involved in the movement and the occupation of Syntagma Square, as well as WWII resistance hero Manolis Glezos. What follows is this dramatic portrait of a country veering on the brink of collapse; and the people who chose to struggle in order to build a new world on the ruins of the old.

Credits—

“UTOPIA ON THE HORIZON”

MADE POSSIBLE BY:
Syntagma Multimedia Team

CAST:
Maria Kanellopoulou
Dimitris Timpilis
Niki Dimitriadi
Manolis Glezos

DIRECTED BY:
Jérôme Roos
Leonidas Oikonomakis

PRODUCED BY:
Jérôme Roos
Andrés Cornejo

EDITED BY:
Andrés Cornejo

SOUND DESIGN BY:
Benjamin Schimpke

MIX AND ADDITIONAL MUSIC:
OddOne Studio

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT:
Tamara Van Der Putten

ARCHIVE FOOTAGE BY:
Syntagma Multimedia Team

SCREENPLAY BY:
Jérôme Roos
Andrés Cornejo
Leonidas Oikonomakis

TRANSLATIONS BY:
Leonidas Oikonomakis
Yorgos Goumas
Maria Pafili
Tamara Van Der Putten
Santiago Carrión
Pedro Noel

MUSIC BY:
Maria Kanellopoulou (soprano) – ‘Astron Ouranion’
Maria Kanellopoulou (soprano) – ‘Pace Pace Mio Dio’
Nikolas Asimos – ‘Den Pa Ma Nas Xrypan’

SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Christos Staikos
Manos Cizek
Geoff Arbourne
Manolis Foinikianakis
Nikolas Leventakis
Boumba Dimitrokali
Felipe Maqui
Gorka Molero
Stavris Chatzivasiliou
Tamara Van Der Putten
Ike Krijnen

Category:

Nonprofits & Activism

License:

Standard YouTube License

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Obama’s Biggest Environmental ‘Victory’ Was A Huge Win for Frackers

He’s a Big Gas Man

by Joshua Frank, Counterpunch.org
POSTED BY SEAN LENIHAN

Greenhouse gas emissions are hot news these days — especially in the lead up to an election when candidates, at least those who claim to believe in climate science, vow to do something about the biggest environmental crisis facing our little blue planet: climate change.

In early March of this year, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Obama vowed to end $4 billion in Big Oil and Gas subsidies. “You can either stand up for the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people,” Obama said to an applauding audience. “You can keep subsidizing a fossil fuel that’s been getting taxpayer dollars for a century, or you can place your bets on a clean-energy future.”

That sounds dandy, but ending subsidies to polluters is only half the battle, and Obama’s idea of a “clean-energy future” is tenuous at best. In an attempt to round up the green vote, which he successfully accomplished, President Obama trumpeted his half-hearted attempt to put the breaks on climate change by tapping energy sources here at home and regulating the industry that’s doing most of the damage. Only days after the president announced he was looking to fast-track the southern portion of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, his administration released the first-ever federal standards to limit greenhouse gas emissions from new power plants.

In what’s now become typical Obama fashion, the move was meant to appease environmental critics while at the same time ensure the fossil fuel industry that the so-called New Source Performance Standard would not actually hurt its bottom lines.

Here’s why: the EPA rule would only impact new coal-fired power plants, but only those that break ground in later next year. In all, 15 proposed coal plants in 10 states could be potentially impacted by the rule, even though most are already hung up in court battles. As such, no coal-fired power plants in the United States have broke ground over the past three years and tenacious environmentalists have seen far more victories than defeats when it comes to battling King Coal.

The new greenhouse rule will require fossil fuel-fired electricity generating units to restrict their emissions to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) per megawatt-hour of electricity produced; a strict standard to be sure, but one that doesn’t come without caveats. All old power plants, some well over 50 years in age, will be exempt entirely from Obama’s greenhouse rule when it comes into effect, despite the fact that these archaic facilities alone account for over 40 percent of carbon emissions in the country. In a nutshell, the biggest coal polluters are being let off the hook altogether.

Five years ago a staggering 151 new coal plants were slated for construction, but with one of the greatest environmental achievements in our history, grassroots activists across the country stopped their development.

Obama is still riding on the coat-tails of these victories, but what’s underlying the greenhouse gas rule is a bit more sinister. As concerns about the impacts of fracking continue to grow, the power plants that burn natural gas extracted through this process of pumping a mix of water, chemicals and sand deep into the earth’s crust, won’t be covered by the rule. Generally, natural gas plants produce less than 900 pounds of CO2 per megawatt-hour. Indeed the limit set by the EPA was not arbitrary; it directly aids and abets the natural gas industry. Obama knows quite well that natural gas is poised to be the fossil fuel of the future and his administration and the EPA are not going to stand in the way of the big boom.

This isn’t to say the effect of natural gas on climate change is benign — far from it. While still producing a large amount of carbon emissions (albeit less than coal), natural gas also spews a whole bunch of methane (natural gas is methane), which is far more potent than CO2 when it comes to the immediate warming of our planet. In fact, it is estimated that methane gas has a global warming potential 25 times that of CO2 (averaged over 100 years). So, in absolute terms, natural gas does contribute substantially to greenhouse gas emissions, and with more production in the works, this contribution is going to grow a lot more in the years to come.

The EPA certainly understands methane is a big contributor to global warming. In an analysis released last year the agency doubled its earlier estimate for the amount of methane that leaks from natural gas wells and pipelines. This leaking is so extensive that it is equal to the annual emissions from over 35 million automobiles. In addition, the EPA reported that the levels of methane release during the fracking of shale gas were actually 9,000 times higher than previously thought.

Methane, unfortunately, is not covered by Obama’s proposed greenhouse gas rule. Perhaps that’s because Obama supports the expansion of natural gas exploration as well as the notion of “safe” fracking — an oxymoron akin to “clean” coal.

“We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly one hundred years, and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy,” said President Obama in his last State of the Union address. “The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don’t have to choose between our environment and our economy … it was public research dollars, over the course of thirty years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock.”

The process Obama is touting is the fracking of natural gas and oil from underground geological formations, like the Marcellus Shale on the East Coast. The procedure has been documented in a draft report by the EPA as causing groundwater pollution in Wyoming, yet fracking remains exempt from the Clean Water Act.

As coal becomes a relic of the past in the U.S., natural gas, with fracking as its main source of extraction, is being set up as the fossil fuel of the future, thanks in large part to Obama’s embrace and the EPA’s blind eye. In 2008 the Obama campaign amassed $884,000 from the oil and gas industry. In 2012 that number topped $2 million.

Often seen as a “bridge fuel” from coal toward renewables, natural gas has not come under the same scrutiny as other fossil fuels. Instead natural gas has been seen as a safer, cleaner burning fuel — an improvement over dirty coal. Hence why the EPA continues to punt on proposing regulations on the industry, as it did for a second at the beginning of last April when it delayed the release of rules for the oil and gas industry. If the EPA caves to the natural gas industry, as it will likely continue to do, the majority of existing fracking wells will be exempt from regulation.

Yet, even if fracking wells begin to receive the regulatory oversight they so gravely deserve, the burning of natural gas is not about to come under intensified scrutiny any time soon. On the contrary, as long as the EPA’s attention remains on curbing coal’s carbon footprint, the natural gas industry is sure to benefit and more methane is sure to seep from the depths of Earth. A recent study by tech billionaire Nathan Myhrvold and climate scientist Ken Caldeira argues that shifting to natural gas “cannot substantially reduce the climate risk in the next 100 years.”

Those fighting the frackers ought to expand their focus from fracking’s immediate dangers, which are very real, to natural gas’ long-term impacts on climate change. Even if fracking were to one day be outlawed, as long as natural gas continues to be burned the planet will continue to heat up. In short, natural gas is not a bridge to renewable energy; it’s a bridge to an even more toxic planet.

Joshua Frank, Managing Editor of CounterPunch, is the author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005), and along with Jeffrey St. Clair, the editor of Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, and of Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is now available in Kindle format. He can be reached at brickburner@gmail.com.

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President Cat Food Gets a Second Term

Apparatchiks in a Class War
by ROB URIE

In coming weeks the recently re-elected Barack Obama will propose trimming the vestiges of the New Deal—Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, in the decades long effort of bi-partisan Washington to consolidate total control of Western economies in the hands of a corporate plutocracy. The technocratic rationale Mr. Obama will offer is ‘demographics,’ the fact that, class differences aside, people are living longer than we used to. And for the susceptible among us, some misdirection about ‘living beyond our means’ will be added for good measure.

However, people have been living approximately as long as we currently do for several decades now. And the canard that ‘we are living beyond our means’ dates back to the 1960s. What has changed is that the liberal Democrat needed to sell ‘shared’ sacrifice to those on the receiving end of it—labor, the working poor and the poor, has been returned to office to finish the job. Sure Mitt Romney would do the same– there is a long, bi-partisan, history here. But to be clear–this fight is over the allocation of economic resources, not ‘scarcity’ thereof.

When Democrat Bill Clinton ran for president in 1992 he did so in the midst of the first ‘jobless recovery’ caused by the massive financial looting of the Savings and Loans and the de-industrialization of America begun in the early 1980s. He ran as a corporatist Democrat under the mantra ‘it’s the economy stupid’ and promised to increase social spending and raise taxes on the wealthy to fund government.

Upon his election Mr. Clinton appointed Goldman Sachs financier Robert Rubin, first to his National Economic Council to coordinate economic policy, and later as Treasury Secretary. It was banker Rubin who ‘discovered’ the national debt ‘crisis’ that required the immediate attention of the Clinton administration. Mr. Clinton promptly abandoned his promise to increase social spending and laid the groundwork for cutting it, or as he put it ‘ending welfare as we know it.’

After Mr. Clinton left office and the budget ‘crisis’ behind, tax rates for the rich and corporations were drastically cut, two phenomenally destructive, expensive and unnecessary wars were undertaken, a massive prescription drug benefit that denies the government the right to negotiate drug prices with drug producers was passed, a corrupt, dysfunctional banking system was bailed out to the tune of tens of trillions of dollars and an infrastructure of domestic surveillance and control was built to ‘prevent’ terrorist attacks that the George W. Bush administration had been fully informed were to be carried out months before they actually were. To state the obvious: the budget ‘crisis’ was not raised to prevent any of these programs from being passed and funded.

As with Bill Clinton’s appointment of Robert Rubin to key economic posts, Barack Obama made his economic agenda known when he created his ‘deficit commission’ and stacked it with know-nothing neo-liberal hack and Morgan Stanley Board member Erskine Bowles and crusty antique Republican Alan Simpson of the public welfare dependent state of Wyoming. The hostility of both men to the social insurance programs now in their purview was a matter of decades-long public records. And in fact, Mr. Bowles had led a Clinton administration effort to ‘privatize’ a portion of Social Security for Wall Street. (The stock market return in the years since that effort was undertaken = 0%).

The coalition to cut social insurance programs runs from true believers who either don’t understand or don’t care about how national accounts work (the U.S. has a fiat currency) to Wall Street insiders who want to earn fees from privatizing Social Security to trans-national plutocrats who want to shift ever more public resources into their own pockets through corporate and individual tax cuts and through ownership and management of private insurance schemes. That a representative of all of these interests—Democrat Erskine Bowles, is Mr. Obama’s ‘lead’ in developing and pushing forward the rationales for cutting social insurance ties Mr. Obama directly to these interests.

Social Security and Medicare are funded with deductions made from the paychecks of working people. (Corporate contributions to these programs are part of the total compensation paid to labor, not the ‘property’ of the corporations). These are insurance programs in significant ways like private insurance, only more efficient and designed to provide a social benefit rather than to enrich insurance executives. Social Security can meet all of its obligations for the next thirty years and most of them thereafter with no changes or cuts to the program. The ‘crisis’ with Medicare is due almost entirely to expected increases in medical costs that a ‘Medicare for all’ healthcare system that has the ability to negotiate prescription drug prices would solve. And by providing pre and post-natal care to the working poor and poor, Medicaid means the difference between first and third world infant mortality rates.

The scare tactics being used to cut social insurance depend on the public’s misunderstanding of several related issues. In the first, the U.S. isn’t ‘broke’ because it can create money as needed—ask yourself: how were the bank bailouts funded? Next: what is an ‘entitlement’ when existing government policy overwhelmingly benefits the rich through favorable tax treatment, cost-plus government contracts, Federal Reserve bailouts and government guarantees of the banks. ‘Free markets’ have nothing to do with how the wealthy became so. The fight over ‘entitlements’ is over how government expenditures are allocated, not over their ‘scarcity.’

Social Security has an income ‘cap’ of $110,000 above which no deduction is made. A billionaire who became rich by sending jobs overseas—by firing and lowering the wages of labor, pays a smaller proportion of his or her income into Social Security than does the worker whose wages have been reduced. And by reducing the wages of labor, workers are left with less to pay in to these social insurance programs through payroll taxes. The problem with Social Security and Medicare is that a small group of connected plutocrats have ‘entitled’ themselves to far more of what labor produces. How often has the deficit ‘crisis’ been raised when there is a war to be fought for multi-national oil companies or a corporate welfare scheme like the bank bailouts to be paid for?

And this all ties back to Mr. Obama’s Affordable Care Act– if he and his corporate supporters were truly interested in fiscal discipline they would have pushed for far less costly ‘Medicare for all.’ Instead Mr. Obama pursued a deal with private health insurers that includes a ‘profit’ above the cost of a government program. Those wanting to argue the political infeasibility of Medicare for all are now confronted with a ‘liberal’ Democratic President who believes he can cut the programs that most of us have paid into under known terms for decades. If doing this is politically feasible while building a rational public health care system isn’t, we are truly doomed.

Ultimately Mr. Obama, like his ‘opponent’ Mitt Romney, is but an apparatchik in a class war launched by the rich against the rest of us. Left out of the contrived nonsense about an ‘entitlement’ society is who exactly is entitled. Were the government spending the rich live off of under the knife there would be no argument of scarcity—we have the wars, the bailouts and corporate welfare to prove it. But social insurance programs stand between over one hundred million of our citizens and destitution. And these are programs we have collectively paid for—they aren’t a ‘gift’ as the rich and their servants in government would have us believe.

Rob Urie is an artist and political economist in New York.

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Movement Strategy Brunches: “Campaign Season” Never Ends for the Professional Left “One Big Progressive Cluster-F–k”

by The INSIDER, Counterpunch


Van Jones: Though dissed by Obama in one of his habitual betrayals, Van Jones has stuck to his guns on account of indomitable ambition. He’s likely to become a professional apparatchik in the Democratic party, following in the steps of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. He appears to be interested in creating an external platform like Operation Push to apply pressure on the party bigwigs.

President Barack Obama was elected merely a week ago in a presidential campaign that ran a bill of $6 billion.

“Campaign Season,” as its called by the electioneering professionals and most journalists, has officially come to an end in the eyes of most citizens and the press, both mainstream and “independent media” alike. For the “Professional Left” though, “campaign season” never actually ends, which explains why they refer to their form of activism as “campaigns.” It’s truth in advertising, at last!

The newest “campaign” in town is being run by….wait for it….a MoveOn.org offshoot in the form of “Movement Strategy Brunches” being held nationwide on Nov. 17-18.

“Drink Mimosas”

On Nov. 8, writing to a confidential email list, Liz Butler, a “Senior Fellow and Network Organizing Project Director” of the Movement Strategy Center, declared,

“We are asking you to set up a Movement Strategy Brunch – an informal, low-key way to bring together you and other local grassroots people at the local level to reflect, drink mimosas (or healthy green smoothies) and talk about the future. Sound fun? It’s supposed to be! After so much hard work, it’s nice to be able to kick back, drink some orange juice, and munch on a flaky croissant.”

The Movement Strategy Center is the Fiscal Sponsor for Van Jones’ Rebuild the Dream, according to Rebuild the Dream‘s website. Jones’ front group for the Democratic Party set up shop in June 2011 when MoveOn.org gave $348K to Rebuild the Dream in start-up capital, according to its most recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 form.

Rebuild, as regular CounterPunch readers will likely recall, was responsible for the attempt to co-opt the Occupy movement not once, but twice – once in the fall of 2011 and once again in the spring of 2012.

Butler oversaw the “99 Spring,” the front operation for both MoveOn.org and the Democratic Party. Prior to her current stint at the Movement Strategy Center in April 2012, Butler worked for 3.5 years as the Campaign Director for 1Sky, which in April 2011 merged with 350.org, currently in the throes of its “Do the Math” campaign.

The email was co-signed by Billy Wimsatt, a Fellow at the Movement Strategy Center, as well as an employee of Rebuild the Dream, two outfits that are interchangeable and one-in-the-same. A WhoIs.net search shows Wimsatt registered the website for the “Movement Strategy Brunches” on Oct. 16, a few weeks ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“Consensual Domination”

Like its cousin the 99 Spring, the ”Movement Strategy Brunches” give well-meaning grassroots activists the illusion of having full control of things at the local level. “YOU organize it,” shouts its website.

Yet again, it’s the same players managing a brand new version of what University of California-Santa Barbara Sociology Professor William I. Robison refers to as “consensual domination” in his classic book, “Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony.”

“The Gramscian concept of hegemony as ‘consensual domination’ exercised in civil and political society at the level of the individual nation (or national society) may be extended/applied to the emergent global civil and political society,” he wrote in the book’s introduction. “The emergence of ‘democracy promotion’ as a new instrument and the orientation in US foreign policy in the 1980s represented the beginnings of a shift – still underway – in the method through which the core regions of the capitalist world system exercise their domination over peripheral and semi-peripheral regions…”

The tools of imperialism have come home to the core of the empire, as they always do. This time, like the many times before, it’s in the form of “consensual domination” on the part of citizens who partake in “activism” that’s nothing more than freshly installed astroturf for the Democratic Party disguised as “democracy promotion.”

“These pseudo-revolutionaires no doubt believe their own propaganda, or their ‘memes,’ as they prefer to call them. But these liberal cultists are nothing more than convenient lap dogs for the ‘progressive’ millionaires who fund them and the Democrats,” said John Stauber, author of the book Toxic Sludge is Good for You and Founder of the Center for Media and Democracy. ”They are well fed, they groom each other, they regurgitate the same talking points, and they consistently accomplish nothing in the real world except to push a false hope that they are leading a real Movement. In other words, it’s a classic form of cooptation, which is both made possible by the severe limitations of the political process and of course serves to limit it further. It is essential to maintaining a status quo that benefits the 1%. Follow the money, this is one big progressive cluster-fuck.”

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The Insider is the pseudonym of an activist who works inside the Liberal Foundation-Funded Democratic Party-Allied Belly of the Beast.

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Greece: Profile of a Failed State

By Stephen Lendman

Greece exhibits failed and rogue state characteristics. It governs irresponsibly. It’s beholden more to foreign interests than its own. Banker needs are prioritized. Ruling authority outside Greece dictates terms. The country’s unable or refuses to provide public services. It threatens the welfare of its people. It spurns legitimate rule. It’s bankrupt but won’t declare it.

Governance in Greece combines travesty, tragedy and shame. Democracy’s birth place spurns it. It also displays an unprincipled disregard for human need at a time of rampant corruption and prioritized military spending.

In 2011, seven billion euros went for arms. Greece is the tenth largest weapons importer. It’s one of 28 NATO countries. Collective defense requires member states to purchase arms and buy them from alliance partners. As a percent of GDP, Greek defense spending is nearly double that of other EU nations. Germany is one of Athens’ main creditors. It’s also one of its largest arms suppliers. They account for 15% of Berlin’s weapons exports.

No justification exists. Greece has no enemies. It’s also broke. It can’t or won’t provide public services. It borrows hugely to repay and service debt, and rampant corruption is out-of-control.

Transparency International (TI) says “Greek people live in a state of ‘corrupt legality,’ meaning that the law often condones or even fosters corrupt practices. Corruption is endemic: not limited to any party or social class, nor to the public sector.”

“The public sector suffers from substantial gaps in both law and practice, thus allowing corruption to thrive. Public officials have been allowed to act for decades without any transparency or effective oversight.”

“As a result, lack of integrity, tendency to demand and accept bribes, and unfaithfulness to public service have proliferated. Wrongdoing has eroded the rule of law and facilitated a culture of impunity.”

Privileged elites hide wealth in favored tax havens. Doing so explains part of the problem.  Unaccountability lets them get away with what no one should tolerate. It’s especially outrageous at a time of economic crisis and appalling human deprivation. Force-feeding more pain exacerbates deplorable conditions.

Last May, dominant parties polled poorly. Voters rejected austerity. Many voted with their feet and opted out. Ordinary Greeks are beset by crushing wage, benefit, and other social cuts. Impoverishment, homelessness, and unemployment result. Public anger expresses itself in street protests, strikes, and opportunities sought elsewhere. Some of Greece’s best and brightest are leaving. Why stay without job prospects or futures. Other professionals abroad aren’t returning.

Dire economic conditions created a lost generation. Brain drain exodus affects the country’s future. Greece is inhospitable to human welfare. Who can survive without jobs, income or futures?  Rage against rogue governance grows. On November 6, The New York Times headlined “Normal Life on Pause, and a Sense of Simmering Rage,” saying:

Proprietors go out of business for lack of enough customers and revenue to cover expenses. Deepening Depression conditions exist. Greece’s economy is on a downward spiral to oblivion. “The vitriol toward politicians is in many ways more intense than the outrage expressed toward the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.”

“Politicians here rarely venture out in public, and when they do, even the most obscure member of Parliament is accompanied by at least one bodyguard.”

On November 7, more austerity measures were enacted. Included are some of the most draconian so far. Street rage became violent. Prior to the vote, 100,000 angry Greeks marched on parliament in Syntagma Square.  Why they haven’t stormed it so far they’ll have to explain. Don’t be surprised if they go ahead in a country best described as a tinderbox ready to explode.

People only take so much. Once pain levels exceed a threshold of no return, all bets are off. Politicians are playing with fire. Revolutionary anger is visceral. One spark too many may ignite it. Police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse crowds. Protesters threw Molotov cocktails at security forces. A bus stop and kiosk were set ablaze. Athens resembles a war zone.

Dozens of arrests followed. Hundreds or thousands more won’t quell rage. Greeks are justifiably mad and show it. It’s just a matter of time perhaps before the whole country explodes. Strikes brought Greece to a halt. Hospitals operate with skeleton crews. Commerce shut down. Journalists walked out. They joined strikers. Broadcasts and publications were suspended.

Troika authority demanded and got another $17.2 billion in budget cuts. At issue is qualifying for $39.6 billion in bailout funds. Greece barely gets enough to pay bureaucrats. Debt service and bailing out bankers get top priority. The term bailout is a misnomer. Grand theft and extortion more accurately explain policy. Ordinary Greeks are victimized. So is Greece’s economy.

It’s a shell of its former self. It’s a zombie waiting for its obituary to be written. Bankers responsible for crisis conditions are rewarded. Irresponsible governance steals from ordinary people to pay rich ones and corporate crooks. Prime Minister Antonis Samaris heads Greece’s rogue government. On Wednesday, he said Athens took “a big, decisive and optimistic step. A step toward recovery. I am very pleased.”

The more Greece borrows, the greater its debt, the harder it is to service and repay, the more future aid that’s needed, and faster the country heads toward total collapse. Catastrophic conditions are pushing people toward deplorable living conditions and starvation. Prioritizing debt service and repayment by greater borrowing guarantees an eventual bad ending.

Impossible to bear pain may become uncontainable rage. More than buildings may burn. Politicians may be targeted. They could be tarred, feathered or shot. University of the Aegean lecturer Panagiotis Sotiris told Russia Today: “Every austerity package in the last two and a half years was supposed to be the last one. So it won’t be the last one this time. We are going to see more of this.”

With minimal discussion, parliament “pass(ed) a huge law. We are very far from democratic procedure. This is a set of measures, which are actually dictated by the Troika.”

Ordinary Greeks have no say. Parliament surrendered to diktat authority. A banner one protestor held expressed mass sentiment, saying: “TRAITOR SAMARAS GET OUT”

In August, Greek unemployment hit a record high. Officially at 25.4%, one in four workers have no jobs. Monthly for the last three years, figures rose. True unemployment may be much higher. Moreover, most jobs pay subsistence wages and poor or no benefits. Young people are hardest hit. In the 15 – 24 age category, 58% are jobless. It’s likely closer to two-thirds. In the last three years, wages have been cut up to 60%. Around 70,000 small business ceased operating.

The latest austerity round targets another 150,000 jobs, further wage cuts up to 30%, pensions cut up to 15%, and fewer healthcare benefits. Bureaucrats across the board are affected. Minimum wages, holiday benefits, and severance pay will be reduced.

Education will also be hit hard. Universities will be shut. Mass staff reductions will follow. Retirement will be raised from 65 to 67. Job protections are weakened. Layoffs are now easier. Redundancy notice was decreased from six to four months. The done deal isn’t quite complete. On November 11, parliamentarians have to meet Troika officials. Their revised budget must be approved.

Greece also wants more. It seeks a further “emergency growth package.” It’s worth another 10 billion euros. It’s nowhere near enough for what Athens needs. Expect more bailout deals to follow. On November 5, Greek journalist walked out for the second time in a week. They’re protesting plans to merge their social security fund with a national system.

Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras initially couldn’t get a  parliamentary agreement to merge the social security funds of journalists, civil engineers, lawyers, and others into the National Organization for Healthcare Provisions (EOPYY). On November 7, the measure passed.

Greece stands at the abyss of collapse. It’s mired in deepening Depression. Since 2007, it’s economy shrunk nearly 22%. It continues heading south. Ordinary Greeks bear the greatest burden. Multiple rounds of wage cuts, layoffs and lost benefits created unforgivable hardships. Bad as things are now, more force-fed austerity is planned. Expect no end of it ahead. Greece is banker occupied. It’s debt entrapped. Class war rages. Living standards plummeted precipitously. Troika authorities demand state-run enterprises, public land, tourist sites, ports, water, and other Greek crown jewels stripped of all worth and sold at fire sale prices.

Brussels calls it a rescue. Ordinary Greeks know it’s impoverishment and unemployment. It’s financial warfare. It’s more destructive than pillaging armies. It grabs everything in sight and wants more. Corrupt politicians steal what they can and agree. Ordinary people bear unconscionable pain. Earlier hard times produced Nazism.

World War II followed. Failure to learn from history risks repeating it. At issue is doing it disastrously. No one seems to notice or care. It may be too late to matter once reality hits home. It may come sooner than most imagine.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.  http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour   

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