Punishing the Greeks Some More

Oh, yay! After some six years of doing everything the EU demanded—which resulted in the most severe depression Greece has faced in many decades—Germany and the EU came to an agreement. Or we should say Angela Merkel and the German putz-force accomplished a coup, forcing the Greeks to accept yet another futile and unworkable economic plan that will create yet more unemployment and poverty. The Greek parliament was then forced to approve the plan within hours.

The Greeks responded to that news by setting things on fire. One might think they were skeptical about the ability of universal poverty to solve any economic problem at all. They are right. Here’s why.

The EU forced Greece to accept
yet another doomed economic plan.

Paying off debt depends on having the money to do it. Austerity always contracts the economy. That means that the Greek people have less money, which means lower incomes, higher unemployment (which is about as high as the US at the height of the Depression), decay of national infrastructure, and more. Such guaranteed poverty also guarantees the Greeks will default on any loan given to bail them out because, obviously, they have even less money. This is exactly what has happened several times, a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of the EU. Germany, the de facto sovereign of the EU, then promises another loan in return for further austerity, which further contracts the economy. Et cetera. More than one economist, and even the IMF, has said that it is essential that a large part of Greek debt be simply written off, since it cannot possibly be repaid, particularly under these circumstances.

Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza party came to power because the Greeks were utterly fed up with Germany—which never paid back the many millions the Greeks were forced to loan to the Third Reich—because it was clear to them that forced poverty and unemployment is not exactly the path to universal munificence. Now the government was forced to accept yet another bad plan, and the people could see through it even if the government could not successfully repel the assault.

The Greeks responded by setting things on fire.

The plain and simple fact is that austerity is paid for by the people, mostly in suffering. They have less money to support themselves, let alone pay off outrageous loans. Less personal income means less tax revenue, which means less ability to repay loans, the inherent downward spiral under austerity that doesn’t work any better in Greece than it has in Kansas, Wisconsin, and Maine.

Oh my, what could possibly be done? The answer seems so simple, but it has eluded all the neoliberals over the past half century: do everything possible to bring affluence to the people, which would mean more tax revenue and a better rate of loan payoff. In other words, the exact opposite of what the EU has repeatedly forced on Greece. The exact opposite.

Now, this alone will not cure all of Greece’s problems, because they have a long history of inept and corrupt government compounded by international abuse, not to mention a series of policies for the public that are too generous to be affordable in the long run. This is where Angela Merkel and the banker-monarchs should be directing their attention.

What should be done?
Everything possible to bring
affluence to the Greek people.

Greece could begin to clean up the disaster by being sure that every earner and every business pays taxes. As in the US, too many very rich businesses pay no tax at all, and wealthy individuals are expert at underpaying, or simply not paying, since the weak government can’t afford to pursue them. Next they could adjust retirement and work policies so they are more in line with the European norm. And they could launch a frontal attack on the endemic political corruption that has cost them so much.

The one thing guaranteed to fail is what has already failed repeatedly. Yet another round of austerity is the equivalent of beatings that will continue until morale improves.


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