Austerity Kills: How the EuroCrisis is Being Used to Break the Social Contract

One aspect of the Eurocrisis that has not gotten the attention it deserves is the way it is destroying not just jobs, but the very underpinnings of society. People who took actions that were prudent at the time are increasingly at the mercy of forces beyond their control. And this isn’t a tsunami-type disaster but a man-made one whose severity is worsened by the callous attitudes of the European elites.

We’ve featured stories from time to time on how Greece is unraveling. Suicides have increased sharply. Garbage is not being picked up. Public transportation is largely a thing of the past. Even though Greece always had a large black market, more people are resorting to barter, which shrinks the tax base.

And in some ways worst of all, the health care system is on the verge of collapse. Critical medicines are not being imported and hospitals are short of basic supplies. Not only are people dying unnecessarily due to their inability to get drugs and operations, but worse, the breakdown of healthcare greatly increases the risk of a public health crisis. How many children are being vaccinated, for instance? What happens when curable but silent killers such as syphilis go untreated? Key excerpts from a Reuters story (hat tip Aquifer):

Greece’s rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding….

Greece imports nearly all its medicines and relies heavily on patented rather than cheaper generic drugs, making it vulnerable to a funding squeeze that would grow sharply worse if it were forced out of the euro after elections on Sunday.

Long queues have been forming outside a handful of pharmacies that still provide medication on credit – the rest are demanding cash upfront until the government pays up a subsidy backlog of 762 million euros, or nearly $1 billion.

“We’re not talking about painkillers here – we’ve learned to live with physical pain – we need drugs to keep us alive,” Mitta, a petite former marathon runner and herself a cancer survivor, said in a voice shaky with emotion…

A doctor at the university hospital in the northwestern Athens suburb of Chaidari cites a lack of basic examining room supplies in her own department, such as cotton wool, catheters, gloves and paper used to cover the examining table.

The shortage of paper, which is thrown out after each patient has used it, means corners have to be cut on hygiene.

“Sometimes we take a bed sheet instead and use it for several patients,” said Kiki Kiale, a radiologist specialising in cancer screening. “It’s tragic but there’s no other solution.”

And the targeting of the health care system was no accident:

Greeks have long had to give medical staff cash “gifts” to ensure good treatment. Nevertheless the health system was considered “relatively efficient” before the crisis despite a variety of problems including a fragmented organisation and excess bureaucracy, according to a 2009 report for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

But it has been unable to respond to the growing crisis. The European Union and International Monetary Fund, which provided a 130 billion euro lifeline to Greece in March, have demanded big cuts to the system as part of a wider package of austerity measures.

Greece has been told to reduce health care from its current 10% of GDP to below 6%. Imagine what would happen if the US were told to cut its medical expenditures by over 40% in a one or two year period. And if the IMF boot were put on the US neck, and we were told to get medical spending down to 6% of GDP, we’d need to reduce it by 2/3.

In a Real News Network interview, Rob Johnson of the Roosevelt Institute describes further how the EuroCrisis has become a tool to break the social contract:

More at The Real News

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  1. F Libertarians!

    Good post, Yves! Let me add that public sector workers such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers in the U.S. are all being demonized and their pay and benefits are all under attack. No one seems to realize that teachers are overworked and underpaid and a great many firefighters and police officers suffer from chronic work-related sickness and injury by the time they turn 50. Now, they are being told to accept lower pay and to effectively delay retirement because of pension cuts? Does this society really want 65 to 70 year old firefighters and police officers patrolling neighborhoods and putting out fires? When will this insane logic end? These cuts are destroying society. Eventually, we’ll have to replace public schools, police officers, and firefighters with home-schooling, guns, and fire extinguishers. Now, imagine that kind of a society. It’s totally depressing if you think about it.

    Sometimes I wonder if the voters who are voting for propositions and politicians that openly attack public sector workers realize that in attacking the public sector workers who serve them and their community on a daily basis, those voters are really attacking themselves.

    Case in point. San Jose, CA voters recently voted to cut the pension benefits of police officers and firefighters:,_Proposition_B_%28June_2012%29

    The very same week, San Jose residents were complaining about slow police response times to burglaries.

    If those same San Jose residents who complained about slow police response times were the same voters who voted for Proposition B, all I can say to them is: “Slow police response times are exactly what you deserve!”

    1. Glen

      Good comment, I repeatedly have to point out to my “conservative” neighbors (almost all Navy civil servants, where I live) that cutting out back on firefighters, cuts back on EMTs which means the odds of them dying while having a heart attack and waiting for the ambulance have gone up.

      People don’t seem to realize how much cutting back on teachers, police and firefighters will DIRECTLY impact their lives.

      1. rotter

        My brother is one of those Navy Civil servants and almost every single one of his right wing oinions can be traced to unresolved emotional issues resulting from my parents divorce 40 years ago.. I guess that right wing “opinions” among people (classes) who ought to know better are almost always the result of years and years, and bilions of dollars of ad research performed on behalf of big corporations. They learned they could play on the most basic fears and animal desires in humans to create other fears and wants, orginally to sell cosmetics, or cars, or Fried Chicken. They no sooner realized how powerful a psychological weapon they had to affect public opinion, than they decided to put it into the service of the right wings long standing dream of recapturing political power. Just around the mid to late 1960’s i think.

        1. Harold Q


          I think you’re spot-on with this observation. I’ve thought for a while now that the people who have these apparently schizophrenic political goals (I don’t want to pay for police officers, but I want faster response times!) are the result of reasoning stemming directly from instinctual response. I think the theory could definitely use some scientific corroboration.

        2. DG Dixon

          I think you would find Adam Curtis’ awesome documentaries self-confirming. Especially “The Century of The Self”, “The Trap”, and parts of “The Mayfair Set”.

    2. Ignacio

      Well sayd. Demonization of the public sector is the key libertarian objective as a necessary step to dismantle public services and make them private. This is the main objective in the US as well as in the EU.

    3. F pigs

      Nobody talks about cutting police officers, sadly. Even Walker pointedly excepted them. Under either authorized state party, you can be sure we’ll always have plenty of militarized, taser-happy goons night-raiding your home and working through their Bagram flashbacks on your face. Paranoid police states need paranoid police.

      1. LillithMc

        We just lost 30 police in my area. We have had a 30 minute response time for years. I am in Sacramento in the “unincorporated” area. Meanwhile the gun nuts are buying and have been for years. We also lost fire stations, firefighters and teachers. Conditions at public health are so bad my friend had to take early retirement to save her own health. Our parks have no rangers and are becoming dangerous and full of homeless. This must be the “deleverage” recommended by the 1%.

        1. Maju

          Just start a riot or a class protest and you’ll see how thousands of police flood your neighborhood. Easy.

      2. riF pigs

        I sympathize. Except for RIFfing those cops that suck Big Brother’s tit – everyplace should do that. Cops make society more violent. They’re legally ignorant and fucked up in the head. They fuck up their own kids, then idiots stick them in the schools like totalitarian hall monitors to fuck up America’s youth en masse. RIF the shit out of em, cops are a cancer on America.

    4. Enraged

      “Sometimes I wonder if the voters who are voting for propositions and politicians that openly attack public sector workers realize that in attacking the public sector workers who serve them and their community on a daily basis, those voters are really attacking themselves.”

      It will soon become obvious. And whatever ails Europe is ailing us, is ailing Japan and China, is ailing Russia and Brazil and has been ailing Africa since the decolonization.

      There’s only one possible result, regardless of the outcome: casualties, the likes of which this planet has never seen.

      1. Harold Q

        That is the ultimate result of the Chicago School’s shock doctrine globalization technique.

        As cold-blooded policies go, this one’s pretty damn devastating.

    5. Warren Celli

      F Libertarians! said; “Let me add that public sector workers such as teachers, firefighters, and police officers in the U.S. are all being demonized and their pay and benefits are all under attack.”

      And you just demonized them. Your language perpetuates what you rail against. When you say “public sector workers such as” you perpetuate the intentionally created and promoted divisive meme of “public sector vs private sector”. It is an intentionally created divisive meme that is now as powerful as racism in its destructively divisive effects. Simply say “workers such as”. Strive for the one sector.

      Cops… the burr under the saddle…

      You also make the mistake of lumping cops with workers. Cops are not workers, they are ENFORCERS. They deserve to be demonized and shunned.

      Teachers teach. Firemen put out fires. Plumbers work with pipes. Electricians work with wire. IT guys work with computers, etc. But cops ENFORCE; with guns, tasers, and clubs!

      When the government is crooked,
      Then the cops are too!
      They are the 1%’s muscle,
      That oppresses you!

      Yes, we all live under a system of Forced Complicity Crimeunism because we must all obey laws now that we have no hand in creating. We are therefore all complicit to some degree with the murderous state. But some are A LOT MORE more complicit by their actions than others. 1% cops are most complicit for their direct and abusive bullying physical actions against the rest of us. When the ‘rule of law’ has been so totally hijacked as it has been now the cops “protect and serve” only the hijacker gangsters that they ENFORCE for. Cops, by providing the Xtrevilist controllers the muscle to beat down legitimate and patriotic protest prevent change. Cops are responsible for creating more crime than they could ever hope to prevent — assuming they really wanted to.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

        “1% cops are most complicit for their direct and abusive bullying physical actions against the rest of us.”

        Is this 1% of the police or a sweeping generalization about all law enforcement? Are all members of the latter PIGS?

        Initially you pointed out that the distinction between public and private sector workers is a false dichotomy pitting one against the other. Then you turn right around and segregate the police… identifying them as the enforcers pitted against the rest of us as if they are not workers. What are they then if not employees tasked with a filthy job? They are members of our society and reflective of just how violent and corrupt that society has become. Yes there are “beasts” among them just like there are among the wealthiest and the poorest in civil society. It simply isn’t that black and white.

        Demonizing anyone, group, or class leads to their dehumanization in the eyes of the demonizers and results in a siege mentality that only reinforces the demonized’s isolation and paranoia. It also facilitates their future role as the exterminators or a group to be exterminated. History is replete with examples of both.

        As we descend deeper into the “shock and awe doctrine” of AUSTERITY it behooves us to refrain from sweeping generalizations or categorizations that only serve to divide us even further. Isolation and atomization only work to make organizing ALL workers – including the police – more difficult. Yes, I too am guilty of such generalization to the extent that “workers” implies “owners” or a distincttion between “US” and “THEM”. So I’m not claiming any higher ground.

        We can only hope that empathy and “Amish Grace” do not wither in the face of this AUSTERITY. We will need both in the days to come.

        1. Warren Celli

          Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio…

          The private sector vs government sector meme IS a contrived and false dichotomy meant to pit one against the other. It has no bearing on the morality of the enforcement of crooked laws by goon squad cops. You appear to have bought into the emotionally charged ‘worker’ component of it and now defend ‘workers’.

          They are not ‘workers’ Mickey, they ARE enforcers. You dignify the beating, macing and clubbing of your fellow human beings by calling it ‘work’. It is not ‘work’. It is not even worthy of being called “employees tasked with a filthy job?”, and here you degrade the meaning of the word job which it is also NOT!

          It is Xtrevilist sanctioned and ordered psychopathic mayhem, carried out by immoral goon squad individuals without conscience and meant to instill fear and obeisance, not respect and admiration, for the ‘rule of law’. Cops take an oath to support the Constitution and then immediately subvert that oath by punching a time clock and ‘following orders’ like an immoral robot.

          Yes Mickey, some jobs are a hell of a lot more immoral than others. Some jobs align themselves most closely with those who have captured the government and create the illusion you appear to be living in. I repeat;

          When the government is crooked,
          Then the cops are too!
          They are the 1%’s muscle,
          That oppresses you!

          In the end these are moral judgments based on my read of reality and not the TV illusion — overwhelming now — cop adoring over emotional make you want to puke drivel presented by the Xtrevilists and meant to present cops as just like you and me.

          Ask yourself Mickey, would you join the military of today and shoot Afghanis on command? Would you proudly wear the uniform of Michael Bloomberg’s goon squad NY cops and bash the heads of your fellow citizens engaged in peaceful legitimate protest?

          Yes Micky, it is us against the Xtrevilists. Morality against immorality. Yes, it is choice time.

          As I said above, we are all complicit by force in the Xtrevilist machinations but some of us are A LOT MORE COMPLICIT than others, especially those that enforce by bully brutality the immoral laws we are forced to obey. They deserve to be demonized and shunned for their butt sucking immorality. By choice they become the 1%.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. enouf

            well friggin said (nice follow up/through) !

            I know it’s a bit late to reply to this, ..but i had to ;-)


    6. kxmoore

      A chicken in every pot and a police officer on every block,huh? Good god if you have ever lived abroad you’d realize that the U.S. is laughingly overpopulated in police officers. Here in NYC we have regular police, school safety police, traffic police, bridge and tunnel police, sanitation police, and more. My parents live in a small New Jersey shore community that has 600 residents and 7 police officers.
      BTW does anyone post here that doesn’t have o government job or work or come from academia?

      1. patricia

        Well, there are ~700,000 people in Detroit and ~3000 officers. What’s going on at the Jersey shore–violent druggies and other malcontents? lol

        Parts of the US are domestically militarized, yes, but that is a different issue, isn’t it?

        What’s wrong with chicken? Are you vegan?

        Most here are neither gov’t workers nor academics.

        Take a deep breath and try again!

        1. rotter

          I understand the sentiments about police – but i would have responded by pointing out that hiring poorly trained,poorly paid police forces will make the problem of police abuse and brutality (which is certainly and undeniably a problem) much much worse. In fact i think we can see how taking steps in that direction, has already made the problem that much worse.

          1. patricia

            Yes. And not having enough police will likewise encourage the worse among them to be retained, since departments tend to petrify themselves and become increasingly insular as stress builds up with overtime and reduced pay.

            One wants neither too many nor too few police, and one wants them living in the community and working in a transparent bureaucracy. But kx made the point that there are too many police in the US, at which the world laughs, and while obviously true in some places, it is not true in others. Our police respond to a robbery call at about 6 hrs, if at all. We have neighborhood patrol here, and it is hard.

            What worries me more is how our domestic police are becoming increasingly militarized.

          2. enouf

            @ patricia

            Our police respond to a robbery call at about 6 hrs, if at all. We have neighborhood patrol here, and it is hard. — patricia

            Just to clarify (and, IINM);
            Robbery == violent offensive assault in a theft
            Burglary == stealing property with no physical interaction

            If you truly mean Robbery — what better way to stop that than to let all Sovereigns carry weapons to defend themselves?

            Same for even burglary — since what good is it to “report a crime” to the Thugs of the State (the Enforcers of the .01% agenda) AFTER the crime has been commited? The reason
            “burglars” do what they do is that they want to AVOID confrontation in the act; IF they suspected possible confrontation (with ensuing personal injury to themselves), they’d think thrice.

            That’s not to say Burglarly never turns into a Robbery — which gets to my point even moreso.


          3. Totin'

            We modified our Neighborhood Watch sign:

            “This is a neighborhood watch community:
            if I don’t *shoot you*
            my neighbor will.”

          4. enouf

            @ Totin’

            I smell some serious sarcasm there ;-)

            But really, if you’re referring to say a zimmerman style case; i say what went/was/is wrong are quite a few factors;

            — zim himself was/is most likely mentally deranged
            — Massively Corrupt Judicial / Prosecutorial / Police System (his father is/was a Judge)
            — not calling upon other Peace Officers (no not Town/Village/County State thug LEOs)
            — the list goes on ..

            You must admit the crime-rate in that (and *your*) gated community should plummet now ;-)


        2. Police Belligerent Association

          Sadly, rotter, no, cops are painstakingly trained – to exercise arbitrary discretion with confident impunity. Their function is coercing obedience not to law but to improvised orders for the maintenance of public passivity. More money for police will not go toward anything like this,

          but toward more tasers and armor and lethal weapons. The only good cop is a RIFfed cop, kicking his dog and drinking himself to death.

          1. patricia

            Hearing about “the only good cop is one who…” is similar to hearing that the only good government is that which is small enough to drown in bathwater.

            We need police like we need government. We need ethical workers who are well-paid, well-tended, local, and completely accountable. We have that in neither our government nor our police forces. That doesn’t mean we don’t need these structures/workers.

            Glance through this page about my city

            Here you are looking at the future for broad swaths of our country.

          2. enouf

            @ patricia

            sigh .. what we are dealing with is an entirely ILLEGITIMATE form of government; entirely corrupt and UNLAWFUL – can’t you see that? I refer you to the *limited powers* granted to “the gov” (both State and Federal) via its Sovereign inhabitants. .. but really; Read the Declaration of Independence once again, and the Articles of Confederation (prior to the US Constitution) — and the Federalist Papers


          3. patricia

            So because our gov’t is illegitimate, we should have almost no government? Because we have corrupted police, we should have almost no police force? This is absurdist thinking. That was my point.

            Sorry about your asthma.

            (Other comment is right above–I misplaced it.)

          4. enouf

            to PBA;

            1) I don’t know what a RIFfed cop is — feel free to explain
            2) Many Local/State municipalities *desire* people whose I.Q. is in the ~ 100-105 range as their prime choices; they actually reject those of higher I.Q. .. because

            a) they lose the investment of training once Higher I.Q. people become utterly bored with the daily grunt work being a LEO requires.
            b) they know people in the lower range are much more willing to OBEY their Commanders and not question them. (and not think for themselves).

        3. patricia

          With weapons, enouf, physical violence or not. If someone is hurt, we call EMT. Yah, we need more weapons in Detroit. Come here on New Year’s sometime and listen to everyone shooting out their windows. From your comment, you’ll fit right in. It’s your dystopia.

          But it’s weapons with love, right?

          1. waah blub blub blub

            The cops supplied by this mafiya state are more of a threat than all the people shooting outside our windows. World-standard cops would be nice but you’re not going to get them, you’re going to get ignorant, violent goons. If you want sufficient numbers of competent cops, go to Norway or Finland or Sierra Leone or any other functioning state.

          2. patricia

            You are right that the cops of our mafia state need to be jailed. The mafia state needs dismantling yesterday. But that is a different issue than basic policing which is essentially administering societal law where there is rampant lawlessness. Here in Detroit, it is clear as day that there is a need for it.

            My main point in all my comments, waahblub, is that we shouldn’t get all black/white by insisting that there is no need for police because what we have is badly corrupted. People tend to do this, left and right, and it doesn’t help resolve issues. We need to sit down and consider what about police is important and then re-establish our forces to that narrow premise. And while we fight against them, this must always be kept in mind.

      2. Procopius

        Well, I live in Thailand and we tend to have a lot of police. The funny thing is everybody agrees the police are the most corrupt department of a rather corrupt government, but when they have trouble they are very quick to call the police for help. And it does seem true that the police are corrupt. There was a scandal a couple of years ago where police were being required to hand out a certain number of traffic tickets per shift to generate income, rather than based on offenses. There is no doubt cops take bribes to allow bars to stay open late and gambling casinos to operate. But I think most cops still hold to the ideal, “To Serve And Protect.” The murder rate is about as high as the U.S., and violence against women is common, but otherwise the system seems to work pretty well.

    7. just me

      Prop B was San Diego, 450 miles away from San Jose.

      If those same San Jose residents who complained about slow police response times were the same voters who voted for Proposition B, all I can say to them is: “Slow police response times are exactly what you deserve!”

      Could not be the same voters.

    8. enouf

      … The very same week, San Jose residents were complaining about slow police response times to burglaries.

      If those same San Jose residents who complained about slow police response times were the same voters who voted for Proposition B, all I can say to them is: “Slow police response times are exactly what you deserve!”

      Do you realize the irrationality of these comments? If everyone — (including certain Felons, ..and yes, atleast the last 3 POTUS’ admitted to Felonies (Cocaine, Cannibis usage)) — were allowed to legally OWN handguns *burglaries* (and other (mostly violent) offenses) would surely decline! .. duh

      And guess what; every Sovereign is indeed entitled and endowed LAWFULLY to own weapons to protect themselves and their property .. DoubleDuh


      1. enouf


        Why on EARTH would you want the brute force thugs of the State showing up AFTER THE CRIME WAS COMMITTED? How in the world does that help?!


      2. enouf

        Firefighters (and EMS services) and Garbage Collectors, on the other hand, (as opposed to being allowed to Legally; Kidnap, Beat, Taser, Chemical Weapons, Shackle, Cage, …) perform an extremely useful social function; I was merely focusing on the LEOs of the State.


    9. Riggsveda

      And San Jose happens to be a very wealthy community that can well afford a few tax hikes. If it weren’t for the stupidity of Prop 13, this whole mess could have been avoided. (We don’t pay 1978 prices for groceries, gas, and rent, so why should people expect to pay 1978 taxes?) I’m so sick of places like San Jose and Colorado Springs poor-mouthing about being raped by the government abnd having no money, when half of their good citizens can’t find a place to put all their excess capital. Put it into the infrastructure, bitches!

  2. psychohistorian

    I wish I could afford to support The Real News because that was a great presentation of our current situation.

    The “elite” that I refer to as the global inherited rich were talked about as trying to push a string as politically correct talk for what some might call a form of genocide.

    So, why can’t the rest of the 99% understand the world as presented in this posting and the video? The true effectiveness of the media is the untold story of the devolution of our society into Pavlovian victims of Faith.

    So the Greeks are going to hate the Germans when the real problem is “the elite”. Has civilization advanced any in the past 500+ years? It doesn’t look like it to me.

    1. James

      Has civilization advanced in the past 500+ years? In all the usual ways. The weapons of control, deception, and death have all advanced remarkably, especially in the last 100. And I guess we must give credit where credit is due; while Stalin, Hitler, et al were certainly early innovators, US capitalist democratic leaders of late have simply taken the concepts to a higher level altogether.

      1. Ruben

        The advance is certainly notorious. As a system of control and harvest of human populations, liberal democracy is indeed a superior political system.

        Bear in mimd though that it comes in two flavours, one is the spicy neoliberal USA flavour that you recognize, but the other one is quite successful too, the vanilla socialdemocratic European flavour. There is of course in practice a continuum between these two utopias.

        I think one key to the success of liberal democracy is this duplicity, that thanks to its internal contradictions, it provides for a spectrum of solutions (from spicy to vanilla), whereas other modern forms of systems of control and harvest, more logical ones, yielded more rigid solutions and thus were more unstable.

        Under liberal democracy the subjects can be more easily get the appearance of some degrees of freedom, thay they can choose, that there is hope, that things can change, that they can become harvesters and controller themselves.

        I think that Bismarck was key in this development.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          This “duplicity” in action yields the Sin Wave of Economics + Politics throughout the “ages.”

    2. Aquifer

      I figure i can afford $10/mo for, IMO, one of the best news outlets out there – sure beats MSM …., but i know that in these times even that may be too much for some ..

      1. enouf

        I wish i could even afford that much , this juncture of dastardly obsolescence of spirituality throughout global cultures .. ugh


  3. greg

    Irregardless of the morality of peripheral indebtedness, what the ECB is inflicting on the peripheral countries is immoral. By pursuing these policies, they have totally sacrificed their legitamacy. They should be opposed, and I hope the Greeks, and the Spanish, have the strength to stick it to them.

    See: for a discussion.

    The irony, or the joke, is that the debt the EU wants repaid cannot be repaid. It certainly cannot be repaid by the periphery going deeper into debt. Only the principal is created by the issuing of the loan. But the more that is borrowed, the more interest there is, and this cannot be repaid, without further borrowing, becaue it hasn’t come into existence yet. See: Money as Debt II at eg:

  4. Middle Seaman

    The recent division of riches multiplies the share of the 1% and extracts that increase from the 99%. It calls, almost axiomatically, for a huge shrinkage of the social contract. Both Europe and the US governing powers side with the 1%. The great recession affects everyone the powers can reach easily. That is, public workers, military people, college teachers and students, etc. Capitalism, a potential culprit, does not seem to me to call for that reality. Capitalism has been replaced by the right and the left with socialism for the rich. Only an uprising can stop the process.

    1. patricia

      From Free Dictionary:

      socialism [ˈsəʊʃəˌlɪzəm] n
      1. (Economics) an economic theory or system in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state. It is characterized by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity, and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices, and production levels
      2. (Government, Politics & Diplomacy) any of various social or political theories or movements in which the common welfare is to be achieved through the establishment of a socialist economic system

      capitalism [ˈkæpɪtəˌlɪzəm] n
      (Economics) an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, characterized by the freedom of capitalists to operate or manage their property for profit in competitive conditions Also called free enterprise private enterprise

      ol·i·gar·chy (l-gärk, l-) n.
      1. a. Government by a few, especially by a small faction of persons or families.
      b. Those making up such a government.
      2. A state governed by a few persons.

      klep·toc·ra·cy (klp-tkr-s) n.
      A government characterized by rampant greed and corruption.

      1. American Slave

        The real definition of socialism is that there are worker councils where the workers get to vote on how the company is run and on things like outsourcing and community councils where the community gets to vote on how things should be run in there community.

        1. patricia

          That works. Sounds attractive, too. It’s much closer to generic definition than MS’s “Capitalism has been replaced by the right and the left with socialism for the rich” which makes no sense at all.

          Conservatives think “socialism” equals any/all evil coming from government or business. It’s an abuse of language and causes confusion of meaning. All we know is they don’t like it but we are never exactly sure what they don’t like. All we really know when hearing the word so poorly used, is that the person has likely been listening to conservative radio/tv/blogs.

    2. enouf

      … Capitalism has been replaced by the right and the left with socialism for the rich. … — Middle Seaman

      Indeed; (the Corporate) *Welfare Queens* abound … the CCCP finally are in total control.


  5. Hans Maier

    “reece has been told to reduce health care from its current 10% of GDP to below 6%.”

    If this is really the case, it is outrageous! Is there a verifyable source with good reputation for this claim?

    1. Maju

      The exact text of the infamous Memorandum can be found here:

      It reads:

      “The Government continues to implement the comprehensive reform of the health care system started in 2010 with the objective of keeping public health expenditure at or below
      6 percent of GDP, while maintaining universal access and improving the quality of care delivery. Policy measures include the integration of primary healthcare, strengthening central procurement and e-health capacity”.

      Annex I – page 60

  6. petridish

    “Greeks have long had to give medical staff cash ‘gifts’ to ensure good treatment.”–A medical care system that depends on BRIBERY to “ensure good treatment.” How HIPPOCRATIC of them.

    And there have been many reports of doctors grossly understating their incomes to pay less tax and then buying luxury villas, presumably with the “gifts” they extorted to provide the “good treatment” and the taxes they didn’t pay.

    All of this when, if we are to believe what we read, most Greeks get the money to make the “gifts” to provide the understated income to buy the villas comes from the government. What could go wrong?

    Meanwhile, back in the US where 46% of the population receives some sort of government payment, the answer to all of OUR problems is to cut taxes…

    You have been warned.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      The U.S. “elites” call this “enrollment” in a doctor’s care: substantial money up front to ensure “best care” whenever the need should arise. Apartheid medicine.

      1. Aquifer

        Well at least in Greece one can theoretically get good care with a bribe – here we can pay through the nose and still get screwed …

        1. Ms G

          Exactly right, Aquifer. And it’s a feature, not bug, of the insurance company “health care” business model: Collect Premiums Upfront – Then Deny Claims. How is that for a foolproof mousetrap? But in the US it’s called the “Health Care System.”

          1. enouf

            “Insurance” is Unlawful .. it allows for deference of liability (one’s own actions) ..just as Corporations (LLCs) are Unlawful


      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        These “elites” are on MedicarePlus, so the “enrollment” up front in the M.D.’s practice is effectively a bribe. Call it the “cherry on top” of MedicarePlus.

  7. Jesper

    Would the above mentioned problems be lessened if the 60bn euros of taxes due but not collected actually were collected?

  8. Richard Kline

    “Austerity breaks the social contract—” That’s a _feature_, not a bug. Austerity is NOT an economic policy, it’s a political program for breaking the legs on social democracy, period.

    I don’t even bother to discuss the concept of ‘austerity’ as an economic one, it’s pointless. Those arguments never engage because the underlying motivation is all political. Money is only the means of implementation, and an opportunistic one at that. In fact, one is doing the oligarchy a huge favor everytime austerity is mentioned in an economic sense: this only reinforces their meme, even if one argues ‘against austerity.’ We have to stop referring to austerity as economics and name it for what it is: CORPORATIST FASCIST SOCIAL CONTROL.

    Seriously. “Those lazy socialists . . . those fuzzy liberals . . . those anti-business eggheads . . . those arithmetically challenged do-gooders . . . someone has to take charge before we all go BANKRUPT from their tax-and-splurge.” Look, it’s all politics, so its time to name the program as that, since one can’t even begin to fight if one fights on the oligarchies terms of art.

    1. James

      Excellent points all. Economics has always been a political theosophy masquerading as a science. An intellectual justification for what are in the end, patently transparent underlying motives. NO surprise that austerity and fundamentalist Christianity go hand in hand either. Fabulous wealth for the new capitalist winner priesthood, extreme penance and austerity for the common folk who are still finding their way back to grace.

      1. James

        Actually, socialism is alive and well throughout the world, although it seems to be on life support here in the good ol’ USA these days. I take it you’re conflating it with Soviet Russian communism, a classic tactic of those who seek to undermine socialist policies. Unwitting Americans have been convinced the argument is strictly either or, when in fact we can choose anywhere along a continuum of choices.

        1. enouf

          … Actually, socialism is alive and well throughout the world,. ….

          um.. yep; for the .01%, their “socialism” works great. Why can’t most see that the CCCP (CorporateCommieCapitalistPigs) are inextricably tied to Socialism — for without the taxpayer (serf), they’d all die


      2. Moneta

        Socialism is very much alive in the US… it just can’t be seen as such. And that increases the level of corruption in government because to pass anything it must be deceitful .

        In the US, social policies always seem to come in through the back door. To make them look like capitalist policies they get passed through corporations. Why do you think health care is cheaper through an employer than when bought individually? That’s a form of socialism.

        Socialism can mean a lot of things such as cooperation, community, etc. But for some reason Americans always seem to associate socialism with evil communism.

        There are functions in our economy that will never be profitable but bring better quality of life. We need to share the costs to make it happen and be honest about how much we value those functions.

        For example here in Canada, I don’t believe air transportation can ever be profitable over a full cycle, unless we cut all but the major routes. That’s the cost of keeping our country together. However, the sentiment is so pro free markets nowadays that many will think that this line of thinking is pure heresy.

        So we keep on pretending to have competition by letting small airlines offer flights in the most profitable routes. Those small airlines are usually led by people who are somehow good friends with the politicians and of course these small firms are eating the incumbents lunch. Every few years, the small and the large go bankrupt and get refinanced while top management gets millions despite repeated failures. And over time, the whole system just gets eroded…

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          “get passed through corporations” – Just so. Such a sweet fix for the Middleman. “Eliminate the Middleman” should be the mantra, including the sundry Health Care Middlemen and various FIRE sector “Middle Management” tier. Payback.

          1. Moneta

            To not be the US.

            Remember… a lot of loyalists fled to Canada.

            The US believes in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Canadians believe in Peace, Order and Good Government.

            Big differences and these are very apparent in the structure of our society.

          2. Moneta

            As long as we have nations/countries, I don’t believe in pure capitalism or free markets.

            For example, small countries don’t have the economies of scale to compete effectively. Thus their populations have to collaborate to survive.

            Geography and climate have a huge impact. For example, here in Canada harvests are less plentiful than in the US. But should we shrink our agriculrue sector because of our lack of competitive advantage… and place ourselves at the mercy of other countries? Of course not.

            I believe Canada has to have socialist policies to survive. Unfortunetely, all countries are being forced to follow the American model which is killing us all gradually.

          3. Ignim Brites

            If the only point for Canada to stick together is to not be the US, it has a very limited future. Why doesn’t Canada make a bid for Michigan and Minnesota? Then it could feel more comfortable about letting Quebec go. Canada, or at least BC, stands a decent chance of snagging Western WA and Oregon too. The sundering of the “social contract” augurs the “twilight of the nations”. Pyroclastic secularity is upon us.

          4. Moneta

            I come from Quebec and now in Ontario.

            I look at how our economy has evolved over the last couple of decades and frankly I don’t see how the ROC will survive.

            IMO, if Canada is all about money and tries to compete with the US way of life by destroying the social net, then we’re doomed. Quebec has a natural difference because of the French language and some European tendencies.

            The rest of Canada in my opinion is just evolving as an off version of the US.

            However I know that a lot of Canadians would be appalled at my saying this.

            Now that I am out of Quebec, I see how different it really is. It is clinging to its identity but the US forces are hard to beat.

            US short-termism is really making hard for everyone.

          5. Moneta

            Who knows, maybe Canada and the US will end up being split in 4 countries within the next century.

          6. LeonovaBalletRusse

            They are QEII’s official subjects Stateside. They only “act” like a democracy.

          7. Moneta

            I had to reread your comment because it registered as QE and not the Queen. LOL! It just goes to show how important she is in our day to day!

            I don’t think the US is anymore democratic than we are. How many people go vote? How many laws reflect what most people really want? Are most Americans as radical as many of the politico nutbars?

            Democracy is another word that gets mentioned a lot but seems to have a different meaning for everyone.

          8. enouf

            @ Moneta

            … The US believes in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Canadians believe in Peace, Order and Good Government. … — Moneta

            let’s look at this more closely, shall we?

            There are 3 basic tenets of Natural Law and Biblical Law that humans, if we are to live in non-tribal communities, must observe if we expect to co-exist peacably.

            [a] Do no harm to others, nor their property
            [b] Do not breach the peace
            [c] Do NOT use FRAUD in your contracts (hahaha at this one, eh JippyMo et al?)

            then … let’s look at what you noted;

            — Life (Food, Clothing, Clean Water/Air, Shelter)
            — Liberty (Mobility throughout the Land, Protect oneself from thuggery, to do as one wishes in all cases, *if* and *only if* one causes NO HARM to others, nor another’s property), nor breaches the commons’ peace.
            — Pursuit of Happiness (Freedom to worship (or not) *without* State- imposed/sanctioned Religion, ability to *own* (Allodial title to) Real-Property to build/raise a family).


            Peace, Order, and Good Government

            I submit that a society cannot have/realize (pragmatically) your premises of the latter without first honoring and defending (viahemently) the former.

            (and i’ll interject this here for patricia too)

            — Justice (which is much too complicated at this point to go into great detail about), suffice to say, no cookie-cutter, no liberty-raping sorts.

            (..because it seems patricia is so far gone and misguided into thinking the STATE can and will solve all problems, i find it hard to reply anymore to her upthread (BTW patricia, i live in the NYC Metro area, you don’t have to tell me about Militarized Police States, not to mention you obviouslyt haven’t (a) Read the docs i suggested and (b) Responded to (answered) my questions in your replies). ..and *when* did the proliferation of your so-called beloved “Police Forces” start to arise patricia?).

            patricia, i bet you think it’s ok for “Police” to have usage of miniature Drones, loaded with miniaturized Hell-Fire missiles, hovering in your backyard, eh? Aggression begets Aggression partricia, State-sponsored aggression (especially when it cow-tows to the will of the .01%) is *not* the answer!.

            apologies i went astray and combined replies into this one, heh
            (but it all ties together)


          9. Moneta


            I would argue that much of biblical law was for tribal living and is passé in a globalized economy with 7 billion people. Especially in a multi-cultural environment.

            I believe that the US motto is just as flawed and utopic as the Canadian one.

            What is life? Is it a tipi or a 3500 square foot house.

            What is liberty? Everything we consume is taken away from someone else. It is impossible to not harm anybody. Property ownership is stealing from future generations, especially with population growth. We are no different from other species marking their territory.

            What is happiness? The sociopath’s standards is different than mine. And there are a lot of them at the top of the food chain.

            Considering there are 7 billion people on this planet, government is not going away. So IMO, instead of increasing its level of disfunction, we should be banding and forcing it to work better.

            If we don’t believe in big governement and kill it, that means a lot of new countries will need to get founded.

          10. enouf

            @ Moneta (with all due respect, there are so many things wrong you assert and presume, i’m not sure where to begin, but i’ll try ;-))

            I would argue that much of biblical law was for tribal living and is passé in a globalized economy with 7 billion people. Especially in a multi-cultural environment.

            – There is no escaping Natural Law; my Biblical Law reference was mainly (some) Truths about Humanity that cannot and shouldn’t be overlooked – namely — The Ten Commandments, The teachings of the New Testament (Golden Rule, Love thy Enemy, etc), All unalienable rights that we strive to enjoy are endowed to us through our Creator.

            What is liberty?
            I thought i described it in summary above – not entirely, but decently.

            Everything we consume is taken away from someone else. It is impossible to not harm anybody.
            That is just utter nonsense — How do farmers live? ..and who the F*** is getting harmed? Only the STATE has the power (because the people believe they do, and they’re wrong) to “take” and take they do! ..even though it’s entirely Unlawful!

            Property ownership is stealing from future generations, especially with population growth. We are no different from other species marking their territory.
            Totally disagree; it comes down to fair proportioning and allotment — Nobody should be allowed to own, oh say, more than 1000 acres of Real-Property (or some arbitrary other amount) — BUT they should be able to OWN said land — have Allodial Title to said property — Property Taxes need to be abolished!

            What is happiness? The sociopath’s standards is different than mine. And there are a lot of them at the top of the food chain. True dat; Mentally deranged people need to be removed from the commons *if* their behaviours violate those 3 major principles i outlined above.

            Considering there are 7 billion people on this planet, government is not going away. So IMO, instead of increasing its level of disfunction, we should be banding and forcing it to work better.
            You can’t, and it won’t, it has no incentive to do so – and they grow ever more sinister and dastardly each day. The framers of the Constitution (actually, the People of each State) knew this, which is why we have the Bill of Rights in the 1st place.
            ..and ..
            How is removing Gov’ts ability to act through Aggression to get what it wants; (i.e., the Elite’s desires) through Intimidation, Thuggery, Kidnapping, Caging, Beating, Tazing, Chemically attacking, Drone-striking etc.. considered “increasing its level of dysfunction”? [the mind boggles]

            If we don’t believe in big governement and kill it, that means a lot of new countries will need to get founded.
            The Declaration of Independence (and ensuing Articles of Confederation) set up *each* of the 13 colonies as their OWN NATION STATES. The US Constitution does have problems indeed, not least of which was Slavery, but even so, it was founded and ratified after many years of TPTB at that time to get their way, in a more “amicable” to them manner.
            Multiculturalism is NOT an issue; Cultures should be allowed to thrive, ..just as Nations should .. so long as each adheres to something like the UN Declaration/Charter of Human Rights – and those 3 Natural Law principles i describe — what’s wrong with a China Town, and a Little Italy, etc co-existing side-by-side in a city? Think of separate nations in the same way.

            just some thoughts


          11. enouf

            hi Moneta;

            Especially since you’re canadian ;-)
            To follow up, please seek out some robert menard youtube things (mrmitee is username) – try the “” for starters as it pertains to Peace Officers as opposed to corporate LawEnforcement Agents of the State. Whole series is good

            Also he has some real good understanding and clarifications of the “Law and Equity Act” and the Canadian Constitution (~1980-ish? IIRC) and how those Lawful documents describe everything from a;
            – Right-to-Travel as opposed to conducting COMMERCE (oh the UCC-1 people are rolling in their graves now)..
            – Ability of the Sovereigns on the land to start and run their own Banks
            – Many other wonderful tidbits; (almost) all Canada specific


        2. patricia

          Gee, enouf, why do you feel so threatened by someone saying that we need some police even though the police we have are corrupted and increasingly awfully militarized? I live in a place that is like the Wild West. Detroit is not NYC. I know how useful and necessary proper policing is–I know it practically. And if you think I also don’t know how it is corrupted, well, again, I live in Detroit. Ok?

          1. enouf

            @ patricia

            There’s nothing, and i mean NOTHING wrong with having Peace Officers and the Agents of the State LEOs are anything but that ; These POs are preferably your Neighbors — and most, if not all should be armed.

            Relying on a Corrupt State / Judiciary / Prosecutorial / LEO solution that has a much more insidious agenda than the “protect and serve”is nothing short of naïveté. You and I and all others will never stop corruption, it’s innate in Humans’ Hearts, and even if we could, it always comes back.

            Our Governments (from Local to National) are out to Steal your Wealth / Value / Property / Dignity ..and your money, at every turn, to use it to fund WAR and Aggression — that’s it! Get it?

            There is no more an Aggressor than an Agent of the State


    2. Moneta

      I think most people intuitively understand that there has been huge malinvestment and many just want to starve the beast and unfortunately believe austerity will help.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        The Big Lie in “starve the beast” agitprop is that the beast is at the center of the “public” REAL Economic System. Political reality was trumped by the Big Lie, and placed Politics over Economics for a 1% profit OUTCOME pre-determined, “brought into being” through Neoconlib Puppet Dictators (“TheDeciders” fronting the Unitary Executive Machine for the “Bankers” frontrunning financial OUTCOMES of “The Shock Doctrine” profitting the .01% Master Nobility).

        The Psycopathic Dream of Hitler+Goebbels to the nth “In Our Time.”

        1. enouf

          Perpetual PsyOps at it’s finest eh? ;-)

          (Incessantly reinforced through the MSM, and Aggression and Theft upon the Peaceful Sovereigns; WeThePeople).


    3. Warren Celli

      Richard Kline said; “We have to stop referring to austerity as economics and name it for what it is: CORPORATIST FASCIST SOCIAL CONTROL.”

      Austerity is only one facet of the multifaceted full spectrum dominance herd thinning program that is now being intentionally imposed globally. But it is not corporate fascism at work here. It is Xtrevilism. Getting the label right is important.

      “Xtrēvilism is NOT fascism — but because it relies on the Noble Lie it is more insidious…

      The ‘Noble Lie’ — considered a philosophical concept by the Xtrēvilists — is in reality a despicable and heartless deception and a cornerstone technique used by the Xtrēvilist elite for gaining power and wealth. This deceptive practice condones and even encourages intentional lying to the masses, those that the Xtrēvilism elite consider to be less worthy and less deserving — meaning you — because they consider you to be; the untermenschen, the riff raff, the inferior, the sub human, the gullible and the stupid people just like cattle. Yes, these arrogant elite Xtrēvilism practitioners think nothing of intentionally herd thinning humanity. They view us like cattle on a too thin to sustain the herd pasture, and we are being eliminated for our own good, and of course for the good of Xtrēvilism. The Noble Lie takes advantage of the fact that most all normal people are very open and trusting. They use that against you by deceiving you in the many ways listed above in the characteristics and traits (symptoms) of those who engage in Xtrēvilism.

      Because Xtrēvilism relies on the Noble Lie, and is therefore so difficult to detect, it can be far more insidious and destructive than fascism. Fascists will look you in the eye and very directly tell you that they are superior to you and want you dead. Not so with the advocates of Xtrēvilism. They are at heart cowards and bullies. They will deviously ingratiate themselves to you and give you snow job after snow job laced with apocryphal promises of hope and change while they surreptitiously exploit, diminish and extinguish your spirit.”

      Fighting Xtrevilism requires that one be far more skeptical. Xtrevilism, like Evilism, is a disease of the mind that affects one’s morality.

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  9. Ruben

    Imposed austerity might be the proximate cause, but the ultimate cause lies in the Greeks themselves, when they voted for idiotic, vane and corrupt leaders to control the destiny of their Nation. They voted Kostas Simitis of PASOK in 1996, and again in 2000. Many currently suffering -even dying- Greeks willingly woke up to the booth and marked his name on the ballot giving away their individual decision-making in public matters to this man, and others of course. Then in order to join the eurozone that did not include Greece in the first round, Simitis called Goldman-Sachs to assisst in the fabrication of data that showed that the Greek deficit/GDP was 3% when in fact it was 6.1%, violating Maastricht. Italy and Spain also violated Maastricht in terms of debt/GDP (as did Greece) in 1998 but they were open about it.

    Syriza leader would have gone a long way towards softening the wills of eurocrats and European citizens by asking for forgiveness for this oustanding lie and promising that he would be a honest leader.

  10. Maju

    I think that’s exactly what is about with all this crisis. Sure: the crisis has underlying real causes and these must be addressed but the remedy has little-to-no relation to the maladie and is instead intended to cause exactly that: a return to the very roots of the ruthless Capitalism of the 19th century for the worst.

    It’s doubtful that the attempt will succeed in the mid-run because the peoples of the World will eventually stop that. But in the short run… that’s a lot of pain that could be avoided.

  11. James

    Ahh yes, the social contract. But that it were as important these days as the mortgage debt and derivative contract. Oh well, another civilization bites the dust. Western capitalism won’t be missed nor fondly remembered.

  12. docG

    Thanks for this very illuminating and very disturbing post, Yves. Here’s my take on what’s behind all the pressures being place on ordinary people:

    “. . .the whole dog and pony show of recapitalization, austerity, growth, default, EFSF, ESB, TARGET 1, TARGET 2, etc., etc. is nothing but a huge misdirection, intended to confuse the workers of the world as to the true nature of what is taking place. Amidst all this turmoil, the tiny minority of plutocrats and oligarchs is doing just fine, raking in millions if not billions in profits earned on the backs of hapless human beings the world over, conned into believing they have no choice but to sacrifice their very lives to feed the enormous profit machine. What is at risk if they refuse to comply, is NOT their own well being, which will in fact be liberated, but the vast wealth of the super wealthy, whose power very literally depends on the willingness of ordinary people to buy into the swindle.”

    from Mole in the Ground.

  13. Sam Adams

    Has anyone considered that this is an attempt by an “elite” to reduce the earth’s total population and therefore the impact upon the enviornment and climate changes?

    1. Sufferin' Succotash

      You’re giving the 1% way too much credit for intelligence and foresight. Probably the keenest insight into the elite’s mentality came from a novelist usually not associated with any sort of political activism:

      “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money of their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
      – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby.

      1. skippy

        “Absolute power does not corrupt absolutely, absolute power attracts the corruptible.” ― Frank Herbert

        Skippy… snicker…

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Again, with Woody Allen’s film: “Crimes and Misdemeanors” — it’s still “The American Tragedy” Dreiser wrote about: The “rich” get away with murder.

    2. Maju

      Why a population reduction scheme would be directed against areas with near zero demographic growth like Europe or North America and not against China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Africa (oops that was the AIDS bio-bomb but even that did not work)?

      The reality is much simpler: the Capitalist camp (roughly similar to US Empire) devised two sequential “easy money” schemes to keep its propaganda advantage vs. the USSR and other Socialist camp attractors in the Western World (Cuba may count but China does not – it’s not even truly socialist in fact). The first one was the roughly Keynesian/Social-Democrat New Deal/Welfare state, which implied widespread state intervention to compensate from the weaknesses of Capitalism: its tendency to squeeze the common people to the last drop.

      After the transition to Toyotism and the 1971 crisis however the new method was to pump almost unlimited private credit to the popular classes, while state intervention was curtailed. This is known as Reaganism, although Bushism is maybe an even better name.

      The credit bubble allowed the Capitalist camp to persist into the Toyotist “social worker” era, while the old school socialist camp collapsed (unable to adapt its Fordist-era authoritarian methods).

      However once the USSR was liquidated, there was no more need for this system, and as it collapsed on its own weight, the only that remains is naked Capitalism, and I do not mean this blog but raw, brutal Capitalism.

      It has no purpose other than making the rich richer. It’s just a social system… a social system that does not work anymore for Society, so it’s clearly doomed.

      It just needs some time and some effort to bring down, but it will fall – no doubt.

      1. Z

        “Why a population reduction scheme would be directed against areas with near zero demographic growth like Europe or North America and not against China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Africa (oops that was the AIDS bio-bomb but even that did not work)?”

        The elites that are driving the austerity machine aren’t living in China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, and Africa … and anyway, those countries’ populations are culled by other forces.


    3. J Sterling

      The elite never want fewer workers. They want more workers, but poorer ones.

      Working class people want families, but the history of the last century shows that prosperous working class people have smaller families, which leads to the wailing about “labor shortage” and “demographic time bombs”, and then to calls for importing cheap tenant workers from elsewhere to keep rents up and wages down.

      Attempts to make your own people viciously poor should therefore be seen for what they are: a strategy to increase the number of people, not decrease it. A policy for reducing the human impact on the planet would seek fewer, more prosperous humans, not poorer, more desperate ones.

        1. J Sterling

          Cheap, skilled, and servile; they always want more of all three. Which is why there’s always a “servant problem”, and they never can “get the staff these days”, no matter how good a deal they’re getting off the workers.

          And because they always raise the qualifications and lower the wages until the applicants stop coming, the workers can always be accused of “not wanting the jobs”.

        2. Ms G

          Mike Bloomberg’s Charity – new program: fund scholarships for NYC 1% nannies at special new NYU 1-year program to learn a little French, a little opera, a little Emily Post.

          Not yet a fact, but who knows . . .

      1. Z

        Sure, they want competition within the work force to drive down labor costs, but there are limits to how many workers they want. I certainly don’t think that they want a large, desperate mass of people with no hope and a lot of time on their hands becoz to keep those desperate masses placated, they’d have to shovel out some money to them thru social programs which would likely have to be funded with higher taxes on the only ones that can afford it: them.


        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          The “surplus population” = Soylent Green and “Human Energy” (Chevron).

          1. Maju

            Don’t hallucinate with “human energy”, that’s a Hollywood concept (Matrix and the like). Humans are a very useless kind of “cattle”… unless used for work. What makes humans worth from the viewpoint of any potential exploiter is our capacity to realize a most diverse array of works that require from basic manual dexterity to highly intellectual capacitation. Animals cannot do that and, even if robots have been taking some of those roles (at a cost), they can’t do most of what we do yet (and they are expensive in any case: they don’t run on beans as we do).

      2. patricia

        Here is a position offered through Americorps (college grads). Out of 6 sentences of explanation, one is spent explaining why the wage is so awful–it’s good for you! (post-service stipend is $5000)

        Three VISTA positions are available for a one year term beginning in November 2011. AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service program designed to fight poverty, where VISTA members commit to building the capacity of organizations. During your service, you will receive a modest living allowance ($10,000), health care; and upon completing your service, you may choose to receive a Segal Education Award or post service stipend. Having a modest living allowance helps volunteers to understand and assist those in poverty. The deadline for applications is August 24, 2011. Please visit the AmeriCorps website and search for the “Grand Vision to Grand Action” project to apply.”

      3. Harold

        Agreed. Excess workers keep wages down. Capitalism requires them.

        In the United States, to make sure there aren’t too many of these excess workers out their creating unacceptable levels of social unrest, prisons are built to store the most troublesome ones, and as a threat to the others, while at the same time serving as another profit source for elites.

    4. Z

      Our rulers have decided that there are too many of us … more than they have a need for … and they have set out to systematically shorten our life spans. Maybe this wasn’t part of any grand plan, but it has evolved into this due to their insatiable greed and the lack of checks and balances upon it. They’ve pressed the economic and environmental systems to their limits and now their solution is to cull the human population that draws from those resources rather than risk disturbing the power order that they currently stand atop of.

      What happens when they have more labor than they need? Do you think that they want to actually support people that they have no need for? Do you think that they want a large, desperate mass of people with a lot of time on their hands? I don’t think so becoz to keep the desperate masses placated, they’d have to shovel out some money to them thru social programs which would likely have to be funded with higher taxes on the only ones that can afford it: them.

      They’re not going to publicly announce a global human population life-shortening initiative of course; what they’ll do instead is cut back on social services … it’s called austerity … and let the physically and economically weak die off. It’s bloodless, it leaves no finger prints, and it doesn’t set off revolution alarm bells. It’s just the system … and the accountability for it is nebulous, which is just the way they want it.


      1. Maju

        Shortening life span does not reduce population growth dynamics at all: most of the lifespan (above 45 or so) is extra, not needed at all for reproductive purposes, at least if you don’t mean quality in reproduction, just quantity.

        What reduces population growth is education, very specially education and cultural empowering of women, and also availability of contraceptives.

        There are many examples of countries with very low life span which continue growing, while most countries bordering replacement levels have lenghty life spans.

        1. Z

          When I talk about shortening lifespans, I’m talking about on average … it doesn’t mean that we are all going to die x amount of years early … austerity does not have that precision obviously. When you begin culling, the first to die off are your economically and physically weak … of all ages … but if you keep squeezing healthier people die off as well for treatable illnesses and/or starvation and other reasons.

          It does seem somewhat logical that the more free time that people have the more likely that they’ll reproduce, but that assumes an irresponsible population that doesn’t use birth control and reproduces without regard to their quality of life for themselves and their children. I suspect that in Europe and the U.S., the education, cultural empowering of women, and availability of contraceptives are much more prevelant than in the countries that you claim have a very low life span but continue growing.


          1. Maju

            I don’t assume anything: low education (and often high religion) people of Earth have generally reproduced quite wildly. Responsible reproduction implies a quasi-bourgeois mentality in which one for example has a farm to pass to children… or at least an education… when one has nothing… single parent families or otherwise ravaged but fertile familes thrive. That’s empirical and not any assumption.

          2. Z

            To be honest I don’t even remember what I was trying to address in my 2nd paragraph above. I think I just sort of misfired on something and misunderstood your point.

            Anyway, it’s kind of irrelevant becoz, again, we’re talking about culling the economically and physically weak first with the austerity programs. The most needy will be hurt first and that’s across all age groups although, of course, older people tend to be more needy … especially now. I made a poor choice of words when I termed it “life-shortening” … they’re not able to shave x amount of years off all of our lives obviously … it’s basically culling and it means taking the weak off of societal support and letting them fend for themselves, damn well knowing that it’s decreasing their life expectancy.

            They know that, they have to know that … but they’re still driving it. They also know that the economy and the environment won’t support this many people without a much more socialistic system … so they’re looking to decrease the amount of people the system is supporting and hence still maintain full claim to their wealth.


    5. Z

      “Has anyone considered that this is an attempt by an “elite” to reduce the earth’s total population … ?”

      I’m extremely surprised that more people aren’t coming to this conclusion when that is indeed the undeniable consequence of the austerity machine. It’s certainly not helping out the economy … that much is also undeniable despite our rulers’ claims. Do people actually think the shortened lifespans are an accident? If it is, then why aren’t there measures being taken to prevent it? Do they think that the austerity machine, which was constructed by our sociopathic rulers, is running on auto-pilot and that there’s no way to stop it’s murderous output? Do they think that our rulers truly believe that it will help the economy when there is absolutely no evidence to support that fallacy? Do they think that our rulers don’t understand that shortened lifespans for us … not for them … will come about as a result of the austerity medecine that they are administering to us?

      Look at the results to understand the reason for austerity, don’t listen to our rulers’ explanations for it becoz they have zero credibility. Again, it’s not like they are going to publicly announce a human population life-shortening initiative. Instead they are just going to force feed it to us and tell us that it’s good for us … which is exactly what they are doing.


    6. Moneta

      I still think Malthus had it right. The thing is that he did not realize globalization would give us an extra century or 2.

      When we look at the deforestation and general pollution we have achieved over the last century, how can we realistically believe life will not change?

      All this mess was generated by 3 billion going to 7… and we think it’s going to get better with 7 billion going to 9… considering an extra billion or 2 are aspriing to consume the way we do???

      It’s not going to happen. We will blame politicians and bankers and everyone. But the reality is that managing 7 billion people efficiently is impossible.

      No population will ever reduce its consumption of energy because another group will consume it for them. Populations always grow to the limit of their resources. The more efficient we become, the more energy we will consume… no matter what we do, we will reach a peak and drop off.

      The natives used to live in symbiosis with nature but would still need to move every 100-200 years due to overexploitation of the land and its resources.

  14. Aquifer

    And the solution, instead of austerity, according to Johnson?

    “A Green New Deal” – hmmm, now where have i heard that before?

    Oh yeah –

    So we actually have an opportunity to support and vote for a real solution – the question is, as it has been for over a decade, will we?

    1. William Neil

      Well, since talk of “the grand bargain” has resurfaced here and in Washington, here a version that won’t be on the table:

      It would be that the private sector finally realize that because of its success at innovation, creative destruction, efficiency, and yes, automation, that it no longer needs 10-25% of the workforce, as our low participation rate in the US shows. And it recognizing this fact, it concedes the right of the public sector to provide that work through of public jobs program, which will have the strong flavor of a “Green New Deal.”

      Now before the tough reviewers at this site jump on, I fully realize that this isn’t doable within the Democratic Party itself, which wants to diassociate itself from the New Deal. Shockingly, it has conceded that the private sector is the only legitimate “job creator.” And the AFL-CIO is deferring to the Democrats, not taking the lead on this: they have turned aside the Kansas City School’s outreach on a “jobs for all” program.

      Instead, we have Democrats muddling through with inadequate substitutes for jobs, fiddling with all sorts of “peripherial” mechanisms…cuts in Social Security taxes, token stimulus…inadequate aid to prevent the deflationary budget balancing at state and local govts from pulling us all further downslope…

      The left has given so much away to the Right over the past three democratic presidents that the dominant understanding of political economy in the “popular” mind is that of “common sense” budget balancing, of not living beyond ones means, for a family, county,state, nation…you can hear this in the German discussion,and you could have read it in the Democratic candidates websites and positions statements throughout Maryland in 2010…Thus the common notion in the Democratic party is actually pre-Keynesian!!

      So the Right is winning at home and in Europe,where the neoliberal idea is turn all public employment over to the private sector, thereby weakening if not destroying any worker protections built into the public labor market. Yes this means lower wages, skimpier pensions and longer hours for employees…it also means lower overall demand in the short and medium run in the economy, and eventually that there will be fewer counter-cyclical sytems fighting against deflations…thus setting up the potential for even greater disruptions in an unreformed financial sector.

      Let’s assume the Right gets everything it wants in Europe: Spaniards and Greeks still have to make things for the world markets; their goods will be cheaper…but someone else got their first and is still cheaper: China and Asia have gobbled up an enormous share of world’s manufacturing, and they’re not going to give it up…so the Right is really placing their hope in the idea that when wages are driven to peasant levels in all the periphery countries of Europe, entrepreneurs will suddenly emerge into the town squares with wonderful new ideas to be built upon all this cheap labor…and they capture the new markets…

      This is never spelled out, but that’s the idea…it’s got to be a ten year project at least in Europe and the US; so what holds up demand during that decade,since,especially since,we are starting this project from deflationary, depression conditions? In my mind, this is literally the “liquid labor, liquidate the farmers, liquidate…everthing” sentiment which Herbert Hoover attributed to his Sec.of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon. Today its called creating more flexible labor markets.

      Good luck with that.

      1. F. Beard

        Shockingly, it has conceded that the private sector is the only legitimate “job creator.” William Neil

        That’s obviously not true when it comes to government jobs. But it is true when it comes to jobs beyond government’s legitimate needs – by definition.

        But government CAN create private sector jobs indirectly with money. A BIG or “Social Dividend” would have the same effect on aggregate demand as a JG but without wasting people’s time on jobs that the private sector would not pay for.

        1. William Neil

          I can think of two major environmental tasks the private sector has been unwilling to tackle, except on very limited terms: the clean up of the Chesapeake Bay and a national energy efficiency program. McKinsey & Co did a major study of the costs and potential savings of the tens of millions of structures – homes,businesses,offices,apartments – that have never had an energy audit – and showed what a program of say home audits and remediations would cost and what it would deliver. Government has never scaled up to take this on; the private sector has done some on larger projects with more extensive scopes and ambitions where it puts up the capital and installs the efficiency equipment and then gets a share of the energy savings, split with the homeowner. But it is just something they see as profitable, it is not designed to employ and train millions on a long-term project. I could certainly see a mixed program funded by govt, with some of the work going to the private sector.

          On the Chesapeake Bay, you have a failure story writ large, going back decades, the case study that everybody reads about, which has never committed the scale of resources necessary. I can imagine, quite easily, hundreds of thousands emplolyed to get the job done, with many skills needed and lots of training. Naturally, private environmental contractors will want it all, and they’ll get some, but again, here’s a public purpose everybody says they favor, but the nature of the political economy over the past 30 years means that the mission can’t be accomplished.

          It’s interesting to consider how the Right looks at these public-private economic “boundary questions.” For example, Amity Shlaes, in her Forgotten Man revisionist account of the New Deal, asserts that the big bad bogeymen of the New Deal prevented the private sector – all yearning to bring light and electricity to rural farm America – 90% of whom did not have it – but the New Deal interferred. But Robert Caro tells an entirely different account with far more specifics: that the private power sector just didn’t see as much profits in lighting up rural America as it did in the cities and suburbs. I give readers the specifics about what Caro said here in my review of Shlaes book:

          “As late as 1935, farmers had been denied electricity not only in the Hill country but throughout the United States. In that year, more than 6 million of America’s 6.8 million farms did not have electricity…For two decades and more, in states all across the country, delegations of farmers, dressed in Sunday shirts washed by hand and ironed by sad iron, had come, hats literally in hand, to the paneled offices of utility-company executives to ask to be allowed to enter the age of electricity. They came in delegations, and they came alone…But in delegations or alone, the answer they received was almost invariably the same; that it was too expensive…Experiments – notable ones had taken place in Red Wing, Minnesota, and in Alabama- had conclusively proved that within two or three years after farmers had obtained electricity…their usage… soared – to a point where there was substantial profit for the utilities. When the utilities ignored these studies their true attitude became clear: not that rural electric service could not be profitable, but that it would not be as profitable as urban service…Alabama Power & Light refused to reduce its rates more than a token amount even after it was allowed to buy electricity at a very low cost from the government-owned dam at Muscle Shoals. When a farmer offered to pay the cost of building a power line to his house, the utilities said they would allow him to do so- but that when it was built, they, not he would own it.”

          This is no small matter, a splitting of hairs over an ambiguous, obscure chapter in American history. This is a matter crucial to establishing a fair history of the contest between public and private power, and why government sometimes needed to step into a vacuum, of power or fairness or both, especially in the 1930’s when the profit sector couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do so, willing to leave one third of a nation in the dark. One would think this would be a major matter between historians on the Left and the Right, and something that might rise to a political debate between Democrats and Republicans in the years 2008-2012. Sitting in front of me, for example, is the April 9, 2012 print edition of The Nation, whose read and black cover asks in giant letters: Can We Trust Government Again? Well, if you believe Shlaes’ account, and this was the clear intent of her book, the answer is no, we can’t, we can only have full faith in the private sector, and its supposedly self-correcting properties, and of course, private personal initiative, like that taken by the founder of AA, and Father Divine. If you believe Caro, then history, and even economics, looks very different, despite all the flaws and contradictions in Lyndon Johnson’s character.

          1. run75441

            Mr. Neil:

            Work ethic by Labor is no longer needed when greater profitability can be gained in no-labor intensive investments. You misunderstand the phenomena Labor is faced with today. The Labor side of the equation is not needed to the extent it was a decade ago and even moreso decades ago.

        2. reslez

          The private sector “won’t pay for” anything without a high enough profit margin. Does that mean those things are not worth doing? There’s plenty of work that needs to be done that can’t be done by the private sector — health and personal services, environmental cleanup, infrastructure development. With all this to do and unemployment so high a JG is just plain common sense.

          1. F. Beard

            Government should do what government should do (including health care payments, Social Security, etc.) but if the economy needs money beyond that (and it does – to payoff debt) then it is far better to just hand it out to the population and let them decide how to spend it.

          2. William Neil

            I find this fascinating because Liberatarian Charles Murray ends up in this strange same place at the conclusion of his book “Losing Ground.” I says its strange because Murray has spend a lot of time in the book praising the work ethic and values the “Founding Fathers” had in 1787, which the upper class still has in spades, but which the working class has lost. It’s all the working class’ own fault along “character lines,” mind you…but my question to both you and Murray is why are you so willing to ditch what so much of the Right and Center make so “central”: the work ethic…

            The situation of the economy is not just one as Krugman would have it and the Democratic Party as well, of a temporary shortage of demand; both he and the party have underestimated the structural problems of late capitalism, including the anti-employment effect of automation. These structural problems including concentration of wealth and income and the old bogeys of monopoly and oligopoly, plus the loss of our industrial base and the great trade imbalances…I’m willing, despite all this, to declare capitalism a wonderful success on its own efficiency terms if it would only – meaning the business leadership class – would then allow the rest of society that it doesn’t need – to get on with all the tasks it doesn’t find valuable, profitable or socially necessary…including all the environment ones …and that biggy, global warming that is seems indifferent too in any time and scope frame that would seem to matter. That’s my sensse of the grand bargain. Business has shown no inclination to agree…It wants to run all of society: politics, non-profits, medicine, the genetic code, space travel…and everything that comes into and out of my computer on its own terms…in that sense it has no interest in a Social Democratic(acy) bargain of any sort…and the Democratic party no longer knows what that means…

          3. F. Beard

            I find this fascinating because Liberatarian Charles Murray ends up in this strange same place at the conclusion of his book “Losing Ground.” I says its strange because Murray has spend a lot of time in the book praising the work ethic and values the “Founding Fathers” had in 1787, which the upper class still has in spades, William Neil

            The upper class can work when, where, how and how much it wants to.

            but which the working class has lost. W N

            While the working class cannot.

            It’s all the working class’ own fault along “character lines,” mind you… WN

            That would be true in a just system, which we don’t have, btw.

            but my question to both you and Murray is why are you so willing to ditch what so much of the Right and Center make so “central”: the work ethic… WN

            I don’t know about Murray but my concern is just restitution for theft. “Credit creation” is theft by counterfeiting.

            The situation of the economy is not just one as Krugman would have it and the Democratic Party as well, of a temporary shortage of demand; both he and the party have underestimated the structural problems of late capitalism, including the anti-employment effect of automation. WN [emphasis added]

            The population HAS been disemployed with its own stolen purchasing power, true.

            These structural problems including concentration of wealth and income and the old bogeys of monopoly and oligopoly, plus the loss of our industrial base and the great trade imbalances…I’m willing, despite all this, to declare capitalism a wonderful success on its own efficiency terms … WN

            Then you justify theft for the sake of efficiency. But it’s not even efficient. Consider how much was wasted in the Great Depression and WW II because of the unjust money system? Consider how much is being wasted now and is at risk?

            We can have even greater efficiency and stability too if we will implement money ethically.

          4. enouf

            @ F. Beard said;
            … Government should do what government should do (including health care payments, Social Security, etc.) …

            Excuse me?

            Government should do precisely what the CREATORS of the government says they should do; and SOLELY with the Sovereigns’ CONSENT!

            The CREATORS of any government themselves are endowed with powers only made available through their CREATOR (as you know); ergo When the Creators say “JUMP”, the government (their Agents) should ask “HOW HIGH!?”

            righto .. carry on


          5. enouf

            @ F. Beard

            Btw; NO! You Do Not Have My CONSENT!
            (is my response to almost all gov’t proposals).

            Illegitimate Gov’ts are NULL and VOID and they need to be Stamped as such.

            Can you believe the gall of the MSM *gauging* (quantifying) how well the Gov’t was doing based solely on How Many Laws They Passed?! There is no other such level of absurdum IMHO.


          6. enouf

            @ William Neil said;
            … but my question to both you and Murray is why are you so willing to ditch what so much of the Right and Center make so “central”: the work ethic… …

            Work Ethic? hahaha, .. you must be joking .. the elites are the sorriest laziest bunch of pondscum on the planet, and we’ve allowed them to reign as the Welfare Queens, on our behalf.

            Their constant *wealth* amalgamation, accumalation, creation is all just a Grand Illusion — they have “nothing” but a FAITHFUL following, they are Insolvent!. They have No Value! .. it is only FAITH of the secular humanists that allows for such nonsense.


      2. James

        Two words: Campaign contributions. OF COURSE the pols are gonna mouth the words and positions of their corporate sponsors.

  15. Aquifer

    The rhetoric that is being used to justify what is happening in Greece re healthcare is the same rhetoric behind the Cat Food Commission’s (Simpson Bowles) proposal for a “Grand Bargain”.

    Once you accept the “logic” or “legitimacy” of the argument, the cutting begins (or ends, if you need surgery ..) and the % of GDP allocated to health care becomes the province of the bean counters on a public scale just as it is on the private (aka medical loss ratio).

    Johnson’s point about the social contract being enacted after WWII as a “bribe” to keep folks from going “commie” during the Cold War is one to remember – now that the CW is over, the schmucks at the top believe that people will accept TINA to their dictates. As long as we go along with that perception, we are screwed …

    The alternatives are there – ready to be chosen ….

  16. Ping

    I wonder about Greek spending on Olympics which even at the time seemed like a huge over the top boondoggle for a short term event that would never make long term financial sense.

    I wonder about the staggering public expeditures on the Olympics in general, how do additional stadiums etc make sense after it’s over? Who are the big beneficiaries that countries compete to spend massive amounts of taxpayer funds on and there is no transparent reconcillation to show how these investments make long term sense that I knnow of.

    Just one example, maintaining the indoor ice skating stadium Vancouver built for winter olympics will be a taxpayer drain forever.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      “Olympics” purpose is R.E. asset appreciation for the .01% slumlords who have taken their positions in anticipation of financial OUTCOME to them of the Games.

      1. Ms G

        Yes. See e.g., attempted (but failed) NY Olympic Stadium on West Side of Manhattan (care of Mike Bloomberg + Mr. Doctoroff) to gin up values of RE magnates’ positions all along the Hudson shore. When that failed, up came the High Line Park! It’s working, for the well-positioned.

  17. Lee

    For decades I and many I know have viewed western Europe as a model to be emulated. Developments such as these are terribly disheartening.

    Here in the U.S. I see international labor arbitrage enabled by globalization as a principal factor in our own downward spiral. It appeared that at least some countries in Europe had solved or at least achieved a good degree of mitigation as regards this problem.

    One difference might lie in the fact that in Europe, the workers receive a greater portion of the value they produce, not only on the job but through social services. In contrast, U.S. workers have seen the surpluses they produce reinvested not at home but in countries such as China where for various reasons, foremost among them, government thuggery in the service of corporate profits, labor costs can be reduced to as much as 50th of what would be the case in the U.S.

    I am no expert in these matters but if the above dynamic is indeed one of the root causes of the current problems, then all our social contracts as regards workers’ rights, labor standards and compensation, not to mention meaningful democratic processes, that have been gained through protracted struggle, are at risk.

    How much longer before we might well proclaim “We all live in Greece now”, or alternatively, “We all live in China now.”

    1. Aquifer

      Yup, you got it, that was the point of “free trade” globalization – separate producers from consumers so as to remove the leverage the “producers” (labor) had over the greedy bastards at the top and the result was pretty clear … The mechanism? Remove all protections for domestic labor, suppliers and resources under the guise that the amoral “invisible” hand of the Market would produce better “results” than any policy based on social considerations, let alone on the quaint nonscientific concept of “morality” …

      And Big Labor went right along with it by sticking to a political party that had sold the 99% out, and gutted itself in the process ….

      1. enouf

        “… quaint nonscientific concept of “morality” …”

        That’s right, Morals have always been, and always will be nonscientific and nonmathematical; Morals are inherent, innate, endowed to us through our Creator — so long as the antithesis is an accepted cultural norm, all are doomed. Mathematics and the Sciences are just Humankind’s way of trying to understand the LAWS and WAYS of our Creator, nothing more, nothing less. We, acting as Non-Spiritual humans/entities deserve all we wish for.


      1. James

        Good point. And “invisible hand.” If that isn’t an allusion to a god head I don’t know what is.

        1. enouf

          Yep … the elites think they are gods — when in essence they are the true epitome of Welfare Queens.


  18. Man+steel

    Let’s assume the opposite, i.e. that Greece could print tons of fiat money or get it from Germany. Lets assume Spain, Italy and France would follow. This would be morale and sustainable, wouldn’t it?
    How about a different perspective: Europeans did not realize that going on vacation for the summer and eating/sleeping 20% of the work day coupled by corruption and increasing levels of social payments lead to bankruptcy. Who said bankruptcy was fun or extends life expectancy?

    1. Red rose bouquet

      What Europeans did not realize is that when dimbulb bank bondholders lose their shirts and have a tantrum about it, you should let them swing slowly in the wind. Then you pry out their gold fillings. Only then do you recapitalize. Subordination is a half-measure.

    2. Aquifer

      Yup, life is supposed to be short, nasty, and brutish, isn’t it? After all what is the point of “progress” if not to make this clear to all?

  19. F. Beard

    Even though Greece always had a large black market, more people are resorting to barter, which shrinks the tax base. Yves Smith

    Greece should issue its own money again. When people fall back to barter it means the money system has failed.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Maybe Greece should re-invent itself as a closed-system “barrio” or “hood” or “ghetto” with a little help from friends outside the system, and let Bismark just “deal with it.” They can even FORBID entry to 1% slummers in their hood.

      “Self-control” — “Now thass what I’m talkin’ about.”

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        And imagine “contagion” of this “Southern attitude” for self-preservation against those “menacing hordes” from the North.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Further: Imagine “Le Hot Club Mediterranean” as “Madagascar Fulfilled.” Do I see a “demographic” seismic shift in the offing? Let the Fed earn its keep.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            The New Economic + Politics Model of C21 transformation of MedSouth in real time has been proven on the ground, time and time again, all over the world: OSF. It works.

          2. James

            OK LBR, you’ve exceeded your Reply links, that’ll be enough. LOL, but seriously, whenever I hear the words the Greeks and the Hood in close proximity I always think of my favorite TV show, HBO’s “The Wire.” I know, I know, it’s the favorite of every privileged liberal media figure you or I know, but although I certainly am a liberal by any reasonable liberal definition of the word, I’m certainly NOT a privileged media figure by any stretch of the imagination.

            Will “the Greeks” eventually reassert themselves on a global stage that has CLEARLY gone off the rails otherwise? One can only hope. They (or we) could hardly do worse, now could they?

    2. tiebie66

      Their own money system like Zimbabwe or Hungary has? Clearly there is more to it and the ability to print is not the solution by itself. Without a productivity increase there would be no benefit to sovereign currency issuance. On the other hand, with productivity increases, Greece may not have to leave the Euro or deceive about its finances.

      On a broader scale, unfortunately, the poor, the lazy, the greedy, and the corrupt will always be with us. As will different racial temperaments and abilities. The question is how to deal with these variations fairly. Pretending that everyone is the same (aka “equal”) is certain to produce injustice.

      1. F. Beard

        Without a productivity increase there would be no benefit to sovereign currency issuance. tiebie66

        Wrong. Existing productivity is being destroyed as people revert to barter. Preventing the destruction of lunches is not the same as a “free lunch”.

        Your mistake, a huge one, is to assume the money system is just. It isn’t.

        1. James

          The myth of productivity is entirely an illusion created by the GOD of unlimited exponential growth. The first has been historically overstated, the second never actually existed at all. Gods are invariably like that. Reject Gods! THINK for yourself!

          1. F. Beard

            Productivity increases are NOT a myth. The trouble is that the productivity increases were funded with stolen purchasing power and thus the benefits of increased productivity are not justly shared.

            As for limitless growth, that is easily probable but not with our current money system.

  20. Disgusted

    I hope Romney gets elected and imposes this same austerity on arrogant and ignorant Americans–Americans deserve Romney.

      1. knowbuddhau


        Austerity is a project of Market Fundamentalists. We need to do away with the superficial “Left vs Right/ Dems vs Repubs” narrative.

        Although Henry Giroux nails it in his article, “The Scorched-Earth Politics of America’s Four Fundamentalisms” [06 March 2012, for some strange reason, he also tries to sneak in the bullshit “Party A vs Party B” distinction.

        [HENRY GIROUX:] Market Fundamentalism

        A number of powerful anti-democratic tendencies now threaten American democracy and at least four of these are guaranteed to entail grave social and economic consequences. The first is a market fundamentalism that not only trivializes democratic values and public concerns, but also enshrines a rabid individualism, an all-embracing quest for profits and a social Darwinism in which misfortune is seen as a weakness, and a Hobbesian “war of all against all” replaces any vestige of shared responsibilities or compassion for others. Free-market fundamentalists now wage a full-fledged attack on the social contract, the welfare state, any notion of the common good and those public spheres not yet defined by commercial interests. Within neoliberal ideology, the market becomes the template for organizing the rest of society. Everybody is now a customer or client, and every relationship is ultimately judged in bottom-line, cost-effective terms. Freedom is no longer about equality, social justice or the public welfare, but about the trade in goods, financial capital and commodities.

        As market fundamentalism ensures that the logic of capital trumps democratic sovereignty, low-intensity warfare at home chips away at democratic freedoms, while high-intensity warfare abroad delivers democracy with bombs, tanks and chemical warfare. The cost abroad is massive human suffering and death. At home, as Paul Krugman points out, “The hijacking of public policy by private interests” parallels “the downward spiral in governance.”(13) With the rise of market fundamentalism, economics is accorded more respect than politics and the citizen is reduced to being only a consumer – the buying and selling of goods is all that seems to matter. Even children are now targeted as a constituency from which to make money, reduced to commodities, sexualized in endless advertisements and shamelessly treated as a market for huge profits. Market fundamentalism not only makes time a burden for those without health insurance, child care, a decent job and adequate social services, but it also commercializes and privatizes public space, undermining both the idea of citizenship and those very spaces (schools, media etc.) needed to produce a formative culture that offers vigorous and engaged opportunities for dialogue, debate, reasoned exchange and discriminating judgments. Under such circumstances, hope is foreclosed and it becomes difficult either to imagine a life beyond capitalism or to believe in a politics that takes democracy seriously.

        When the market becomes the template for all social relations, the obligations of citizenship are reduced merely to consumption, while production is valued only insofar as it contributes to obscene levels of inequality. Not only the government but all the commanding institutions of society are now placed in the hands of powerful corporate interests, as market fundamentalism works hard to eliminate government regulation of big business and celebrates a ruthless competitive individualism. This type of strangulating control renders politics corrupt and cynical. Robert Kuttner gets it right when he observes:

        One of our major parties has turned nihilist, giddily toying with default on the nation’s debt, revelling in the dark pleasures of fiscal Walpurginsnacht. Government itself is the devil…. Whether the tart is the Environment Protection Agency, the Dodd-Frank law or the Affordable Care Act, Republicans are out to destroy government’s ability to govern … the administration trapped in the radical right’s surreal logic plays by Tea Party rules rather than changing the game … the right’s reckless assault on our public institutions is not just an attack on government. It is a war on America.[14]

        In the land of the isolated individual, everything is privatized and public issues collapse into individual concerns so there is no way of linking private woes to social problems – the result is a dog-eat-dog world. Moreover, when all things formerly linked to the public good are so aggressively individualized and commercialized, it leaves few places in which a critical language and democratic values can be developed to defend institutions as vital public spheres. [Emphasis added.]


        The gist of Giroux’s quote of Kuthner is obvious: all we need to do is to vote Democratic.

        Like many commenters here, I don’t think the administration is “trapped in the radical right’s surreal logic….” If it is trapped, it’s in one the Wall Street Dems have set for themselves, as described by Jeff Cohen in a 3 Feb 2010 interview on The Real News Network.

        “Progressives and the Democratic Party (Part 2)”

        [JEFF COHEN:] What’s not talked about as much is that there was a parallel movement that started in the 1980s, which was to take the other major party, the historic party of the people, the Democratic Party, and turn it more toward the corporate right. And what happened in the 1980s and it was in fear of these same forces labor unions, new left, antiwar, environmentalist, feminist. There was this sense that the Democratic Party was too allied with these movements, these social movements that were representing millions of people, so the Democratic Leadership Council was set up. It was set up, funded by oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, tobacco companies, some of the biggest companies in the country. It was largely a corporate front inside the Democratic Party to fight the movements in the Democratic Party and move the leadership of the party toward corporate prerogatives. Who were the leaders of it? Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Joe Lieberman. These were three of the big figures, and, of course, they were the presidential and vice presidential candidates in ’92, ’96, and 2000. So it was, frankly, a very successful movement.

        Well, let’s update the Democratic Leadership Council. In 2000 . And they set up a few other groups, think tanks, that would push what was their agenda, so-called free trade, deficit reduction, budget balancing, and taking on the teachers unions, school vouchers. So now let’s move to 2006, and a new group is formed as part of this constellation of moving the Democratic Party to the corporate right, and it’s a group called the Alexander Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution. And the director of it is Robert Rubin, who had been the Treasury Secretary for Clinton, had been at Goldman Sachs and, later, Citigroup. Roger Altman had been US Treasury Department under Clinton.

        And there’s an amazing thing. And this group is set up for budget deficit, international trade, taking on the teachers union, and they had their founding meeting in April 2006. And only one US senator shows up to speak at this founding meeting, and that’s a very new senator, Barack Obama from Illinois, who’s only been in Washington a little over a year. So for a lot of us who were tracking Obama in 2007, of course he got a lot of $25 and $50 donations from people that really wanted change they could believe in, but in 2007, way before he was a front-runner, he was out-fundraising all the other candidates from Wall Street.

        And it was something I’ve never quite been able to figure out. There were two presidential candidates from the state of New York, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton, and Obama was out-fundraising them from Wall Street early in ’07. Now, Wall Street money and corporate money always goes to the front-runner. Obama was getting this money before he was the front-runner. So the missing piece to the puzzle is this clip where Obama is the only senator who shows up at the Alexander Hamilton Project.

        [VIDEO] SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL): Thank you very much. I would love just to sit here with these folks and listen, because you’ve got on this panel and in this room some of the most innovative, thoughtful policymakers. I want to thank Bob and Roger and Peter for inviting me to be here today. I wish I could be here longer.

        [Emphasis added. Paragraph breaks added for clarity.]


        Obama’s “secretive trade agreement” perfectly proves the point. How is voting Democratic supposed to help when Obama does shit like this?

        Breaking ’08 Pledge, Leaked Trade Doc Shows Obama Wants to Help Corporations Avoid Regulations

        A draft agreement leaked Wednesday shows the Obama administration is pushing a secretive trade agreement that could vastly expand corporate power and directly contradict a 2008 campaign promise by President Obama. A U.S. proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact between the United States and eight Pacific nations would allow foreign corporations operating in the U.S. to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its ruling. We speak to Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, a fair trade group that posted the leaked documents on its website. “This isn’t just a bad trade agreement,” Wallach says. “This is a ‘one-percenter’ power tool that could rip up our basic needs and rights.”

        1. stripes

          OMG..he is such a sneak…! He has signed over 900 fascist EO’s in the last 40 months…! His abuse of power is unprecedented. I read an article that he and Michelle snubbed the Kennedy family and refused to meet with one of them and said the Kennedy’s dress badly. These are awful, arrogant people who have turned the peoples house into a house of ill repute.

        2. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Obama was the “perfect” Trojan Horse to dupe African-Americans in particular and all Americans desperate for change in general. Shame and ignominy are the just deserts of PuppetPresidentCommander Obama.

      2. neo-realist

        But we’ll get pro-choice appointments to the SC from Obama. Pro-Corporate for sure, but we won’t have a death toll from back alley abortions if/when Romney appoints judges who reverse Roe v. Wade.

  21. Ms G

    Exactly right, Aquifer. It is a brilliant model, this Insurance sector “Health Care” scheme: collect payments upfront, deny claims later. Is there a more perfect mousetrap for looting? Except in this country it is called “The Health Care System” and Obomney loves it.

    1. F. Beard

      How much inhumanity is driven by the need to payoff debt? I recall reading that about 40% of the prices we pay represent interest payments.

    2. josep

      Health insurance, car insurance, homeowner insurance, extended warranty, split coverage for hardware and service, home maint policies.

      You pay, you pay extra – you get nothing. “It’s not covered.”

      1. Ms G

        Kleptocracy executes its looting through a broad network of mousetraps, including all the ones you list, and let us not forget utilities (electricity bills, water bills, internet bills, phone bills), 401(k)s, checking accounts, regressive and frankly inequal taxes, and debt (otherwise known as “credit”) of all sorts.

        FIRE Firetraps across the board.

        We are the Citizen Bag-Holder Mice!

      1. Ms G

        “Who Took My Cheese” takes on a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

        Kleptocracy = Web of Mouse Traps for Baiting, Switching + Finally Looting, by FIRE + it’s army, GOV.

    1. Blunt

      “… it sounds like a social labotatory for culling techniques”

      Indeed. It is. However the largest laboratory is the one these 1-10% geniuses have always overlooked.

      That’s the laboratory that shows that when people have a satisfying and comfortable material life thats they produce fewer children. Whereas when people are beaten down, malnourished, miserable and dust-poor their only leisure is to produce children.

      Nothing will be culled. Instead 10 billion people will be here within 30 years.

      The second thing that screams to be recognized is that the 1-10% are morons who understand nothing about humanity, nature, being, spirit other than the greed that has taken them like an internalized, rabidly malignant cancer.

      Meaningful work for those who want it, socially-based work and living conditions, social investments made in socially useful areas like education, clean energies, decentralized housing, mass transit that uses non-carbon based energies and meaningful working lives that allow people to expect their children to live past age 40 will change much of the demographic problem within two generations.

      Everything else works too slowly and tends to undermine amelioration of the problem/s by an exacerbation of the problem symptoms due to the imposed “solution.”

      The 1-10% (the rentiers & their technocrats) are complete morons.

      And laughing them into the rooms in Den Haag needs to be made a paramount pan-Terran goal.

  22. Hugh

    Breaking the social contract is what kleptocracy is all about. Or rather it is about breaking one side of it. The 99% are supposed to honor all the duties of the contract, which largely means paying off the debts the 1% have incurred, supporting public institutions which the 1% control, and obeying the laws which the 1% write. But as regards the benefits for the 99% that flow from the social contract: personal and political rights, jobs, housing, healthcare, education, and retirements, these are being trashed, tossed, and looted by the same 1%.

    In this sense, we are all Greece. Look at America’s decaying infrastructure, high unemployment, housing disaster, declining system of public education, student debt, overpriced healthcare that leaves tens of millions un- and under insured, pensions that no longer exist, are underfunded, or gutted by Wall Street gambling, and the multiple attempts by both parties to slash Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. How are we any different from Greece? How is the rest of Europe? East Asia, China, and Japan? Kleptocracy dominates them all. It plays out different ways in different countries. But the social contract is being destroyed, to the benefit of the 1% and the detriment of the 99%, in them all.

    1. Ignim Brites

      Very Augustinian.
      “In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized brigandage.” The City of God.

  23. Susan the other

    Greece needs to take control of its future. Or become like the US. Creating the future requires a decision between autarky or anarchy. Nobody is even pretending anymore to be following the law in this country or the EU, or probably anywhere for that matter. It’s all ad hoc. It’s a miracle that our anarchy has held up so long. An anarchy based on the post WW2 global bankruptcy which was never acknowledged but simply papered over with credit. And where did that credit come from? Can anyone say “faith and credit?” So credit came from credit? Hmmm. Please, a moment of truth would be refreshing.

    It was a good 60 or 70 year run of denial. Now the chickens are coming home because the planet itself can’t take it any longer. And the bond speculators can’t collect without destroying the fabric of society. Because they have been lying from the get go about whose money it is and how much it is really worth. Is this economix an oxymoron? Everyone knew it would come to this eventually. The entire world has been dragged into this irrational situation because there were short term gains to be had. Forget the long term day of reckoning. More of the same will take us to the point of no return. While that idiot Mitt Romney smirks and brags about being a vulture capitalist.

  24. Eric

    Greece is and was a failed state, cheap euros did hide this uncomfortable fact. If Greece would leave the eurozone it wouldn’t have any money at all to buy the basics.
    So there was no fair social contract in Greece in the first place, it was all a lie. A social contract also assumes people will pay their taxes, which many don’t in Greece.
    Greece is therefore no model for the rest of Europe and I don’t understand what point the writer wants to make.
    The social contract in the rest of the eurozone countries is very much alive, even during this crisis.

    1. Hugh

      First they came for the communists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

      Then they came for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      Then they came for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

      Then they came for me
      and there was no one left to speak out for me.

      Events are updating this quote.

      First they came for the Greeks,
      and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Greek . . .

      Do you really think you or your country won’t be on the list?

          1. Eric

            The Greek people have recently stopped paying taxes at all, because they fear a collapse. The Greek government is powerless. What other proof do you need Greece is a failed state?
            and why Greece is different: you only need to look at Ireland, Portugal, Spain or non eurozone but still troubled EU countries like Latvia and Hungary. All these countries have enormous problems but at least they keep functioning and most are actually making progress with reforms.
            Greece however is failing at all levels, people are abandoning the state and the state is abandoning them.

          2. F. Beard

            and most are actually making progress with reforms. Eric

            The chief reform needed is to ditch the Euro and go back to sovereign currencies

          3. Eric

            ”The chief reform needed is to ditch the Euro and go back to sovereign currencies”

            tell this to the people of those countries. But the majority does not want to ditch the euro because they have more trust in the euro than their own politicians. They know from experience what having your own currency means in practice to them: politicians that won’t do reforms to improve the economy, but let the currency devaluate instead, making the people poorer.

          4. F. Beard

            The solution is coexisting government and private money supplies per Matthew 22:16-22 (“Render to Caesar …”).

            The Euro could remain as a purely private money supply good for private debts only but only Caesar should issue Caesar’s money.

          5. Hugh

            If Greece is a failed state, then so is Europe. On the upside of the European bubble, everyone was a European. On the downside, everyone reverts to their nationality. Suddenly, it is not Europe has a problem, but Greece has a problem, but also Ireland, and Belgium, Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy. That does not leave a lot of “Europe” left. In fact, it guts the whole concept.

            Instead we get all of these quack neoliberal talkingpoints about reform working in Latvia and Hungary, which is to say that people in both countries are learning how to be poor and do without democracy. We get more class war finger pointing and blaming the victim. We get another recasting of the profligate Greeks. This time it is they don’t pay taxes. Pay taxes with what? if you don’t have money or a job. The problems with this oft debunked meme are the same as they ever were. First, we have the conflation of the struggling Greek 99% with the Greek 1%. The problem in Greece is that their 1% has always ducked paying their taxes. If they had paid their taxes and not looted the money coming into Greece from Northern banks, Greece and the Greek 99% would not be in the depression they are in. Second, all this once again steers attention away from those same Northern banks. They are the ones who were profligate in making loans they knew could never be repaid in the first place. They are the ones who are the end recipients of all the bailouts. These flow from Northern governments through Greece straight back to the criminally stupid and greedy Northern banks. Essentially, the Northern governments are recapitalizing their own banks, all the while blaming the Greeks and destroying Greece in the process.

            Niemöller’s statement is important because it gets to the heart of the hypocrisy of smug moralists who always find an excuse not to help others, indeed feel superior at their fall because it seems to validate their own superiority. But of course if they were so morally superior they would be helping not judging. Niemöller is also making a more pragmatic case. As our Founders noted, we must hang together or we will hang separately. The 99%s of the world must come to understand that their real enemies are their 1%s, not each other. This is a lesson that those who have drunk too much of the neoliberal koolaid have yet to learn.

          6. Eric

            if they dont want to pay taxes, fine with me.
            But than dont come with excuses about social contract, austerity, neo-liberalism or Northern banks.
            Each country has the freedom to destroy itself, if they choose to do so. Just don’t blame others and don’t expect help like the Greek are doing.

  25. Yancey Ward

    This “social contract”, for example, is between the Greeks themselves. If their government cannot fund this, then this contract not only needs to be torn up, there is no other option; once the decision is taken, then the Greeks can debate among themselves how to prioritize the resources that are actually available to the government. There may be an avenue of foreign charity for a short term, but the Greeks are ultimately responsible for themselves.

    The same will hold true for all other countries. In the end, there must be a limit to what responsibilities and needs an individual can cede to the body politic since the goods and services must be produced by other people who also have their limits to what they can and will do without direct compensation. If you look at the finances and the demographics, a great deal of Europe has clearly reached those limits and then exceeded them by getting some other country to carry the cost in exchange for bonds that can’t be paid back.

    One can, of course, pretend those limits don’t exist, but I am not sympathetic to delusional beliefs.

  26. Benedict@Large

    By far, THE BEST piece on the Euro crisis being used deliberately to break the social contract:

    What are the bankers up to? (June 12, 2012)

    This article lays out a detailed case using actual quotes and extracts from documents showing how the Troika has been saying exactly this for a long time. They’re not even trying to hide it; the punditocracy has simply been too afraid to listen.

    Also, briefly:

    Amerkelca (June 12, 2012)

    Which advances the further claim that this crisis was “designed in” to the Euro intentionally, although perhaps not to this end.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Yves, YOU must take a look at the link above to the “Jacobin” piece by Mason. This may be the most vital analysis of the ECB’s “Job One” ever written, and certainly the most terse assessment of the core of the process playing out. It makes PERFECT sense.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Also, the second link from Benedict is an indictment, and perhaps the “shot heard round the world,” point blank, just in the nick of time.

  27. Jsn

    Yves, Where does one find what actual payroll and associated overhead directly cost our city, state & fed govt? Reciprocally, how much of total govt spending is purchasing whatnot from the private sector? My guess is that a significant majority of govt budgets at all levels goes to buying stuff from Private business organizations who’s executives want to shut down all the govt that doesn’t buy from them.

  28. SR6719

    I haven’t read all the comments so I apologize if someone has already mentioned this.

    I don’t follow the stock markets, but someone emailed me that Greek bank stocks were up 20 percent on Thursday amid rumors (or secret opinion polls?) that one way or another, the June 17 elections will lead to a Greek government that’s favorable to the international bailout.

    If this is correct, I guess that means the fix is already in.

    Once again, we’ll have to watch as bailed-out, coked-up bankers celebrate the prospect of more Greeks driven into unemployment, more homeless wandering the streets of Athens, and more people living below the poverty line.

    And as bailed-out, coked-up bankers party in their yachts and McMansions, more Greek families will have to put their children in institutions (to avoid dying of cold and hunger) and more refugees and former members of the middle class will be fighting over food in garbage bins.

      1. SR6719

        Here’s the link they sent me:

        The person who sent me this said (somewhat defensively) that they never visited the cnbc website and got this link from an article by Owen Paine at the “stop me before i vote again” blog.

          1. Ms G

            Hi Lambert — what is “ratchet effect” (Wikipedia entry just confused me — seems to mean lots of things in different pseudo-disciplines)? When I clicked on the cnbc link I saw the story was based on a Reuters piece, so I went straight to Retuers and ingored the secondary source.

          2. Ms G

            Extending “The Ratchet Effect” to the present, one could argue that with Obama the pawl and the wheel have, in reality, fused (it is not a rachet anymore, but some machine whose parts move in unison in the same direction – some parts are blue, some red, some purple, but that’s just decoration.)

    1. YesMaybe

      Well, there is a strong probability that ND-PASOK will have a majority in parliament. But I wouldn’t put any stock (no pun intended) in the stock market jump. Stock markets are all about rumors and positive feedback.

    2. Ms G

      Lambert, I can’t thank you enough for directing me to the post. I’m about to re-read it and move onto the next chapters. So far, it is the first piece of writing that has described with laser clarity the machinery behind the deep delusion of my generation.

  29. proximity1

    There’s so much to appreciate in this video interview of Rob Johnson by Paul Jay of the Real News Network.

    For example, RJ points out (at 2:16) that “The markets are acting as though it’s almost inconsequential–a hundred and twenty-five billion dollars, that’s a large amount of money for a country the size of Spain, (i.e. the recent 125bn USD) infusion, the latest in a now absurd series) but it’s, uh, it’s not, it’s not satisfying people’s anxiety”….

    and, later, (4:16) RJ notes what should be one of the most repeated and observed facts, namely, that, “But I must say,…even among trained economists, the idea that markets are a rational arbiter”….

    What I find interesting–amazing, really–is that policy-makers, heads of state of the leading powers concerned here, act as though they believe that, 1) markets are rational, 2) the trouble is basically one of confidence on the part of market participants and 3) “we” (i.e. they the political and economic leaders and top decision-makers) are in a position to reassure these market participants by our concerted (and now serial) efforts to infuse money into “the system”–the international financial system.

    To me, it appears that, even if one takes as true for a moment and for the sake of argument that both 1) and 2) are true, it does not follow that the international political and economic decision-makers can restore the markets’ missing confidence because it may be that these very decision-makers–political heads of state and their economic policy-makers–are themselves the real source of the lack of confidence on the parts of the markets’ participants.

    If the real trouble is that “the market” no longer has the minimum required confidence in the basic soundness of the legitimacy of the political system itself and its central actors, then, it seems it should be obvious that these same central actors are not and cannot be in any position to supply the needed confidence-building legitimacy that may be at the source of the markets’ failures to find reassurance and the political heads’ failure to supply it.

    In a now years-long crisis of Great Depression proportions, there still has not been even the first hint of a response on the order of a real “New Deal”-type response in which the political leadership makes it plainly known that it recognizes that there is a truly deep, fundamental failure of confidence in and respect for the very legitimacy of government institutions themselves and the people who supposedly control those institutions.

    Whether he actually did or not, in the 1930s President Franklin Roosevelt at least came to seem to take responsibility for the fact that there was this fundamental lack of legitimacy in the workings of the government and the economy and seemed to work on the recognition that, until that issue was openly addressed, it would persist and undermine any policy initiatives which, desperate or not, were dreamt up and tried by the people in charge. Today, we still have nothing like candid admission and it seems there is no prospect of it in the near future. Instead, we have a political elite and, especially, an economic elite who are apparently constitutionally incapable of admitting that they’ve ever done anything wrong, that they have ever made or that they are making any very serious mistakes.

    I am very pessimistic about the months ahead, there being no sign that the current rampant stupidity, blindness and selfish, self-serving behavior on the parts of those in charge is soon closer to being on the way out rather than remaining the order of the day.

  30. proximity1

    to continue— I think, however, that in the context of this thread’s observations and comments about the abrogation of a supposed social contract, we should recognize that this aspect, the social contract, if seen as it should be as essentially an integral part of a democratically-based political system, this abrogation came first. It preceded by far the subsequent steps in economic totalitarian trends and tendencies.

    Before there was a “financialization” of the U.S. economy, that is, the now years-old dominence of Wall Street and its counterparts elsewhere in the world, before that came about, there was first a long, strong and thorough ‘take-down’ of democratic institutions except as sham versions of the real, working entities that they should be and, at least in some partial respects, once were more like in fact.

    So, in the order of sequence, first there was deep and wide corruption and dismemberment of working democratic institutions, and, only later, even if very soon after, came the following deep and wide advantages taken by the private and esp. financial sectors, from their ‘victory’ over democratic institutions which once might have stopped or impeded those private interests’ further dominance in political and social affairs.

  31. stripes

    Personally, I believe the proof of a persons genuineness is in their good works….Obama has no good works. He has failed US and it was sneaky, deceptive and intentional. That is how you know who he works for …and it is not US.

  32. abprosper

    The social contract in Europe has been borked a long time.

    Super high youth unemployment (and this means people in their twenties who should be building families) leads to a a shrinking population and more poverty.

    Given the way taxes work, people will only pay so much before it becomes counter productive.

    Essentially the world is past its social carrying capacity.

    In the past this did not effect population as much but now people have rational family planning and often as not the rational number of kids is 1 or zero.

    This effect, no more free babies is a big deal. If any given nation wants a future they’ll need to pay for it.

    Fixes require some unpalatable measures. Honestly I can’t imagine most of Europe doing many of these but IMO this is whats needed.

    #1 a hard cap on immigration and refugees nearer to zero (this reduces social support costs and raises wages)
    #2 much heavier work sharing (try 30 hour work weeks at most)
    #3 import controls (limits on being a net exporter and no Chinese goods )
    #4 an emphasis on real wealth vs. money (that is no real estate bubbles, instead manufacturing goods)
    #5 limits on pensions (they actually should be eliminated)
    and last #6 social credit (everybody gets a check every month for good)

  33. Z

    Austerity kills – yeah, that’s the objective.

    Our rulers have decided that there are too many of us … more than they have a need for … and they have set out to systematically shorten our life spans. Maybe this wasn’t part of any grand plan, but it has evolved into this due to their insatiable greed and the lack of checks and balances upon it. They’ve pressed the economic and environmental systems to their limits and now their solution is to cull the human population that draws from those resources rather than risk disturbing the power order that they currently stand atop of.

    What happens when they have more labor than they need? Do you think that they want to actually support people that they have no need for? Do you think that they want a large, desperate mass of people with a lot of time on their hands? I don’t think so becoz to keep the desperate masses placated, they’d have to shovel out some money to them thru social programs which would likely have to be funded with higher taxes on the only ones that can afford it: them.

    They’re not going to publicly announce a global human population life-shortening initiative of course; what they’ll do instead is cut back on social services … it’s called austerity … and let the physically and economically weak die off. It’s bloodless, it leaves no finger prints, and it doesn’t set off revolution alarm bells. It’s just the system … and the accountability for it is nebulous, which is just the way they want it.


    1. William Neil

      I am heartened by the realization in so many of the commentators that the number of citizens in the global economy who need jobs far exceeds capitalism’s need to create them not just in crisis times like these, but in more normal times as well.

      Since Greece has been in the news now for years as the whipping post for neoliberals, I was struck for how long one could continue to read articles in all the right journals and newspapers decrying Greek work habits, the people’s character, all their bad traits, without ever seeing a serious examination of the economy. So, anticpating writing about, I went out to learn Greek – the economy, that is.

      It still wasn’t easy and the best I found was some academic work done for the big international agencies. I’ll try to keep this in plain English, so here’s a sense of what I found:

      Greece,like Spain, Southern Italy, Portugal and others on the periphery of Europe, came late to what we call industrialism and the modern economy. It’s reflected in the startingly late dabbling in monarchy, and reflected also in the power of the Communist Party,who fought a civil war with the monarchists and the right – in the late 1940’s. It’s a clue folks; Greece is different and they have some very stubborn and independent traits that cut both ways: they fought the Nazi occupation with a vehemence and violence that puts the more famous French reisistance to shame – a hint that the Greeks are not going to take austerity sitting down. I saw, in the NYTimes just about 18 months ago an op-ed from a woman, now a law professor at Georgetown, I believe, who left home, as many young greeks did, because – and I’m paraphrasing, family values were too strong, too conservative an influence: nepotism in businesses and govt positions was rife. Funny, you don’t hear neoliberals bringing that topic up, that family values when taken too seriously, might interfere with business formation, start-ups the mobility of capital, and I guess, a Greek version of the American dream. Oh well.

      Back to the main trail though,which I could never find in all the nY Times reporting for years about the Euro-Greek troubles. Just what the hell do Greeks make? What do they raise and what do they export? At one time their banking system was very synergetic with the government’s economic goals,doing most of the lending (buying Greek bonds) and for business expansion. It was conceded that too many Greeks worked in agriculture, always the lament of capitalist moderizers it would seem; but what would they do, if they didn’t?

      There was Greek shipping of course, with a lot of old money; and a decent chemical industry…but what else? Tourism, sandals, olives, olive oil and citrus products,just like the rest of the Mediterrean periphery… Does anyone see a clear “comparative advantage” in what I just listed? I don’t, even if they work for 1/10 of the current wages.

      It did occur to me, knowing just a triffle about Greek geography, that well…they have lots of sun for a good part of the year, mountains andan incredibly complex and lengthy coastline…with lots of treacherous channels and currents…so why was Greece importing any energy at all, with solar, wind and tidal possibilities…others have looked at this and said that the Greek mindset simply was not entrepreneurial enough to set this in motion…but I think that if Greece is going to strike out on its own,it still holds a lot of promise.

      But missing from everything I read, including the academic work done prior to the run in to the Euro Zone, was the relationship of the Greek business elite to their own country’s economic development…my impression is that they would just as easily take their money abroad, legally or not,than struggle at home with a strong labor movement and a nation that is somewhat – ambivalent about plunging full bore into what we call the postmodern world.

      This is, of course, just a sketch, but I have to say, most of the coverage even in places like the Times leaves the reader aware that they’re just skimming the surface of events there, social and economic. Time to get beyond the morality play of neoliberalism and ask ourselves: just what should the Greeks produce to sell on the world market?

      1. F. Beard

        … just what should the Greeks produce to sell on the world market? William Neil

        Tourism and their status as heroes if they tell the bond vigilantes to go stuff themselves.

        It’s ironic that Greece should be the focal point of an attack on democracy. The bankers and (Chamber of Commerce?) have been busy saying that democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner. Actually, it’s been many sheep and a few wolves in sheep’s clothing, the bankers themselves, confusing them into voting against their own interests.

      2. Maju

        Indeed Greece can be self-sufficient after some adjustments: they can probably produce most of the food, bricks and linen they need for basic living, they can, as you say produce all the energy from the sun, and they still have room to keep, like Cuba, a tourism industry.

        Greece can live like Cuba does, what is much much better than what the Troika offers: living like in Haiti, a country trapped by infinite debt and permanent foreign intervention for the last 200 years or more.

        That’s the real dilemma that Greeks will decide with the traditional Greek method of voting tomorrow.

        1. gf

          Good way to put it.

          Neo-liberalism seems to demand cookie cutter economies where ever and when ever the IMF steps in.

          There is no reason that Greece should follow in the foot steps of these “structural adjustments”.

          Create the economy appropriate to your own culture and geography.

  34. William Neil

    And I should add to my comments on the Greeks, and the Greek economy, what I think Germany and the rest of the neoliberal world is saying; indeed, I’ve heard an economist at the US Treasury say very much the same thing: we’d like you to remake yourselves and your whole society…that’s all, and perish the thought, who said only liberals engage in “social engineering.” Now that’s not asking for much, is it?

  35. Gaston

    We just made a video on the Euro Zone situation.

    Get your Macro Right! Show is the third video of the Fun & Finance´s Second Season.

    In this episode –recreating a television game show- we talk about: the role of Central Banks, the Euro Zone, Latin America, among other subjects.



  36. Alex Morfesis

    but what if the facts are that it is germany that is broke…

    if you won the lottery over the weekend and had enough to pay off your home mortgage, would you really show up for your crappy job on monday…even if you did…would you stay for more than a few weeks ??? In Germany, the average person ends up spending life as a renter(60% perm renters)…not so nice life…and what if the average greek repudiated their home mortgage and 85% ended up with no home mortgage…well…they dont have to do that, because 85% of all homes in greece are FREE AND CLEAR…which is why you cant get a greek to go do hard work…no rent owed, nor mortgage to pay…life in key west…and what if the germans filed bankruptcy in 2002 and never recovered…when exactly did Berlin officially end its bankruptcy…it went under in 2002 and was still in bankruptcy in 2005 with over 75 billion dollars in debt…just the city state of berlin…frau merkelz dirty little secret…yes…she is correct when she says that the FEDERAL government in Germany has the lowest debts of any major country in the EU…but unlike greece that ONLY borrows on the federal level, germany is like the USA and borrows at FOUR levels…and if one were to do a total amount owed by all german governments and entities…OUCH…and is there really a problem with the finances of greece ?? Why is the EU refusing to release to Bloomberg the details of the mystery derivatives that it is claimed were used to allow greece to enter the EU…not sure where reuters got the idea that drugs are expensive in greece…I lived on again off again for a few years in Athens not too many years ago with my then muse, a law professor, and was shocked at how crazy CHEAP medicine was in central athens, as in almost 80% cheaper than the US…Greeks are lazy because they can be…as Mr Panos has said…they are resting…400 years of complaining about the turks…over 40% of the olives growing in greece just fall to the ground, unharvested…the greek yogurt that everyone is eating in the US is not from greece, is not made with goats milk, and in fact, the main brand in the US was created by a turk who makes it here in the USA, with cows milk…and of the olive oil that is harvested, over 35% gets sold cheap to italy, which then re-exports it at a huge mark up…money has almost always been backed by air…in theory there are the six g’s of money…it is either backed by …guns, gold, goods, govt, god(including sometimes the demi-god, fearless leader)and greed. Derivatives are back by only greed. guns(or swords) were always the real backing of a currency, as anyone who questioned the kings gold holdings would find their questioning a direct path to the other side…no big 8,7,6,5,4,?? 3 ?? accounting firms to audit the kings gold…
    so…the greeks can call the bluff of finland(is the finance minister in finland really a former kindergarten teacher???) as even with a stunted vacation/holiday season, most greeks earn enough in three months to pay their bills all year…good luck and be well

    1. Maju

      Defamation – Greeks work much more than Germans and have no public housing schemes. I thought we had already gone through that BS but it seems some don’t want to face the facts:

      “Who wants how much in EU (or ‘I want to be Dutch!’)”:

      “Those lazy Germans! (The truth behind the myths)”:

      Stop throwing around defamation. Face the truth: Capitalism in general and the Eurozone in particular is extremely unfair: hardworking poor Greeks get blamed of laziness by relaxed well-off Germans. It’s scandalously Hitlerian!

      1. Alex Morfesis

        well…first off, this is my real name, and if you know about greek surnames, It is from Ithaki greece, the ones who started this battle against illium, 2 million sunsets ago, so I am sure my forefathers are laughing in their grave with your notion that anything I think or do could possibly be pro nazi. And the suggestion that greeks will not be forced to put in more work as against hours is one I stand by without reservation. It was to share the reality that most greeks(and the issue is almost the same in italy) are not living the rat race life as experienced by the rest of the oecd, in fact, as a matter of net worth per household, I am confused why greeks(as oppossed to greece)are not ranked as the richest households in europe. Basically I listen to the oecd and most stat factories with a grain of salt. The illusions of the charlemagnes in europe is that they are not using govt subsidized finances to compete(not that owning 20%+ of Volkswagen is against the EU rules…nah..those rules are for the little people). Greece does not have Landesbanks to hand off cheap money to companies. And greeks are not cheating on their taxes…greece does not actually have a tax code…when I was thinking of marrying my law professor muse, I began trying to plan long term, and since she was of no help in respect to the tax code, I went looking for a book store to find any publications on tax planning in greece…forget a tax book, the smallish bookstores dont even have a business publications section…so I went looking for the government for some direction…no such luck…I finally went to the tax office in Ithaki and saw a rather thick book on the desk of a distant relative working there…when I inquired, she informed me that the tax collectors union had to publish their own books because the government did not offer any guidance on what and how they were suppossed to do their job. she directed me to the union office in athens, where they had a small book publishing department and they were happy to sell me anything I wanted. My muse was afraid they would audit her just for walking into their offices…greece is stuck waiting for ari onasis and telly savalas to come back from the grave and lead opaland back to when everyone knew what was meant by…no dancing in the aisles…bet you lunch at the 21 club that there are no bloomberg screens at the ministry of finance and they have no clue who the hell is…the country, in terms of its financial kmowledge is stuck in 1975, that is just a plain reality. sad…but true. I lived just around the corner from a little area called fokiono negri, fairly popular location to live fifteen minutes from riot central in front of the parliament building…and most of the stick figures sitting around watching soccer matches were waiting for their “mumz” to send them money…sorry if most visiting greece dont understand the language…greece could be great, its consumers and households have very limited debts. A simple ESPO law would allow the communist unions(not trying to create a negative or positive image, but the KKE dominates all the unions in greece) to participate in any privatizations. The country has limited highways, limited manufacturing, does not recycle even basic steel, and is really run like moldavia…just the plain facts. Now, if one wanted to deal with real stats, one might ask two questions…why does the US GDP get qualified as 15 Trillion per year, when US Based companies actually do 30 Trillion per year in commerce, and why are there no crushing studies of how the Charlemanes are going to deal with their little age problem. Why no squauking about the pension and health care liabilities of finland ??? oh…and I am a dual citizen, and shadenfreude is not my game…remember, it was metaxas who put the stop to the nazi war machine…and he was born in…drum roll please…ithaki…

  37. Occupy Work Spaces

    “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

    That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany — the former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O — in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.

    Public sector unions insist on laws that serve their interests — at the expense of the common good. The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”

    The chickens have come home to roost you pansy-assed liberal socialists. Public unions are done, say goodbye to the taxpayer subsidies for your lavish retirement benefits.

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