Chronicles of a European Winter: “There is a Difference Between Saying Greeks Should Live With Less and Saying Greeks Should Live With Nothing”

This is the first segment of an ongoing project, Eurowinter, to record the human toll of austerity policies in Europe. It focuses on the suffering Greece, as told by Greeks themselves.

The pace might strike some as languid, but if you stick with it, it makes sense. The filmmakers are acting as witnesses, giving their subjects, who are mainly men still trying to retain a sense of dignity, the space to describe how the devastation has affected them. The result is an elegy in the form of a documentary.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. middle seaman

    Greece was forced into its abject poverty by a financial and political gang backed by baseless assumptions. When a foreign power takes over your country and robs you of your basic necessities, we talk about human right violations and crime against humanity.

    Greece is occupied and abused without any justification.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Is the “Foreign power” a foreign sovereign, global criminal cartel, or nexus of the two?

    2. Ishmael

      Not being Greek myself, but my wife is Greek and lots of her family lives in Greece. Maybe 10 years ago I got the wild hair to take over her family farm outside of Sparta that her Dad left her. What I was really going to do is sell it and move to Kalamata. What did her family say, “Don’t move here it is too corrupt.”

      Let me put this straight, a large percentage of Greece’s problems are self induced. Their is a large public sector that was well paid and low productive (this includes a large military and if you knew the history or Greece you would know why they have a large military). Almost everything is unionized in Greece (even the prostitutes) so the economy is rigid and not flexible. In addition, certain families have ran Greece for years.

      All of this had limitations as long as Greece was on its own and used the Drachma. They were always able to devalue their way out of their corruption.

      They then joined the Euro and the skimming went into over drive with the top levels of Greece society making off with vast sums (the mother of the previous PM is suppose to have 500 million Euros stashed in Switzerland). In the end, the Greek nation was left with bill for the vast sum. In additon, due to the Euro Greece is not the cheap vacation spot it once was (can not devalue) so the main driver of the Greek economy is doing poorly. In addition, and I do not know how this fits into things but I am sure it adds to the corruption, the Greek Orthodox Church owns 30% of the land in Greece. Lastly, if you have ever been around Greeks they are the most argumentative people I have ever been around and I have lived on 4 continents.

      Now if I the Greek people, I would exit from the EU and default upon the debt but I have been to a number of formal meeting of Greeks with some of the top economists from Greece and there is a real argument on that.

      In summary, the Greek elities took the EU elities for a ride and the EU elities are attempting to stick the people of Greece with the bill. With that said, the socialist and rigid structure of Greece has kept Greece just a step away from third world status since the 60’s.

      Most of you do not remember the Greek civil war in the 50’s and that a military junta ran Greece until the 70’s. In the end I believe the military will probably once again step in and start running the country.

      1. Brick

        “Almost everything is unionized in Greece (even the prostitutes) so the economy is rigid and not flexible.”

        Buhuu. That might sound strange for an American, but exactly the same is true for Germany. Even the prostitutes part:

        On corruption: The CDU (Merkel’s party) hid their black money in “JEWISH BEQUESTS” in Switzerland. Wolfgang Schäuble took at least DM 100.000 from the arms dealer Schreiber, but he isn’t corrupt since he did not count the money…

        The German parliament did not sign the UN convention against Corruption.

        For German companies it was legal to corrupt foreign officials until the last decade. They kept on doing it anyways afterwards:

        Germany is also in 8th place for money laundering:

        So please don’t pretend that there is some moral story behind what is currently happening in Greece. It is just laughable to pretend that a person like Schäuble would out of some moral fantasy impose a terrible economic policy on Greece.

        Austerity was about protecting German banks and not some moral lesson for the Greeks. Austerity was also based on a story that wages would fall easily, which was completely bogus.

        I don’t understand what is wrong with people like you. You all seem to believe that if Greece were less “rigid” then a Greek BMW or GE would appear out of thin air. Look, Britain isn’t “rigid”, but the tiny island has almost no industry left, and those companies that are still there are either, well, not British (Mini, Jaguar) or in the socialist arms business (BAE, R&R PLC). The completely open economy is utterly dependent on corrupt banking. The only thing better in Britain than in Greece is that they have their own currency.

  2. Narrator

    Greece is going under. The level of attack against its people is now utterly devestating. Uber-taxation has nearly killed its market and ecomomy, money is scarce (see deflationary crash) and Troika is now stripping people from their wealth, their property, while it destroys millions of lives (see social genocide). Soon, there will be neither private wealth nor property left and if the word ‘Soviet-ish’ comes to mind when you read this, you will be correct. A hijacked Greek State steals everything from its people, who it treats as enemies, to give to a few, being local collaborators, Germany, certain corporations and financial players.

    Troika and Germany are overzealous and go for the kill, even though they adverise that the austerity measures are a failure. The reason is greed and the fact that Crony Capitalism turns against its weakest neighbours and sucks them dry to generate profits for corporations and wellfare for the EU Core. So next time you hear about Greece and while believing the media hype, you come to feel some sort of sadistic satisfaction, remember that soon we will all be Greeks.

  3. brazza

    “A small normal supermarket in a calm middle-class suburb. I just wanted to buy a few simple things: 2 litres milk, 0.5Kg yoghurt, 6 eggs, 0.5Kg toast bread, and 200 grams of feta cheese. It cost me Euro 8.55. In France I would have paid Euro 6.50 for the same. In Germany only Euro 4.73.”

    Could somebody please explain to me why? Is the price difference due to the far higher taxes levied at each level of the food distribution chain?

    1. Moneta

      Probably less competition. Hoarding. Less money directed to discretionary and more to staples.

      Let’s say your economy is 100 units with 60% in consumer spending and 10% of this going to food. This means 60 consumer spending units of which 6 are going to food.

      Let’s say your economy contracts by 50% and consumer spending drops to 20 units, with 50% of your budget going to food, while rest of the economy goes from 50 to 30. Then 10 units go to food.

      Suddenly you have more money running after staples than you did before the collapse.

      This is how you can get generalized inflation despite deflation.

      1. OIFVet

        Bulgaria: 22% VAT for food. Poorest member of the EU. What the Greeks are experiencing right now the Bulgarians have been living for 23 years now. Results: shorter life expectancy, mass poverty, corrupt oligarchy eager for more austerity, 2 million population decline, lowest birthrate in Europe. Neoliberalism kills. Here is a nice article on the German role in all this: In fairness it was a bunch of US Chamber of Commerce types who flooded BG with their neoliberal ideas beginning in 1990. Shock Therapy was the buzz phrase of the time. In the winter of 1990-1991 there was food rationing instituted in the country, the same one which supplied up to 15% of the food consumed in USSR prior to 1989. To this day BG imports most of the food it consumes, while prime agricultural land lies fallow and livestock herds remain a fraction of their former size.

    2. from Mexico

      Great question!

      Something tells me that if you start looking under that rock, you’re going to find some pretty ugly truths about neoliberlaism.

    3. Andrea

      The simplistic explanation is implicitly given in the video.

      The shopkeeper who who manages to stay open (popular, well situated, determined, with other family revenues, etc.) is selling less and cuts staff (-> unemployment.) He earns less, usually much less, around half or below in Greece, but has lower costs (staff gone in whole or in part…) However, his overall costs rise so much (taxes, electricity, fuel for transport and heat, things he has to buy, etc.) and his business is so low-volume that he must charge more to stay open. The same applies to supermarkets.

      Greece does not have price controls (to make that last point short.)

    4. roma

      Based on price stickiness i have seen in other recessionary environments, I would say that what is going on is the following:
      Merchants (and frankly everyone in the supply chain) have very hard fixed costs. When inventory turnover was high, a smaller per unit gross margin was more than sufficent to cover the fixed costs. Now with less inventory turnover, the merchant must raise the price of the item to achieve a high enough per unit gross margin that can overall cover the fixed costs of his business.
      The culprit in this situation is the fixed costs; which usually happen to be rent, which itself usually happens to be driven by the property owner having leveraged the property such that the rent price cannot be lowered else the property owner will not be able to make the interest payment on the debt.

      1. brazza

        THANK YOU Moneta, Andrea, Mexico, and roma. I feel closer to “getting” the reality of inflationary pressures in the midst of asset deflation, something that has bothered me for a while. Among those “fixed” or probably rising costs must also be energy and utilities … Rentals are actually probably going down. Had personal experience of this in my home town in Italy where shop-keepers of major chains including supermarkets are demanding 15-20% cuts in rent … and getting them because they have plenty of alternative rental options available.

        1. Moneta

          I remember reading a research paper on inflation in latin America. Housing went from 40-50% to 5-10% of disposable income or even less.

    5. 12312399

      not an expert on Greek supply chain, but ‘supposedly’ Greek transportation/logistics is inefficient—combination geography, price fixing by shipping companies/ports, unions, regulations.

      hypothetically, even if Greece returned to the Drachma, since the food/supply chain depends mostly on petroleum and chemical fertilizer, I’d argue that food and energy inflation would be just as bad or even worse than the current EU-forced austerity.

      1. Moneta

        I’m not sure about that. I’m in the middle of knitting a sweater using incredibly nice Greek cotton.

        Everyday I wonder how much longer I will be able to get these beautiful yarns. Knitting is very expensive, so it gets you to think about all the slave labor going on around the world to get us some cheap apparel.

        Considering how environmentally destructive sheep grazing is in countries where sheep is not indigenous, one has to wonder how long wool will stay so accessible. As for other natural fibres.

        So I’ve been thinking a lot about Greece lately. If you can export something with added value, you can import oil. Japan has been doing it for decades. If they could manage their own currency, they could better manage their industry. Right now, they have no say and are getting gutted.

        If I were Greece, I would prefer deciding where the cuts are done and not letting Germany or France do it.

    6. craazyboy

      I figured out what the problem is.

      Greece is the United States.

      I estimated this grocery list in Arizona (an average cost area)

      Milk at $3/gal = $1.5 for 2 liters
      Greek Yogurt at $4/32oz = $2 for half kg
      Eggs at $2/dozen = $1 for 6
      Bread at $3/1lb loaf = $3 for half kg
      Feta cheese at $9/lb = $4 for 200 grams

      Total is $11.5

      Convert to euros at 1.35 = 8.5 Euros!!!!!

    7. Susan Pizzo

      Regressive taxation. The neoliberal state wants taxes – just not from the rich. So you get more and higher taxes levied against the ‘unproductive classes’ while the criminal -er, ruling class sits back and rakes in the subsidies…

    8. Roger

      But don’t forget in Greece we just walk a few steps to the small, albeit expensive, supermarket around the corner from our houses and spend 8.5EUR – a healthy, zero cost trip with a pleasant chat with the neighbors we meet on the way. The stoney-faced Germans negotiate the traffic in their cars for the 20min trip (Cost 5EUR) to Aldi hoping not to see anyone they know – overall cost EUR9.73!!!

  4. The Dork of Cork

    This is very much a repeat of the Irish experience after joining another union in the 19th century.

    The mortal danger comes for people when the banking crisis ends…
    The banking crisis of the 1820s………….the famine of the 1840s.
    The banks will always attempt to centralize operations when they jump to a larger scale.
    It is a vast dark vortice.

    From a banking perspective peripheral people are worth more dead then alive.

    A general characteristic of euro market entry for these countries is the destruction of rational domestic production / distribution / consumption systems replaced by external credit driven products until collapse.

    The financial powers at the peak of the apex like to create flux in socities.
    Irish people are the first of the broken people – willing to move anywhere in search of scarce credit tokens.

    Observe Ireland – it is a model anti state.

      1. PaulArt

        Would be nice to get the original staples paper. I tried up to the point where I got the abstract only from JSTOR and then gave up. If someone can point me to the actual original paper in pdf format and also the Alistair and Sheila paper I would be obliged. Mexico’s link takes you to the blog entry but I only see the intro, not the actual paper.

      2. Ishmael

        Greece was largely a rural country 30 years ago with most people living in small villages and raising their own food. I saw something which amazed me that said the population of Athens was hardly any people after WW 2. Even prior to the EU people started moving into the cities (I mean who wants to live in the village — to get water in the village where my wife is from you still had to go to the village well in the mid 60’s). Being the vacation place to go for Europe drove their economy. Joining the EU destroyed the cheap currency and Greece was no longer the cheap vacation place.

        Moving to the city from the village caused the agricultural industry to decline (Greece is one big rock so the agriculture is not competitive with other parts of the world). This has caused Greece to need to import a big chunk of their food supply.

  5. The Dork of Cork

    Economic sabotage[edit]
    “Closely associated with the concept of cultural inheritance as a factor of production is the social credit theory of economic sabotage. While Douglas believed the cultural heritage factor of production is primary in increasing wealth, he also believed that economic sabotage is the primary factor decreasing it. The word wealth derives from the Old English word wela, or “well-being”, and Douglas believed that all production should increase personal well-being. Therefore, production that does not directly increase personal well-being is waste, or economic sabotage.
    The economic effect of charging all the waste in industry to the consumer so curtails his purchasing power that an increasing percentage of the product of industry must be exported. The effect of this on the worker is that he has to do many times the amount of work which should be necessary to keep him in the highest standard of living, as a result of an artificial inducement to produce things he does not want, which he cannot buy, and which are of no use to the attainment of his internal standard of well-being.[10]
    By modern methods of accounting, the consumer is forced to pay for all the costs of production, including waste. The economic effect of charging the consumer with all waste in industry is that the consumer is forced to do much more work than is necessary. Douglas believed that wasted effort could be directly linked to confusion in regards to the purpose of the economic system, and the belief that the economic system exists to provide employment in order to distribute goods and services.
    But it may be advisable to glance at some of the proximate causes operating to reduce the return for effort ; and to realise the origin of most of the specific instances, it must be borne in mind that the existing economic system distributes goods and services through the same agency which induces goods and services, i.e., payment for work in progress. In other words, if production stops, distribution stops, and, as a consequence, a clear incentive exists to produce useless or superfluous articles in order that useful commodities already existing may be distributed. This perfectly simple reason is the explanation of the increasing necessity of what has come to be called economic sabotage ; the colossal waste of effort which goes on in every walk of life quite unobserved by the majority of people because they are so familiar with it ; a waste which yet so over-taxed the ingenuity of society to extend it that the climax of war only occurred in the moment when a culminating exhibition of organised sabotage was necessary to preserve the system from spontaneous combustion”

    C. H. Douglas (1879–1952)

    The waste from pointless long distance trade needs to be charged to somebody……
    We in Ireland & Greece have been chosen for this very special mission.

    1. TheCatSaid

      Great reference. Thanks for posting it.

      Considering your comment, you might be interested in looking at M-CAM’s approach to Integral Accounting which considers a community / business / department / person’s “Assets” (broadly defined), dividing them into 6 categories. Hint–only 1 of the categories is financial.

      This approach can be used to direct next steps in a practical and balanced way, considering the overall picture.

      Short 1/2 page overview:

      Video describing how to do an Integral Accounting audit:

  6. financial matters

    Wynne Godley 1992: “”The power to issue its own money, to make drafts on its own central bank, is the main thing which defines national independence. If a country gives up or loses this power, it acquires the status of a local authority or colony.””

    Using Godley sectoral balance (govt deficit = private surplus + current account deficit) Greece has very little fiscal space. It must keep it’s deficit to 3% of GDP and it along with 14 other Eurozone countries are running a current account deficit. This makes it virtually impossible to turn its private sector balance positive. Governments with their own currency can afford to employ labor so unemployment is always a policy failure. The only real constraints are full employment of resources and inflation Countries with floating exchange rates have more policy space


    In the US, Japan, Australia etc there is more fiscal space but there are self imposed constraints by deficit hawks and deficit doves. Deficit owls use more of a Godley sectoral approach..

    “”So is Kelton really saying that government debt doesn’t matter to a country that controls its fiat currency? Yes and no. Kelton does not say that deficits don’t matter, or that the government should keep on spending money until we get to full employment, or that we can print (or keystroke) our way to prosperity. But she thinks that deficits don’t matter as much as most people think, and when they do matter, the consequences are different from what most people believe.

    We have all these raw materials that are available. We have useful things for people to do and we have the stuff available to do those things. All we lack is the willingness to spend the money to get all these resources in gear.”

    In gear to do what? “Look around,” Kelton proposes, “and you see aging water-treatment facilities, crowded airports and hospitals, crumbling bridges, levies, all this stuff that the engineers look at when they put out the National Infrastructure Report Card. They give us a score of D+ – and they tell us that we need $3.6 trillion in investments in our national infrastructure just to get up to snuff,” adds Kelton. “These are not projects that are going to get done by the private sector. These have to be undertaken by the public sector.

    “It is useful work,” she adds, “and we have the resources to do it, yet we don’t do it. Why? Because we have the mental image of Uncle Sam with his pants pockets turned inside out, and how can we pay for it? Until we can answer that simple question: how would we pay for it? We can never do it.

    “So they end up arguing over whether, if you want to do something, you have to raise somebody’s taxes,” Kelton continues. “No you don’t. They say: if you want to do something, you have to cut some other program to free up the money to do it. No, you don’t.”

    The Deficit Owl formula can be summed up: You ramp up the economy by creating more dollars, and put them – and a lot of people – to work. After the economy has recovered, you don’t need to do deficit spending or keystroke more dollars, and so the inflation effect goes away.

    Kelton is arguing that we have missed, and are missing, the opportunity to get back on the fast economic growth track simply because we (voters, politicians and most macroeconomists) are locked in a mindset that ignores reality.””

  7. The Dork of Cork

    @Finacial matters
    But capital is meant to replace human labour……

    Is a army of Hamsters a success story and for who ?

    MMT is a war economy , a mobilization ……

    He who calls for Full-Employment calls for War!”, expressed by the Social Credit Party of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, led by John Hargrave. The former represents excessive capital production and/or military build-up. Military buildup necessitates either the violent use of weapons or a superfluous accumulation of them. Douglas believed that excessive capital production is only a temporary correction, because the cost of the capital appears in the cost of consumer goods, or taxes, which will further exacerbate future gaps between income and prices.
    In the first place, these capital goods have to be sold to someone. They form a reservoir of forced exports. They must, as intermediate products, enter somehow into the price of subsequent ultimate products and they produce a position of most unstable equilibrium, since the life of capital goods is in general longer than that of consumable goods, or ultimate products, and yet in order to meet the requirements for money to buy the consumable goods, the rate of production of capital goods must be continuously increased

    1. financial matters

      Basic MMT just describes the economy as it is and as it has basically been for thousands of years. David Graeber also talks about how taxes give value to government currencies. So tax evasion has problems but different from what we might think.

      MMT type policy descriptions such as job guarantee and living wage are extensions of basic MMT. There is no reason they can’t be used for peaceful and socially useful projects. Once concepts like ‘taxes don’t fund things’ are better understood then it opens up more possibilities for how governments can spend money into their economies in more useful ways.

      1. The Dork of Cork

        You sound like a true convert.

        I guess you have found the ultimate truth.

        I at least remain a tad agnostic.

        1. financial matters

          I don’t think there is an ultimate truth in economics. ;) Maybe in calculus but not in calculus applied to economics. I think we just need to look for things that don’t rip people off and that build constructive societies. This takes local participation in establishing sustainable policies.

          1. from Mexico


            It sounds to me like this John Hargrave fellow is pretty convinced he’s found sure truth.

            As Reinhold Niebuhr wrote of Kierkegaard’s theology, it sometimes “means that passionate subjectivity becomes the sole test of truth.”

            “This allows for a justified condemnation of a false worship of God,” Niebuhr continues, “but it also lacks any standard by which the true God could be distinguished from a false one.” (Reinhold Niebuhr, “Coherence, incoherence and Christian faith: The possibilities and limitations of our knowing”)

  8. Jackrabbit

    Its all too easy to blame the EU/euro and the heartless ‘foreign’ interests. But doing so misses some important lessons.

    Greece was undone firstly by cronyism where the wealthy elites paid no taxes. Of course, this was unsustainable. And just like in the US, the elites that caused and benefited from this betrayal are the one’s that were in charge of ‘fixing’ it. So naturally they ‘fixed it’ to their liking (meaning the proles would be stuck with the bill).

    The people were played for fools. A role they seem to enjoy the world over. Party on Garth. ( this is a reference to a US TV show that featured two ‘losers’ who were happy in their own world )

    And therein lies the problem. Every outrage is excused or brushed off. Its a ‘one-off’; it was always thus; Washington is broken! what can be done? No one connects the dots (especially MSM) – unless it is done so years later as an historical review on the back pages. And the few that try to bring such matters to the fore are ‘radicals’ that are promoting ‘class war.’

    Most of the _few_ who will see this documentary will momentarily feel sorry for the Greeks and then go on with their lives. They have their own problems, cares, and concerns. The have bought into the neo-lib “me-first” philosophy where there are NO social obligations, and your only concern should be maximizing your own opportunities and pleasure (in league with your conys).

    For those who pay attention and actually care in some way about anachronistic ‘Greater Good’, it feels like we have entered a cultural ‘Twilight Zone’ where the laws of human nature have been suspended as people _willingly_, even joyfully, play a rigged game that will end in tears.


    1. Banger

      Europe and the U.S. have chosen to fall asleep believing their leadership class would bring stability and stability in the post-WWII era consisted of one thing consistent economic growth, free trade, rising wages and lower prices. Something had to give.

      Globalization has made local political economies unsustainable in the long run. Wages are headed down for most people and up for the more elite who through luck, wealth or specialized education find a niche in particular fields. Because we value security over justice we are short-sighted, fearful, and easily manipulated by our media, PR and advertising professionals to be, basically, zombies–hence the popularity of zombie movies which strike at something we know unconsciously.

      We need in all countries a revival of the human spirit of basic morality, of basic concepts of justice, of the notion that maybe honor, compassion, courage, critical thinking, honesty, a hunger for truth may start to replace the highest values currently promoted by the Empire which consists of wealth, status and celebrity. Because fundamentally we are in a moral crisis in the world.

      Greece and other countries are paying for this moral crisis with privation and poverty and other societies will experience the same thing as we face a period of economic stagnation, at best. And though most people don’t realize this, we have the capacity for spectacular growth in economic activity due to the technological revolution of the past few decades that has occurred in many areas that are today used only to provide toys, entertainments, and great wealth to the very few. We have experienced a period of repression of techno-progress and even of methods of solving collective problems. The Greek crisis is an example of technocrats in the EU focusing on one crisis, then the next because its management structure makes holistic thinking impossible. Smart people in the world of the elites know that their best friend are these sorts of managements structures that we see everywhere and are responsible for such silly policies as Obamacare or Euro-austerity since it is easier to produce such policies than to actually accept obvious solutions that most of us could supply for any number of collective problems.

    2. Jackrabbit

      Yves sometimes refers to this strange cultural condition as the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving.

      However, I think that there is a growing realization that the ‘thanksgiving vote’ is rigged (as money buys both parties plus the MSM, think tanks, etc.). Instead, the problem is that many neo-lib ‘truths’ have been absorbed by the most successful of ‘the 99%’ (the middle and upper middle classes). Virtually all ‘respectable’ people, parties, media and other organizations now trumpet these ‘truths’.

      People whose families fought for unions and the right to vote in free and fair elections now complain bitterly about unions; can’t be bothered with societal concerns (best of all worlds!); and see no problem with money-in-politics.

    3. Ishmael

      This is a very insightful comment on the Greek people. It is the Greek elite that have played the majority of the people for fools.

      As I indicated above Greeks are the most argumentative people you will me (wonder why it was the home of Democracy). In Northern countries people organize very quickly and if something is verbotten they follow the rules. In Britian, Brits que up. In Greece it is like herding cats. That allows corruption to run rampant.

      1. Jackrabbit

        Its not just Greeks.

        People in may countries are now pointing fingers at Washington, or Brussels, or Central Banks.

        Its all too easy to blame the ‘system’. Those who are responsible for the mess EXPECT and benefit from such finger pointing.

        Until INDIVIDUALS are held accountable (as Bill Black has been saying for years) the shananigans will continue.

        1. Ishmael

          Working recently with a team of people some of which were from Italy and Spain I asked what the situation was in both countries. The Italian who voted for the Five Star (every Italian I meet said they voted for the Five Star but none want to leave the Euro – Cake and eat it too syndrome) told me he did not think the situation will be solved without violence.

          We had a French friend who lives in Normandy over for dinner last we (she has her US citizenships and is thinking of moving back) confided she voted for Le Pen. She told me not to tell her mother who is Jewish and whose family fled Germany prior to told Nazi take over. She said Le Pen has a whiff of fascist about her.

          That is what is starting to happen all over Europe with the Golden Dawn (fascist party in Greece) getting 12% of the parliament in the last election.

  9. The Dork of Cork

    Look at the price of maintaining fixed capital in both so called sov states such as the US or UK (really banking jurisdictions who use fiat within defined political borders for their own benefit in their operations to produce and manage scarcity) and more extreme currency unions yet to fully form in the banks own image such as the eurozone.

    I am sure the plan is to have some fiat power in Europe eventually , but first the former smaller scale nation states must be destroyed much like how tribal structures were destroyed to form these very same nation states of the past.

    There is a inertia in the landscape & the minds of the people that the banking system wishes to overcome.

    Sometimes this is achieved through mass destruction.

  10. The Dork of Cork

    There is really two types of consumption

    We can imagine it at Catholic like consumption vs Protestant like consumption.

    In a pure fiat world the typical consumer is a Norm from Cheers type of guy…..he does not accumulate any assets……he drinks and pisses out his fiat.

    In a double entry world everybody is a Tim the Tool man Taylor type of guy with a almost endless string of assets ( with maintenance costs) in his Garage.

    I say this from a small town perspective which sometimes makes things very clear.
    Cork worked a bit like this…..
    The Protestants owned the capital (breweries ) and the catholics drank the product.
    What remained of the domestic economy was a symbiotic relationship.

    Meanwhile the Catholics who wished to gain tokens and prestige became the dreaded Cork merchant class engaged in external trade – to work for these people was a life sentence.

  11. WorldisMorphing

    (starting at 17:52)
    [“I just wanted to buy a few simple things, …2L of milk, 500g of yogurt, 6 eggs, 500g of toast bread, 200g of feta cheese. Buying the cheapest products I could find, it cost me 8.55euro…”]

    –I would be hard press to get all these items for $12.05 Canadian even if I went for all generics. I think I’m going to check that up later in the day as I go to the grocery store.
    But I’m totally at a loss to figure out how to explain the following:

    [“…in France, I would have paid 6.50 Euro for the same, in Germany 4,73Euro.”]

    I had no idea that food could be so heavily subsidized in France and Germany. Perhaps the comparison wasn’t in same kind of private commerce.
    If someone can explain this to me, they’re welcome to do so.

    1. WorldisMorphing

      I just went to my local low cost grocery store.
      2L of milk — $3.34 (Canadian)
      500g of NoName yogurt– $2.59
      675g of NoName white bread– $2.69
      6 eggs (generic)– $2.19
      200g of feta cheese– $4.00 for 170g brand name(on sale) or $7.29 for 400g of generic (President’s Choice)– so lets settle for $3.75.
      Total 14.56 $
      So the Greek price could be consistent with it’s crumbled economy and amputated wages…but still, what’s with the [stated] French and German numbers if they’re at all true?

  12. The Dork of Cork

    Listen lads…..its a rigged game “the solutions” come from the bookmakers (the banks) who control the odds.
    Go back this MMT horse or maybe that Austrian horse has form etc etc.

    Micheal Hudson observed that the bookmakers (The banks) also observed that poor people are honest.

    In the above film you will see the Jury (poor people) gave the verdict of guilty to the Cork guys who tried to take on the system despite direction from the Judge not to do so.

    “most of what you are about to see actually happened , however some events and some names have been changed to protect the guilty”

    1.04 to end.

  13. Banger

    “Ich bin ein Berliner” was JFK’s way of saying that we human beings are united. JFK’s vision was for a world connected rather than a world divided and his vision was shared by Pope John XXIII and, believe it or not, Nikita Khrushchev. This can be seen from the exchange of letters and negotiations that went on during the Cuban Missile Crisis and its aftermath involving those great figures. Opposed to them were the narrow, backbiting people who did all they could to bring these people down and once they were gone from the world stage they would try to bring as much darkness as possible to us all. Fortunately the light has not gone out entirely.

    I say this only because we ought to be saying we are all Greeks–the Greek crisis is critically important because it is an illustration of what happens when you leave your lives in the hands of oligarchs and the little gray men/women who staff the bureaucracy of the EU and Washington. One can meet these international bureaucrats at conferences and those of us who have known these people know the mentality and may have played a role in writing their position papers and so on. Conspicuously missing from the agenda or these bureaucrats not just morality, justice and so on but any vision at all, any sense of holism or the fact we live in an interrelated world.

    We need to wonder why, despite the fact we have had a dramatic explosion of technological progress in everything from AI to materials science, that we are gradually marching off to either ecological doom or world economic stagnation or worse. Why do you suppose visionaries of the 1950s who understood that technological growth would be spectacular in the future and thus call into question the need for human work had those visions? Do you think they were stupid? They weren’t stupid–they could, at that time, understand how important the scientific findings of the 1930s and 40s were particularly cybernetics and systems theory which showed us that there was no limit to our ability to organize and rationalize our societies.

    Today we see these as silly dreams and some of us still enjoy the science fiction that came out of that era–but they’re not silly dreams because the world of the future would have been possible had not certain events happened and had not the corporate oligarchs and militarists seized power in many parts of the world including the U.S. and Greece.

    We live, compared to how we could live, in relative squalor surrounded by stupid and juvenile toys, games, porn, and so on. We worship the rich and celebrities particularly and we revel in our ignorance and short-sightedness as well as our lack of compassion.

    Collectively, we don’t care about Greece–we figure they must have done something wrong just as we figure the people we see near us who are poor must have done something wrong and they deserve exactly what the get and we’re doing ok and learn to love our diminishing share of the pie.

    For Europe, the plight of the PIIGS is a moral challenge. Will the people of Europe rise to the occasion? Their leaders certainly are not doing so, their bureaucrats are not doing so, and their people are indifferent. Look at the degeneration of the left in Europe! As ugly, in relative terms, as the degeneration of the left in the U.S., if a bit less spectacular. All efforts by the power-elite are aimed not at things we might call solutions but on keeping things stable where they can remain stable meaning preserving the currently wealthy and powerful in their power.

    1. financial matters

      I just rewatched The Hunger Games and find it interesting as a struggle against an overly dominant state apparatus. I especially liked how the Tributes while engaged in fighting to the death still formed friendships. Such as Katniss and Rue. And then Thresh sparing Katniss’s life in respect for Rue.

      Viewing Donald Sutherland’s character as TPTB I thought this was an interesting comment..

      “hope is the only thing stronger than fear, a little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous” spoken by Donald Sutherland playing the president of Panem.

      1. DakotabornKansan

        Our hard-wiring makes democracy hopeless…

        Chris Mooney, “Science Confirms: Politics Wrecks Your Ability to Do Math,”

        “Everybody knows that our political views can sometimes get in the way of thinking clearly. But perhaps we don’t realize how bad the problem actually is. According to a new psychology paper, our political passions can even undermine our very basic reasoning skills. More specifically, the study finds that people who are otherwise very good at math may totally flunk a problem that they would otherwise probably be able to solve, simply because giving the right answer goes against their political beliefs.”

        “The results are a fairly strong refutation of what is called the “deficit model” in the field of science and technology studies — the idea that if people just had more knowledge, or more reasoning ability, then they would be better able to come to consensus with scientists and experts on issues like climate change, evolution, the safety of vaccines, and pretty much anything else involving science or data…”

        If only every day could be like this:

        “At a certain place in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, for example, he might feel that he is floating above the earth in a starry dome, with the dream of immortality in his heart; all the stars seem to glimmer around him, and the earth seems to sink ever deeper downwards.” – Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human

        Nice Bill Moyers’ essay on the new film “Following the Ninth: In the Footsteps of Beethoven’s Final Symphony.” As mysterious as hope in a broken world:

        “Listening to Jill Stein and Margaret Flowers, I come away with admiration for their ability to remain joyful in their defiance, as if imbued with a spirit that comes from some indefinable place of hope and resilience. Which is why I’m even more eager to recommend to you a small gem of a movie that’s just been released. It’s about perhaps the greatest piece of music ever written, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, in which the composer [who, during the bloody Napoleonic Wars, completely deaf and adrift from the people he loved, wrote, “What a destructive, disorderly life I see and hear around me, nothing but drums, cannons and human misery in every form.”] – took Friedrich Schiller’s poem “Ode to Joy,” and transformed what essentially was a drinking song into what has been called a universal human anthem.”

        “So those of you who despair of the collapse of civilization, those of us who report it, and all of you trying to repair it can take heart from what emerged out of hard and bitter times – take heart from how Beethoven erected a movement of epic scope on a humble little tune that anybody can sing.”

        1. Banger

          Negative emotions undermine reasoning skills. This is why I object to characterizing certain groups as “bad” whether they are Mexicans, Muslims or rich oligarchs. Rigid categorical thinking tends to crowd out pragmatism and reasoning. This is why Jesus called us to “love our enemies” not that we are stupid enough to believe we don’t have enemies but that we can learn from enemies and the sharpness of their opposition to us should sharpen our senses as opposed to fear and loathing which repress our senses and ability to think.

          Aikido, the Japanese martial art, emphasizes relaxation and acceptance as a precursor to warding off attacks (or, even better, avoiding them). When you are calm your senses function well and you can see nuances you miss when you are dominated by fear or anger. This is why my goal is to try to see things as they are even if they don’t fit into my conceptual frameworks–I often fail, but it’s a worthy goal.

          1. Beleck3

            when the rich are out to destroy my planet, my life’s ecosystem and the rest of my world, i see evil plainly. there is no room for that kind of balance. when Jesus comes to smite the evil money changers, then i will follow Jesus. Otherwise, evil is evil when it comes to do me harm.

          2. jonboinAR

            …or you and I bagging on average Americans for their ignorance. FromMexico really got on us for that.

    2. different clue

      Ask yourself this: if the global overclass wanted to kill 6 billion people and make it look like an accident, how would they do it? The global overclass does have a vision and they are working to achieve it.

      A good blog on various aspects of this subject is called Rigorous Intuition 2.0

  14. JGordon

    I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think I’ve figured it out.

    The problem with the world economy… Well “disease” I should say, is that people are failing to provide for local needs locally. Food/water/clothing/shelter/medicine production are all things that can be provided efficiently, renewably at low cost and low energy consumption provided the correct techniques (i.e. the average person with a yard has enough food she needs, if she has the correct information).

    All this “austerity” vs. “stimulus” stuff seems like a serious misallignment of thinking to me. The system that allows austerity and stimulus should not even exist in the first place and arguing over which is better to me is a lot like arguing with heroine is preferable to withdrawal.

    1. human

      “…people are failing to provide for local needs locally.”

      Not necessarily willingly. Communities have long paid the price of resistance to corporate wants via monopolies and no-compete agreements to local communications, water and power providers (all the while subsidizing the cost of privately owned infrastructure to boot!) and now no-fracking ordinances, to just begin the list.

      It’s been divide and conquer and profit from the chaos for decades.

      1. JGordon

        Well, to get into concrete specifics, rain water catchment, cisterns, solar panels, wind turbines, fruit/nut bearing trees, productive herbacious ground cover, etc, can all provide food resources and moderate the local microclimates to make whereever you live very confortable with little energy–whether that be Florida or Michigan.

        If you are still in the mindset that centralized utilities and products/medicines manufactured on the other side of the world are required for a good life, then you’re going to be screwed when all the energy it takes to deliver that stuff to you becomes too expensive. Or when the political/financial/commercial systems breakdown, as history shows they all do eventually.

  15. The Dork of Cork

    The European banking project was a major drive for efficiency as systems scaled up to their max starting with a standardization of weights and measures…this projects the major gains towards the financial centers (the real reason for Londons big bang was the European project)
    We in the economic hinterland must then supply far off places for merely artifical monetary reasons rather then anything which would be considered logical in a physiocratic economy.

    This banking vortice becomes more efficient but the larger it gets the less redundancy is available.
    A shock to the system impacts on fixed costs in a more profound manner…. the system cannot descale …..the banking system can only move upwards in its vortex as anything which gets in the way of this tornado may destroy its inertia so the system managers are as ruthless as it takes to sustain the system.
    Losses are transferred to the lesser mortals – if a arm needs to be cut off so be it.
    Population movements follow the money upwards … centers such as London continue to grow….economic hinterlands are stripped.

    The actions over the past few years was very predicable as it has happened many times in the past.

  16. The Dork of Cork

    The system will have to descale if most of us are to survive – however there is huge problems to this goal as there is a inertia in the distribution system which is very difficult to overcome despite its absurdity (multiple cross border value added operations with sunk capital costs)
    Even national level operations may be too big although Dirigisme activities are needed on this level as market states or local authorities don’t do this sort of thing.

    But you must remember national activity also overpower local connections…….If you read the book “20 years a Growing”

    you come to realize that the Keynesian stimulus of the first world war turned the Blasket islands into a more monetary economy.
    Why ?
    The islands accumulated vast surplus goods from torpedoed boats…..what to do with all that surplus ?? …… in monetary units perhaps….then buy goods with monetary units rather then go out and kill a rabbit.
    Post great war – Once the Irish nation state scaled up it did not just deflate Cork city ( Energy via taxes went to Dublin )
    Blasket Island people now more dependent on money followed it to Dingle town and further afield to civil service jobs in Dublin etc whose job was to manage the vortice.

    So if we were living in a non criminal world the central question of our time is at what scale is commercial activity appropriate ?
    Too small and you get very poor efficiency
    Too large and you get greater and greater losses in redundancy.

    1. anon

      The article doesn’t cite its spending info and its argument is nothing. The PIIGs had rapid spending increases from 2006 to 2009 while Germany had cuts. They PIIGs only cut after their economies collapsed under the weight of spending.


      The fact that some people don’t acknowledge austerity as a massive success is remarkable.

Comments are closed.