In Greek elections yesterday, the so-called the radical left-wing Syriza party won the overwhelming support of the Greek people. After five years of austerity, the Greek people have said “enough.” Syriza has pledged an end to austerity, but intends to retain the Euro as their currency. That may not be possible. The Greek meltdown was caused by Goldman Sachs selling them bad paper, possibly backed by US mortgages that went bad worldwide and caused the Great Recession. After five years of severe economic pain, the Greek people have voted an end to austerity. I wish them luck.
This is what Greg Palast had to say about the tragedy that was Greece in his book Vultures’ Picnic. Thomas Friedman voices the Washington consensus that the remedy for the Great Recession is austerity. The GOP tried to impose austerity here in the US, but lucky for us, they mostly failed. With our own currency, the US was not tied to the Euro as Greece is.
“So, while the streets erupted, while the bank burned, while in the midst of his sleepless, humiliating begging sessions with the IMF and the German Chancellor, Greece’s new Prime Minister George Papandreou was called away to a luncheon with a stout man with a combed-down mustache. Others in the Athens restaurant could be forgiven for mistaking him for a misplaced Bavarian Burgermeister. The mustache belongs to Thomas Friedman, the world’s most influential writer on economics. He is not actually an economist, but he plays one in the pages of The New York Times.
“Friedman had flown business class and had already visited the burnt bank, a ‘shrine,’ as he called it, to globalization.
“Friedman then arrived at the restaurant beaming with delight and, by his own account, dug into his fish with gusto. Greece had been ‘profligate’ but now faced the wonderful opportunity for ‘regeneration.’ The bubbly pundit was so excited by the prospect that Greece would now have to ‘cut public sector pay, freeze benefits, slash jobs, abolish a range of welfare entitlements, and take the axe to programs such as school building and road maintenance’ that you feared he would soil his underpants before the courier delivered his fresh ones.
“Friedman ticked off with relish: 20 percent wage cuts, social security slashed by 10 percent, retirement age increased by four years, and massive cuts in government spending. While incomes fell, the national value added sales tax would rise by four percentage points. Friedman was thrilled.”
And that is what the Koch brothers want for the US.