The Greek Banking Crisis – Redux


Joseph_E._Stiglitz_-_croppedYesterday I submitted a post “The Austerity Conspiracy and the Greek Banking Crisis” in which I tried to give context to this manufactured “crisis” by looking at the concept of “austerity” that is at its core. Today Joseph Stiglitz ,the Nobel Laureate Economist, wrote an article “Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy” , which I think is a must read if you are at all interested in the plight of the Greek people and their democratic institutions. It begins:

“The rising crescendo of bickering and acrimony within Europe might seem to outsiders to be the inevitable result of the bitter endgame playing out between Greece and its creditors. In fact, European leaders are finally beginning to reveal the true nature of the ongoing debt dispute, and the answer is not pleasant: it is about power and democracy much more than money and economics.

Of course, the economics behind the program that the “troika” (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) foisted on Greece five years ago has been abysmal, resulting in a 25 percent decline in the country’s GDP. I can think of no depression, ever, that has been so deliberate and had such catastrophic consequences: Greece’s rate of youth unemployment, for example, now exceeds 60 percent.

It is startling that the troika has refused to accept responsibility for any of this or admit how bad its forecasts and models have been. But what is even more surprising is that Europe’s leaders have not even learned. The troika is still demanding that Greece achieve a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of 3.5 percent of GDP by 2018.

Economists around the world have condemned that target as punitive, because aiming for it will inevitably result in a deeper downturn. Indeed, even if Greece’s debt is restructured beyond anything imaginable, the country will remain in depression if voters there commit to the troika’s target in the snap referendum to be held this weekend.

In terms of transforming a large primary deficit into a surplus, few countries have accomplished anything like what the Greeks have achieved in the last five years. And, though the cost in terms of human suffering has been extremely high, the Greek government’s recent proposals went a long way toward meeting its creditors’ demands. We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors — including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other “official” creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece.”

And there it is. This “Troika” of Banks has been using “austerity” as a financial scam to enrich private sector creditors. The idea is not to protect all the citizens of the EU, but only the wealthy elites. Stiglitz goes on to show why this is a specific attack upon democracy in Greece, aimed at the Left Wing government Greece elected because the citizenry rose up against the reality of what austerity is all about. Please follow the link to the rest of Mr. Stiglitz’ article and let me know if it makes you as mad as I am about this “austerity” scam from the European elite.


Posted in Capitalism, Conspiracy, Countries, Democracy, Economic Austerity, Economics, Fascism, France, Germany, Greece, Hypocrisy, Investing, Italy, Justice, Oligarchy, Political Science, Spain, Stock Market, Sweden, United Kingdom, World History, World War II | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Antonin Scalia and the Context of Context [UPDATED]

By Mark Esposito

627scalia-1250x650I’ve been reading a lot of Supreme Court cases lately. No big appeal coming up or any federal research to do on any of my cases, I’m just completely  fascinated by Justice Antonin Scalia. The firebrand in the frock is just beside himself  in disagreement with the Court’s 5-4 decision legalizing gay marriage as a fundamental right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. Assuring us that his outspoken fundamentalist Catholicism has nothing to do with it, just his interest in good government: “[I]t is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage. It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me.” And lest we harbor any misgivings about the true import of allowing mature adults to decide with whom to associate, out textualist minister of selective originalism (kudos Gene) reduces the problem to its essence employing the subtlety of  Ru Paul: “I write separately to call attention to this Court’s threat to American democracy.”  Whew! Glad someone did.

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Posted in Antonin Scalia, Constitutional Law, Health Care, Jurisprudence, Politics | Tagged , , , , , | 26 Comments

Stateside South Carolina: Ku Klux Klan Planning Rally at Statehouse to Protest Removal of Confederate Flag

rebel-klanBy Elaine Magliaro

Andrew Shain of the News & Observer reported today that South Carolina state officials had confirmed that the Ku Klux Klan is planning to hold a rally at the State House next month. According to Shain, the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan have requested that the rally take place from 3-5 p.m. on July 18th.

Arturo Garcia (Raw Story) said that “the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, which calls itself the ‘largest Klan in America,’ filed a permit saying they expected between 100 and 200 people to attend the event on the north side of the building, where the Confederate battle flag is currently being flown.”

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Posted in Equal Rights, Political Science, Racism, Society, South Carolina, State Government, United States | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Lacking Grace: Flag mania trumps loss of Faith in a free market for symbols

By: Ann Summers

“They got a goddamn day for Confederate flags. This is some bullshit!” says the (presumably black) man filming this video

And just when you’re wondering how long this line of assholes in lifted trucks can possibly be, and wishing something would make them stop… well, something does.

By taking down that flag we express God’s grace. But I don’t think God wants us to stop there,” Obama said Friday.

Much like the artist/murderer who escapes from the prison honor block only to be gunned down by cops with as much outrage as an NRA member in hunting season, RW religion (yes, let’s go there with the American Taliban(sic)) is in a bit of a market conundrum: how to compete in the free market for ideological products/services with the apprarent legality of gay marriage.

But what about Christians and the businesses they own? “People are losing their jobs, companies are having to close down because of the aggressive bullying of homosexual and transgender activists, and it’s time that that tyranny and the symbols representing it cease in America,” Linda Harvey of Mission American… suggests that the public raise the question with government organizations flying the rainbow flag, and ask companies – such as Walmart – to stop selling LGBT items in light of the Confederate controversy.

Short of some massive but doomed future attempt at a constitutional amendment or an actual state secession, apparently there is a Scarcity of Grace, as well as bisexuals who are aggressive bullies.
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Posted in Barack Obama, Christianity, Civil War, Conservatives, Constitutional Law, Courts, Democracy | 57 Comments

Picture of the Day for June 29, 2015: How “Incentives” Work for the Rich and Poor

Posted by Elaine Magliaro


Click here to view more political cartoons by Steve Sack.

Posted in Capitalism, Conservatives, Economic Policy, Economics, Government, Justice, Oligarchy, Political Science, Politics, Society, United States | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Austerity Conspiracy and the Greek Banking Crisis


The_Parthenon_in_AthensThe news media is full of stories about Greece these days, which is on the verge of economic collapse because of the inability to resolves the harsh sanctions of austerity demanded by the economic overlords of the European Union. Greek Prime Minister Tsipras has called for a public referendum to decide if Greece should accept the harsh terms of austerity being imposed on it. If the Greek people vote no, then the country will be left with no choice but to pull out of the European Union.  Now I’m hardly an Economist but Paul Krugman is and he has written about why Greeks should vote no and leave the European Union. Here are excerpts from his article Greece Over the Brink, followed by my own analysis of what I call the Austerity Conspiracy.

800px-Paul_Krugman-press_conference_Dec_07th,_2008-8“It has been obvious for some time that the creation of the euro was a terrible mistake. Europe never had the preconditions for a successful single currency — above all, the kind of fiscal and banking union that, for example, ensures that when a housing bubble in Florida bursts, Washington automatically protects seniors against any threat to their medical care or their bank deposits. Leaving a currency union is, however, a much harder and more frightening decision than never entering in the first place, and until now even the Continent’s most troubled economies have repeatedly stepped back from the brink. Again and again, governments have submitted to creditors’ demands for harsh austerity, while the European Central Bank has managed to contain market panic.

But the situation in Greece has now reached what looks like a point of no return. Banks are temporarily closed and the government has imposed capital controls — limits on the movement of funds out of the country. It seems highly likely that the government will soon have to start paying pensions and wages in scrip, in effect creating a parallel currency. And next week the country will hold a referendum on whether to accept the demands of the “troika” — the institutions representing creditor interests — for yet more austerity.

Greece should vote “no,” and the Greek government should be ready, if necessary, to leave the euro.

To understand why I say this, you need to realize that most — not all, but most — of what you’ve heard about Greek profligacy and irresponsibility is false. Yes, the Greek government was spending beyond its means in the late 2000s. But since then it has repeatedly slashed spending and raised taxes. Government employment has fallen more than 25 percent, and pensions (which were indeed much too generous) have been cut sharply. If you add up all the austerity measures, they have been more than enough to eliminate the original deficit and turn it into a large surplus.

So why didn’t this happen? Because the Greek economy collapsed, largely as a result of those very austerity measures, dragging revenues down with it.”

If you follow the link to the rest of Krugman’s article, you will understand his position vis-a-via the foolishness of this austerity imposed on Greece. If you click on the “more” tab you’ll find my own views on the Austerity Conspiracy and some research I’ve done on it. Continue reading

Posted in American History, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Conservatives, Conspiracy, Economic Policy, Economics, Fascism, Fascists/Corporatists, France, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Germany, Government Propaganda, Greece, History, Hypocrisy, Ireland, Labor Movement, Libertarians, Media, Mythology, Neoconservatives, Netherlands, Oligarchy, Political Science, Politics, Presidents, Propaganda, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Scotland, Stock Market, United Kingdom, United States, Wall Street | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

The Truth is Antonin Scalia is a Bigot Who Hates Homosexuals


Part of the hypocrisy that surrounds the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) is that by being Barneyfrankelevated to the position of SCOTUS Justice, somehow the person becomes more judicious and less political in judgment. That has never been true. SCOTUS has always been an extremely political element of our National Government and due to our Constitution its existence is more or less a given. However, just because it is an American Institution of long standing, doesn’t mean that we can’t look at its individual justices from a political and even moral perspective. Antonin Scalia is a hypocrite, who uses his personal judicial theories as merely a smokescreen disguising the hateful and bigoted soul beneath. In an article today former Congressman Barney Frank discusses Scalia’s bigotry:

“Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people won two victories in the Supreme Court today. We expected the big one: the fourth in a series of opinions by Justice Anthony Kennedy—one of the last sitting Reagan appointees—vindicating our right to legal equality. The unexpected one was smaller in public impact but also significant: Justice Antonin Scalia’s disclaimer that he is not personally troubled by the fact that we can marry each other. After a series of opinions, speeches and public comments expressing his strong disapproval of us, vigorously defending society’s right to express this attitude in discriminatory public policies, Scalia begins his characteristically vitriolic dissent by protesting that “the substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me.”

Yeah, right. This strikes me as the least sincere disavowal of homophobia I have encountered since former Majority Leader Dick Armey tried to argue that his reference to me as “Barney Fag” was just a mispronunciation of my last name. What we have here instead marks a tactical shift. Continue reading

Posted in American History, Antonin Scalia, Christianity, Civil Law, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, Constitutional Law, Courts, Fascists/Corporatists, Homosexual Rights, Hypocrisy, Jurisprudence, Justice, Law Enforcement, Legal Analysis, Media, Political Science, Politics, Propaganda, SCOTUS, Sexuality, Tea Party, United States | Tagged , , , , , , | 30 Comments