The Greek tragedy that is being played out like a car-crash reality show that gets recommissioned for a new series every time we think it is coming to the final episode. Like any of you who stuck with ‘LOST’ until the climax, the story just lost any semblance of reason. The Greek narrative is becoming so convoluted and discombobulating that it is difficult to make any sense of it. Are the Greeks the lazy feckless moustache twirlers who siesta’d away over 300 billion Euros or is it the insensitive megalomaniac Germans, hell bent on annexing their neighbours… again. Is Varoufakis an economics rock star Yoda or a naive idealist who still believes he can have his souvlaki and eat it and is Greece’s claim to WWII reparations that could effectively wipe the slate clean valid or simply risible. The fact is that all of this has clouded the real issues. For the simple answer I urge you to look no farther than yourself, your neighbours and your family.
For anyone following the will-they-won’t-they Grexit saga that is being played out in the media, you will notice that the story invariably falls into the language of bond yields and bank solvency. The macroeconomics of the situation are both baffling and contradictory. The Greek government was loaned more money than they could repay under the guise of a stable Eurozone member. Then, woken by the shock waves of the same crash that brought down some of the world’s biggest financial institutions, the markets began to panic causing a world recession which tipped Greece, among others, into a downward spiral. Greece is now locked out of the world finance markets beholden to the TROIKA for its life blood. The money needs to be borrowed in order to pay the loans that have stacked up and not to repay the loans but just the interest. So, more than two thirds of the bailout money is going straight back to the banks. But, it still holds a responsibility to its pensioners, unemployed and the people who earn a living working for the state.
The EU have attached certain conditions to these loans, the so called austerity measures, imagine the credit card company coming into your home and telling you what you can and can not spend your money on, imagine the bank telling you that in order to keep your overdraft facility you will have to sell your delivery van and service your customers with a bicycle then punish you for your business going down the tubes.
I’m sorry, it is really difficult to talk about the Greek crisis without getting bogged down in the big picture, because it is so big and there is a reason for that. I did ask you to look to yourself for the answer and I will make good on that.
What did you do to create the property boom? Maybe you bid a little too high on the home you dreamed of, maybe you were a little creative with your mortgage application.
What did you do to cause the decline of the health service, did you worry too much about that lump, did you have an accident in your car, did you get into a fight.
What did you do to cause the downturn in industry that forced companies to move production to Asia, did you need too much to pay you rent/mortgage, did you pull a few sickies, did you spend a bit too much time on facebook.
What did you do to cause the credit crunch, did you fail to resist the sales, did you get tired of your old banger and borrow to get your family around in something cleaner and safer.
You will surely answer yes to many of these questions and more I could ask, so are you deserving of a country that has 25% of its workforce unemployed. A tax system that changes so unpredictably that businesses cannot plan or develop. Or as has recently started, main roads and high streets with the lights out at night because the council can’t pay the bills. No, of course you are not.
In 2011, channel 4 invited audiences to ‘Go Greek for a week’, they laid the blame for Greece's woes quite firmly on the population. This is a message that they intended you to internalise, to make you look to your own culpability in your nation’s flaws. There was some truth in the examples given but it did miss the point. The same point that is missed every time the media bang on about bond market yields and currency markets and GDP. The system manages the country not the other way round, the people took advantage of what was on offer, as you do. Government exists to manage a nation, bond markets exist to help finance these nations and the businesses that rely on the nation’s workforce and infrastructure to make profit. These same businesses and industries rely on the same population to consume their products and services.
The markets, industries, banks and governments exist because of the people, not the other way round. The EU and government’s sycophancy towards narcissistic markets has caused the problem, not you.
The markets are everything that Greece and all the other failing nations are accused of. They are fickle and myopic, they grab all they covet, they do not build civilisations, they do not nurture their own. They liquidate all they touch.
I would, once again, ask you to ‘Go Greek for a week’. Look at what is being allowed to happen to the people you met on holiday and whether you be British, French, German or anyone who feels above their plight to look around and see that you may not be the next Greece but that your time is coming.
The banks are so often described as ‘Too big to fail’ but surely this is a description that should only apply to nations of people.
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