David Harney writes on Austerity and Greece, previously published here
I fear the is just the beginning. People are finally discovering what the world has risked for the fortunes of so very few.
In Athens (12/02/12) a parliamentary vote was cast, that not only spells economic disaster for the millions of Greek people, but has worrying implications for the people of Europe as a whole. (BBC)
The people of Greece have suffered a long, lingering recession for 5 consecutive years. Unemployment is touching a massive 20%, with those fortunate enough to actually have a job, actually being paid only as and when the employer can afford it. Food hand outs, and emergency aid are common place, and are only becoming more urgent. The fact is, the recession has long since manifested into a depression, not seen since the great depression in America in the 1920s. Needless to say, all this suffering and hardship has created a steep increase in crime, as well as a worrying increase in the number of people suffering mental health issues. The stresses and strains of raising a family have simply been too much for many to bare. This has sadly left to many turning to drink, drugs, or in the worst cases, suicide, as a refuge from the constant bad news. Before the country’s political leaders voted, many thousands took to the streets of Athens, and in a desperate bid for their voices to be heard, caused chaos and destruction to buildings and shops. Sadly however, their voices have been ignored. 40 coalition ministers had the courage to reject the EU`s crippling ‘austerity only’ demands put forward by France & Germany. The cost of their bravery, was to be instantly kicked out of the Greek Coalition Government, before many were given time to even clear their desks. Democracy had been crushed, the doubters banished from the political process. An action that has now paved the way for the right wing ‘austerity only’ brigade to dominate Greek politics.
The events of (12/02/12), firstly have condemned the ordinary people of Greece to decades of further and increasing financial hardship. The total absence of any form of growth plan, or meaningful strategy ensures this will be the case. Quite simply, growth cannot & will not be created through an ‘austerity only’ programme. It will only succeed in killing off public confidence, amidst further concerns over massive job losses, cuts to welfare, wages, social care & public services.
To demand, and pass such a damaging programme smacks of a European capitalist continent that has become insecure, short sighted, and undemocratic. A Europe that is so at ease casting aside democracy, in favor of capitalism, is a Europe heading for both fiscal, and social melt-down. A Europe that can so casually turn a blind eye to its peoples needs and rights, should be not only a worry for the people of Greece, but a worry to every European citizen. Whether we happen to be Spanish, Italian, Irish, or British, last night’s (12/02/12) events has an enormous effect on us all!
For those of us who remember all too well, the decade of social misery under Margaret Thatcher`s 1980`s Conservative Government, will perhaps also remember the SDP’s Roy Jenkins stating: “Capitalism thrives most, when the people are at their poorest!” Wise words from Mr Jenkins. It is as true today, as it was then!
Mr Jenkins was of-course referring to the fact that as the ordinary British people where made poorer under Thatcher’s rule, so the rich became ever richer. This sadly, is precisely what we are re-living under David Cameron’s present Tory led Government. An ideological principle that always favors the well off. The City high-flyers. The Multi-National company bosses. The greedy under performing bankers. For them this is their time. For the millions of Britain’s working poor, unemployed, and disadvantaged, this is a time for fear, & despair.
The events in Greece, and events here in Britain, have I believe, far more in common than perhaps is commonly realized. For have we not heard our Prime Minister declare his conviction to push through his programme of damaging welfare “reforms” irrespective of the people’s concerns. Even his obvious disregard for the outcome in the Lords, shows a worryingly comfortable willingness to sacrifice our precious democracy, to appease his own flawed right wing ideology. Moreover we now hear this on a daily basis, with regards to the catastrophic Health Bill, Police `reforms`, Pension cuts. In fact anything that is required in order to satisfy capitalism’s insatiable greed and right-wing ideology. The results of all these “austerity only” policies are now inevitably coming to their natural levels. Unemployment rockets, as wages and pensions fall. NHS thrown into confusion & chaos. The disabled and disadvantaged living with stress and fear for their future.
As the results of the (12/02/12) vote in Athens came through, I was left with overwhelming feelings of both anger and sadness for the ordinary Greek people. Any remnants of hope they may have harbored for their futures, crushed in one underhand, undemocratic, political, ideological action. Those very actions now guarantee European poverty will only increase. It certainly does not however, guarantee Europe’s future financial well being. The price, quite simply, is not worth paying!