Tuesday, May 1, 2012

"We are all Greeks" movement. What is its relevance for the average European!

For the past few months we have been witnessing a new wave of "philhellenism" sweeping across Europe, in support for the Greek people during their ordeal in battling the economic crisis.

After an initial criticism and uproar, European people finally are starting to understand that Greece has been wrongly accused as the "deceiver" in the European family; if anything, the deceivers are the European governing elites.

In France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Finland and other European countries and their capitals we had protests of support towards the Greek people. In social networking websites there have been numerous pages created, stating their solidarity to Greece. But one of the most moving cases was that of a number of Italian mayors, donating their monthly salaries to the poverty stricken Greek families.

First of all we need to understand that Greece is not the cause of this crisis; it has actually originated in America. Greece is not the only country who overspent, all western economies are heavily indebted; that is the economic model we all followed. And if we look at Italy, Portugal, Spain and other EU countries, Greece is not the only one rigged with corruption, outdated social policies and lack of  reforms.

The reality is that the euro-zone was flawed by its creation and foundations. Its flaws were manipulated and exploited by "The Markets," a powerful group or lobby of investors, bankers and speculators-high society gamblers if you ask me- that make profits out of currency manipulation. It is not the first time we experience such thing, we witnessed the attack on the British sterling by Mr. George Soros and his companies. Now it is simply the turn of the euro.

Just to examine where the euro-zone is flawed, when we have two countries- Germany and Greece for example-  engage in free trade, the country with the slower rate of productivity growth normally experiences a depreciation of its currency. But currency depreciation need not occur. 

There are other possibilities: its workers' wage rates could grow at a commensurately slower rate; it could experience ever-increasing unemployment; its workers could emigrate; or it could find some means of "validating" its increasingly over-valued real exchange rate. Greece chose the last of these options. And the means it chose to validate that was to increase government spending, financed by borrowing. 

Over the last decade, unit labor costs in Greece have grown by about 30% more than in Germany. This implies a 30% effective appreciation of Greece's real exchange rate. The validation of a real appreciation of that magnitude has required a lot of government spending and such a fiscal stance was bound to prove unsustainable. 

Greece is not the only European country in this pickle. Whether the Greek and European body politic can now weather the fiscal burdens of an adjustment without breaking the euro currency system, remains to be seen. (Written by Mr Peter Drysdale, Emeritus Professor. For CES).

In other words the crisis has nothing to do with the "lazy, corrupt" Greeks, the P.I.G.S. or any of the other nonsense that our media have tried over the years to manipulate the public opinion with. In fact we are not witnessing the interests of one country going against the other in this crisis, that has been admitted by many European leaders and top EU officials. What we have is the war of interests of the creditors and the investors in each country, that want to secure their investments and if possible make profit.

By influencing the public opinion of a country through its media, the creditors push their governments to adopt measures that will promote either protectionism of their own national social policies and resources, or undermining other nations'. And so we ended up with the Germans calling the Greeks lazy and incompetent and in return the Greeks calling the Germans Nazis, recalling past traumatic and unfortunate events in their history.

Greece is not the only problem in the euro-zone and not the biggest. To slander one nation in this way, is no better than what the Nazis did back with the Jews during WW2. Us Greeks are being used as the scapegoat of this crisis, by the European elites. They put the blame on us for their own mistaken policies, that allowed the weak spots of the euro-zone to be exposed and used by profit mongering corporations.

The only good that came out of this crisis is that the Greeks now, after decades of political idleness are re-evaluating their stance and personal involvement towards their country. They are debating on what kind of society they want to have in the future. They are becoming more active in the political life of Greece and are starting to have a vision for the future of their nation. It only remains to be seen if their leaders or the European elites are sharing their dreams and deliver this time.

Of course the downside effect of the crisis in Greece is similar to this of other countries. In Finland we had the rise of the True Finns party, in the recent on-going French election we saw the far right party of Marine Le Pen gaining almost one fifth of the votes. And in Greece we see a surge of nationalism, xenophobia and euro-skepticism, that will most certainly have an effect during the upcoming elections.

The Greek blog-sphere is rife with different scenarios and conspiracy theories, anti-EU/European and anti-euro sentiments, patriotic messages and potential solutions that somehow all involve or predict the collapse of the euro- even the EU; or simply Greece's exit. Some others' purpose is to simply inspire their fellow Greeks to be strong and proud; to reinstall some national pride anyway they think it is best.

An average European can relate to Greece now, because the crisis is not being seen as a Greek "sickness" anymore. All euro-zone member states have borrowed too much and contributed in the block's woes. Whatever happens now in Greece, Portugal and Ireland will most likely spread to other nations too. Our economies are so intertwined and exposed to each other, that will be impossible not too. We are seeing it already spreading to Spain, Italy, France, Belgium and Holland.

Our leaders are using austerity as the only solution to deal with the crisis. They want to reform the social structure of the continent in the future and life for a worker will be very different. Even if some countries escape this reality, they will have to keep contributing financially to support those countries who have to face tough austerity measures. In other words, they will have to keep bailing out the "peripheral" states.

It seems so that no one will escape the consequences. There is also the moral dimension of the issue, of the kind of "European solidarity" are we claiming to have, when we are allowing nationalism to pull down everything we have built during the past few decades. Do we want o reinstall the walls in Europe, turn against immigrants and each other, do we want to go back to a Europe of restrictions, divisions and fanaticism?

Just because our elites messed up, got too greedy and overconfident with the success of what they have created, it does not mean that we have to turn our backs completely to what we have and what we have achieved.

Time to give them a message, that we stand united and in solidarity with each other. We are all Greeks, we are all Irish, all Portuguese, French, Dutch, Spanish, Italians. We want the same, a stable prosperous future, equality, transparency, democracy and opportunities. It is time to be part of our country's and continent's political life and get involved.

If Europe's people/workers actually manage to pass this message on a united front, it will be difficult for our elites to ignore us. It is not about Greece anymore, but about Europe and the future of our continent. Will you leave the Greeks, the Portuguese and the Irish to stand alone? Show your solidarity now, because your country, your jobs and the future of your kids might be next.

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