What follows here is a synopsis of an article by Mike Whitney.
"We are facing destruction. Our country, our home, has become ripe for burning. The centre of Athens is in flames."
-- Costis Hatzidakis, conservative parliamentarian
On Sunday, the Greek parliament approved a new round of austerity measures that will further deepen the 5-year depression and sever the last fraying threads of social cohesion. In order to secure a 130 billion euro loan, Greek political leaders agreed to comply with a "Memorandum of Understanding" (MOU) that will not only intensify the sacrifices of ordinary working people, but also effectively hand the control of the nation's economy over to foreign banks and corporations.
The Memorandum is as coldly calculating and mercenary as anything ever written. And while most of the attention has been focused on the deep cuts to supplementary pensions, the minimum wage, and private sector wages; there's much more to this onerous warrant than meets the eye.
Greece will have to prove that it's reached various benchmarks before it receives any of the money allotted in the bailout. The Memorandum outlines, in great detail, what those benchmarks are-- everything from reduced spending on life-saving drugs to allowing "retailers to sell restricted product categories such as baby food." That's right; according to the authors of this fuliginous memo, the only way Greece is going to be able to lift itself out of the doldrums is by greatly increasing the risk that their kids will be sickened by banned baby food!
The MOU also calls for a 10% cut to government workers wages, cuts to "social security funds and hospitals," and more privatizing of publicly-owned assets -- all of which will only further shrink GDP!
Instead of providing fiscal aid so Greece can meet its budget targets and can get back on its feet again, the "troika" (the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) is using the crisis to snatch vital state assets and deliver them to its corporate friends. In other words, the MOU is opening new avenues for exploitation and plunder. And there's more:
"The Government (of Greece) will neither propose nor implement measures which may infringe the rules on the free movement of capital. Neither the State nor other public bodies will conclude shareholder agreements with the intention or effect of hindering the free movement of capital or influence the management or control of companies."
In other words, the interests of corporations and banks will take precedent over those of the people, i.e. Capital Rules! This proclamation limits the role of government to rubber stamping the predatory actions of cutthroat speculators whose only interest is fattening the bottom line for their shareholders.
There's also a long section on "Growth-Enhancing Structural Reforms." But this section never does explain how the economy is supposed to expand when austerity measures are reducing the amount of consumer spending and business investment. Instead, for the sake of short-term corporate gain, the stated plan is to eviscerate trade barriers and slash workers' wages. Here's a sample:
"Given that the outcome of the social dialogue to promote employment and competitiveness fell short of expectations, the Government will take measures to foster a rapid adjustment of labour costs to fight unemployment and restore cost-competitiveness, ensure the effectiveness of recent labour market reforms, align labour conditions in former state-owned enterprises to those in the rest of the private sector and make working-hours arrangements more flexible. This strategy should aim at reducing nominal unit labour costs in the business economy by 15% in 2012-14."
Here we're talking about policies that have already resulted in a severe two-year recession and record-high unemployment. (Greek unemployment is now at a peak of 20.6 percent.) And now the EU is prescribing the very same policies that have failed throughout, i.e. policies that have reduced spending, shrunk government revenues, increased joblessness, and deepened the slump! Is this insanity, or corporate greed with the complicity of EU officials, or a mixture of the two?
The Memorandum also contains an illuminating section on "Business environment," which covers everything from perks for industry to unrestricted free trade. The whole memo reads like this, just one corporate handout after another. In essence, the MOU is a corporate "wish list" -- a mix of punitive belt tightening policies for working people and perks for big oil, big gas, electric, aviation, railroads, communications etc.
None of this has anything to do with helping Greece
It's simply corporate pillaging gone haywire. Greece is a big pinata that's just been cracked open; and like greedy children, everyone is pushing and shoving to grab their fistful of candy.
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