"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."