It doesn't bode well that SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras's first order of business will be to meet and work with the same psychopaths who caused all the mess in the first place, to try and work out a debt deal to ease some of the pain. It harkens back to Barack Obama's first order of post-election business: the appointment of the same inept crooks who wrecked the economy to continue running the economy. Obama immediately held meetings with Republicans and conservative columnists to show his solidarity with austerity and deficit reduction, instead of showing solidarity with the Polloi by talking up a massive jobs program.
The difference is that, unlike the European troika of sadists, the Obama administration dressed the gaping wound with an inadequate stimulus bandaid -- with simultaneous "quantitative easing" injections of public money (bond-buying) from the Fed into the coffers of the mafia -- to supposedly help blunt the effects of the incipient mass whipping. In other words, our elected officials committed reverse bribery by artificially propping up a criminal enterprise. The stimulus was supposed to shock the economy into health. But to many of us, the "recovery" has felt more like a Taser blast to the gut.
The wealth gap grows apace, its severity promising to surpass that of the Gilded Age. According to Gini coefficient measurements, the United States is still the most unequal country on earth.
While the US unemployment situation is nowhere near as bad as Greece's 27% rate, the "recovery" here can only be called the New Abnormal. People who found work again are working for much less money and with much less job security. The parts of the stimulus that were supposed to help ordinary people -- extended federal unemployment benefits and expansion of the food stamp program -- are things of the past. The TARP bailout, theoretically designed to help people stay in their homes, was another boom for the banks. In the infamous words of former Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, it served to "foam the runway" so that the criminal banking cartel wouldn't have to suffer from the epidemic of foreclosures coming down the pike.
Main Street got evicted. Wall Street got richer than ever on the public dime.
The middle class is now the Precariat.
So while we're celebrating the Greek people giving a giant middle finger to the plutocrats, here's a dose of reality from the World Socialist Website:
In the run-up to the elections, Syriza officials were busy behind the scenes reassuring journalists, economists and politicians that an election victory posed no danger to the banks. European news site EurActiv wrote: “Key to Syriza’s ascent, party officials say privately, is a calculated effort to moderate the radical leftist rhetoric that prompted Der Spiegel to name Tsipras among the most dangerous men in Europe in 2012.”
Former Syriza leader Alekos Alavanos stressed that the party would pose no threat to the banks in an interview with the Financial Times of London two days ago. “Even Mr Tsipras’ predecessor as Syriza chief, Alekos Alavanos, questions whether the party’s rhetoric matches its intentions,” the FT concluded, citing Alavanos’s remark that Syriza “now is a moderate party.
”Economist Jean-Marc Daniel reassured France’s 20 Minutes that Syriza would do no long-term harm to the stock portfolios of the affluent and the super-rich. “The stock market does not usually like the beginning of ‘left’ governments, but it picks up gradually as they abandon their program. What is most striking about Alexis Tsipras, is that he is already diluting his program,” Daniel said.
If representatives of finance capital state so openly and with such confidence that Syriza is no threat to them, this is because Syriza has been thoroughly vetted by the banks and intelligence agencies. Since Syriza emerged as a major electoral force in Greece in 2012, Tsipras has met publicly with the Greek army and repeatedly traveled to the major capitals of the euro zone and to Washington—after declaring himself an admirer of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.Remember how the Republicans got the suffering masses to boost the obscene wealth of the Kochs and the whole oligarchic cartel? They called Obama a Kenyan Socialist Marxist, even as Obama quietly and obligingly did the bidding of the oligarchic cartel.
The great part of the SYRIZA victory, of course, is that it's inspiring and energizing people all over the world at the same time it is exposing the wanton criminal behavior and gross incompetence of the global ruling class. A Greek political story has become an international event. Revolutionary change occurs in increments. The election of one politician is never an end in itself, just a possible means to an end.
As SYRIZA politicians were gaining power, so too were hoi polloi ("the people.") The Greeks were never as spellbound by Tsipras as so many of us were with Obama. They took to the streets the minute the Troika imposed austerity in 2008 and Greece's military police started shooting and arresting dissenters. National strikes were the order of the day. Eventually the activists stopped pleading with their elected officials and began an Occupy movement, camping out in front of Parliament and engaging in direct, bottom-up democracy. They literally turned their backs on the establishment.
Austerity is the absolute equivalent of sadism. The Troika is made up entirely of the severely mentally ill, in politics (Germany/Merkel), banking (IMF, Goldman Sachs) and transnational companies. When at least half the Greek population fell into poverty, the austerians reacted by imposing a literal death sentence upon them. Cuts to public health spending have climbed right along with the official death rate.
The first Memorandum in May 2010 (bailout deal) for a loan of 109 billion Euros cut health spending by 10 percent. The second Memorandum, for a loan of 172 billion Euros in March 2012, took another 1 billion Euros out of the health budget. And a package of cuts passed by the government in September 2012 reduced government spending by a further 11.9 billion Euros -- more than half of that in pensions and public health programs. Pharmaceutical behemoths simply refused to ship any more life-saving drugs to the cradle of democracy. The culling of the herd was deliberate and effective.
Child labor has returned: it is estimated that 100,000 Greeks under the age of 16 are working for slave wages. Many more are begging in the streets.
And unbelievably (or rather all too believably) the Masters of the Universe are demanding still more pain and suffering. Economist and white collar crime expert Bill Black does a great job eviscerating the New York Times propaganda, which quotes the same elite austerian cartel (the Peterson Institute) which funded and spearheaded Obama's own Catfood Commission now demanding more suffering for the Greeks.
If you hoi polloi want any relief, you first have to "play by the rules", just like Obama's favorite Bootstrap Family. And that involves going hungry, running up education debt, doing without medication, and settling for low-wage jobs while the elites laugh all the way to the too-big-to-fail bank, stomping on and squashing you as they go.
(* I didn't get to comment on Krugman, because his column still hadn't appeared by the time I went to bed close to midnight. The Times must have freaked out that their resident liberal columnist wrote that SYRIZA isn't nearly extreme enough.)