"Capitalism isn't working" by Reuters
By Nicolas Mottas.
A spectre is haunting Greece these days - the spectre of default. The government, under the strict rulling of the so-called Troika (IMF-EU-ECB), tightens more and more the austerity policies. Additional measures, including huge cut-backs in public sector, suspension of civil servants in partial pay status, rapid increase of taxation and even bigger decrease of monthly pensions, have been announced . The Greek working and middle class are now called to sacrifice themselves - the very future of their children - for the sake of paying back the loan sharks of Greek economy.
"The Greeks were wasteful and now they must sacrifice their living standards" say many cynics in Europe. This is a neoliberal nonsense. Let's see some revealing statistics regarding Greeks's "preposterously luxurious" life:
1. In terms of working hours per week, the Greeks are the "Champions" within the EU. They work on an average of 42 hours. Then come the Spaniards with 39 hours, the Germans with 36 and the Dutch with 31 .
2. Approximately 20% of the working class in Greece live under the so-called poverty average . Almost 80% of those Greeks who work in the public and private sector live with a monthly income of under 1,500 euros and 61% of them with less than 1,000 euros per month.
3. The lowest salaries range at 51% of Eurozone's average, while the pensions at 55% .
4. Almost 850,000 Greek pensioners of the Organization for Agricultural Insurance (OGA), live with a monthly pension of 400 euros . In the whole country, 3 out of 10 retired citizens take less than 450 euros as monthly pension.
5. The official number of the unemployed Greeks who are registered at the Manpower Employment Organization (OAED) was 839,000 as of February 2011. From that number only 30% (appr. 280,000) of them receive the 'unemployment benefit' of 454 euros per month. It is estimated that approximately 32% of the young Greeks up to 24 years old are unemployed.
The above facts certify one major thing: Greece's working class had been already affected by the neoliberal policies imposed in the country after the 1992 Maastricht Treaty. Today's crisis is just the "top of the iceberg" in a series of austerity, fiscal tighening, privatization of social institutions and broadening of the gap between poor and rich. In Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy the working class felt the "benefits" of the free market economy and of the uncontrolled competition between monopolies.
Now, the question is the following: Who has benefited from the ongoing crisis, in Greece and the eurozone? You don't need to have memorized the whole Marx's "Capital" in order to give an answer - the benefits of the people's "sacrifices" go to the ones who created the crisis. In simple words, the international and domestic Plutocracy (a Greek word, composed by "Plutos" and "Kratos", actually meaning the "rule of wealth").
Some statistical data regarding the recent profits of monopolies, banks and loan sharks are more than revealing about the situation:
1. By the end of 2009, the assets of the Monetary Financial Institutions (MFI) in Greece was estimated at approximately 614,000,000,000 euros . That means a 232% increase since 2000! On the same time, the public deficit was swelling up to 300,000,000,000 euros.
2. Since the eruption of the international banking crisis in 2008, the indebted Greek governments donated to the Banks a total of 106,000,000,000 euros to "protect" them from possible collapse. On the very same time, harsh austerity measures were imposed on the middle and working class with the excuse of "saving the country from default".
3. Greece's annual budget deficit for 2009 was 30,000,000,000 euros. This amount equals with the construction of 777 ships ordered by Greek ship-owners on the same year .
4. According to the German magazine Der Spiegel, the deposits of a few Greek multi-millionaires in Swiss bank accounts reaches 600,000,000,000 euros - that means the double of Greece's public debt .