The Most Revolutionary Act

Diverse Ramblings of an American Refugee

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall

Dr Stuart Jeanne Bramhall
Location
New Plymouth, New Zealand
Birthday
December 02
Bio
Retired psychiatrist, activist and author with a new young adult novel - A Rebel Comes of Age - due for release on Dec 21, 2013. My 2010 memoir THE MOST REVOLUTIONARY ACT: MEMOIR OF AN AMERICAN REFUGEE describes the circumstances that led me to leave the US in 2002. More information about both books (and me) at www.stuartjeannebramhall.com

MY RECENT POSTS

MARCH 30, 2012 5:42PM

The Real Source of Greek Debt

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Debtocracy: the Greek documentary

Debtocracy: the Greek documentary

(This is the last of three posts about the new female head of the IMF, which the business press is promoting as a “rock star of the economic world,” and how we are being deceived about the real cause of the debt crisis in Europe.)

The free Greek documentary Debtocracy effectively dispels the media myths about lazy Greek workers and and scofflaw Greek taxpayers being responsible for the Greek debt crisis. It begins with an overview of what its filmmakers feel has been a basic goal of both globalization and the creation of a single European currency – namely “labor discipline” and the suppression of wages in heavily unionized countries. They show how sweeping deregulation in the industrialized world in the 1980s allowed manufacturers to eliminate unions by shutting plants down and reopening them as sweatshops in the third world. The subsequent creation of the Euro as a single currency allowed the central European countries (Germany and France) to use the mechanism of debt to weaken strong unions in peripheral Eurozone countries, especially Greece. Germany, with relatively weak unions following reunification, imposed a virtual ten year wage freeze. While German workers suffered, German companies and banks racked up immense profits and stacks of cash, which they loaned to “peripheral” countries to finance big corporate tax cuts.

The bulk of the film focuses on the concept of “odious” debt and whether the Greek people should be forced to suffer for fraudulent loans from which they received no direct benefit. As Debtocracy poignantly depicts, Athens and other Greek cities are experiencing a third world humanitarian crisis, with massive homelessness, hunger and untreated illness. The film quotes a recent IMF report predicting a 5-10% decrease in Greek life expectancy due to the debt crisis and austerity cuts

Odious Debt: An American Invention

Odious debt was a concept invented by the US in the early 20th century to avoid repaying Spain’s war debt after the US took possession of Cuba following the Spanish-American War. It was used again by George Bush following the US occupation of Iraq, to avoid repayment of Sadam Hussein’s debts to China, France, Germany and Russia. Since then approximately a dozen countries – most notably Argentina, Ecuador and Iceland – have repudiated so-called “illegitimate” debt incurred by deposed leaders.

The film focuses mainly Argentina’s and Ecuador’s default on their foreign debt. In 2001 the structural adjustments the IMF forced on Argentina bankrupted the country. A popular uprising forced the Argentine president to flee (in a helicopter), and the new government declared the IMF debt illegal and unconstitutional. When Ecuador experienced a similar economic crisis and uprising in 2007, they, too, sent their president packing (again in a helicopter). In 2008, their new president Rafael Correa appointed a Debt Audit Commission to study the strong arm tactics (some of which John Perkins describes in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man) that led former Ecuadorian leaders to borrow billions of dollars to purchase US-built infrastructure that only benefited Ecuador’s wealthy elite. Correa’s Debt Audit Commission ascertained that only 30% of their external debt was legitimately incurred.

CADTM’s Call for a Greek Debt Audit Commission

Iric Toussaint, a French economist who participated in the Ecuadorian Debt Audit Commission, believes a major proportion of Greek debt may have been fraudulently incurred. The following evidence supports this view:

  • Nearly one billion euros of debt resulted from a risky swap (of yen and dollars for euros) Goldman Sachs persuaded Greece to make in 2001. The transaction netted Goldman Sachs $600 million in profit (see Secret Greek loan).
  • Major German and French loans were issued on condition that the Greek government incur further indebtedness to purchase hundreds of millions of euros of German and French armaments.
  • Billions of dollars of Green debt resulted from major cost overruns on the 2004 Greek Olympics (which cost twice as much as the Sydney Olympics in 2000). These have never been explained nor investigated.
  • In 2010 a former Goldman Sachs official was hired to manage the Greek public debt authority, with the result that the entire 2010 rescue package (103 million euros) was used to bail out Greek banks.

The film also discusses the March 2011 call by the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) to create an audit commission to examine Greek public debt. It ends with the ominous sound of a helicopter, eerily foreshadowing the forced resignation of Greek prime minister George Papandreou last November, when CNN advised him to get a helicopter to save himself from angry protestors (see Fall of Papandreou).

Exchange rate: 1 Euro equals $US1.33.

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What is presented is the reality of the financial industry's revolution to totally enslave humanity. Money is social bullshit and it is about time for humanity to dump it for sensible methods of exchange.
Haven't seen the doc, but of course the situation in Greece is a ridiculous concoction of IMF strangle tactics, EU minister wrangling, and behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing by some of the biggest players in the financial sector, especially Moody's. It certainly has kept the dollar secure as the global reserve currency at a time when a lot of investors otherwise would have fled to the euro. And it works as a spectacle to intimidate labor in Europe and the states. "See what happens when you don't play ball?" is the nasty lesson from on high. We had a similar, briefer moment in the U.S. with the debt ceiling showdown when the biggest players in the market tanked the Dow 2,000 points inside a couple months--just to re-emphasize the point of who's really in charge. The surprising thing was the yawns it got from the American public. "What's new?" came the response. The only people who still believe those in Washington are in charge live and work in Washington.

Still, there's some larger confrontation coming...

Rated.
Germany and France are doing it to Europe again. This is why the UK said no, no, no. Angela Merkel is a much hated person in the PIIGS nations, yet she keeps pushing for other nations to suffer destructive austerity, an idea that was dead when it started.

Another good education in reality. R and cheers.
I'm really glad so many people are keeping up with what's going on in the Eurozone and Greece. I'm totally with you Toritto. The irony is that a Greek default wouldn't hurt any investment banks cause they all have credit default swaps.

Jan, you present an interesting point of view. Eisenstein presents a lot of similar ideas in Sacred Economics. Have you read it? I'm about 3/4 of the way through.

Boko, I think the whole point of the US threats against Syria and Iran, as well as all the countries menaced by the IMF isn't money or oil but, as you say, to teach the lesson, "See what happens when you don't play ball?"

Zuma, it's really interesting, isn't it, to see Germany accomplish many of Hitler's aims to control Europe - using economic, rather than military, power?
Oscar Wilde once characterized a cynic as one who knew the cost of everything and the value of nothing. The financial community is, by that, a community of cynics since they value their monetary wealth overwhelmingly over the wealth of a healthy, happy, intelligent and well informed world and in that most grievously miserable error will ultimately destroy all value in their monetary accumulation as well.
Dr Stuart..I am from Greece and believe it or not never heard of this documentary..So thank you that you have shared it.And it is an excellent, right work.

"The subsequent creation of the Euro as a single currency allowed the central European countries (Germany and France) to use the mechanism of debt to weaken strong unions in peripheral Eurozone countries, especially Greece."

I believe that we should go back to drachma..But if I say it here I would be called stuρid..They give us the tale that drachma will be our destruction.I am not seeing England being destructed by having her currency..

Well,it is all words..And it is all about ρoliticians that do not do their job..Thank you for giving me informations that me as a Greek did not know..We are not at all lazy as ρeoρle..They did not even ask us if we wanted euro..Imagine Obama changing your currency without asking you..the ρeoρle,I mean...Sad story..

Rated with thank you and best regards..We are not our government as Mme Kastell wrote here in OS..she is a Greek writer ..has a blog here..and she is right..

Best regards.
Stathi, Toritto clearly agrees with you about going back to the drachma. See the first comment.
An interesting analysis of those countries breaking free of the oppressive policies tied to the US dollar and the current problems with the euro ca be seen at http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/30/five-challengers-of-the-neoliberal-jackboot/

In general world control of most of the earth's wealth and the way it is distributed to various sections of society is securely attached to monetary controls of the major powers which, in essence, is the domination of the USA. What was most offensive and resulted in the turmoils in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq and now in Iran are the attempts to channel trade through means outside the domain of the US dollar and even the ever present motivations about oil are subsidiary to this domination or rather tightly tied to it. The frustrations of military ineptitude and its huge drain on the fiances required to make the USA a decent and prosperous society are directly involved with this monetary fiasco and the monomaniacs in the financial sector who have neither appreciation nor comprehension that their inherent stupidities and voracious greed are destroying the base for their own and the world's welfare. The progressive decline of US power is deeply tied to this agenda of nearsighted insanity.
Does it matter that German and French banks only owned a small fraction (less than 20%) of the Greek debt?

(c.f. the very pleasant illustrations here.)
[r] quick drop by but thanks for your wonderful work for us all, Stuart!!!! Goldman Sachs is the devil! The austerity bullshit, the blame the victim mentality of the authoritarians to demoralize their victims even further. Their global victims. Boy, karma is a b*tch for us Americans who have been lazily ignoring the global banksters psychopathic ruination of peoples and environments. Libyan war was provoked by the banksters. Libya had the never to want a national bank. And Hussein wanted to exit dollar currency. What a mafia. Drug money is useful to them, ends justifies the means always for profit making. Winners take all. Let them eat cake. Amorality is rampant. Time to call out and push back on the bastard class. best, libby
To answer your question, Jacob, I honestly don't think so. I don't think this is about paying back parties who own specific debts. I agree with the filmmakers that the goal of creating the Euro and the Eurozone was to force peripheral governments into agreements where they would be forced to massively cut public spending, with the goal of suppressing wages and unions.
Wow, great article, Jan. Thanks for the link. People should really have a look at it. It features a report presented at a recent BRICS summit saying rising gas and food prices aren't due to demand from developing nations but from commodity speculation (by mainly US) investors. And it seems that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa are so angry about it they are prepared to start their own development agency.

Libby, what I get fed up with is all the lies. I think some of us need to start some kind of history project to make sure the history of this period gets recorded correctly, i.e. what really happened.
One has only to look at the fierce police reaction to the rather feeble OWS protests in New York City and other locations apparently under the agenda of the Homeland Security coordination to come to the realization that the New York mayor and his police force and, more distantly, President Obama are all securely in the pocket of the worldwide finance community and the only thing they understand is financial pressure and perhaps naked force. If everybody would burn their credit cards and return to cash transactions, a kind of fantasy dream that probably could no longer happen, you might see some significant reaction. Pretty impossible, of course.
This is only vaguely related to the topic but I feel it is important enough in context. The top people in control of the current financial and economic catastrophes have a rather odd point of view and Dartmouth University is where many of them have been indoctrinated. This article is an indication of the strange mafia like passage from youth into maturity rather like those ceremonies in primitive tribes where manhood is tested before acceptance as an adult is confirmed. I find it devastating.

http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/confessions-of-an-ivy-league-frat-boy-inside-dartmouths-hazing-abuses-20120328?print=true
Doc: Thanks for this. It's all corect but it's part of a bigger picture.Please see Confessions of an Economic Hit Man  and Beware of greeks Bearing Bonds  and to get teh muich bigger picture The Crisis of Civilization  
Jan said - "The financial community is, by that, a community of cynics since they value their monetary wealth overwhelmingly over the wealth of a healthy, happy, intelligent and well informed world and in that most grievously miserable error will ultimately destroy all value in their monetary accumulation as well."

I think of this as the Imelda Marcos conundrum: Wouldn't she have been happier, and safer, if she had worked to help the country rather than accumulate five zillion pair of shoes? It seems to me that ultimately it's in EVeryone's interest to play fair.

Also......as Jan also said: "Money is social bullshit and it is about time for humanity to dump it for sensible methods of exchange." Money for jobs for consumption worked well for a while, back when local manufacturing labor was needed, but in this global system people are going to have to re-organize and find some other methods of exchange and of maintaining life. (No, I have no ideas. Even Back-to-the-Land won't work, what with industrial farming gobbling up resources...)
To further agree with Jan - it is alarming to see what is in place now to prevent any more of the charming Occupy actions. And it is U.S. arrogant mucking about that has screwed up the world. (Tho, yes Jeanne, kind of ironic to see Germany rule Europe after all...)
Oh goodie, Franciose has sent me a link to a new documentary (The Crisis of Civilization). I have Green Party meetings the next two nights, but a promise to watch it later this week and provide some feedback. Our local Green Party branch is holding monthly film nights to raise money, and I'm always looking for good prospects.

Myriad, I've been raising Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. He says it isn't rich peoples' fault that the value money above everything else. He blames it on this artificial scarcity we have created - that makes everyone terrified of running out. He says we have to change our money system to change this.
There is an interesting relevant article at

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n07/john-lanchester/marx-at-193

which examines the problems of current capitalism and the limitations of economics.
Enjoy the documentary Doc and be prepared for paradigm shift. Everytghkng you already know will all be brought together into a much more cohesive and integrated whole. On expert talks about economics, another war, another environment and another finances but few seem to grasp the interrelatedness. Its a film EVERY Green Party Progressive should see. Essential to understanding. You ARE going to love it.