by Jerry Alatalo
“A power has risen up in the government greater than the people themselves, consisting of many, and various, and powerful interests, combined into one mass, and held together by the cohesive power of the vast surplus in the banks.”
– JOHN C. CALHOUN (1782-1850) American statesman
In solidarity with the people of Greece, in the past few days United States presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont took part in a meeting about the deteriorating economic conditions there. He became joined by economists James Galbraith, Joseph Stiglitz and Jacob Kirkegaard. To avoid incurring the eternal wrath of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein supporters, this writer appreciates what both she and Bernie Sanders are saying.
Ms. Stein has apparently filed a lawsuit to force the GOP-Dem commission on debates to bring in so-called third-party candidates to participate, and, if her lawsuit is successful, she would share the debate stage with the Republican, Democrat and perhaps other parties’ nominees. That’s the way it should be ideally in a nation which prides itself on democracy. Here’s an idea. How about all legitimate party nominees on the debate stage shortly / in the final weeks before presidential election day engaging in four 8-hour debates, on four consecutive Saturdays?
That’d be a fair debate format, wouldn’t it? Each party could chip in for after-debate sandwiches, Perrier, pizza, caviar, beer, champagne… But surely I digress. The final debates format can easily become worked out in the weeks and months ahead. Back to what Bernie said about Greece and the international financial / banking system.
t’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the presidential candidates, of every political party, respond – if at all – to Bernie Sanders’ statement: “International financial rules are rigged in favor of the wealthy.” In his short talk before the mentioned economists discussed the situation in Greece for close to 2-hours, Sanders criticized the economic theory of the Eurozone becoming known by more and more people as “austerity”, which he described as a “cruel, counter-productive program” endured by Greeks for over 5-years, while leading to a humanitarian crisis.
Since the first Greek bailout in 2010, the economy (GDP) there has fallen by 27%, a statistic most economists regard as “depression-like”. Overall unemployment is around 25%, while youth joblessness is near 60%, pensions have been greatly reduced, public employees and services have become drastically cut, in a Troika-mandated (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) series of “structural reforms” – austerity – resulting in a downward spiral for the Greek economy.
Now the Syriza government – after becoming coerced into capitulating to Troika economic demands by banking terrorism and cutoff of euro / cash causing bank closures – becomes challenged with even harsher austerity measures and, due to conditions attached to Greece’s 3rd bailout of some 86 billion euros, Syriza must have every considered political action examined and approved by the Troika.
Syriza’s false perception since winning office on January 25 has been one where they believed the Troika would come around in negotiations and compromise through reasonable economics discussions. Their assumptions were far from the reality as the Troika negotiators, for whatever reasons, rejected every Greek proposal. That error in judgment became very costly because it took focus away from the urgent task of making preparations for a possible exit from the Eurozone, or “Grexit”.
Now the question which millions of men and women around the Earth are thinking about is whether Greece will get serious about leaving the euro and return to the Drachma. Nobel Prize laureate Stiglitz advocates Grexit. Bernie Sanders didn’t share his thoughts on the pros or cons of Greece returning to sovereign money, but he did point out the dangers of removing democracy from people in nations like Greece – where their 61% “no” vote on further austerity has become forcefully ignored. Sanders gave the example of Germany after World War I and the Versailles Treaty when Germans became subjected to similar harsh, democracy-destroying austerity measures imposed by outside forces, and which led to the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler.
Sanders concluded his short talk by sharing global statistics showing 85 people own as much wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion human beings, along with a Oxfam prediction that the top 1% will soon own as much wealth as the remaining 99% of humanity. Sanders strongly suggested the beginning of a serious discussion of international banking rules, because “the world economy is unsustainable when so few have so much and so many have so little”.
It is almost impossible to disagree with Bernie Sanders that serious discussion about the global banking system is an urgent necessity. Whether it becomes a major issue of discussion in the days, weeks and months ahead during the United States campaign for president in 2016 remains to be seen. In the minds of many historians, economists, academicians, political / religious leaders and other serious observers of world events, reforming the global banking / economic system is perhaps the most important issue.
As far as is known, Bernie Sanders is the first and only candidate for president in 2016 who has asserted that it’s time for a serious discussion about socially destructive, “rigged” international financial rules. This global perspective comes in addition to his equally impassioned talks on the floor of the United States Senate and at growing, enthusiastic campaign events around the nation about record wealth inequality in America.
The question now for all other candidates who’ve announced their decision to run for the world’s most powerful office becomes : “Do you agree with Bernie Sanders on these major issues or not… and why?”
Hillary?… Jeb?… Are you there?… Hello?…
(Thank you to Bernie Sanders at YouTube)