Bernie Sanders: ‘International Financial Rules Rigged.’

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

Sunset OceanIn 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.

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Alphabet It’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?…

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(Thank you to Bernie Sanders at YouTube)

Greek People Will Return To Drachma, Sovereignty.

by Jerry Alatalo

DrachmaWhile Greece is known around the world as the birthplace of democracy, the nation also has philosophers like Aristotle and Socrates lighting up its history. A variation on a line written by an English playwright by the name of Shakespeare seems to fit like a glove for what the Greek people are experiencing today: “To Drachma, or not to Drachma – that is the question”. Because 61% of Greeks voted on July 5 against further austerity measures, overcoming the fears created by European “partners” cutting off physical euros along with warnings of doom coming from corporate media, one could reasonably predict the answer to Mr. Shakespeare’s question from the people of Greece will become “drachma”.

The Syriza government has attempted through good will since voted into power on January 25 to deal with their counterparts from the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund, but either through naivete, severe underestimation of EU partners’ stonewalling or God knows what reasons, Syriza quite simply got steamrolled. What is going to occur, driven particularly by resentment from Greeks and other Eurozone nations after clear economic terrorism – cutting off of physical euros – was inflicted by the ECB, is that Greeks will soon start developing what has become now widely known as “Plan B”.

People living in Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Germany and the other Euro zone nations have probably begun seriously thinking about a “Plan B” of their own, so one increasingly likely scenario for Europe finds first Greece bringing about a “rupture” from the euro, then Spain, then Italy, Portugal next, and so on. Europe’s power/financial elite will have only themselves to blame for the world-changing events coming up. How did they come to think that blackmail, fear-mongering and brutal, compassion-less actions directed at a good, proud people would not be met with a proportionate response? Did they think that nobody was watching? If so, then they were 100% wrong. The whole world is watching.

Ph.D. in philosophy, Professor Panagiotis Sotiris recently sat down for an interview with The Real News Network, where he shares his views on the future for Greece. Expect many more people in the Euro zone coming to see the wisdom in adopting his way of looking at the situation. As perceptions that the Greek crisis has somehow been “settled” became widely held after the latest bailout deal, those seeing the issue as settled might want to think twice.

News reports of events in Greece are far from over.

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)

Richard Wolff’s July Update Most Revelatory To Date.

by Jerry Alatalo

“Settle the economics question and you settle all other questions. It is the Aaron’s rod which swallows up the rest.”

– WILLIAM MORRIS (1834-1896) English writer, artist

mountain1Retired economics Professor Richard Wolff’s monthly meetings in a church in New York City have become attended by larger numbers of men and women since their start, as well as increasing numbers of people around the Earth over the internet as the talks are found at “RichardDWolff” on YouTube. His July meeting has received over 5,200 YouTube views in a little over a day after posting. Besides the increasing popularity of these monthly “Economic Update” productions, Mr. Wolff is a popular guest on radio and television talk/news programs and hosts a weekly radio program “Economic Update” on the Progressive Radio Network.

The men and women who attend his monthly meetings to hear him in person pay $10 each, and at the beginning of the July meeting he asks the thousands of  people from around the world who will watch for free on YouTube to consider donating $10 at his website:

democracyatwork.info

What stood out for this writer while listening to Mr. Wolff’s July update/meeting was his description of the 1976 military coup in Argentina, how government officials after the end of the military dictatorship (1983) said “no” to repayment of debts incurred by the military dictatorship from 1976-1983, and particularly how it lined up with and confirmed the corruption and dangerous nature of geopolitical financial machinations described by John Perkins in Perkins’ bestselling book “Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”. Here we are talking about war by means other than with the use of military force, but financial force through bringing about the impossible-to-repay indebtedness of entire nations.

The most recent example of what economist Michael Hudson calls “war by finance” is Greece, where the government of Alexis Tsipras became forced – after unfortunately thinking that negotiations with the Eurogroup would be successful, mutually reasonable and lead to better conditions for the Greek people – to capitulate and accept further austerity measures, after financial terrorism in the form of euro/cash cutoff threatened economic destruction of the nation. Richard Wolff, after decades of economics study and university teaching, gives a brilliant lecture that paints historic and current economics events in a manner few teachers of economics are able to match.

His analysis of the economic conditions facing Americans is brutally honest, suggesting in the strongest terms the necessity for bringing about massive, effective change. That Richard Wolff’s talks are generating increasing interest not only from Americans but listeners and viewers around the Earth reinforces the validity and commonality of experience of what he shares.

The only slight disappointment in the talk is not incorporating the public banking solution into what is otherwise a stunning and revealing exposition of the fundamental realities of economics in the world. Richard Wolff deserves high praise and much appreciation for his truthful and passionate efforts at passing along his clearly immense knowledge of the subject. His teaching style has evolved to the point where what listeners likely have thought a very abstract, almost mystical field of study  – “only understood by scholars” – becomes easily grasped because of Mr. Wolff’s decades-of-study and expertise on economics. This talk is extremely informative, relevant, and highly recommended. One can add to that assessment the word important. Very impressive… Rating: five stars.

(Thank you to RichardDWolff at YouTube)

Greece Returning To Drachma Matter Of Political Will.

by Jerry Alatalo

“My plainness of speech makes them hate me, and what is their hatred but a proof that I am speaking the truth?”

– SOCRATES (470-399 B.C.) Greek stonemason, general, philosopher

earthblog2While Syriza told Greek voters in the months before the January 25, 2015 election that they were for “radical change within Greece and throughout the Eurozone”, after it’s surprising victory it failed to listen to Syriza members such as Costas Lapavitsas advising preparations for leaving the Eurozone. A Professor of Economics in Britain, Mr. Lapavitsas believes the radical change Syriza promised Greek voters is impossible without taking the necessary steps to leave the euro and establish a sovereign Greek monetary/financial system.

Mr. Lapavitsas was a boy in 1974 when he stood in Athens with over 100,000 fellow Greeks who’d overthrown the military dictatorship. At 17-years old he had made up his mind to study economics in either the United States or Britain and chose the London School of Economics. In the 30 years since, he has entered into scholarly study of all things economic, financial and banking, and authored books on what he has learned. He has, as the cliché goes, “learned the ropes”.

Costas Lapavitsas’ book “Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All” (2014):

http://www.amazon.com/Profiting-Without-Producing-Finance-Exploits

He wants to know, and wants Greeks to ask for, the reasons Syriza ignored his incessant suggestions to enter efforts to develop what is now commonly called a “Plan B” for Greece. Many analysts and journalists have issued criticisms of Syriza leaders Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and now resigned Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, ranging from calling them traitorous, to bribed “Trojan Horses”, to well-meaning but utterly naïve to think their European “partners” would come around and hear their proposals for economic rationality. Some have gone so far as to assert perhaps warnings of physical harm, up to assassination, have guided Syriza leaders’ actions.

Whatever the truth of what really happened between the election victory for Syriza on January 25, the impossible negotiations in the months leading up to the July 5 stunning Greek referendum – Oxi, no to more austerity – and how it came to pass that no “Plan B” became developed and ready for implementation, will become revealed in due time. As it stands now for the Greek people, there are three months of “breathing space” available for accountants, computer experts, lawyers, economists, political scientists, etc. to develop that Plan B. Costas Lapavitsas has no interest in engaging in “blame games”, wants the Syriza government to remain in power, and places his focus solely on the “obvious” and inevitable: making preparations for Grexit.

Will Greek voters be given the opportunity in the days ahead to take part in democracy again, in a referendum like July 5, which asks the question “Should Greece leave the Eurozone?”? After voting Syriza into power on January 25 with the promise to end austerity and transform both Greece and the European Union, and then registering 61% five months later in opposition to further austerity, one could predict even a 70-80% majority “Yes!” for leaving the euro, taking monetary and government/democratic decision-making power back by returning to the drachma, while lighting a fire which starts a peaceful world transformation that students will read about in history books for generations to come.

What has occurred in Greece in the little over five months since the country’s election of January 25 has resulted in a massive education of millions of men and women the world over on economics, international banking, history, political science and more. Most importantly, many millions around the Earth have gained an awareness of how negative have been the consequences for everyday people of political ideologies and financial arrangements which rose to dominance in most nations.

That newly revealed, widespread awareness will manifest in the days and weeks ahead with an ever more intense transfer of knowledge and awareness, leading to information-based actions fueled from firmer grasping of what it will take to bring about conditions of greater health and well-being for not only the people of Greece – but of people everywhere.

So, are we “all Greeks now”? Most certainly… without doubt… 100% certain.

Only fools refuse to believe that the people of Greece – and standing with them, the entire human family – will emerge victorious.

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(Thank you to TheRealNews at YouTube)