"You cannot keep on squeezing countries that are in the midst of depression." President Barack Obama
“The humanitarian impact has been colossal—40 percent of children now live in poverty, infant mortality is sky-rocketing and youth unemployment is close to 50 percent…Right now, the Greek government is being asked to put a gun to its head and pull the trigger…The collateral damage will kill the Eurozone as a beacon of hope, democracy and prosperity, and could lead to far-reaching economic consequences across the world.” Thomas Piketty, Jeffrey Sachs, Heiner Flassbeck, Dani Rodrik, Simon Wren-Lewis*
There’s a great blues song “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down & Out”. Bessie Smith sang it, and so has Eric Clapton. The title says everything. It’s pretty much true. Most people either avoid you or pressurize you Not To Talk About It or to see the lighter side. If there isn’t one in sight for you, hey, just make it up. It won’t make you happy but they’ll be OK Jack. Oddly, they usually talk about themselves and their problems a lot. Ironic, that.
But being avoided or repressed isn’t the worst part. The worst is the people who lend a hand with the caveat “You have to tow the line if you want my help.” If that’s part of the deal then it’s really about bullies exploiting your vulnerability and disguising themselves as good Samaritans.
They look so strong, don’t they? But they aren’t. It’s one of life’s mysteries.
The arrogance of it, the moral superiority and the hypocrisy are mind-boggling. There’s only one way out of that mess; learn that you have the right to whatever assistance you need to get up on your feet and the right not to be bullied for your vulnerability.
You learn to avoid the bullies. Amazingly, when you’re down and out and you feel at your weakest you find your greatest strength. Life is a series of miracles, that’s for sure.
Alex Tsipras and the Greek people are right at the top of that list. It was wildly exciting watching Tsipras stand up to the pressure of the Morally Superior in Europe and the vested-interest-owned Greek media whipping up a frenzy of fear with gross misinformation around what the referendum was really about and the definite consequences if the Greeks voted no. They voted no anyway. No to abuse, is what it boiled down to. What courage.
The dire consequences failed to materialize. Now the IMF has come out in the open and said Greece needs some of its debt to be cancelled. Christine Lagarde, IMF Managing Director said the debt needs to be restructured. And the person standing in the way is of course Angela Merkel. Who doesn't want to offend the centrist right politicos.
Here's something she seems to have forgotten. Before and during World War II the German people allowed a psychopath serial killer to rule them and they supported him. Germany then wrought mercilessly cruel and unjust destruction on European countries who fought against the evil it harbored and promoted. Then when Germany itself, having lost the war, was half destroyed and heavily in debt, the very countries it had hurt so severely forgave half that debt and restructured the rest with terms that Germany could easily manage so it could rebuild. What had it done to deserve that kindness? Nothing.
If it hadn't received such forgiveness and generosity it wouldn't exist today in the position that it's in and the suffering of the German people would have been immeasurable for a very, very long time. That's the fate that so many Germans, with Angela Merkel leading them on, want the Greek people to suffer.
If I make a list of everything bad that Germany did and set it against everything bad Greece has done the comparison is laughable. Under Hitler Germany was socially irresponsible, cruel, evil. It caused massive damage to a slew of countries which their people had to pay for; it was responsible for a war that caused the horrible death of millions and so much suffering the mind boggles.
Against that, Greece’s crime is what? An irresponsible government that’s not even in power any more. Yet Germany deserved forgiveness and assistance to rebuild and Greece doesn’t?
I wish somebody like Christiane Amanpour or Stephen Sackur from HardTalk would pin Angela Merkel down until she answered that question and grill her on her inhumanity, double standards and the economic stupidity of the austerity she has pushed. I wish they wouldn’t give her a single break, but would confront her with the realities of the humanitarian crisis she has triggered and continues to ignore, forcing her to expose herself.
They could present a slide show of all the crimes that Germany was guilty of and then list the kindnesses it received despite that it didn’t ‘deserve’ them, followed up with a slide show of all the Greeks who have committed suicide, all the children whose lives have been turned into nightmares. Maybe she wouldn’t care but at least the world would pay attention and stop to think.
Here's another interesting tidbit; Angela Merkel criticized Tsipras for holding a referendum. Apparently leaders shouldn't give their electorate a say in their own fate.
If I was German I’d be hanging my head in shame. If I was Greek I'd be so damn proud of myself and my country.
*From an open letter to Angela Merkel.
Heiner Flassbeck, former State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry of Finance;
Thomas Piketty, Professor of Economics at the Paris School of Economics;
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University;
Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Harvard Kennedy School;
Simon Wren-Lewis, Professor of Economic Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.