Greece in Crisis

Friday, June 17, 2011

New York Times European correspondent Rachel Donadio reports on the political and economic crisis in Greece.


Rachel Donadio

Comments [14]

Thanks Jawbone! There are stunning misconceptions (?) in USA, even on this excellent site, about Europe, including my home country Sweden.

All countries in EU are market economies (thats the whole point with EU) even though the ruling parties are called socialist or social democrats. Those are misleading labels, since the WHOLE economic and political landscape has changed almost entierly since the end of the cold war.

But the heritage of the social democrats (true socialists never governed a post war western european country) are extremely underrated. Health care is a great example. USA spend more on health care than any country in the world - but is rated 37 in the world regarding life expectancy for instance. WORSE THAN GREECE.

Healt care costs are out of control, a gift to the health care industry, and USA spend more on arms than the entire world. That is very good for Blackwater and makers of drones. And americans borrow money so they can consume products made in China and China lends money to USA, adding to a rather big budget deficit, so americans can spend even more on chinese products, expensive health care and sci-fi weapons. China is building a country, while USA is caught in i vicious circle.

If USA was a smaller country it would be in a similar situation as Greece is in now, and since a lot of americans equate taxes with socialism ans socialism with communism USA will have to continue borrowing from China.

You are in a trap and S. Palin is not the solution, but a rather more social democratic approach to taxes and government and a less militaristic approach to the world.

Part of the solution is more cost effective health care and health care for every body -people who cant work because of ill health cant pay taxes, nor can people i prison - and major cuttings in the defence budget. USA is always searching for a new war, but the war on drugs is a fiasco and the war on terror can never be won, since it creates more and more terrorists. Why not declare war on ill health and poverty?

Jun. 19 2011 05:23 PM
Jan Riese

It is so frustrating when your website is not working properly. You have no audio availability. I get to work at 1pm and like to listen to your show on the internet. I wish there was a way to alert you when your site is not working properly. This is not the first time this has happened!!! Urgh!!!!

Jun. 17 2011 02:22 PM

My comment complements Robert's; however I would posit that the social democracies were not "Potemkin villages," but did provide better standards of living than even we in the US have. One example: health care. The West Euopean nations which initiated social safety nets in the mid-20th Century have, on the whole, much better health outcomes for their people than does the US and do so at lower costs per person.

There's even more chance for a lower income class person in those countries to rise above the class they were born into than here in the US!

But, yes, the True Capitalists (Koch Bros, for example) are now out to recreate economies which reflect their beliefs that only those who can accumulate capital are truly worthy individuals; the rest are disposable, unnecessary except for a few jobs. There are some professionals who are necessary to the managing of the Uberwealthies' capital and businesses, who contribute to educating their children, who provide health care, who provide entertainment. They can be paid salaries and wages which provide comfort and less fear of losing those wages. Oh, and a justice system which caters to the Uberwealthy and helps control the proletariat is also necessary and worth paying for. Along with governments which cater to the Uberwealthy and help control the proletariat.

The rest, those who grow their food, most who cook it, who clean up after the Uberwealthy, who police their enclaves, who provide jails, who do all the things they don't want to have to deal with but are not viewed as contributing to the increase of capital -- those people are interchangeable in most cases and disposable.When the lines of power demarcation are set clearl and firmly enough, it won't be necessary to educate the vast number of the the lower classes' chldren -- except for "vocational" training. The occasional child will stand out as being exceptionally intelligent; that child, if he or she is compliant, can be brought up into the small professional class*. If not compliant, it can be left among the unwashed masses or, if it shows leadership skills, may be...detained for the good of society (meaning the Uberwealthies' societies) or simply disappeared.

A dystopic view, yes -- gainsay me! I would love to be proved wrong.

*Huge educational debts have proved to be very good at increasing a sense of obligations and compliance among the educated proletariat. Destroying the public school system will ensure the proles don't get too many ideas of advancement and that old concept of equality.

Jun. 17 2011 12:37 PM

The last caller, Faith, voiced the idea that the US Austerians* have been pushing in order to enact their version of cuts to services, the social safety net, general wages and salaries (but never cuts to the upper executives!), pensions and the very use of pensions: That idea is that Greece is a warning to the US, that Greece is like the US, and what happens to Greece will happen in the US.

That is not true.

It's too bad you didn't have an economist on with your NYTimes reporter guest who is not an economist. Then someone might have informed Faith that the US controls its own currency (sovereign currency) and the US can change the value of its currency; no other nation can do that to the US currency. However, the market can place a value on the currency relative to other currencies..

Greece does not have its own, sovereign currency. By not having control of the value of their currency, Greece (and Ireland, Spain, Portugal) must repay the loans in the value of the Euro which is essentially set by the two largest countries, the two largest economies, in the EU, Germany and France. I am unable to explain adequately why that is so, but, bottom line, they had the money so they had the clout to set things up that way.

If Greece had control of its currency, it could devalue it, which would make their products cheaper in other currencies and they could begin to use their economy to grow their way out of their debt. It would not be easy, but it would be easier than what is happening now. People would still be hurting, as imported good would be more expensive, but they would have a chance of getting out of their debt hole.

An NPR reporter said last evening that other EU nations are surprised that the austerity measures are creating so many problems -- and so few new jobs.... Duh! Have they not studied the Great Depression???

I am not an economist -- and I would appreciate input from economists or those more knowledgeable than I on this topic.

But, Greece is not the US; it does not have a sovereign currency. The US does have a sovereign currency, thus many, many options are open to the US which are not available to Greece -- unless it chooses to leave the Euro and return to its own sovereign currency. And nations leaving the EU are what would really hurt the, well union.

Jun. 17 2011 12:15 PM
Robert from NYC

Greece is a microcosm of the world economic order, within the last hundred years.
Major socialist ideas penetrated the public all over the world since that time, as the Capitalist system was simply not working for the vast majority, in the world.
When Communist revolutions began to break out and spread, the ruling classes really paniced, and especially after WWII, decided that in order to save Capitalism, they needed to 'buy off' their citizens.
Along with destabilizing the existing Communist countries which had vast social benefit programs, they made a bargain that in order to prevent the world moving to the left, they needed to make life in the West competitive. So vast social improvements were introduced and life in the West was held out as providing more prosperity for the average citizen, than in a Socialist system.
Once the threat from the East was eliminated (20 years ago) by destabilizing those systems, that pretense no longer needed to be kept up. The monies spent on social welfare was simply a Potemkin village, and it no longer needed to be proped up. After years and years of western propaganda to discredit Socialism, the Capitasist no longer had the fear of mass uprisings. Thus vast 'austerity', 'painful reforms', necessary privatization', and elimination of Labor Unions could begin, anew. True Capitalism could again, come back.
The vast debt borrowed to prop up (the pretense of a) welfare state and of prosperity that was provided by a Capitalist society to its citizens, has suddenly came into view for what it always was; as a simple hoax to buy off the public.

Now, the Capitalist feel safe again, to re-instate what a true society of that nature is about. 20% of its citizens - rich, holding the rest in an indentured wage slavery.
Welcome to the new "Brave New World".

Jun. 17 2011 11:55 AM
Alice from Brooklyn

She said that the wealthiest Greeks are not paying taxes, yet the majority of Greeks have to accept the 'austerity measures' - why is there not more pressure on the wealthiest Greeks to pay their taxes to help their economy? Where is their austerity measure and why is the rest of Europe not putting pressure on them to pay their taxes?

Jun. 17 2011 11:47 AM
Michael from Park Slope

I sympathize with the Greek people whose standard of living is falling. However, they don't seem to understand that the new loans they are seeking and the existing ones that need to be "serviced" (interest & pricipal paid when due) is somebody else's savings.

These people voted for successive Greek governments that promised something for nothing, expanded government employment, maintained increasing lower retirement ages, and stifled private-sector investment.

Folks: The Party is Over!

Jun. 17 2011 11:33 AM

It is sad what is happening to Greece now. However the conditions are no different from those imposed on developing countries for a number of decades by the IMF. There was no outcry while that was happening.

Jun. 17 2011 11:26 AM

There will be a rally today at the Greek Consulate @ 69 East 79th Street
12 PM. Greek Americans will be there to show support for their families abroad.

Jun. 17 2011 11:26 AM

It is sad what is happening to Greece now, but that is no different from the austerity measures the IMF imposed on a lot of developing countries for decades. There was no outcry then.

Jun. 17 2011 11:23 AM

Saw photOS of rioters so well dressed, looked like an edgy prada ad! What austerity is acceptable? Any?

Jun. 17 2011 11:19 AM
Tony Bruguier from Santa Clara, CA

What about France? They are not doing that well.

Jun. 17 2011 11:15 AM

Germany is not in trouble, and is doing better than ever! And that is because (a) they are smart and efficient to a fault; (b) Germany takes care of its own people.They genuinely train their young, and take care of their old like family; and (c) they are fully committed to renewable energy development.

Jun. 17 2011 11:10 AM

greeks refuse to pay their taxes. isn't that the problem

Jun. 17 2011 11:09 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.