Greece suffers California’s future

May 1, 2012

By John Seiler

Greece is leading the way for California — off a cliff. The two polities are similar: beautiful mediterranean climate, creative people, massively powerful government-worker unions, busted budgets, impending bankruptcy. Greece is just a little ahead of California. The latest report: Greeks are abandoning the unworkable, corrupt two-party system:

MARATHON, Greece (Reuters) — Georgios Pasayannis was a Greek civil servant for 40 years, and the 73-year-old pensioner voted faithfully for New Democracy throughout, confident his future was safe in the hands of the conservative party.

Now he says he will never cast his ballot again for “those crooks” or their coalition partners, the centre-left PASOK party, since they cut his 1,500 euro per month pension by a third while pushing through tax increases.

Their mismanagement of Greece has turned the twilight of his life into a grinding struggle. Pasayannis, who worked for the defence ministry, says he plans to get revenge at the May 6 national elections.

“We pay and pay, but we have nothing for it,” said the man who had hoped for a carefree retirement in the seaside village of Marathon, 40 kilometres (25 miles) east of Athens. “They cheated us and lied to us for years. They’re a bunch of crooks.”

Greeks are in a fractious mood ahead of the election, and much of their anger is directed at the two parties that have long dominated the political landscape.

‘Decline to state’

In a similar way, Californians have been abandoing “those crooks” in the Democratic and Republican parties to re-register as “decline to state voters”:

According to a recent report:

California continues to witness a steady rise in the number of voters who choose not to affiliate with any political party. According to the most recent numbers released by the Secretary of State, 21.2% of California voters are now registered as having no party preference, a new high.

Back to Reuters on Greece:

At the other end of the spectrum, legions of young voters are also turning their back on the two parties that have taken turns ruling Greece for the last four decades. About 15 percent of the electorate — 1.4 million — is 18 to 29.

The unemployment rate for Greeks under the age of 25 tops 50 percent. Hordes of young Greeks who have seen their career hopes destroyed by the economic implosion are also expected to turn their backs on ND and PASOK, pollsters say.

Opinion polls show gains for small parties that oppose the steep wage and pension cuts imposed on Greece by the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) in return for aid….

“Young people are suffering the most because of these clowns,” she said. “For young people in Greece now there is no job, no hope, no nothing.”

California youth nightmare

In California, young people also are restless. As has happened across the country, young people are rallying behind the only independent presidential candidate this year, Ron Paul:

Ron Paul attracted a peculiar 8,500-plus voters to the third of three town hall meetings he held in California this week, this time at UC-Berkeley. In drawing such a huge crowd to Berkeley, the 12-term Congressman from Texas shattered his unrivaled town hall meeting attendance record. The meeting took place at UC-Berkeley’s Memorial Glade, where he addressed the crowd from atop the steps of Doe Library in Berkeley, CA. Dr. Paul spoke about his platform of constitutionally-limited government, the enduring bonds between economic and civil liberties, and his fiscal blueprint that cuts Washington spending, shrinks the national debt, and reverses the federal government’s harmful growth and intrusiveness. Full video of the event posted at UStream, by msl209.

As in Greece, young folks know that there’s no future for them because of the immense debt piled up by their governments, and the inflation-low interest rate trap sprung by central banks. In Greece, the banks are the European Central Bank, which controls the inflationist Euro, and the IMF, mentioned above. In America, it’s the inflationist Federal Reserve Board that Ron Paul wants to get rid of.

Amercan kids also have it worse than Greek kids in one crucial way: American students owe an incredible $1 trillion in student-loan debt, which they’re finding impossible to pay back without decent jobs in the Bush-Obama-Greenspan-Bernanke-Republican-Democrat Great Recession-weak recovery.

Debt forgiveness 

The U.S. and California (and other states’) political regimes have strung this albatross of debt around youngsters’ necks at the time young folks should be building families and careers. The two politcal parties want to continue the status quo of the bank ripoffs. President Obama and Mitt Romney both have endorsed keeping interest rates low on the student debts. But how can that help when most of those holding the debts don’t have jobs, or have low-paying jobs?

What they should do is call for canceling the debts. Just as Greece’s government should simply cancel the country’s debts, much as Iceland did recently and Argentina did a decade ago. If bankers are stupid enough to loan trillions to bad risks, it’s the bankers who should suffer from their usurious greed, not the borrower-victims.

After Iceland dumped its loans, the economy recovered. The same thing happened in Argentina a decade ago.

Dumping student debt would benefit California’s kids, and America’s kids. But as in Greece, the politicians are beholden to the banks, not the people.

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