Mandy Hager’s Column

Time to ask the hard questions about financiers and governments

By Mandy Hager

With the Greek financial crisis continuing to make headlines (and causing untold grief for its citizens) it’s important to ask hard questions about just how this situation arose.

Contrary to much of the propaganda flying around, it’s not the laziness or over-expectations of the Greek people that are at fault here, but the greed and self-aggrandisement of those charged with holding the purse strings.

It’s time we looked long and hard at institutions like the IMF and World Bank (and the WTO), whose mantra of ‘structural adjustment’ and bailouts conditional on ‘austerity’ measures are plunging the Greek people into a dark and unpredictable future.

I urge you to watch the independent documentary Debtocracy, which seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions sidelined by the government and the dominant media.

( to see this, click below:  )

What stands out is the callous and dishonest way these global institutions hobble any real chance of financial recovery through measures designed to bail out their buddies in the banks and stock market, at the expense of ordinary citizens — who not only are now saddled with ever increasing debts to the EU, IMF and World Bank, but also live with the burden of the austerity measures insisted on by this unholy trinity.

Already 20-30% is being shaved off old age pensions; 20% salary cuts have become common, and 30% of public sector workers are likely to lose their jobs. Value-added tax is now imposed on all food items, including 20% on bread.[1]

One of many ‘festering boils’

It’s easy to turn one’s head and say ‘who cares?’ but Greece is only one of many festering boils that risk terminal infection if ordinary citizens allow this power imbalance to continue. The very same rhetoric being espoused by the major EU leaders and institutions is heard here as well: cutting back social services, slashing public service jobs, taking measures to silence the 99%.

As activist Vandana Shiva says: ‘Ending poverty requires knowing how poverty is created… the poor are not those left behind, they are the ones who were pushed out and excluded from access to their own wealth and resources… The elevation of the domain of the market and man-made capital… has led to the neglect and destruction of… ecology and survival… Without clean water, fertile soils and crop and plant diversity, human survival is not possible… People do not die for lack of incomes. They die for lack of resources[2].’

If the NZ government was really concerned about ordinary Kiwis it wouldn’t be bailing out finance companies and banks, flogging off state-owned assets, and slashing social services, it would be providing sustainable support for those in need.

And it doesn’t even have to do this for altruistic reasons: what it needs to realise is that the tighter it squeezes people in order to prop up its own well-being the sooner the festering boil will burst — and civil unrest will surely follow.

This isn’t loonie left-wing fear-mongering, this is based on history all around the world. From the French revolution to the uprisings in Syria and Greece, ordinary people are eventually pushed to such an extent that they have nothing to lose by taking to the streets.

Educate yourselves. Dig deeper – beyond the cynical propaganda of corporatized media. Watch Debtocracy (and see past the irritating subtitle glitches) and think about its implications for us all.

[1] Published on October 7, 2011 by Vanessa Baird

[2] How to end poverty: Making poverty history and the history of poverty.

Robert, I don’t think Mandy is the problem – punctuation perhaps. Couldn’t resist … more seriously, Bertrand Russell comes to mind, so you’re in great company. He believed that we have to realise the world is terrible, then get on and do something about it. There’s also Langston Hughes: “Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.” Not forgetting Jack London, a great champion of the “ignorant masses”, although I don’t think he looked down on them. However, you may well be right, we’re all in the gutter … but Wilde knew it was a funny old thing being human, and look at the great stuff he gave the world. Maybe the best thing is we all go vegan … now there’s something to get one’s teeth into.

With the atrocities we commit against each other, our children, and generations to come, also what we do to animals, not just in so called food production, but the picture of the mother dog running up and down the river bank with one of her drowned pups in her mouth, or the dog left to hank itself with a rope attached to a tree, all conger up my hatred for the ignorant cancer that is humankind. A wolf has more ‘humanity’ than a human, I’m sure a wolf wouldn’t leave a Rhino with its nose cut off to die slowly.
Maybe ‘hope’ is the problem? Other creatures do not ‘hope’, we ‘hopeful’ are the worst.
Mind you 12 years ago I had ‘hope’ … hope that the pig ignorant masses were not as pig ignorant as they turned out to be.
So now I just laugh at ya all.

The sad thing is that I don’t disagree with what you’re saying on a basic factual level – and, indeed, I think the Youtube clip you have mentioned is an extremely good summation of the problems we all have to face (yes, I have watched it!) But, as Jim says above, insulting and disrespecting people is never a good way to make a point. Where we certainly part ways is in message delivery and that little human failing called ‘hope.’ It may well be that life has to become intolerable before people act but, as was seen in Christchurch after the Feb earthquake, human beings often rise to the occassion (and well beyond it) when they are facing their darkest hour. My hope is that, through education and open-hearted discussion, perhaps some of us can find a way of wading through this mess. Not everyone, I’ll grant you that – I, like you, fear billions will pay the price of our excessive greed. But I refuse to give up on the human race – an animal that can write poetry, novels and operas, paint, laugh, cry, dream and love has the capacity for change, compassion and understanding. I’ll fight towards this goal until I take my last breath – and I suspect I’ll die (at whatever point it happens and whatever gruesome way) more content, loved and filled with compassion for those around me than someone who has lost the capacity to hope and dream.

Robert Atack, the reason people don’t read what you write is because you are so arrogant, and abusive towards everyone else but yourself. Look at the words you have used in your above letter-
”…cynical propaganda of corporatized media”
”…’99% of the ignorant public are happy in their ignorance,… ”
”…nearly everyone is just to tired or out and out apathetic…”
”…most parents do not care about their children’s future…”
”…every politician or community leader is equally as stupid and apathetic,…”
”…Jan Logie (after reading the idiot statements…”
”…the criminals we have running this country…”
”…Educate yourselves people…”
”..lies come from EVERY politician…”
”… screw the masses at all costs party…”
”…now bend over and be a good citizen.”
Why do you even bother adding anything else to those words above when it’s quite apparent you hate everyone, consider everyone needs to educate themselves (as if we are not), and you know it all and no one else does.
I think like everyone else I’ll stop listening to you.

“Educate yourselves. Dig deeper – beyond the cynical propaganda of corporatized media”
The problem is Mandy 99% of the ignorant public are happy in their ignorance, and do not want to understand our true situation.
And nearly everyone is just to tired or out and out apathetic to give a stuff, most parents do not care about their children’s future???
And nearly every politician or community leader is equally as stupid and apathetic, so we get what we deserve in the end …. extinction.
This 34 minute comic explains it all very well, but as I’ve said most people will not bother watching, I would even bet you will not watch it …. or Jan Logie (after reading the idiot statements she made in reply to my question about KiwiSaver) as just one example of the criminals we have running this country off the cliff.
KiwiSaver is one way the system keeps creating more fictional money, ie 1 dollar in = 9 dollars lent out, which is why Greece went tits up, and John Key and co will see us follow them, but then Labour and the greens would do the same, that is just the system we live under……….. if you want a payout from KiwiSaver, you must have growth.
Educate yourselves people, you are being lied to everyday, and the lies come from EVERY politician no matter which party they pretend to belong to, when the truth is they all belong to the same party …. the screw the masses at all costs party, now bend over and be a good citizen.