So how did Greece end up in this predicament? It seems that after their entry into the ECM and their shift to Euros as a currency standard, they went on a bit of a spending spree. Much of that spree was centred around the Olympic Games, held in Athens, -a highly symbolic event for the Greeks and matter of national pride. The governments, overdid it, but probably thought that the economic debt was manageble in the long term.
Then came the economic crisis of 2008, making it difficult for countries to borrow money, and making current debts difficult to renegotiate. Not only that, but with an economic downturn, the government automatically collects less tax revenue, making the situation even more dire. Interest rates went up, taxes went up and Greek businesses and individuals began to look for whatever means of tax evasion (legitimate and not) that were available in order to seek shelter.
Mistakes made by an over-eager government, an economic crisis created by a financial community that was wallowing in greed and evasion of taxes by rich individuals and businesses abandoning Greece like rats from a sinking ship, … all these have contributed to the current financial crisis in Greece.
The result is being borne on the backs of the middle and lower classes, with reduced wages and pensions. The middle class is seeing the government sell off all of the infra structure that they helped build in the past, along with services and medical insurance, to the hands of the very people that they perceive as the culprits of the crisis. The middle and lower classes suffer while the wealthy global interests pick the bones of the animal that they were primarily responsible for killing. I think I’d be a little upset too.
Imagine this happening in Canada or the U.S. -it is, in fact, not too difficult a chore to imagine it in the U.S. While Canada still has a decent measure of economic health, the U.S. is not a far cry from Greece. U.S. debt is very high at the moment, and is only buffered by the fact that they control the monetary market, with the U.S. Dollar being the standard, thus allowing them to print as much money as they want to float their debts. They are in the same crunch position as Greece, with financial institutions bleeding and squeezing the debt, while still offering their CEO’s million dollar bonuses. Middle class employment, home ownership and pensions are all on the chopping block, while the top financial 1% are reaping a bigger and bigger portion of the pie.
In a depressed economic climate, tax revenues are down, with Republican agendas wanting to cut corporate taxation even more. Which is a bit of a mystery, since many American corporations, such as General Electric, don’t pay any corporate taxation at all. Many other American corporations, like those in Greece, have discovered ways of avoiding taxation by abandoning domestic interests in favour of foreign ones.
Perhaps the U.S. should look to Greece as a sign of what the future holds in store for them. Perhaps Canada should look at the whole picture as a dire warning that requires some serious, non-partisan thought. Political agendas that are married to either corporations or unions are not going to cut it.