Sunday, February 12, 2012

Athens On Fire

Under severe pressure by Germany and the other EU nations, the Greek parliament finally agreed to the harsh austerity program the EU demanded in exchange for yet another €130bn bail out:

( Greek PM)Mr Papademos warned earlier the €3.3bn package of cuts was “the only alternative to a catastrophic default ... that would force Greece, sooner or later, to leave the euro.”

“The social cost of this package is limited in comparison with the social and economic disaster that would follow if it is not adopted,” he said.

Lawmakers voted 199-74 in for the cutbacks, but with heavy dissent among the two main coalition members.

In response, the Socialists expelled 22 members and the conservatives expelled 21 lawmakers, reducing their majority in the 300-seat parliament from 236 to 193.

Intense rioting broke out in Athens as the new of the vote circulated, and has reportedly spread to the islands of Corfu and Crete, the northern city of Thessaloniki and towns in central Greece, the worst hit town in that part of the country being Volos, where the town hall and other buildings were burned to the ground.

Among other things, the new cuts call for cutting one in five civil service jobs and slashing Greece's minimum wage by more than 20 per cent.In exchange, as part of the new bail out package Greek bond holders agree to take a 'haircut' of 70 per cent of the value of their holdings.It will be years before anyone buys Greek bonds again.

In Athens,crowds of rioters set bonfires in front of parliament and only squads of dozens of riot police formed lines kept them from making a run on the building. The police fired fired dozens of tear gas volleys at rioters, who attacked the police with firebombs and chunks of marble broken off the fronts of luxury hotels, banks and department stores.

Masked rioters also attacked a police station with firebombs and stones.

Streets all over Athens were strewn with stones, smashed glass and burnt wreckage, while terrified passers-by sought refuge in hotel lounges and cafeterias.Looting was wide spread as shop windows were smashed, with the police occupied in guarding Parliament,City Hall and other public buildings.

Money quote from one rioter via Twitter: "I hate the deal. Maybe if I wreck this city I can get a job in construction building it up again."


B.Poster said...

Somebody has to pay this person's salary to rebuild the city and the funds for the materials to rebuild the city have to come from somewhere. Perhaps tearing the city apart was not such a good idea.

Given that these people are net tax recipients, they likely don't appreciate these things. Perhaps if these people had to pay for these things they migh appreciate them for.

How Greece wants to handle things is up to Greece, however, a grat place to start I think would to force the people who are destroying property to supply the labor to clean up the mess and to fix it up. This should be done at gun point if necessary. In addition, to what ever extent possible the monetary costs should come out of the pockets of the rioters.

Additional steps to take would be to withdraw from the EU immediately. The EU is unworkable. Attempts to keep it together are futile and will likely lead to war. As such, it should be scrapped and each country should be allowed to operate independently in pursuit of their interests. Greece can lead the way. Secondly, Greece has some island possessions that are very valuable. These could be sold to pay off the debts. Third, extensive efforts should be made to cut government spending and reducing regulation. This will help the private sector generate jobs that result in taxxes being paid into the government so net tax reciepts can be greater than what the government pays out.

It should be pointed out that the United States is on the same path that Greece was on. Greece is just further along. Essentially unless the Us changes course it will find itself in the same shape Greece is in except much worse.

Anonymous said...

Greece is a spoiled,rotten rich kid nation that suddenly has all the bills of the past come due and it refuses to even try to pay up!They don't want to pay, they would rather go bankrupt and cut a deal,Germany is getting fed up with throwing their hard earned money down the bottomless money pit called Greece!They will either totally take it over or cut them off.Then the other p.i.g.s nations will follow and the the E.U will fall!

B.Poster said...

I think they will try to take it over. Angela Merkel has all but threatened war if necessary to hold the EU together. A a member of NATO, we could be pulled into this mess. Its time for us to withdraw from NATO. We have enough problems of our own without the risk of getting pulled into yet more of Europe's conflicts. As I recall, the founding fathers sought for us to avoid this kind of entangling alliance.