Economic Crisis, Greek Theater, Our Drama
We are joined in the studio by professor of economics Rick Wolff and National Lawyers Guild attorney Eric Poulos. Both have recently returned from Greece. Rick Wolff’s recent articles outline an economic theater playing out in Greece and across the globe. There is no alternative and this is all the workers’ fault, is the mantra from rulers who are cutting wages and pensions in Greece. It’s deceptive and false, says Rick Wolff, and the economic conditions in Greece are an old pattern that are replicating everywhere. Greek capitalist enterprises and top shareholders evade paying taxes, Rick writes. Meanwhile the economic contradictions of Greek capitalism drive employers and employees to demand more from the government. The government can’t finance its expanding services and tries to raise taxes. The masses resist, social movements to tax the rich accelerate, then the rich quickly offer to lend the government more of the money they saved from not paying taxes. There are many more acts to this economic theater. Rick Wolff asks: what will the final scenes be for the European working class?
- I looked at the professors’ faces and I realized the economic crisis had come home and hit them very hard.
- Every single professor received a pay cut, which took effect as soon as I arrived to Athens. 15-20% less a year for every teacher in the country.
- Not only every teacher, but every public employee; it includes the police, and the foot soldiers in the Army.
- On top of the unemployment, this is a blow against every single working person. We are at the beginning of a major disaster. This also threatens other countries: Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland.
- This crisis is showing us we are in for years of dysfunctional capitalism as a global system.
- Greece is remarkable in that it has a well organized, strong working class. The super-rich in Greece do not want to pay taxes. The working class is powerful enough in Greece (unlike here in the United States) to make the government stand up and notice.
- Governments borrow money as a solution for taxation. Lenders ask, why lend to a small country with little promise of making good on the loan? Lenders had already loaned to the US. It’s the US crisis that created the dilemma for Greece. The biggest holders of the debt of Greece are French and German banks.
- They turned to the Greek government and said, squeeze them, but don’t squeeze them to the point where they’ll default.
- The people who brought us the crisis are dictating the suffering of masses of people to work their way out of the crisis with no cost to themselves.
- We have a president today in a terrible economic crisis, and not only is there not a government program to hire people, it’s not proposed, it’s defended, our government isn’t explaining our own history has that as the thing we did the last time.
- Those who made out like bandits in the last 30 years ought to be made to pay the lion’s share of the cost for cleaning up the economic mess. If democracy means anything it should begin in the place where we spend most of our adult lives: where we work.
Attorney Eric Poulos:
- Greece is really a society that is smoldering. There have been 3 general strikes since the cutbacks in March.
- 40,000 jobs a month are being lost in Greece.
- The civil servants in Greece have not had their prescriptions filled since March.
- The country has been run by socialists for 30-36 years. Socialists and Communists have bought on to this.
- There have already been huge demonstrations in Portugal and Spain. Portugal was huge.
- This is looting. They are looting Greece.
- Greece is now going privatize the post office. The gas, the water works, the railway.
- The banks are really picking off the pieces of Greece.
- They’re interested in suppressing the social wages and whatever they can accumulate.
- The landscape in the United States is not very hopeful because the working class labor movement hasn’t stepped up at all.
- If private corporations want government money to bail them out, we take them over, we run it.
- If there are going to be layoffs, we cut the work week. Work 4 days but the workers get paid for 5 days.
- You need the political will and the question is, where will that come from and how will that be done?
Guest – Rick Wolff, professor of economics at University of Massachusetts at Amherst. In his new book Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, Rick takes the reader back to 2005 and step by step reveals how policies, economic structures and wage to profit systems led to a global economic collapse.
Guest – Eric Poulos, attorney with the National Lawyers Guild who recently traveled to Greece.
Attorney and radio host Jim Lafferty joins us today. We get updates on the upcoming anti-war conference in Albany, New York, the ongoing immigration policy conflicts in Arizona and new developments on the Israeli attacks and killings on the Gaza flotilla. We will also get more information on tttorney Peter Erlinder’s condition in Rwanda. As listeners may know, former National Lawyers Guild president Professor Peter Erlinder was arrested two weeks ago by Rwandan police for allegedly denying the country’s 1994 genocide. He is currently imprisoned in Rwanda and very little information is getting out.
There’s been an ebb in the anti-war movement in terms of the way it’s manifested itself in the streets.
US Should Not Condone Israeli Attack – By Michael Ratner
Sponsored by IVAW / US Labor Against the War / Code Pink / Raging Grannies
Hundreds will be gathering in Albany to help revitalize the sentiment.
During the Vietnam War, the teach-ins preceded the growth of the movement.
Now that the war has expanded, it’s important to teach to younger generations that this is US imperialism in its worst form. Why it has nothing to do with making us safer.
Get out of Iraq, get out of Afghanistan and leave the people of Pakistan alone.
Arizona Immigration Legislation Update
Peter Erlinder Update – Lawyers have been able to make contact with Peter Erlinder. He was recently denied bail.
Guest – Jim Lafferty, Executive Director of the National Lawyers Guild in Los Angeles and host of The Lawyers Guild Show on Pacifica’s KPFK 90.7 FM