Law and Disorder Radio – The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood – Nantina Vgontzas on Syriza and the Greek Debt Crisis – Hosts: Heidi Boghosian, Michael Steven Smith & Michael Ratner – Produced by Geoff Brady

Law and Disorder Radio

Michael Ratner: Jury Awards $218.5 Million in Terrorism Case Against Palestinian Groups












 The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood

The National Football League, Mattel’s Girl Scout Barbie Doll, and even McDonald’s all have something in common. They’ve engaged in highly sophisticated corporate marketing aimed at enticing young children into becoming life-long consumers and brand loyalists. They’re the subjects of the efforts of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood to cease clever marketing that sends the message that purchasing will make children happy. The campaign has a proven track record of educating families and the public about how industry partnerships with schools, nonprofits and trusted institutions such as the Girl Scouts expose young people to inappropriate content with potentially negative consequences.

Josh Golin:

Very unfortunately, the Girl Scouts, which has been traditionally a wonderful organization providing role models for girls, launched a partnership last year with Barbie.

This partnership includes a website where girls can play a Barbie game about choosing careers but really all they’re doing is looking at different Barbie outfits and seeing other Barbie dolls that they can buy in the store.

There’s even a Barbie patch that Girl Scouts can earn.

We thought that this was such a harmful campaign to young girls when the Girls Scouts have traditionally been a refuge from the commercialism that is aimed at kids everywhere, and clearly Barbie represents a problematic body type and focus on appearance and fashion and is in some ways the antithesis of what the Girl Scouts have traditionally represented.

They get $2 million from Mattel from this partnership.

The message to young girls that you have to look like a fashion doll when you’re going out on a hike is unbelievable.

On the envelope that school report cards come in is an ad from McDonald’s saying bring your report card to McDonald’s. If you had good grades or had good attendance or even good behavior, you get a free happy meal.

We do a lot of work on the area of advertising in schools. It’s really an unfortunate trend. There’s been an increase in it since 2008 when we had the economic downturn and schools are understandably looking for revenue any way they can get it.

There has been this increase in marketing to kids in schools and we think that’s particularly harmful to children. Anything advertised in the school comes with the school’s endorsement.

One of the things that’s most concerning about what the NFL does is they market Fantasy Football extensively to kids. They even have a curriculum in school to teach kids about Fantasy Football, where they can then go online to the NFL kids’ website and compete for cash prizes.

Guest – Josh Golin is Associate Director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC). He organizes CCFC’s advocacy campaigns and develops its communications strategy. His writings about the commercialization of childhood have appeared in a wide range of publications.







Greece Debt Crisis Postponed, Creditors Back Reform Plans

Earlier this year, we reported on the historic election voting in the Greek anti-austerity party of Syriza, led by Alexis Tsipras. Syriza’s platform is to take back power within the Greek government, to effectuate a program that will call for cancellation of the debt, nationalization of the banks, and expropriating closed factories. Greece is a member of the Eurozone, the nations that joined together with a common currency in 1999. Now, after barely a month in office, the Syriza Party led by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has been forced to make compromises on major issues such as labor reforms and agreeing not to undo privatization plans. The crisis began when the European Central Bank said it would reject Greek sovereign bonds as collateral, which made Greek banks dependent on emergency liquidity assistance. Last week, Syriza entered negotiations with the EU and ECB and secured a four-month extension of its financial rescue.

Nantina Vgontzas:

  • Let’s start with December 2009 when the Greek government declared in had sovereign debt of 109 percent, which is something they’ve been covering up the past few years.
  • Goldman Sachs was also involved with helping them to cover up those figures.

We should look at the political economy of the Eurozone constructed in the early 2000s. At the same time in Germany you had wage depression, meaning Germans were getting lower wages so that German exports would become more competitive, and the European periphery was used as a dumping post. So they were getting more lending from German banks and that’s how you started getting more debts in Greece.

  • The European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund which has played its role since the ’70s in imposing discipline on the countries throughout the developing world. Greece was the first so-called advanced country that was starting to enter into this regimen of so-called structural reforms that were attached to these bailouts that Greece was receiving to deal with the debt issue.
  • Attached to these structural reforms was the termination of collective bargaining agreements, the reduction of the minimum wage…so you have massive social degradation and at the same time the debt continues to rise.
  • So the debt went from 109 percent of the GDP to 175 percent of the GDP.
  • So Greece is basically getting loans so it can pay interest on interest until the early 2020s and Syriza rightfully identified this as an extended pretend strategy.
  • They were the opposition between 2012 and the end of 2014, and in 2015 they got 35 percent of the vote which wasn’t enough to form a government on its own, which is why it had to form a coalition government.
  • Everybody knows that Greece can’t pay off its debt until the early 2020s.
  • I’ve written a piece in Jacobin Magazine saying that I don’t think the Eurozone would take any chances on letting Greece leave the Eurozone because of how helpful it has been to German capital. They’re not willing to take the long-term risk; they’re not willing to take the short-term risk of speculative attacks that would occur on the Eurozone.
  • A Greek exit could have produced a domino effect; perhaps Portugal would have left, Italy; you start having big economies like Spain leaving. That kind of domino effect would be unsustainable for the Eurozone.
  • There are ways of dealing with the prospect of Greece leaving the Eurozone. You would have to impose capital controls, you would have to nationalize the banks, which is something that the Syriza leadership said that they wouldn’t do prior to elections. They’re going to have to revisit that strategy. Then you would have to figure out how you would ration food, fuel, pharmaceuticals in order to deal with immediate problems. Then you would have to talk about long-term policies that would promote growth.
  • Syriza cannot move to a technocratic approach because then they would lose thier fundamental element as a left party.
  • Half of the police in Greece support the Golden Dawn fascists. This is something that Syriza has to neutralize while they’re in power.
  • They need to be neutralized by promoting a strategy that’s actually going to reverse austerity.

Guest – Nantina Vgontzas, a Greek-American PhD student in sociology at NYU focusing on political economy and social movements. She is a member of the UAW Graduate Student Organizing Committee and is involved in the Academic Workers for a Democratic Union reform movement.