Not my words, but the words of Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, back in January 2015. Now, in July, they are facing the very real prospect of defaulting on their debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Greeks have been squeaking under the austerity measures put in place by bail out lenders the EU and the IMF, and elected a Government whose main policy aim was to resist the harsh repayment conditions levied on them, putting them in a similar situation to some of the World’s poorest developing countries.
The problems in Greece are not dissimilar to those of most Western countries – the wealthiest have been allowed to get away with tax avoidance. Politicians protect the super rich and instead talk about cutting public spending. Education, health care and transportation all suffer as a result, and the quality of life of citizens deteriorates.
This is why the rest of Europe is keenly following events in Greece. The EU is at a crossroads – do they show leniency to Greece when other member states are in similar financial dire straits and struggling with their own austerity programmes? Somehow, I think not. The Greek referendum set for Sunday 5th July will either precipitate a Greek Exit (Grexit on social media) or push the reluctant government to accept the repayment ‘deal’ offered by their creditors.
Also in January, charity OXFAM released a report stating that the top 1% of British society will own more than the entire wealth of the remaining 99% by next year – surely the time has come for a re-think on our divisive culture of greed and pandering to the wealthy. Recent television documentaries have exposed the ‘trickle down effect’ as a lie, as the majority are not benefitting from the economic activities of the super rich. They are self-serving elitists who control our political systems and manipulate all situations for their benefit.
The challenge for the EU moving forward is to search for ways to have a fairer society where wealth is shared and people feel valued. This is not communism, we have moved way beyond that failed ideology. Perhaps look at Switzerland’s policy of capping top earners wages. By defining an earnings ceiling they are saying ‘This is enough’ – an idea that must strike terror in the hearts of the UK’s top 1%. I would love to start a debate on capping earnings and defining what is enough.
Britain is lagging way behind in this regard, and we should strive for more social honesty and accountability from the wealthy. Let’s stop the decadent practice of salting money away in offshore accounts and ‘investing’ in domestic and overseas properties, which has the negative effect of inflating property prices and making home ownership unaffordable for many.
I say Good Luck to Greece – there is more than enough wealth generated in the World for all citizens to have an acceptable quality of life. The challenge here is to think outside the box of our current capitalist and financial speculation model. In many countries, the UK included, the quality of life and rights of citizens are being swept aside in the mad rush to make money. The Greek crisis gives us a fixing point for a re-appraisal of our values.