Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
VIDEO by George @ http://vimeo.com/48646536
By Eirene, A Place Called Space
‘Wherever I travel Greece wounds me’ — Giorgos Seferis
The Greek Finance Ministry has been unable to collect court-ordered tax fines totalling 12.6 billion euros, or 6.2% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to data posted on the Ministry’s website.
The above amount includes the fine of 4.8 billion euros imposed on the Acropolis stockbrokerage for its role in the structured bonds scandal three years ago. The state has not received a single euro of that yet.
There are in excess of 180,000 outstanding tax cases in the Greek courts. Under normal circumstances this would be extremely worrying, but given that such decisions of Greek courts are often not implemented, and given that the Greek State is administratively incapable of collecting taxes that are due, why should oustanding court cases surprise or worry us?
The answer is that the only way the Greek state is able to finance itself is by borrowing billions from the Troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, and imposing ever harsher austerity measures on its citizens, which hits the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest, as the wealthy shift their money abroad and adopt all kinds of tax evasion manouevres.
This post is not about all those who have lost their jobs (unemployment has risen to 22.5% and 52.1% for those aged 17-24), the homeless, the asylum seekers in detention camps, the immigrant workers living 25 in a room, the many who have killed themselves because they could not cope with the dramatic changes in their lives (Greece, which once had the lowest, now has the highest suicide rate in Europe), the young people who have no job and no hope of getting one, or the large families on subsistence levels.
This post is about a middle-class household who are still relatively well-off, who are managing and who have by no means joined the large numbers of those who are in despair. What has happened to this household, whose financial details I have access to, is a demonstration of the drip drip effect of loss of income and gradual reduction of living standards. It also shows how the Greek state responds to its inability and unwillingness to collect taxes by hitting out at every level of society, except for the rich.
M. retired three years ago, with a very good pension of 1900 euros a month. She owns her home, but has two loans that she has to repay every month. Her daughter, T, who is in her twenties, was earning the 500 euros typical of her age group (hence commonly called the ‘500 generation’). M. had to occasionally help her daughter financially as she found that 500 euro a month did not go very far.
Then a series of unexplained and unexpected cuts to her existing pension started occuring. Within a year her pension was reduced to 1400 from the original 1900. Then the 13th and 14th salaries (an extra payment for Christmas, half for Easter and half for the summer) were abolished – another cut of 316 euros per month, bringing her pension down to 1184 euros per month.
The next change was lowering the tax threshold from 12,000 euros to 5,000 so that she is now expected to pay additional tax of 2100 euros – a further drop of 180 euros, bringing her monthly pension down to 1004 euros .
By now M. was desperate: paying off the loans she was committed to was becoming extremely difficult. But more was to come. Unable to collect taxes, last spring the government had the ‘brilliant’ idea of imposing a property tax on top of the existing council tax, which would be collected through the electricity bills. No need to worry about collection here: if you did not pay then your electricity would be cut off. M. had to pay 1200 euros property tax on the three bedroomed flat she owns and lives in and will have to pay this tax every year from now on. M.’s monthly income has now dropped to 904 euros.
But this was not enough. Four months ago, a further property tax was announced and she had to find another 400 euros to pay that. M.’s monthly income is now less than half (46%) of what it was eighteen months ago.
Meanwhile, five months ago, T., M.’s daughter, lost her job as the company she was working for closed down because of the recession. M. now has to fully support her.
Yesterday came the ultimate blow, the twist of the knife, the message from a State that will bleed its citizens dry in order to feed its incompetence. T. was filling in her tax form. Income: none. She was doing this electronically, and immediately the None was changed to 3000. T., with no income at all, now has to pay tax of 116 euros.
This is the reality of an average middle-class household in Greece today. It’s hard to imagine how grim life must be for the working class, the unemployed, the disabled, and the homeless.
By greydogg, 99GetSmart
* MAKING ENDS MEET
By Syndicate Films
The crisis of the capitalist financial system affects people across social classes and across the geography of Europe in similar ways: making a living is becoming more difficult in times of rising unemployment, ruthless neo-liberal flexibilisation of work and dismantling of the welfare state. This also affects housing, mobility, education, healthcare, old age pensions and so forth. Across the board, people experience an increasing precarisation of their everyday lives, which goes hand in hand with feelings of existential insecurity, anxiety and fear.
Spain is amongst the European countries most strongly affected by the austerity policies following the crisis of the global financial markets and the European debt crisis. During the last few years, Spain has seen a series of sectoral strikes, mainly in education and health care. On March 29, 2012, the country saw the second general strike within two years, this time directed against a massive labour market reform destroying job security and doing away with workers rights such as collective bargaining.
People of different generations, with different experiences and political backgrounds converged in protest against the government’s labour reform. During, before and after the strike, we asked people in the Catalan city of Barcelona how the crisis affects them and how they are dealing with it on a personal and a political level. In this video, students, workers, and unemployed who are also artists, activists and demonstrators are talking about fear, insecurity and anxiety in everyday life. However, they also explain how they are developing new models of organizing and protesting. The video includes examples for militant protest, artistic and creative tools for resistance, anti-authoritarian / libertarian networking and micropolitical organizing. This 20 minute long film is part of a militant investigation into tools of resistance against the politics of austerity across Europe.
London, June 2012
VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/46278378
* FAR-RIGHT PARTY DOLES OUT FOOD TO GREEKS ONLY
Golden Dawn hands out food parcels outside parliament, but makes sure only Greek citizens receive assistance.
Members of the extreme right Golden Dawn party have handed out food parcels outside the Greek parliament, but made sure only Greek citizens received the assistance.
Hundreds stood in line at Athens’ main Syntagma Square on Wednesday, showing IDs proving their citizenship to pick up their food.
Party volunteers dressed in black passed out milk, pasta, potatoes and olive oil in a one-day charity event critics said was meant to soften the image of a party likened by some to neo-Nazi groups.
With poverty and the unemployment rate rising, Golden Dawn has made inroads in the country’s political system with its vehement attacks against traditionally dominant parties and strongly anti-immigrant stance.
Its members have been accused of involvement in attacks against immigrants and some of its senior officials have publicly declared admiration for Adolf Hitler. The party rejects the neo-Nazi label. […]
* CHRIS HAYES ON ELITE FAILURE
Why don’t American oligarchs fear the consequences of their corruption, and how can that be changed?
By Glenn Greenwald, Salon
[…] Yet even in the wake of the oligarch-caused 2008 financial crisis that has spawned extreme levels of sustained suffering around the globe, and even as social unrest emerges in several places in the Western world as a result of this insecurity and sense of outrage and betrayal, the American elite class still seems remarkably free of any such fear. The main reason I was and remain so enthusiastic about the Occupy movement is precisely because something is needed to pose a credible threat of unrest if America’s elite class continues on the same course. Yesterday, New York Magazine published a profile of Jeff Greene, a typically vapid, bombastic American billionaire who has devoted his wealth to piggish, flamboyant personal consumption and yacht parties with Lindsay Lohan, but what struck me was this passage:
But over the past few months, it’s become clear that rich people are very, very afraid. Sometimes it feels like this was the main accomplishment of Occupy Wall Street: a whole lot of tightened sphincters. It’s not a stretch to say many residents of Park Avenue harbor vivid fears of a populist revolt like the one seen in The Dark Knight Rises, in which they cower miserably under their sideboards while ragged hordes plunder the silver.
I see no evidence that “rich people are very, very afraid” — at least not by their actions. And that, to me, is the problem. That fear — a lot more of it — is necessary. Their ability to rope themselves off from the society they are degrading, combined with the para-militarization of domestic police forces (aggressively displayed in response to the Occupy movement and related protests), and the rapidly increasing domestic powers of surveillance and detention (designed to intimidate the citizenry and thus deter and guard against mass protests), have convinced them, I think, that they need not fear any protest movements or social unrest, that America can and will become more and more of a police state to suppress it. An elite class that is free to operate without limits — whether limits imposed by the rule of law or fear of the responses from those harmed by their behavior — is an elite class that will plunder, degrade, and cheat at will, and act endlessly to fortify its own power. […]
READ / AUDIO INTERVIEW @ http://www.salon.com/2012/08/01/chris_hayes_on_elite_failure/
* PLUTOCRACY NOW
Source: Automatic Earth
We could write stacks of books on the prevalence of money in politics and the swarms of lobbyists who descend on Washington every single week, and many people have, but it’s simpler to just focus on the most egregious example of corruption. The most powerful, influential economic policy-making institution in the country, the Federal Reserve (“Fed”), is an unelected body that is completely unaccountable to the people. Well, let’s back up and start with the fact that this institution’s very existence is most likely unconstitutional. Here’s why:
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to “coin money” and “regulate the value thereof”. The Supreme Court has long held that Congress can delegate its legislative powers to Executive agencies as long as it provides an “intelligible principle” to guide the agencies’ action.
We don’t even have to reach the question of whether the Federal Reserve Act sets out an “intelligible principle”, however, because existing precedent states that Congress cannot delegate its powers to private institutions. Schecter Poultry (held “a delegation of its legislative authority to trade or industrial associations…would be utterly inconsistent with the constitutional prerogatives and duties of Congress“). In that case, the Supreme Court struck down parts of FDR’s National Industrial Recovery Act which authorized these private organizations to draft “codes of fair competition” and submit them to the President for approval.
The Fed, by it’s own admission, is an independent entity within the government “having both public purposes, and private aspects”. By “private aspects”, they mean the entire operation is wholly-owned by private member banks, who are paid dividends of 6% each year on their stock. Furthermore, the Fed’s decisions “do not have to be ratified by the President or anyone else in the executive or legislative branch of government” and the Fed “does not receive funding appropriated by Congress”. […]
* JOAN VEON – AGENDA 21 PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP PPP CORPORATE FASCISM
Joan Veon discusses the implications of public private partnerships and their impact on society. This is a must watch.
Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart
The documentary was made by Alexandra Pascalidou on behalf of SVT Swedish television.