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Loss of democracy is real cost of membership in Eurozone

The Greek people have discovered that the real cost of their membership in the Eurozone is the loss of their democracy, a price they will not pay. Democracy began in Greece. They know that it is priceless. From Wikipedia:

The term originates from the Greek δημοκρατία (dēmokratía) “rule of the people”, which was found from δῆμος (dêmos) “people” and κράτος (krátos) “power” or “rule”, in the 5th century BC to denote the political systems then existing in Greek city-states, notably Athens; the term is an antonym to ἀριστοκρατία (aristokratía) “rule of an elite.”

Indeed, the right of a nation’s people to self-determination by democratic vote should be an inalienable human right. No foreign nation, affiliation of nations or corporation, especially a bank, should be permitted to govern in place of a democratically elected government. Yet, that is basically what the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) was attempting to do when it conditioned a financial bailout on the government imposing severe austerity measures that would shred the nation’s safety net during a time of severe economic hardship. Austerity measures generally hurt the poor, the mentally ill and the marginalized. They create more problems than they solve and they inflict hardship and suffering on those who are already suffering. They are the weapon of choice in World War III, a merciless and unconscionable class war waged by the rich against the middle class and the poor. The rich want to suspend or replace democracy, impoverish everyone else, control people through debt slavery and acquire all of the wealth on the planet. They use austerity measures to increase their wealth while eliminating safety nets. Pure unadulterated greed.

Another purpose of the austerity measures appears to have been to inflict massive pain and suffering on the people in hopes of motivating them to vote the current government out of office. Such interference in the internal politics of Greece is intolerable and should serve as a warning to other member nations that their democratically elected governments may be destabilized by the financial backers of the Troika in service to the rich.

Despite a failing economy with high unemployment and homelessness, sixty percent of the Greek people courageously voted against the Troika’s severe austerity measures. Good for them. I think they should immediately begin creating a new currency to replace the Euro. By permitting it to float or devalue, Greek exports will be cheaper when purchased in Euros or other foreign currencies such as the dollar. Similarly, imports will cost more, a condition that creates an incentive to produce products for export. A devalued currency also creates favorable conditions for tourism, which has been Greece’s leading industry.

There are no easy quick-fix solutions on the way to independence from foreign meddling in their internal affairs, but protecting and preserving their right to choose their own leaders is a cause worth fighting for.

I recognize there are certain advantages to remaining in the Eurozone and approximately 80% of the people would prefer to remain. With the resignation today of Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, who harshly condemned the Troika’s offer on the way to the referendum, he created an opportunity for his government to attempt to renegotiate the terms of the loan. I doubt they will succeed.

Finally, I think it’s important to recall that the Greek economy was in relatively good shape in 2008 before the recession caused by the Wall Street investment banks and their reckless dealings with derivates. Previous Greek governments bear some responsibility for failing to handle the consequences of that recession, but demonizing the Greeks for their economic problems was inappropriate. I think the present state of the economy should be regarded as a catastrophe requiring an immediate infusion of emergency relief rather than loans with strings attached. Those strings are crass reminders that the troika is exploiting the Greek people.

That is unacceptable.

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.