This is one of those special times for Malaysia when change and ideas are most welcome. So there is hope and opportunity. And it is one of those special times when change, even paradigm shifts are possible, and local governments given a new and more central place in the lives of our citizens. If we can together constructively, creatively and systematically build and add to the many promising initiatives , and if civic engagement leads an upsurge of citizen interest, we will surely see the emergence of an efficient, effective, equitable, democratic local government system in Malaysia that is socially, ecologically and economically sustainable. And make a marked improvement in the quality of life of all Malaysians.
* Anwar Fazal, Penang. In Malaysiakini, 12 April 2001
On 15 November 2015 US President Barack Obama in a deeply resonant address to an audience of mainly young Greeks in Athens, reminding us of the challenges of democracy in this troubled century, calling for a “course correction” on globalization that has left populations afraid for an uncertain future.
These first excerpts from an excellent, thought-provoking analysis by Adam Davidson published in The New York Times Magazine on 28 July 2015 deserves the closest attention of anyone who wishes to have a balanced understanding of the events shaping what we call here the “Greek crisis”. (A misnomer if there ever were one since what it is really and so tragically if you take the time to think it through is “The European Crisis: A sad tale of greed, incompetence and haste compounded by unbearable hubris”.)
There is definitive proof, for anyone willing to look, that Greece is not solely or even primarily responsible for its own financial crisis. The proof is not especially exciting: It is a single bond, with the identification code GR0133004177. But a consideration of this bond should end, permanently, any discussion of Greece’s crisis as a moral failing on the part of the Greeks.
The following listing provides links to selected references from international sources of high quality and with quite different points of view. Access to these sources are, as might be expected, quite uneven. About half of them require that you pay or subscribe to access full text of particles. But over these last weeks we have done fairly well with these addresses, offering as they do some quite different perspectives on these unfolding events.
* The Guardian on Greece – http://www.theguardian.com/world/greece
* Der Spiegel on Greece – http://goo.gl/PgxiPs
* Le Monde on Grèce – http://www.lemonde.fr/crise-grecque/
* Financial Times on Greece – https://goo.gl/2lGPNu
* Krugman on Greece – http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/?s=Greece
* The Economist on Greece – http://goo.gl/LjGsf7
Other SDED coverage here:
– by Michael Hudson,.Counterepunch.org. July 8, 2015
The major financial problem tearing economies apart over the past century has stemmed more from official inter-governmental debt than with private-sector debt. That is why the global economy today faces a similar breakdown to the Depression years of 1929-31, when it became apparent that the volume of official inter-government debts could not be paid. The Versailles Treaty had imposed impossibly high reparations demands on Germany, and the United States imposed equally destructive requirements on the Allies to use their reparations receipts to pay back World War I arms debts to the U.S. Government.
Legal procedures are well established to cope with corporate and personal bankruptcy. Courts write down personal and business debts either under “debtor in control” procedures or foreclosure, and creditors take a loss on loans that go bad. Personal bankruptcy permits individuals to make a fresh start with a Clean Slate.
It is much harder to write down debts owed to or guaranteed by governments. U.S. student loan debt cannot be written off, but remains a lingering burden to prevent graduates from earning enough take-home pay (after debt service and FICA Social Security tax withholding is taken out of their paychecks) to get married, start families and buy homes of their own. Only the banks get bailed out, now that they have become in effect the economy’s central planners.
Most of all, there is no legal framework for writing down debts owed to the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB), or to European and American creditor governments. Since the 1960s entire nations have been subjected to austerity and economic shrinkage that makes it less and less possible to extricate themselves from debt. Governments are unforgiving, and the IMF and ECB act on behalf of banks and bondholders – and are ideologically captured by anti-labor, anti-government financial warriors.
Even if all of that is true, this Eurogroup list of demands is madness. The trending hashtag ThisIsACoup is exactly right. This goes beyond harsh into pure vindictiveness, complete destruction of national sovereignty, and no hope of relief. It is, presumably, meant to be an offer Greece can’t accept; but even so, it’s a grotesque betrayal of everything the European project was supposed to stand for.
Can anything pull Europe back from the brink?