Between the stories of lunatic Islamists on the rampage all across the world and John Noakes going missing in Majorca – unrelated as far as I can tell – a significant news event has snuck quietly between the gaps with virtually no fanfare. A whole country, and a famous one at that, has been banned.
Greece is done, finished, no longer allowed to exist. If I were hilarious I’d make some reference to the Monty Python parrot sketch at this point, but I’m not hilarious. A country that has done a fair amount for the advancement of humanity has been told by a selection of economists that it must now shutter up its tavernas and quit that stupid bloody dancing, because they’re all now to be scattered to the four corners of Europe and their lands shared between Bulgaria, Turkey and, controversially, Chad.
The day they officially run out of cash, which is either yesterday, next weekend, some time in August or a date chosen at random by distracted suits in offices in Washington, heavies will be dispatched to recover debts using whatever menaces are necessary. Old women queueing in incredible heat for hours for tiny pensions will return home to find men with bats removing their furniture in order to send it directly to warehouses in Brussels, Luxembourg, Berlin and elsewhere, where it will be burned as a health hazard with the resulting CO2 emissions blamed on Greece. No more plates will be broken because there will be no plates left to break.
That seems to be the result of the doom-laden reports plastered all over every press outlet because, yes, I was being sarcastic. The news is taking on the story of Greece’s financial woes with the vigour of a teenage boy offered the chance to mount his fit 20-something geography teacher before blaming her for grooming.
There is one single group of people who give a half-hearted toss about the situation in Greece: economic journalists. Their topic, as they themselves must admit, is as exciting as the tea cup ride at Lithuania’s top theme park, Stalin World. Even the Greeks themselves are done with it all, given they’re about to confirm in a referendum that their creditors can come and get it if they think they’re hard enough.
But economic journalists are wet with excitement that their news is the news, and that they get to tell us the most important details of the day rather than that boring ‘Muslim correspondent’ in France banging on about Herve Cornora’s disembodied head in a selfie. Chief among their number is Robert Peston, a man with a voice that sounds like he alternates breaths between nitrous oxide and opium. It’s virtually impossible to understand a single thing the man says as he drawls slowly along 14 words a minute before evidently being told by a producer to get on with it and speeding off on an unlistenable tangent, as thousands stare confusedly at radios with milk and cornflakes dripping from their open mouths.
The jist of Peston’s bonobo-like babbling seems to be that Greece must be blamed for getting itself involved with one of the world’s most despicable mafia-style organisations, known as the IMF. This is a group that helped to create the system in which countries are left to flounder unless they follow a very specific set of rules designed to propagate that system, the system which causes money to flow from poor people to rich people, because that’s how things are now, just deal with it. Take a look at the IMF’s Wikipedia page – their current list of ‘Executive Directors’ names 24 people, and all but two of them have a red link to their name, demonstrating no-one knows a fucking thing about them. The exceptions are Hazem Al Beblawi, a former Prime Minister of Egypt, and Rakesh Mohan, an Indian economist who probably wrote his own page.
While our economic journalists wheeze and whine that Greece are causing the world’s markets all manner of bother with their prevarication, perhaps they might turn an eye to the system that’s caused this. Bankers get slated for causing the calamity that’s affected every country in the world for the last seven years, but bankers didn’t create the system, they just broke it. We live in a world where the idea that the richest countries might let the poorest countries off a wee bit of debt, that they’ve absolutely no need to be repaid, is seen as a bad thing. Do we hear Peston, Hugh Pym, Richard Edgar or whichever scaly fuck Sky have doing their economics reporting explaining why the IMF, World Bank, OECD and the rest have turned the world into one massive market to be exploited by bastards for their own ends?
One of the main problems in Greece is their over-generosity when it comes to society’s chief unwanted burden: old people. Peston’s children will tell you that no country in the EU spends as high a proportion of their funds on pensions. This makes other countries look bad as they allow their old people to freeze and rot having outlived their use to capitalism. These other countries therefore demand Greece reduce their pensions spending, which currently amounts to less than 700 euros a month. That’s below the poverty line. Bad, bad Greece.
Just because economic journalists periodically demand their time in the spotlight doesn’t mean a whole country should pay the penalty. Greece spent when they could, suffered the same crisis not of their making as everyone else, went to the wrong loan sharks to sort it out and are now about to get their fingers broken for their troubles. None of that is fair, and little of it is their fault given the system they have to work within. It can hardly be a surprise that they’ve had enough, just like the rest of us have had enough hearing about it.
People just want to get on with their lives and the majority couldn’t give a shit about markets, currency fluctuations, debt defaulting, GDP or whether Angela Merkel herself is on her way right now to knee them in the balls. The story of Greece’s financial difficulties is meaningless to almost everyone on this planet who simply want to do a job with some purpose, spend their leisure time how they wish, enjoy friends and family and die with the minimum number of regrets.
At least when the repo men come to take away everything Greece owns, having no radios, TVs or houses to listen to them in will spare Greeks having to hear heartless ‘Executive Directors’ chuckling in amazement that there’s no uprising to put a stop to all this, or indeed the simpering economic journalists who make hay while the world cracks and crumbles. Perhaps Greece will be declared bankrupt, debts will be cancelled and they’ll be kicked out of the Eurozone, only to proceed to live on their means with the things they produce from the land within their borders, like normal countries used to do back when the world wasn’t run by wankers.
Maybe they’ll end up showing us how it was meant to be done all along. It’s the only way I can think of we might be able to handle Peston’s ear-splitting vocal somersaults and the pointless prattle of his kin.