Today I bought a newspaper, Proto Thema, which included the following article. I think it’s essential that as many people read it as possible. This article sets out the points that were made to the Greek Parliament in an effort to convince the 300 members of Parliament to vote in favor of the new deal with the Troika. Many people living here are hoping the deal will be voted down, allowing Greece to default and return to its own currency. In an effort to convince the MPs not to allow that to happen, the following was presented to them: [original article in Proto Thema newspaper print edition, pages 8-9, February 12, 2012, by Giannis Antypas. The translation is mine, and unofficial.]
The first 72 hours
– Mass withdrawals and attacks on banks
The citizens will flood the banks to make mass withdrawals of their deposits. Financial institutions under threat of collapse close their brick and mortar locations for 2-3 days and when they reopen, they place a limit on withdrawals of 200-300 euros per month per account. Citizens attack the banks, they commit arson, and violent protest breaks out. The police forces intervene. The EU sends us a timeline for removal from the Euro currency.
The first two weeks
– Scarcity: fuel, food
– Looting begins
Fuel begins to become scarce, as the country is not able to import it. Endless lines at gas stations, with the price of gasoline and of petroleum products beginning to take off thanks to speculation. Problems in city transit due to the drastic reduction in all routes. Public transit tickets increase in price by up to 200%. Supermarkets begin to have problems stocking food products, especially imported ones, which make up the largest portion of the national diet. Greek items become dramatically more expensive. The first looting episodes are noted sporadically, at food markets.
The first month
– The public sector unpaid
– schools, hospitals close
Stop payment in the public sector with 800,000 public workers not receiving their monthly salary. Multi-day strikes begin, one after the other. The public sector is paralyzed. The hospitals stop accepting emergency cases as supplies cannot be found for surgeries. Pharmacies can no longer stock drugs as imports are frozen. Many schools close, as teachers go on strike due to not being paid. The same happens at universities. Foreign multinational corporations close en masse. The country’s creditors move against us in international courts.
The first trimester
– 300,000 laid off in the public sector
The national electric company blacks out, sinking the nation into darkness. The hours of service are announced, not to exceed five non-successive hours of electricity per day at the absolute maximum. Many stores close as consumption takes a nosedive. Up to 200,000 workers in the private sector are fired. After two months of non-payment, the government, unable to continue the payment of workers, announces the closure of public services and organizations. 300,000 public workers are immediately fired. The first banks collapse.
The first six months
– Clashes in the streets
– International humanitarian aid
Crime increases dramatically. The penal system collapses, as the prisons cannot handle such a large population of prisoners. Prisoners escape en masse. An explosion of violent clashes in the streets with loss of human life and thousands of arrests. The police forces are on alert. The first international aid organizations arrive in Greece to help the starving population.
The first year
– Two million unemployed
– threats from abroad
Unemployment officially reaches 35% and the unemployed reach 2 million [out of 10.3 million total population]. The per capita income of Greeks collapses to 1980 levels and the income at the end of 2012 lose 65% of its buying power compared to 2011. The inflation in the market reaches 70% annually. Public organizations, airports, ports, and publically owned land are sold for a song. National defense collapses, the moment that threats from neighboring countries begin. Greece suffers major diplomatic losses on all fronts (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greek-Turkish issues, NATO, Cyprus, etc.).
The first five years
– Poverty, hunger, speculation, and threat of war
Greece of 2017 bears no relation to Greece of 2012. In early 2013, the exit from the Eurozone will be decided, along with the return to the drachma currency unit, initially at a rate of 1 euro = 1000 drachmas. A 50%-70% devaluation follows in order to strengthen competitiveness. The labor market is completely liberated, eliminating union contracts and a minimum wage. The Greek GDP of 2014 will equal Romania’s current GDP, and the average annual income will not be more than 6,000 Euros (today’s value). The few banks that survive will begin mass foreclosures of homes as they will have inherited the mortgages of the failed banks. A large sector of Athens’ population will flee to the provinces to work the land. Greeks with money outside the country, and foreign speculators, will buy up the entire production base of the country, land and businesses, at unthinkably low prices. Greece’s position within NATO will be called into question as she can no longer meet the obligations. It is likely that invasions of neighboring countries would follow, in an effort to expand their territory. 4% of the nation’s population will die from the crisis in one way or another.
P.S. The presentation to Parliament also includes a series of political ramifications, in which the political system will be strongly questioned. The media will shrink. Society will become deeply divided. “Democracy will be in danger,” notes the author of the presentation.
The questions I would like answered are:
1. If the Troika and practically every analyst alive has already agreed that this agreement will only delay default, but not prevent it, then what is the advantage of putting it off? If we have to go through this anyway, isn’t it better to do so now, when we have not been worn down by a few more years of unbearable austerity?
2. How many of the above things will likely happen even without an official default?
3. How many of the above things are already a reality for many families in Greece (hunger, inability to purchase fuel, unemployment, violence, etc.)?
4. Why are only negatives presented? Are there no positives whatsoever? And if there are, what are they?
If you were one of 300 people tasked with making this decision, and this was presented to you, it would take tremendous courage to make your decision based on the wishes of the actual people that elected you – who of course do not agree with each other. If you were a member of Parliament, how would you feel having your decision influenced by such heavy-handed scare tactics?
Many Greeks want this deal to go through; many others do not. Whatever happens tonight at midnight will horrify many people, and will satisfy many others. But we are all going to lose, no matter what they choose.
If this deal will only delay the fallout in that presentation, isn’t the courageous thing to go ahead and get it over with?
Note: the original article is only available in the print edition of the Proto Thema newspaper, not online.