From Athens to Cape Town

Hostages of an insane financial oligarchy will be chuffed  by the Greek attempt at a break-out. The election of a new anti-austerity government is a middle finger for the extortion racket. Even if the rebellion is scotched, seeds of resistance have been sown.

The back story includes the familiar combination of bankers and fraud. A culture of tax evasion established during the Greek junta (1967-74) was compounded by a reluctance to tax the rich. Borrowing to plug the gap breached the Eurozone’s  3 percent -of-GDP limit.

Goldman Sachs – the notorious Wall Street investment bank  with tentacles everywhere –  concealed the deficit overrun for a lucrative slice of the action. The deception unraveled and debt holders – bankers and speculators –  made fortunes jacking up interest rates bringing Greece to its knees. For insurance they shifted the risk to the Troika ( European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank) goons who enforce payment.

Greece was forced to pauperize its people in exchange for € 240 billion thrust upon it swiftly and ferociously. Almost five years later conditions in the country are worse than they were during the Great Depression. Of € 226.7 billion disbursed up to the end of last summer just 11 percent, € 27 billion, was spent on the Greek state’s operating needs. Investigative journalist Greg Palast says, “It all went to bail out Deutsche Bank and other foreign creditors…Germany bailed out Germany, not Greece. ”

Undeterred by the facts the mainstream media spun a story of ‘Club Med’ profligacy and laziness. German chancellor and frugal housewife, Angela Merkel, said Southerners in Greece, Spain and Portugal should work harder instead of retiring early. IMF director and power dresser, Christine Lagarde,  said it was pay-back time for the Greeks. She had more sympathy for poor village children in Niger (who are always on her mind) than the people of Athens.

This is disingenuous, inconsistent, nasty and silly. Far better then to start  with the Bank of England which confirmed in March last year that banks don’t just lend out money on deposit with them; they actually create money out of thin air when they advance loans.

Two years earlier Victoria Grant a 12-year-old Canadian schoolgirl was incensed when she found out that’s just how it worked. She asked an audience at a Rotary club if they ever wondered why their government was paying $60 billion a year in interest on the national debt and who was getting the money.“What I have discovered’, she said, ‘is the banks and the government have colluded to financially enslave the people of Canada.” A video of her speech went viral on the Net.

It’s also a secret known in Westminster. MP Jesse Norman has highlighted the power of the banks to create money. “It is not widely understood how important this power is. Of the money presently in circulation in the UK economy today, three percent takes the form of cash; 97 percent is in credit and deposits. This financial alchemy is an extraordinary privilege, which we as citizens and taxpayers underwrite.”

There is a long history of how private banks acquired a franchise to create money, profit from war and peace, pillage real assets and put governments in their pocket. The American experience is instructive. In 1764, the British Parliament – influenced heavily by the private Bank of England – passed the Currency Act making it illegal for the colonies to print their own money.  Historian John Twells says it made revolution inevitable. “Ruin took place in these once flourishing Colonies . . . discontent became desperation, and reached a point . . . when human nature rises up and asserts itself.”

The American War of Independence ended in 1783 but the battle for control of the Republic’s currency continued. The “financial question” – how money should be created and circulated – remained a burning public issue. It led to the formation of farmers’ Alliances in the 1870s and then the establishment of the People’s or Populist Party.

Mary Ellen Lease told the Populist convention in Topeka, Kansas in 1890: ‘Wall Street owns the country…We want the abolition of the National Banks and we want the power to make loans direct from the government. We want the accursed foreclosure system wiped out…” The Populists were strong on education for change. By 1892, farmer lecturers had gone into 43 states and reached two million farm families. The National Economist, a Populist magazine had 100 000 readers. Books written by Populist leaders, like William Harvey Coin’s, “Financial School” were widely read.

In 1894, Jacob Coxey and his Industrial Army of destitute unemployed men marched from Ohio to Washington to urge Congress to issue debt-free government notes. These federal dollars, “Greenbacks” had been used successfully during the Civil War. Coxey proposed Congress issue $500 million in Greenbacks to redeem Federal debt and provide work on public projects. Jacob’s march became a monetary parable in “The Wizard of Oz” written by journalist and Populist, Frank Baum.

In her book Web of Debt, Ellen Brown says: ‘Few of the millions who have enjoyed this charming tale have suspected that its imagery was drawn from that most obscure and tedious of subjects, banking and finance. Fewer still have suspected that the real-life folk heroes who inspired its plot may actually have the answer to the financial crisis facing the country today.”

In 1913 after failing twice to permanently establish a central bank in private hands bankers finally got their way. Americans spooked by the “Panic of 1907” into believing they needed such a bank were presented with identical “reform’ plans”  – under different names – by the Democrats and Republicans. A week before Xmas, shrouded in intrigue, and with opponents away, the Federal Reserve Act was hustled into existence and signed by President Woodrow Wilson.

A few years later he wrote: “I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of  credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men.”

Mayer Amschel Rothschild (1744-1812), founder of the House of Rothschild famously said: “Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.”  The people of the EU are discovering this truth. Under the Maastricht Rules they are prevented from creating their own money to finance the development they need and unlock the potential of their resources. They are at the mercy of commercial banks. Money, a public utility for economic liberation, has been perverted into a mechanism for exacting tribute leaving only zombie democracies.

The ideological justification for private central banks is that governments will be tempted to recklessly print money, devaluing and devouring the wealth of citizens through inflation.This has always been a red herring. US, UK and EU taxpayers spent $14 trillion bailing out the banks after the 2008 crash. And they’re still expensively flushing toxic assets from the banks’ books.

An estimated quadrillion dollars of derivatives are in circulation waiting to implode. Bankers have been found guilty of everything from rate-rigging to laundering drug money. The cult of extreme money endangers everyone outside a psychopathic financial mafia. So much for public indiscipline.

Iceland has recently demonstrated that there are alternatives to swingeing austerity; that it is quite possible to defy the IMF and reconstruct an economy sensibly. There is no rational reason for millions of South Africans – or the people of Portugal, Spain and Italy – to be condemned to poverty and hopelessness. They can finance their own development with money created free from debt by their own public banks. But first they will have to make a stand. That’s the message from Athens to Cape Town.


2 thoughts on “From Athens to Cape Town

  1. A fascinating story. I had no idea that The Wizard of Oz and the Yellow Brick Road were inspired by the Industrial Army’s march on Washington to demand they issue government “Greenbacks”.

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written for children and the film is something most children still enjoy watching?. Which would make you think it would be ideal for teaching in primary schools. Which raises the questions: why isn’t it? (Michael Gove anybody?) and what can be done about it?

    More importantly now, with only 95 days left before the General Election on 7 May what can be done about it now?


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