By Luke Ming Flanagan
I noticed in the previous post the number of negative comments on Greece, how really this is all their own fault, that they won’t pay their taxes, are lazy, work short hours and retire in their 50s to a life of even greater leisure.
I can understand why so many people believe this – why? Because that’s the picture our media have painted of Greece and the Greeks, that’s what our own government especially want you to believe. Then again this is Enda Kenny’s crew, Enda Kenny’s media, the same Enda who went to Europe and told them that we – his own people – all partied and so brought our own misfortune down on our own heads.
MYTHS AND HISSES…
Yes there are lazy Greeks; yes there are Greeks who avoid paying their taxes; yes there are Greeks who retire in their 50s. But take the word ‘Greeks’ there and substitute any nationality on the planet, and those statements would still be true. The bigger question is, can the entire population then be painted in that light? Well yes, if this suits your agenda, and that’s what has happened here, that’s what happened when Enda painted the Irish – all of us – as a people who partied. It’s the agenda that says people need to be broken, that social welfare gains of decades need to be reversed, that the protections of the needy from the greedy built up over those same decades need to be removed. In short, it’s the agenda of the austerity hawks
THE KNOWN KNOWNS
Leave Greece aside for the moment and ask yourself a few very pertinent questions to which we know the answer:
The vast majority of home-owners now in negative equity, those for whom their house is also their home, were they being reckless and foolhardy when they bought their homes for sums way beyond what they had ever dreamed of paying, or were they just following the blanket advice being given right across our media as the property bubble was being inflated?
Those who invested in second homes for rental, whether here or abroad, were they being reckless and foolhardy or were THEY simply following the same blanket advice that was telling them, invest now, this is NOT a bubble, this WILL last, this is the best use of your investment cash to guarantee you a decent pension?
THE PARTY OF THE SECOND PART
It’s true to say that there was a real feelgood factor in Ireland through the mid 2000s, true to say also, dammit, that this was long overdue in this country, where for far too long we continued touching the forelock to our ‘betters’ from abroad. A lot of people went overboard, lost the run of themselves? Yes, no question about it, and in a situation where there was more money floating around than most of us were ever used to handling, even this is understandable.
But did we all party? Did those who DID party cause the worldwide collapse of the financial system, of the markets and of the banks? No they did not – the financial system did that all on its own, THEY were the ones whose greed has the world where it is now, still on the brink.
GREEK TRUTH, SAME AS HOME TRUTH
You want to point the accusing finger at Greece and the Greeks? You want to ignore the fact that the bailout there – as here in Ireland – was actually of banks across Europe (in Germany and France especially), with only 11% of the total funds going to the Greek economy? Fine, join those here who are still engaged in the ‘mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa’ self-flagellation exercise. But you’re flat wrong.