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The class war in Greece

by talos Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:35:35 AM EST

Instead of an analysis of what kind of "austerity measures" and in whose favor, the troika and its vassals in the Greek government have been preparing, I'll just show you a table of taxes before and after the new tax system, a part of the latest austerity package, is implemented, by income category. This is income tax only, it does not include social security taxes... The really fun part is at the bottom of the table [from Capital.gr]

A fair tax system

Promoted by DoDo

This comes on top of a new tax system for freelancers / professionals, which imposes a flat tax (somewhere at the 25-35% range as government sources are leaking) from the first Euro earned, on all such non-wage earners, on top of a 500 Euro per annum fee. Now it is true that a mass of tax-evaders are in such "liberal professions" as they are called here (doctors, lawyers, engineers, but also designers, translators etc), included though in this category are precarious and part-time workers, young people with below minimum wage employment, second jobs etc. The number of the underpaid young (and not only) professionals that are in this category is perhaps over 250.000. So these people will be asked to give up some obscene percentage of their income in taxes (include another 500 - 5000 Euro on social security tax, depending on seniority - again not depending income) which means that ~300.000 professionals will have zero or negative income this year after taxes. On the other hand if you are making over 100k per year, you have just moved the part over 100k to the 25-35% rate from a 45% income bracket, and everything between 60k and 100k from a 40% income bracket .Bizarrely this is sold as "taxing the tax-evading professionals", because the government has stopped even trying to make some sort of mathematical sense and hopes that soundbites substitute for arithmetic for enough people....

A cash injection to sustain corruption

This new series of destructive measures estimated to add up upwards of 14 billion Euros (that's like 7% of GDP and rising) would be enough to kill the economy if it weren't dead already. That this is demanded by the troika despite the fact that unemployment is climbing toward 30%, about a million and a half Greeks are living in households with no income at all, and that, if things go as planned, by the end of next year we will be well beyond a Great Depression scale slump, at a projected cumulative GDP decline of 30% over 5 years, does not seem to bother anyone that "matters". The new coalition government, elected on a platform of renegotiating the terms of the memorandum or at least lightening up the burden of austerity, is sending its electoral program to the dust-bin, proceeding with measures such as a reduction of farmers' pensions (from 330 Euros to 300 euros per month). Greek society is near unanimous in condemning this policy as unfair, but Samaras is adamant that he will honor none of his pre-election pledges and has been running around Europe playing the role of the good and obedient yes-man.

What's at stake is the loan instalment of 40 billion euros that will be used among other things to recapitalize already bankrupt and bailed-out private banks. This recapitalization was supposed to have occurred in the first half of 2012, following the successful completion of the PSI deal, yet the troika has unilaterally and against all signed agreements, held the loan back... Preparations are being made: the publicly owned banks, although arguably in better shape than the private ones, were exempt from the PSI recapitalization deal, (as were the pension funds with truly murderous consequences) are being given away to bankrupt private banks, surviving only due to loans shouldered by the Greek taxpayer. ATE, owner of mortgages of half the farming land in the country was given away for free to Piraeus Bank recently, but only the healthy parts: the bad parts will still be shouldered by the taxpayers. Piraeus Bank incidentally, apart from being the recipient of successive bailout funds, was involved in a scandal recently, something exceptional, only because banks are almost fully protected from media scrutiny in Greece... Since the Greek banking system is the at the heart of clientelism and cronyism and since there are media magnates and other oligarchs in dire need of a liquidity transfusion, the whole corrupt banker - oligarch - political complex, is in urgent need of this loan. Public contractors and state suppliers will acquire liquidity, political parties in the verge of bankruptcy (ND and PASOK, especially PASOK) might avoid it, and the clientelist system can be set in motion again, albeit at a much lower rate of return for the troikan parties' bought voters.

10 billion euros laundered

Meanwhile, one of the few remaining relatively independent, if right-leaning newspapers in Greece published an amazing story, that if confirmed might offer a view of the scale of plunder that the country has been subjected to by the elites. Real News published last Sunday details of an investigation on money laundering involving over 10 billion Euros, the current Speaker of parliament, Vangelis Meimarakis, and at least two more conservative former ministers:

...Meimarakis is one of more than 30 politicians and public figures who have come under the microscope following a probe by the Financial Crimes Squad (SDOE) into corruption in public life.
Prosecutor Popi Papandreou, who has taken over the probe from SDOE, is expected to focus on claims against Meimarakis, former Transport Minister Michalis Liapis and former Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis.

All three were implicated in a multi-billion-euro money-laundering network in a Real News report last Sunday. Before summoning the three politicians,
Papandreou is expected to call two contractors -- Iosif Livanos and  Giorgos Zografakis -- who allegedly accused the three ex-ministers of involvement in money laundering with rival contractor Yiannis Carouzos

This investigation was under wraps and going nowhere for at least a year and a half. The Speaker of the House maintains his innocence and has definitely lost his cool, although this sort of macho - hoodlum behavior is par for the course in today's New Democracy...

This is BTW why the Greek elites and their media are in complete terror that a party like SYRIZA, with no ties to this pyramid of corruption, might eventually win an election. In point of fact SYRIZA's immediate economic program is not much to the left of Paul Krugman. What is destabilizing however is the threat of local elites losing control of the web of graft that they cling on to. That EU elites chose to support the parties that nurtured this system, is probably telling as to where their interests lie...

Postscript: Athens. Social Meltdown

Finally: this is a very good brief recap of Greece's turmoil and destruction these past two years, as seen from the ground:

An unedited version of this diary was posted at Histologion...

In addition to class war within Greece (though it's unclear to me Samaras belongs to the comprador class or that there is a class at all that will benefit form this in Greece), this is a third Great European War by economic means.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 30th, 2012 at 05:56:34 PM EST
There is certainly a class that sincerely believes that it will benefit from this (at least in a relative sense). I know this because it owns the local media and it lets it be shown...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Sep 30th, 2012 at 06:34:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a class that sincerely believes that it will benefit from this (at least in a relative sense)

Yeah, some people are happy for it all to turn to shit as long as they end up sitting on top of the dung pile.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 30th, 2012 at 08:01:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We need to establish more clearly "cui bono" outside of Greece... if it's a war, we know who is doing the shooting (Troika) - but who is getting the benefit?
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Pressed "Post" too early.

and then we need to show how they are getting the benefit...

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:44:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As I always ask, what about the electorate? Any voter remorse? If yes, what is the dominant choice: sustaining the system by not intending to vote, turning to SYRIZA, or turning to the Nazis?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 05:43:15 AM EST
The media are doing their best to turn disaffected voters towards the Nazis (The Nazis in many instances on economic issues vote with SYRIZA BTW. Except when it comes to giving away banks to bankesters and protecting the very rich...) There are very, very few major national media that even give SYRIZA a non-distorted level-playing field

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 06:18:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... or turning to the Nazis?

Am I the only one who thinks this sounds weird? Sure, those guys always know what they're doing. What could go wrong?

Humans are incapable of solving the problems they create.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Oct 2nd, 2012 at 08:50:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a side issue, I really think we should tar and feather all those commentators who claimed that "The Shock Doctrine" had nothing to say about the way neoliberal policies are force-implemented at times of stress...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 08:43:17 AM EST
The abolition of the tax reduction for having children is an interesting declaration of intent. I imagine birth rates are already down over the past few years? This will help to institutionalise disastrous demographic decline.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 09:01:17 AM EST
Yes and they have already withdrawn all benefits from >3 children families. Just before the crisis the fertility  rate was slowly inching back up (from a low ~1.2 to ~1,5). I have no data for after 2009, but I imagine that this is no longer the case...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Oct 1st, 2012 at 09:26:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By way of exiledonline.com

Monday: Athens: Protesters Boo and "Fire" Vulgar Insults at the Troika (video) - Keep Talking Greece

Members of Independent Greeks party prepared a hot welcome with boos and vulgar insults to members of the Troika on Monday in Athens. The technical team of the country'es lenders from IMF, EU and ECB had an appointment with Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras.

But they protesters had gathered much earlier outside the ministry.

"There! There!", "Here they come!" the protesters shouted when the car with the Troikans arrived at the Ministry. As they could not enter the building with the car, they got out and started to walk close to the wall in order to secure a safety distance to the angry crowd.

"Go F**", Motherf*", "Assh**" were some of the "French" the protesters shouted at the men in black who looked rather confused. As they couldn't not understand what the people holding Greek flags were shouting  and they had wore a rather silly smile on their face.


Tuesday: Athens: IMF's Thomsen Enters a... Gym To Avoid Disabled Protesters - Keep Talking Greece

If you think the Troika representatives can bypass 50 disable protesters and enter unharmed the Labour Ministry in Athens , you're wrong. The panic and confusion is so big that the Troikans can land into some private gym instead...

Alos Tuesday: Athens: Troika Team Chased & Harassed by Municipality Workers - Keep Talking Greece

Earlier on Tuesday, municipality workers chased members of a Troika technical team as they were trying to meet with Greek majors from the Central Union of Municipalities (KEDE). However the municipality workers union tried to hinder the meeting.

They blocked the KEDE entrance with overturned garbage bins. When the team arrived, the workers started to chase them, to throw water bottles at them and use the usual ...French.
Proto Thema speaks even of "kicks" and "hurled coffees".

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Wed Oct 3rd, 2012 at 08:00:07 AM EST
Is there a version of that table in, eh, tabular form anywhere? I.e. not a graphic but an html table/spreadsheet/csv file/whatever?

I feel it could use a little visualisation.

by TYR (a.harrowellNOSPAM@gmail.com) on Mon Oct 8th, 2012 at 10:01:04 AM EST
You might want to email the journalist of the article talos linked and qouted the table from at spiros.dimitrelis@capital.gr

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Oct 8th, 2012 at 10:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the html table is at the bottom of the original source. Labels are in Greek but you can use my translation

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Oct 8th, 2012 at 02:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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