"Demonstrations against austerity measures in Greece claimed their first fatalities on Wednesday with three people reported to have died inside a bank building set ablaze by protesters." That's the framing that you'll be hearing all week as U.S. media cover the first deaths in the conflict between striking Greek workers and a government seeking to impose stiff new taxes and cuts to stave off economic collapse.
But when it comes to who claimed what in terms of fatalities, it's worth remembering what lies in the background of this picture. To begin, the international financial community sees opportunity in Greece's demise and has placed its bets there, which drives up the cost of borrowing if you're Greek. Just as here, Wall Street bets against state and local bonds have raised the cost of running city services.
Like in the U.S., since 1981 Greek wages have been essentially flat, a fundamental problem no one's been solving. Cutting state jobs won't help and already around 20 percent of Greeks live in poverty. Over half a million households pay more than half their income on debt. Even prior to today's insolvency, surveys have shown that a "third world" was being created inside Greece. Now, cue the angry protests.
Now consider what claimed their first fatalities Wednesday... demonstrations by the strapped? Or decades of decision making that wrote off inequality, poverty and debt as just collateral damage. Oh, and Portugal's just been downgraded by Moody's. And oh yes, The European commission's forecasting that the UK budget deficit this year will hit 12% of GDP – the highest in the European Union, even worse than Greece. So when we say long hot European summer, we mean it!
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.