The Golden Dawn
There is a right wing nationalistic party in Greece called the Golden Dawn. In the last election, it garnered about 6% of the votes. This compares to 2% in previous support. In spite of significant outrageous conduct by The Golden Dawn, support continues to increase rapidly for this party. Some say it is now about 10% and growing.
The Far Right
The Golden Dawn is nationalistic to the extreme. It actually attacks immigrants and foreign workers in the streets. It claims that foreign workers are taking jobs from Greek citizens. Its members have slapped and hurled water at rival politicians, threatened to throw immigrants and their children out of hospitals, been accused of violent assaults on foreign workers in Athens, and arrested for attacking people. This is Greece's ultra-right party - which preaches ridding the country of illegal immigrants, promotes books on Aryan supremacy and has denied the Holocaust.
The Golden Dawn also tries to help native Greeks. It attacks foreign competitor's stores that are near to and compete with Greek stores, it dispenses food and benefits only to Greeks, and actively works to clean up crime-ridden neighborhoods (ie immigrant problems). When Greek citizens have an issue with immigrants or foreigners, generally the government is passive, but a telephone call to The Golden Dawn brings a quick violent response against the non-Greeks.
Gathering Funding From Abroad
Recently the party opened an office in Montreal to appeal to Greeks in Canada to contribute for the support of those living in Greece. It says openly that none of the contributions will be spent on anyone except for native Greeks.
The Strong References to the National Socialist German Workers' Party, (the Nazi Party)
The Golden Dawn party intentionally models itself after the German party that took over Germany in 1933 and caused WWII. Its symbol resembles the Nazi swastika. Its members frequently give Nazi-style salutes. Party members order journalists to stand to attention. Party members garner publicity by smiling next to an Auschwitz oven.
The Nazi Party - a short reminder
The Nazi Party, starting as a gang of unemployed soldiers in 1919, and become the legal government of Germany by 1933. In fourteen years, a once obscure corporal, Adolf Hitler, became the Chancellor of Germany. Hitler encouraged national pride, militarism, and a commitment to a racially "pure" Germany. Hitler condemned all immigrants, but concentrated on gypsies and Jews. Strict rules were enforced for individuals to prove German identity.
The Nazi party arose because of severe economic hardship in Germany and the feeling that the victorious allies imposed extreme hardships on Germany after WWI. Sounds a lot like the situation in Greece now, which is giving rise to a similar far right nationalistic and extreme party - The Golden Dawn.
The Greek government for many years spent far more than it obtained in revenues and the shortfall between ever greater spending and diminishing revenue was exacerbated severely by the 2008 world economic meltdown. Tax evasion in Greece is a national pastime, as is retirement on early pensions and bloated government payrolls.
The result is that Greece cannot pay its bills, or meet its commitments, resulting in Greece demanding ever greater sums from its European partners in loans, funding, bonds and other financing's to stave off a massive default that would imperil the existence of the EU itself. The response of its European partners is to provide the funding but insist on extreme austerity in Greece to reduce spending to a manageable level.
The effect is a massive rise in Greek unemployment, a dramatic loss in purchasing power for citizens, a dangerous reduction if economic activity, and hardship widespread throughout the country. Unemployment among the young is said to exceed 50%.
Combine the financial disaster with relatively high immigration, particularly Muslim immigration, and the fear and insecurity engendered by the economic crisis, and you have growing support for The Golden Dawn.
The Golden Dawn opposes the international bailout deal for Greece, and proposes mining Greece's borders to stop illegal immigration.
Can Democracy Work?
Politicians in Greece, as in other countries with democracies, love to spend money to please their constituents. It gets them re-elected and meets the demands of the people. So the politicians keep spending, and let someone else in the future look after paying the bills. That is what got Greece into this mess. Dictators and ruling dynasties do not have this problem. They only spend what they like, although usually it is to enrich themselves rather than the people.
This reminds me of the rhetoric we hear in the USA Presidential race. Get rid of rules and regulations and the world will be a better place, goes the party line. What utter nonsense.
The Rule to Save Democracy
I strongly believe that democracy is the only political system that works for the people in most circumstances. But we need to save democracy and it seems that the only way to do it, is to bring in a rule everywhere, that spending cannot exceed revenue. Now I know this is too simple, and I know that governments have to go into deficit in lean years, but they should have to pay off the deficit in good years. I will not bore the reader with the details, but a variation of this rule is essential to save society from normal human actions, that almost anyone would take if they were trying to get elected.
This rule could be universally known as The Rule To Save Democracy.
The Foolishness That is Driving Greece to the Brink
The way to correct the problem, is not to inflict massive pain on the people. The simply creates another stupidity even worse than the stupidity that got us into this mess. Severely reducing spending means the rise of nationalistic and hard line parties in every democracy. We are threatening the existence of the current world order and endangering the very fabric of our society.
Moderation Will Solve the Problem
Consider how Canada solved a similar problem. It did not pay down its debt. It simply stopped increasing the debt. Over time the combination of moderate inflation, and an increasing GNP (a bit each year) made the deficit insignificant. Living standards in Canada were not affected and political and economic stability continued unabated.
Consider the comments of Milton Friedman, the noted economist, who addressed this problem head on. His says that governments must spend more in difficult years and spend less in prosperous years. When the economy is sputtering and private enterprise is lagging, government should add liquidity. Cutting spending dramatically in this difficult economic environment is attacking one's citizens to attempt to solve government's folly in ridiculous and extreme overspending in the good years.
Attacking the average voter, that government previously catered to, is not the answer.
What Has to be Done
Spending everywhere must be curtailed to current levels or a bit less. Dramatic cuts, whether in the USA or in Greece, are simply stupid. Hold the line and stop hurting our citizens, because the effect of all of this cutting in these difficult times, will be hardship everywhere, and the results might be much more harmful than the debt itself.
Bottom Line - Governments were careless and reckless with our money in the good years. They cannot now hurt their citizens to make up for their own folly.
The views expressed in this blog are opinions only and are not investment advice. Persons investing should seek the advice of a licensed professional to guide them and should not rely on the opinions expressed herein. This blog is not a solicitation for investment and we do not accept unsolicited investment funds.