Austerity Measures, Can They Be Justified?

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In the aftermath of the 2008 banking crisis that incurred a massive economic destabilization on a global level, the neoliberal concept of ‘austerity measures’ have now reached the western hemisphere, with Greece and Spain as its more notable victims. In particular, the Greece bailout, which is allegedly a saving package, has imposed a myriad of conditions and restrictive measures on the Greece economy. The purpose of these structural restrictions is apparently to empower and stabilize the Greece economy, however, the opposite has happened, as has been documented in several high profile investigations.

The concept of austerity measures ranges back to the 17th century, and have more recently been adopted by the neoliberal economic doctrine as a way of dumping market failures on the state and indirectly, on the public. That austerity measures has the capacity of causing detrimental effects for the general public has been proven in Greece, and there is a history of failures with the so-called Structural Adjustment Programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund as part of their lending to developing countries, due to the conditions of austerity that these loans impose on the debtor.

Several independent sources indicate that austerity measures, such as cuts in public spending in the health, education, and other mechanisms of social security, creates human suffering on a widespread scale. With Greece, we have been given the opportunity to closely observe the social catastrophe that is created by austerity. The Truth Committee has noted that, unemployment has gone from 7.3% in 2008 to 27.9% in 2013. Youth unemployment reached a staggering 64.9% in may 2013. Due to cuts in public health expenditure more than 2.5 million persons, or one fourth of the total population of Greece, are without health insurance. Furthermore diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and HIV have increased, and mental health problems have ballooned. Pensions have been reduced by 40 %, which have caused 45 % of Greece pensioners to fall below the poverty line. 500,000 people lives in conditions of homelessness, insecure or inadequate housing. To put it mildly, there is a humanitarian crisis in Greece.

What have been left out from the discussion on austerity measures are human rights, primarily the economic and social rights established by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This convention is binding on the contracting states – and Greece together with the Eurozone countries has all ratified the convention. You would hence think, that in detailing the Memorandum of Understanding between Greece and the Troika, that contains the austerity conditions imposed on Greece, there must have been a discussion on the potential impacts on Human Rights that the austerity measures could create. However, there has not been such a discussion. Instead the EU member states, the EU commission, EU central bank and the International Monetary Fund have displayed a disregard for how the austerity policies would affect the Human Rights of the people of Greece. Court rulings by the highest Greece court that have ruled the pension cuts as unconstitutional and as a breach of Human Rights, have in the 2015 Memorandum of Understanding been referred to as ‘fiscal risks’. Such a use of vocabulary when referring to the Human Rights is nothing short of remarkable.

The United Nations Human Rights Council has adopted the Guiding principles on foreign debt and human rights in July 2012. According to paragraph 56 ‘Debt relief efforts must not compromise the provision of basic services. In particular, debt relief conditions that may adversely impact the realization of human rights or undermine development in the beneficiary State must be avoided’. The UN General assembly has in September 2015 adopted a resolution (A/69/L.84), which defines nine principles on how a debt restructuring process should be directed. Among these principles is the principle of sustainability, which implies that sovereign debt restructuring should lead to a stable debt situation in the debtor state, preserving creditors’ rights while promoting economic growth and sustainable development, reducing economic and social costs, ensuring the stability of the international financial system and respecting human rights.

Not surprisingly, these principles were adopted by vote and not by consensus, with the developed countries claiming that Human Rights should not be a consideration when it comes to debt and debt relief. However this position cannot be accepted as legitimate. Obviously Human Rights is and must be an important part of economical decisions, because the very foundation of economics is Human Beings. The consequence of separating economics from Human Rights is such perversities as slavery. Possibly, this is what the new era of austerity and debt has become, a more refined form of slavery, which is free from the moral constraints of its predecessors, because it is now justified with the slick vocabulary of neoliberalism and market economy. Though, when scrutinized, austerity measures are a soulless machine working for an anonymous creditor, fueled with the accepted belief that this is the way things must be. The debt must allegedly be paid back at all costs… because… well because, the market wants it that way.

To create a heaven on earth, it is clear that all forms of commercial agreements, debt contracts accounted for, must be able to be declared null and void if they happen to breach Human Rights. This is how it should have always been, and we must ask ourselves, why this has not yet happened. The United Nations has been around for 60 years, yet still, flagrant violations of Human Rights are allowed with reference to commercial agreements. What is missing; motivation, drive, integrity or compassion? And how come we accept and allow the life of countless human beings to be reduced to numbers on a balance sheet?

Clearly, there is a rift between the reality of our world, and the principles conceptualized in our Human Rights instruments. The process of making these principles a living reality will without a doubt be a challenging venture, yet it will be through the respect for Humans on a global level, that we will be able to create a world that truly worth living in. And let us not forget that there are solutions to these problems. Even though the massive bureaucracy that is involved can make us as individuals feel as if we are small ants facing the enormous Goliath, the system is comprised of individual human beings, like you and me. By standing up, one by one, and supporting a new direction in politics and economics, we will have an impact. In democracy we each have one vote, and that is how we will be able to shift direction, through coming together and unanimously voting for a new world that is best for all.

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Where Does Money Come From?

28goodman.xlarge1We tend to take the things most visible and obvious for granted and one of these things that very few people do understand properly yet that they are still in contact with on a daily basis is money. We all need money, we all work for money, and we are all dependent on money for our survival – but what is money? Where does money come from?

Most probably know that the printing rights to money in a country tends to be allocated with a bank that is called a Central bank. This bank has the permission to print money and spread it into the economy of the country. And this is really a fascinating aspect of how money works, it is really just paper that has some numbers printed unto it and there is no actual backing behind the money. There is for example no gold backing up the money – it is just paper with numbers dictating its value. This form of banking system is called a fiat banking system.

Thus these papers we call money do not get their value as a predetermined and absolute value. Instead money gets their value from those who use money in their everyday life in order to buy commodities and services. How we – the users of money – value money will become the value of money. As such the value of money is never stable but goes up and down depending upon how much money as been printed in comparison with the amount of commodities and services in circulation in society as well as the current demand for commodities and services.

This is then the absolutely fascinating aspect of money of which not many are aware. Money is created from NOTHING – literally – and then it is sent out in society and it is given a value – and most often it reaches the population in the form of DEBT. Because here is yet another fascinating aspect of money creation – there is an interest on all money that is printed, which means that there will continuously be less money in circulation than what there is debt that must be settled. This in turn leads to a debt spiral, where more debt must be acquired to be able to pay the old debts.

The conclusion is thus that we are indebting ourselves to receive money to have no intrinsic value in themselves – we are thus indebting ourselves to a life of servitude not realizing that the money printed and spread in the form of debt is not an actual and real measure of value – it is a artificial value that is created through make belief – a make belief that we make a reality because we believe in it and act according to it as if it is a reality.

The question we should ask ourselves is why we should require paying an interest on the money that is in circulation in our countries? Should not money be a property of the people? Should not we all have the possibility to be able to acquire food, education and housing without indebting ourselves?

The answer is obvious, because we all want to live without debt. This is why we require educating ourselves on the process of how money is created and in this understand that we as the people of each and every country are able to nationalize the banks and as such take control over our own money supply.

As I said in the beginning – money is created from nothing. It is merely papers with numbers printed unto it and nothing more. Why is that we then continue to hold unto to the belief that money is a scarce resource and something that cannot be owned in plenty by all?

In nationalizing the process of money creation we will be able to issue money and bring it into circulation and in this support new investments, and we would be able to end the credit crunch currently holding the world in a tight grip, simply because the money issued would not be in the form of credit, but in the form of REAL money with no interest attached to its back.

I thus suggest we nationalize our banks and make the process or printing and issuing money something that benefits the wellbeing of all instead of as it exists today – a seemingly endless debt spiral where more and more people forfeit and have their lives ruined.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed – our political proposal involves the nationalization of the banks.

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