by Stephen Lendman
When politicians conspire with bankers, ordinary people suffer most. Cypriot crisis conditions continue. One bad plan follows others.
The latest is unprecedented. Cypriot and Eurocrat officials are close to agreement. At issue is levying a one-time 20% tax on Bank of Cyprus deposits over 100,000 euros. Similar amounts in other banks will be assessed 4%.
Cyprus has to raise 5.8 billion euros by Monday. Otherwise emergency ECB funding will end. Eurocrats require it for a 10 billion euro bailout.
On Sunday, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades will meet Eurocrats in Brussels. They have final say.
Cypriot legislators enacted nine related laws. They include non-cash transaction restrictions, freezing check cashing, limiting withdrawals, and converting checking accounts into fixed-term deposits.
Eurocrats demand more. They want their pound of flesh. Eurozone finance ministers scheduled an emergency Sunday evening Brussels meeting. IMF and ECB officials will join them.
Anastasiades will present his latest proposal. They have to agree. Cypriot parliament approval must follow. Events are fast moving. They bode ill for ordinary Cypriots.
Demonstrators protested outside the presidential palace. "Resign! Resign! they shouted. They fear lost jobs and hard times. Force-fed austerity assures it.
Cypriots face a Greek tragedy. Economist Yanis Varoufakis explained. Social conditions are appalling. Austerity "led to a depressed economy and a depressed population."
No "silver linings" exist. "Even profitable companies go under." Greek bank guarantees aren't accepted abroad.
Manufacturers can't import raw materials on credit. Their ability to produce is compromised. They can't supply customers.
Failed banks, private sector retrenchment, "savage" public sector cutbacks, and "ridiculous new taxes" produced a "Winter of Discontent." It persists with no end.
It's having a "massive social impact." Poor and elderly people raid rubbish bins for food. Families can't pay rent, phone and utility bills.
Life in Athens is "heart wrenching." It's a "black hole" of despair. It's "sinking with incredible speed." What's ongoing "leaves no room for hope."
Athenians express "indignity, rage, resignation, determination, depression, exemplary solidarity, menacing misanthropy, racism, selflessness, and pain."
They discuss Greece's predicament everywhere. Sick people can't afford medicines. Hospitals and social insurance funds can't pay bills. Greece's healthcare system faces collapse.
"Pension and health funds (ran) out of money long ago." Venders demand payment in cash. Unemployment is appalling. So is growing poverty.
Greece faces a humanitarian crisis. Deprivation is extreme. It's "proliferating fast and catch(ing) up with the hitherto middle class."
Homeless families are commonplace. They've "fallen through society's cracks, perhaps irreversibly."
Athens faces potential social breakdown. Its social fabric is seriously damaged. It can get worse.
Families stick together best they can. Civility hasn't disappeared. People find innovative ways to cope. It's not easy. Options may run out. Help is nowhere in sight. Things go from bad to worse.
If they persist like now, "social breakdown is on the cards."
"The tragedy is that this crisis is destroying lives and generations unnecessarily." It shouldn't have happened but did.
Greece 2.0 threatens Cypriots. Eurocrat demands assure it. Varoufakis said Cyprus legislators offered them a way out three years ago. They countered with a "potentially destructive" alternative.
Parliamentarians vote on Monday. It remains to be seen if they'll "succumb to an even less rational deal."
When politicians propose stealing bank deposits, beware. Doing so reflects grand theft. It's unprecedented.
Savings are personal property. Using them for banker bailouts is unconscionable. What Cypriots face could happen anywhere. Spain and New Zealand suggested similar policies.
If Cypriot parliamentarians agree, why not. People will be told to accept a pound of flesh or lose everything. They'll be bullied to go along.
Bank runs, holidays, and contagion may become commonplace. People's savings are at risk. Once Cyprus accepts Eurocrat demands, the genie's out of the bottle. Grand theft can spread anywhere.
Depositor savings were once sacrosanct. No longer. If governments need cash, they're vulnerable. Bailing out bankers matters most. Money power controls things.
Complicit politicians go along. People have no say. One observer said perhaps "banco de Mattress" will benefit. It's a deplorable testimony to today's times.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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