The Monastiraki Kitchen wanted to present the best Christmas dinner ever (until next Christmas) for our clients. The Big Feast. A meal for Kings and Queens. Partly because of our Automatic Earth readers’ donations, I think we got quite a ways there. Even if the dinner happened yesterday, December 31, instead of Christmas.
The Automatic Earth readers were responsible for buying €450 worth of steaks, meaning a good sized steak for 450 people (sometimes we make good deals). And we also bought tons of cookies, and charcoal, etc. Ask Filothei, she knows the details. I decided I’ll let the photos tell the story this time, not me. Here we go:
Apart from the usual food, and this time the steaks, Christmas at Monastiraki is always a time for gift bags. Hundreds of them. They contain lots of sweets, but also soaps, shampoo, warm socks and gloves etc. Very popular. We are so grateful to all those who contribute.
Really, lots of gift bags.
A crazy amount of sweets. Carloads.
And the steaks. Ever tried to prepare 450 of them?
It’s a lot.
Did I mention there were sweets? The bakers who donate these are saints. We are dealing with homeless people, for whom steaks and cakes and good chocolate are dreams. Well, Christmas is the time to make dreams come true.
And all this is dragged to the square by the crew.
Who then do the last preparations.
Yeah, Monastiraki Square is a bit magical at times.
And it’s also busy…
Before the food arrives. Gift bags! We have gift bags!
The girl crew.
Did I mention we have sweets?
Thank you all soo much for making this possible. It counts. It makes a real difference. It’s a community effort. Even if you’re in Tennessee, you are part of that community.
I’ll end with the usual play:
Most of you will know the drill of this by now: any Paypal donations ending in $0.99 or $0.37 go straight to the Monastiraki kitchen, while other donations go to the Automatic Earth -which also badly needs them. (Note: a lot of Automatic Earth donations also end up at the kitchen).
I dislike few things more than asking people for money, even though the Automatic Earth now runs primarily on donations, and there’s some sweet justice in that as well, in depending on people’s appreciation of what we do, instead of ad revenues.
But I cannot do this on my own right now. The Monastiraki kitchen will realistically need about €1,500 per month (not all from my readers). I don’t have that to spare. So I’m calling on you. Unashamedly, because I know there is no reason to be ashamed of the cause.
I love all you people, and I’m sorry I can’t thank you all individually who have supported -and still do- the Monastiraki kitchen and the Automatic Earth all this time, and I ask you to keep on doing just that. The details for donations on Paypal and Patreon, for both causes, are in the top of the two sidebars of this site. Could not be much easier. If you’d rather send a check, go to our Store and Donations page. Bitcoin: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.
Love you. Thank you. This kitchen would not exist without you, these people would not get fed.
The political and media coverup of the genocide of the Greek Nation began yesterday (August 20) with European Union and other political statements announcing that the Greek Crisis is over. What they mean is that Greece is over, dead, and done with. It has been exploited to the limit, and the carcas has been thrown to the dogs.
350,000 Greeks, mainly the young and professionals, have fled dead Greece. The birth rate is far below the rate necessary to sustain the remaining population. The austerity imposed on the Greek people by the EU, the IMF, and the Greek government has resulted in the contraction of the Greek economy by 25%. The decline is the equivalent of America’s Great Depression, but in Greece the effects were worst. President Franklin D. Roosevelt softened the impact of massive unemployment with the Social Security Act other elements of a social safety net such as deposit insurance, and public works programs, whereas the Greek government following the orders from the IMF and EU worsened the impact of massive unemployment by stripping away the social safety net.
Traditionally, when a sovereign country, whether by corruption, mismanagement, bad luck, or unexpected events, found itself unable to repay its debts, the country’s creditors wrote down the debts to the level that the indebted country could service.
With Greece there was a game change. The European Central Bank, led by Jean-Claude Trichet, and the International Monetary Fund ruled that Greece had to pay the full amount of interest and principal on its government bonds held by German, Dutch, French, and Italian banks.
How was this to be achieved?
In two ways, both of which greatly worsened the crisis, leaving Greece today in a far worst position that it was in at the beginning of the crisis almost a decade ago.
The IMF’s European research staff staff was quite correct in stating some years ago that Greece’s debt was unpayable. The staff was so upset that the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, made the bailout loan anyway that they resigned and became whistle-blowers. I describe this whole incident in detail in Killing the Host.
Strauss-Kahn wanted to be president of France, and therefore had to press to bail out French banks, which were the major holders of Greek bonds. Also, US President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner also told Angela Merkel that US banks had made big bets – derivative gambles – that Greece would pay its bondholders, and threatened to hurt European banks if they did not pressure the IMF to bail out Greece. Basically, the IMF is an agency of the U.S. State Dept. and Pentagon.
There is a basic moral principle at work: If debts cannot be paid without radically transferring property from debtors to creditors, the loan should be deemed “bad” and be written down to the ability to be paid while living a normal life.
That is why German reparations and Inter-Ally debts were written down after World War I. Greece’s foreign debt is what is known as an “odious debt,” taken on by fraud to finance capital flight by Greece’s One Percent.
The current bailout program is set to end in August of 2018. Is debt relief the only way to avoid another bailout? What other factors could help Greece to stand on its feet?
There is another way. Greece can sell off its entire public domain. It can stop pensions and pubic spending. But if it pays, the result will be continuing depopulation, emigration, shorter lifespans, worse health. And by selling public infrastructure, Greece is imposing future balance-of-payments outflows to the new buyers. This is what the IMF calls Equilibrium.
I am John Smith, a lawyer from WAKDJUHLK. This is the first time I write to you and I swear to Beelzebub not to do it again. I do not wish to discuss economics, numbers and graphs; I lack the preparation. I just want to share what happened to me last night in a pizzeria.
I am at a table with friends of my girl friend, whom I do not know well. A fellow sitting next to me tells me that he lives in Athens and works for the European Commission. His working group is helping the Greek government apply the agenda of the Troika (don’t worry prof, I am not going to recount the economic “reasons” that I had to hear, you know them better than I).
I was dismayed to learn that the operation is much more sophisticated and ideologically complex than the political-economic version. By the way, I have bonds with Greece and consider it my second home. I know it quite well, and whenever I can, I return to see various friends. At home I grew up on epos and Hellenism and I did classical studies.
To return to my story: the substance of what I heard was that the Greeks do not have the right to complain. To the contrary, they should thank the west (a concept I hate, but that I report) for its very existence. Greece, the Greek nation, is in fact a geopolitical invention, artfully created in 1800 by France and England to favour implosion of the Ottoman empire. “Greece was the Israel of the 19th century” [cit.]. My zealous neighbour did not say that France and England were content just to sustain the Greek revolts against the Turks, but claimed that the Greek people do not exist. The Greeks are only Orthodox Turks! Modern Greek was forged ad hoc to give them a sense of community. Greece was created as a buffer state to arrest Muslim expansion. A military outpost full of people who just happened to have the same religion: “exactly like the state of Israel” (addendum: for brevity and coherence I shall not go into what the state of Israel is or is not).
I tried to bring my stubborn dining companion back to earth, starting with linear B of the Mycenaean period, the Persian wars, Hellenism and the Byzantine empire, down to the war between Greece and Turkey and the mass deportations of Greeks from Anatolia in the early 1900s. To no effect.
Note: I feel kind of sorry this has become such a long essay. But I still left out so much. You know by now I care a lot about Greece, and it’s high time for another look, and another update, and another chance for people to understand what is happening to the country, and why. To understand that hardly any of it is because the Greeks had so much debt and all of that narrative.
The truth is, Greece was set up to be a patsy for the failure of Europe’s financial system, and is now being groomed simultaneously as a tourist attraction to benefit foreign investors who buy Greek assets for pennies on the dollar, and as an internment camp for refugees and migrants that Europe’s ‘leaders’ view as a threat to their political careers more than anything else.
I would almost say: here we go again, but in reality we never stopped going. It’s just that Greece’s 15 minutes of fame may be long gone, but its ordeal is far from over. If you read through this, you will understand why that is. The EU is deliberately, and without any economic justification, destroying one of its own member states, destroying its entire economy.
A short article in Greek paper Kathimerini last week detailed the latest new cuts in pensions the Troika has imposed on Greece, and it’s now getting beyond absurd. For an economy to function, you need people spending money. That is what keeps jobs alive, jobs which pay people the money they need to spend on their basic necessities. If you don’t do at least that, there’ll be ever fewer jobs, and/or ever less money to spend. It’s a vicious cycle.
We may assume the Troika is well aware of this, and that would mean they are intentionally killing off the Greek economy. Something I’ve said a thousand times before. Still, both the Greek Tsipras government and exterior voices continue to claim the economy is recovering. Even if that is mathematically impossible. There undoubtedly are sectors of the economy being boosted, but they are only the ones the Troika members are interested in.
The economy’s foundation, the ‘normal’ people, who work jobs if they’re lucky, are not recovering or being boosted. Quite the contrary. Half of young people are unemployed and receive no money at all. Most of those who do have jobs receive less than €500 for a full month of work. Mind you, this is while the cost of living is as high as it is in Germany or Holland, where people would protest vehemently if even their unemployment benefits were cut that low. Unemployment benefits hardly exist at all in Greece.
This situation, as also mentioned often before, means that entire families must live off the pension a grandmother or grandfather gets. As of next year, such a pension will be cut to net €480. Of which most will go to rent. And the cuts are not finished. There are plenty neighborhoods in Athens where there are more boarded-up shops then there are open ones. It is fiscal waterboarding, it is strangulation of an entire society, and there is no valid economic reason for it, nor is there a justification.
If Greece had access to international debt markets, if would perhaps pay a higher interest rate, but investors would buy its bonds. The Troika denies Greece that access. Likewise, if the ECB had not excluded the country from its QE bond-buying programs, the country would be nowhere near its present disastrous predicament. The ECB’s decision not to buy Greek bonds can only be a political one, it’s not economic. There is something else going on.
The cliche of opulence and laziness disguises real Greek misfortune at the hands of the European community – and America – resulting in one of the most offensive punchlines of all time: Somehow Greece deserves the economic disaster wrought upon it, a severity not seen since The Great Depression.
In reality, the country’s long financial crisis is one big deliberate illusion created by some of the world’s largest banks and multinational conglomerates that have sidelined governments and made the rule of law and the will of the people all but irrelevant.
It has prioritised multinational profits over the economic needs of Eurozone countries, and even those outside of the union. With no sovereign currency with which to balance the score, Greece has become utterly subject to France, Germany, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank, (ECB).
The money from the three bailouts did not go to Greece at all and did not restore prosperity – it was never designed to in the first place – but flowed straight back into the coffers of French and German banks whose bad decisions over the last half century became the burden of the Greek people.