Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Like a Trojan

I mentioned Greece in a previous post, and now the economic crisis there seems to be reaching some sort of denouement (though what this actually means seems to be anyone's guess. As far as I can make out, the French banks are going to make the sovereign debt disappear for 30 years - provided Greece shuts its mouth and takes its medicine). I'm mightily sick, by the way, of the forced references to Greek drama being employed everywhere. Last night really took the souvlaki though, when Jeremy Paxman sat there toing and froing with some twat in Athens and used the word 'catharsis' with a smirk on his smug face. Prior to this, I could scarcely believe my ears when he introduced the piece along the lines of: '... the Greek people are sitting in a rancid swamp of their own making, a result of their fecklessness and irresponsibility...'

I paraphrase, and can't honestly be sure, attending with half an ear as I was, whether he was a) quoting, or b) employing irony, rather than expressing his opinion in a surprisingly un-BBC sort of way, but the rest of the piece was revolting in its kow-towing to the ludicrous party line. The line that the 'austerity measures' are somehow going to fix the ills of the world economy. As if, by forcing people out of work and cutting all benefits, removing any vestiges of a welfare state by slashing spending on education and health, AND forcing those in work to accept less pay for more hours, while working longer into life. Somehow or other, this will turn Greece into a net exporter of goods and get it on its feet again. Clearly, the private sector which will emerge as a result of the dismantling of every single public service will gorge itself on this detritus, becoming bloated like a huge maggot, pumping its ichor into the country's GDP. Or something. In any case, this is such a good plan that every country in Europe is going to follow suit.

Some woman who has been brought in from the World Bank to sell the IMF's torture plan to the Greek people was saying that those opposed to the measures were simply angry (she may even have used the word 'annoyed', which does seem a trifle mild for a description of rampaging anarchists hurling petrol bombs, but there you go) and did not have any alternatives to offer.

In which, I think she may be wrong. It could be that those opposed to the cuts would wish to see a little less of the conspicuous, growing and shameful gulf between rich and poor. They might be keen on having somewhere to live, or a job, or somewhere to send their kids to school or their sick relative for care when taken ill. They could propose doing this by sharing some of the wealth clustered at the top of the tree a little more fairly. Type of thing. But this - needless to say - was hardly touched on by the 'economics journalist' who was reporting (quite light-heartedly, I thought) on the situation in Athens, and interviewing this tough cookie of a Greek politician with exaggerated deference.

I have always thought Paxo more a style man than a substance one (compare and contrast with the excellent Jon Snow, if you would) but I understand that telly people need some sort of gimmick, and actually didn't mind him terribly on University Challenge, but what I saw last night pissed me off I have to say. Not just him, but the crooked knee of the media establishment to the whole terrible lie of current economic models, and the fantasy that it's actually going to make any difference.

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