MICHAEL Fry’s defence of alleged German growth (Michael Fry: Stanford was treated to a side of Sturgeon that’s rarely glimpsed: Nicola, Capitalist, The National, April 11) was based on myth and misconception. Mr Fry was acting like a ventriloquist’s medium, channelling the junk economic theories of Ayn Rand, Von Hayek and Milton Friedman.
He repeats the fable that Germany is the responsible adult and Greece the profligate child. Prudent Germany, the narrative goes, is loath to bail out freeloading Greece, which borrowed more than it could afford and now must suffer the consequences The German economy has not been stimulated by German “efficacy”. By and large, it has been bailed out using the Greek bail-out money while the Greek people have had savage brutal austerity imposed upon them.
Between 1999 and 2007, German and French banks lent to Greece on the condition the money was used to buy manufactured goods from those two countries. When the 2008 crisis occurred, German and French banks were left dangerously exposed through their own recklessness.
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Statistics from the Bank for International Settlements show German banks lent $704 billion to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain before December 2009. Two of Germany’s largest private banks – Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank – loaned $201bn to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole of France loaned $477bn to Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain.
Some 95 per cent of the money disbursed to Greece since the start of the financial crisis as loans from the bail-out mechanism has been directed toward saving the European banks. That means about €210bn was channelled to the eurozone credit sector while just five per cent ended up in state coffers, according to a study by the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin.
The banks don’t want Greece to be able to service its debt, because they intend to use its inability to service the debt in order to loot Greece of its assets and resources and to roll back the social safety net put in place during the 20th century. Neoliberalism intends to re-establish feudalism – a few robber barons and many serfs: the one per cent and the 99 per cent.
The way Germany sees it, the IMF is supposed to lend Greece the money with which to repay the private German banks. Then the IMF is to be repaid by forcing Greece to reduce or abolish old-age pensions, reduce public services and employment, and use the revenues saved to repay the IMF. As these amounts will be insufficient, additional austerity measures will be imposed that require Greece to sell its national assets, such as public water companies and ports and protected Greek islands to foreign investors, principally the banks themselves or their major clients. The neoliberal ideology Mr Fry assiduously worships at the altar of is undemocratic, punishes the poor and allows bankers to loot with impunity.
THE Scottish onshore wind industry faces a steep rise in grid charges from April 2018. Ofgem has approved balancing and settlement code P350 which introduces charging for transmission losses. This is designed to better reflect the cost of electricity lost as it travels from the point of generation to the point of use.
It is only right that the wind industry in Scotland pays far higher charges due to its distance from large markets since, after all, it has been reaping huge subsidies from UK consumers for years.
Certainty needed on who was behind Syria attack
EVERYONE should heed Alex Salmond’s wise words on the situation in Syria and the need for an international investigation into the chemical attack (Tillerson’s ultimatum to Russia: It’s us or them, The National, April 12).
It should be fully understood by all that the truth is of little consequence in all this and the only important driving force is the United States’s determination to get rid of President Assad, who won’t do America’s bidding and who is providing an impediment to US intentions towards Iran.
There has been no significant proof provided to establish that the legitimate and elected Syrian authorities would be so densely stupid as to organise a barbaric attack on their own people as the rest of the world watches.
Nonetheless, those who brought us Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMDs and non-existent dumps of chemical weapons are obviously confident that lots of people will still swallow any account they concoct.
What is difficult to understand is the compliant repetition of the US line across most of our media, though surely by now a huge number of Scots realise how unreliable faith in these outlets is proving to be.
As Alex Salmond wisely suggests – let us establish the irrefutable truth and who was responsible for this act before any precipitate action is taken, a position with which I suspect the rest of Europe (except the UK), which refused to jump to US instructions, would agree.
Dave McEwan Hill
THERE may have been a number of reasons why the G7 meeting of foreign ministers rejected UK proposals to place international sanctions on senior Russian and Syrian military personnel. In the first place there needs to be a thorough investigation of the poison gas attack in Idlib before rushing into action. The UK Government lost face when it appeared it would rather have the US Secretary of State negotiate on its behalf in Moscow than send its own Foreign Secretary.
On Monday it appeared that Boris Johnson maybe had a more important job, to convince the G7 nations that applying sanctions to a handful of officers and officials would be more effective than negotiating with them.
The US position on more sanctions might not have been all that clear as in his previous role as an executive in the oil industry Rex Tillerson was not particularly keen on the Obama government extending the scope of sanctions on Russia.
Perhaps this led the other G7 countries to view the UK proposals as little more than an attempt to regain some status by showing it was not just the US’s junior partner and aimed more at demonstrating that it still plays a major role on the world stage than resolving the dire situation that exists in the Middle East.
It really is not surprising the UK did not find the G7 nations enthusiastic for sanctions, as the existing ones have had little effect.
Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, they are unlikely to have been improved by the appearance of two inexperienced and tactless western politicians in Moscow.
WILLIAM Ross (Letters, April 11) asked us to remember that there was also a “Red Terror” to match the fascist excesses during the Spanish Civil War. Everything I have read on the subject makes clear that the so-called Red Terror did not exist until after the military uprising, and had been nowhere near as extensive or brutal as the Francoist/fascist repression and waging of war on the people.
Franco’s propaganda machine spent years trying to convince the world that the “Reds” had destroyed Durango and Guernica themselves, in spite of irrefutable evidence to the contrary, and the regime was still executing political prisoners well into the 1960s.
Mr Ross also refers to the “Western victory” in WW2. Has he ever considered that that victory might never have been achieved without the sacrifices and military might of the USSR in the east? I too will always appreciate the men who stormed the beaches of Normandy, but I also appreciate the millions of Russians etc who fought and died in the east, eliminating many more Nazis than the western allies put together.
Finally perhaps we should consider that if those same western allies, instead of sitting on their hands, had gone to the aid of the Spanish republic and its legitimate government in 1936, Hitler and Nazism and Mussolini and fascism could have been stopped in their tracks and, you never know, there might have been no WW2 to discuss.