Consent Needed for Debt Repayments

November 1, 2011
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PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Paul Jay in Washington. In Europe, people in many countries are saying no to paying for the crisis and bailing out banks. And to a large extent leading the way have been people in Iceland, who have said no at the ballot box and on the streets. Now joining us to talk about that is Michael Hudson. He teaches economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Thanks for joining us again, Michael.

MICHAEL HUDSON, PROF. ECONOMICS, UMKC: Thank you, Paul.

JAY: So you have colleagues you’re in touch with in Iceland a lot. What’s going on there now?

HUDSON: Well, as many people know, there was a bank failure, and Iceland’s currency plunged and then sort of fell off the pages in the paper. What people don’t realize is that what happened in Iceland has been used as a test case for what’s happening in Greece and what’s happening in Europe, and maybe what happens in the United States. When the three big crooked banks failed, they were sold out to vulture banks, basically, at $0.10 on the dollar. The vulture banks came in and are moving to begin evicting huge amounts of Icelanders from their homes. Ninety percent have their own homes. Three hundred thousand Icelanders have moved to Norway to get work. The country’s been plunged into a depression. Earlier this week, the Social Democratic prime minister gave a speech saying, essentially, we want to give away the country and the banks. They’re backing me. I’ve given the country away to the banks. Now, what do the population do [incompr.] the public opinion polls show that the fascist party there–they call themselves Social Democrats, but they call them fascists–have a 10 percent approval rating. That means a 90 percent disapproval. What they did was get together outside of Parliament with about 20 huge oil drums, and at the point where the prime minister began to speak in Parliament, they all begin banging the huge oil drums and any other noise makers they had in order to make it impossible to hear even the speech, so that any recording of the speech would have this huge din of noise going on. And they did that for the same reason that the people in Occupy Wall Street are gathering. They’re there to say, look, whatever deal this right-wing reactionary prime minister lady makes with Europe, we’re not going to obey it. As soon as we can throw these thieves out of power, we’re going to come in and we’re going to have another government, and we’re not going to pay, because if a government gives away to–the country to foreign bankers and foreign creditors and we don’t have a say in it, that’s not democracy. That’s [crosstalk]

JAY: Right. So they had a referendum about whether or not to do this, you know, use public money to pay off and bail out the banks. They voted no. Then what happened? I mean, it sounds like a lot of this is happening anyway.

HUDSON: The referendum was not whether to pay off the banks. The prime minister, again, had wanted to pay off Gordon Brown in England and the Dutch government–nothing to do with banks at all–for Icesave debt that the governments had to pay and did pay to bail out their own banks. The prime minister, Sigurdardottir, wanted to pay the money to finance England and Netherlands, essentially doing their own bank bailout, for which Iceland didn’t owe a penny. And the president, who normally is like a notary public and has to sign off, says, wait a minute, if we’re going to agree to pay debts that are going to plunge the economy into a decade of depression and force most Icelanders to leave the country to find work, they at least get to vote on it. That’s international law. So they voted no. And then the government said, oh, let’s have another vote, and finally a year later put the referendum again. The people voted no again. That referendum was against bailing out Gordon Brown and the British Labour Party and the Dutch government. It had nothing to do with the banks. This is yet another bank giveaway. The Social Democratic Party, not only in Iceland but throughout Europe, is basically the party of the bank lobbyists. And the other people are saying, wait a minute, we want an election to throw these guys out. They’ve been bought out. They’re crooks. And the government says, we’re not going to let you vote. Whatever we say, we’re going to do. There is no democracy here. And that’s why–.

JAY: And is there a party in Iceland that reflects this that isn’t going to be a right-wing alternative that does the same thing, or another form of right-wing alternative, if you want?

HUDSON: In the past, the only alternative to the Social Democrats were the neoliberal party that gave away the store to the banks to begin with. So they’re in the process of founding a new party. But without letting people vote, when you stop, when you just suspend voting and you won’t let people have any voice in government, no party can function, because there’s no vote, no chance to have a ballot. So the government is–essentially, the Social Democrats have imposed the dictatorship in Iceland that they’re trying to impose in Greece under the socialist government there and in other social democratic governments throughout Europe.

JAY: Thanks for joining us, Michael.

HUDSON: Thanks.

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