Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Is Iceland the Future?

Is Iceland the Future?:

Via Naked Capitalism:

Yves here. I’m intrigued by the way Iceland’s post crisis experience does not get the coverage it warrants. This is a country whose banking system collapsed and its citizens suffered months of real privation (I dimly recall that it was difficult to import medicine, for instance, because no finance more or less means no trade). Yet after a period of serious dislocation, things somehow got sorted out, and with a cleaned up financial system and a much cheaper currency, the Icelandic economy has rebounded nicely.

One aspect of this housecleaning was writing a new constitution. Its preamble calls for a just society, an idea which seems to be at the core of OccupyWallStreet’s demands: “We, the people of Iceland, wish to create a just society with equal opportunities for everyone.” I think readers will find both the process of developing and ratifying this document as well as its major provisions to be eye-opening. The model for the US Constitution was the Corsican constitution of 1755. Could this Icelandic document also have a disproportionate impact?

Iceland: From Crisis to Constitution

Or Is Greece the Future?:

We get chatting to George. His face is red with anger, his arms in a constant swirl to emphasise his points.

"It is terrible. There is a big part of the Greek population which is really suffering. I am talking about people who up to a few months ago were okay. They had their businesses or their salaries or their pensions, and now they can't eat properly. They can't even pay their electricity bill, or for their water."

So middle-class families are struggling to pay for their children, we ask. Again, there is no hesitation: "Yes."

Later, Thrasy Petropoulos, news editor of the Athens News, tells us this is no exaggeration.

"We are coming across cases of genuine poverty here now, which we're simply not used to. The wrong people are suffering the most. One guy asked me this morning: 'How much more of our money are they going to take away to try to solve this?'"


"Prices are going up every day," says Elias Eliadis.

"You can't afford to buy whatever you want - you have to look carefully and just get what is necessary.

"There's never any money left over. 1,200 euros ($1,615; £1,039) is a joke - it's just not enough for us all to live on."

Unlike some, Mr Eliadis says he wouldn't choose to defy the authorities and refuse to pay the new property tax - but the question is academic, because he cannot afford it.

"It is not right. This tax in unfair," he says.

"There are so many people in business who never pay taxes and will not pay this one either. They should take the taxes from them.

"I just don't have the money for this. How can I pay?"

The family is worried because the property tax is to be collected via their electricity bills. But it's far from clear whether the government will cut off impoverished citizens who cannot pay.


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