Christian Activist: ‘Greece deserves a jubilee’
Tim Jones explains why Greece deserves a jubilee
Over the summer, Greece has dominated news headlines. The crisis seems to spark into life every couple of years, but in fact, for the Greek people, it has already lasted more than five years. In that time, the Greek economy has shrunk by a quarter, two-thirds of young people have become unemployed and one in five people now live in absolute poverty. The latest deal forced on Greece by the rest of the Eurozone is to keep following the same policies, only more so – like curing a headache by finding a larger wall to bang your head against. In return, Greece will be lent money to repay the very people who are lending it. The money goes from one Frankfurt bank account to another, none of it enters Greece, and the debt remains.
At the heart of the failure to deal with this crisis is the insistence by several European governments, including Germany, that only borrowers, not lenders, are responsible for debt and that a debt should always be repaid, no matter what the consequences. These bizarre views are the opposite of Jesus’ teachings. The one verb Jesus uses more than any other in the Gospels, aphiemi, means “to cancel, liberate or forgive a debt”.
Greece had a large, though not increasing, government debt before the 2008 global crisis. Then the debt increased rapidly as trade and tourism revenues fell, and banks wanted to lend more to Greece, seeing it as a safe haven. In 2010, this boom ended when speculators realised Greece could not repay. But rather than reckless lenders sharing in the costs of this debt trap, the IMF and EU lent more to Greece, 92% of which was used to repay debts to banks etc. The IMF and EU insisted on spending cuts, privatisations and removal of labour laws..
This is an extract from the September 2015 edition of Reform.