Transcript: Thom Hartmann: Greece & Michigan - dealt the same hand by Banksters. 30 January '12
Right-wing politicians and their bankster buddies have dealt the same terrible hand to Michigan as they have to Greece.
When it comes to economic troubles - the United States hasn't quite reached the disaster scenario that Greece finds itself in.
The Greek economy is contracting - while the U.S. economy is growing.
The unemployment rate in Greece is 18.8% - in the US it's officially 8.5%.
We're in a lot better shape than they are...economically at least.
But when it comes to democracy - in many cases we're actually worse off than Greece.
The Financial Times is reporting today that Greece's Finance Minister - this is the top, the lead story - "Greek fury at plan for EU control of budget" - Greece's Finance Minister "angrily" rejected a plan by the European Union to put in place a "budget commissioner" to oversee how the Greeks prepare their next budget.
Basically - the EU is telling Greece that if they want more bailout funds - then they're going to have to let some unelected technocrat come in who has the power to veto tax and spending decisions made by the democratically elected Greek government.
As in - we can't trust you guys to run your own country - so we'll do it for you.
That was the Germans who proposed this plan - but the Greek Finance Minister said no way - arguing:
...it would improperly force his country to choose between 'financial assistance' and 'national dignity.'
Greece has been through a lot - including watching their Prime Minister be forced out of office by European technocrats last year and be replaced by a bankster.
But where they draw the line is giving up their right to set their own budget - to determine their own priorities as a nation - and not let some "budget commissioner" come in and tell them what they can and what can't do.
Unfortunately - the same can't be said about the United States.
Those "budget commissioners" that the Greek Finance Minister rejected - they're already in place in Michigan.
Thanks to a radical right-wing "financial managers" law passed by Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder last year - he now has the power to put in place crony buddies of his to take over cities in Michigan that he deems are in a "financial emergency".
These so-called "emergency financial managers" are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and have enormous power.
They can fire local elected officials.
They can break contracts - especially union contracts.
They can sell off the city's assets - like hand over a public park to a transnational corporation to build a chemical factory or a condo.
Or in the case of Benton Harbor, Michigan - a city on Lake Michigan where a 90 acre lake waterfront park - a part of the commons that's enjoyed by mostly low-income kids in a minority neighborhood - is being sold off by one of Governor Snyder's financial dictators to real estate developers who want to build a golf course resort for the affluent white neighborhood across the river to enjoy.
And worse - these Republican crony dictators can completely re-do local budgets without any input by local elected officials - just like what the Greeks are afraid of.
So far - Rick Snyder has put four cities in Michigan under the control of his Republican crony buddies - Benton Harbor, Ecorse, Pontiac, and Flint.
And Michigan's biggest city - Detroit - is next on the list to be taken over and looted.
I asked a few Michiganders on my show earlier this month what life is like in that state under the "financial managers":
Rev. David Bullock: Life is horrible. This is a state takeover of the city of Detroit, Flint, Benton Harbor, Ecorse. The vote does not count. It's null and void. I mean, we voted for our mayor. We voted for city council. We voted for city commissioners. And now our vote doesn't count. What's it like to live under tyranny? What's it like to live under dictatorship? How about no police officers? How about limited firefighters? How about taking street lights out of cities so that people are in the dark from 5pm to roughly about 8am? How about living with low morale and despair?
It's despair - and it's come to the United States of America.
As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat pointed out last year, when technocrats began taking over in Europe:
Democracy may be nice in theory, but in a time of crisis it’s the technocrats who really get to call the shots.
This is just one component of how the ruling elite - the banksters, transnational CEOs - and the politicians they own - are keeping power in America despite crashing our entire economy a few years ago.
We need to say "enough is enough".
Democracy can withstand a crisis - in fact it's really the only way we're going to get out of this crisis.
It's time to trust We The People to make our own decisions again - and not the technocrats, the dictators, and the tools of the global banking system who want to take us back to the dark days of feudalism before American democracy changed the game.
That's The Big Picture.