As the post-recession politics of austerity tattoo a bull’s eye onto the backs of workers in Canada and elsewhere, Iceland stands out as a refreshing alternative.
Iceland was the first country to feel the effects of the Great Recession of 2008. Its banks owed nearly six times Iceland’s GDP in the Fall of 2008, threatening to bring the entire Icelandic economy down with it.
The people of Iceland broke out in protest, egging their own Prime Minister’s car and spurring a change in government.
Since then, the Icelandic government has gone after the bankers responsible for the crisis, arresting several bankers in an ongoing investigation into questionable activities.
Iceland is being lauded by many observers, including the IMF and Nobel Prize-Winning Economist Paul Krugman, as a model example of how a country can respond to an economic crisis such as the Great Recession.
Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is a study in contrasts.
In Greece, the government has unleashed a massive austerity program that has been met with citizen protests, strikes, political instability, and ongoing social unrest.
In Iceland, they’ve arrested bankers who caused the economic crisis, but in Greece, they’ve arrested unionized workers for protesting property tax increases.
Iceland appears to be on the road to economic recovery.
Greece, on the other hand, is mired in social, political and economic turbulence which show no sign of abating.
Another must-read from the indispensable Trish Hennessy at Framed in Canada.
All the more timely in light of things like the recently released CCPA report on CEO compensation, juxtaposed with Caterpillar’s lockout of Canadian workers on the heels of a demand that they accept pay cuts in excess of 50 per cent. Our tax dollars at work, helping foreign companies screw our fellow Canadians.
So, two possible responses to “austerity,” or shock doctrine if you like Naomi Klein’s framing. Gee, I wonder which way the Harper Government will go?
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