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Commentary Last Updated: Dec 19th, 2008 - 01:57:42

You gotta love those Greeks!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Dec 19, 2008, 00:22

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Greece, often called the cradle of Democracy is alive, well and kicking in Athens, where student protesters dodged security guards on Wednesday at the Acropolis and let fly two giant pink banners, covering a wall near the Parthenon to ignite support for ongoing demonstrations against the government.

One of the banners boldly read �Resistance,� in four languages no less, Greek, English, Italian and German. It called for mass demonstrations across Europe. You gotta love these people. For them, protests are de rigueur and these have been the largest in decades. What�s more, it�s good to see not just students, but workers, union members, ordinary citizens get out there protesting for justice. Greece feels like an eternal 1968 here! If that scares you, just read today�s financial columns. You�ll see the meaning of fear.

Also, this month�s protests were also inflamed after the shooting of a 15-year-old Athens boy on December 6, which caused damage estimated at $1.3 billion, the New York Times reported. It has shaken Greece. In fact, on Tuesday a group of students took over the state NET television network and interrupted an afternoon newscast offering up a speech by Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis, leader of the right-wing conservative party New Democracy on �the violent protests.� How�s that for cojones! Karamanlis had to move over.

Just once, I�d love to see protestors barge into a Bloomberg Press soliloquy at City Hall not far from Ground Zero in New York City, as he tells us about our huge deficit and what will need to be cut to the bone. Or to have a battalion of working people face up to New York State (Spitzer stand-in) Governor Paterson as he talks about cutting $14 billion from the state budget, but not raise taxes for the rich because they will move out of New York. Let �em. And let �em put their seven- and eight-figure co-ops, condos or brownstones on this thin credit-market. I dare them.

Instead, from mayor and governor, we have increased taxes to relish, even one on sugared soft drinks from Paterson (as if the diet drinks weren�t filled with the deadly artificial sweetener Aspartame). This is the vision of the sightless Paterson, who also wants cuts in Medicaid, education, plus price hikes for tuition at city and state universities, while throwing a bone of allowance hikes for Welfare recipients. Geez, New Yorkers should be out in the streets, tearing down all the new barricades the War on Terror put up all over town.

It is as veteran reporter Wayne Madsen tells us in Greek protests largely focused on failing economy, �People around the world are becoming increasingly outraged over the faltering global economy and are taking to the street to vent their anger. Reports about riots sweep[ing] Greece and the rest of Europe are concentrating on the outrage over the shooting death of a Greek teenager by Greek police. However, and more importantly, the riots stem from outrage over increasing globalization of national economies and the loss of jobs around the world.�

Thank you, Wayne, and thank you, Greece.

Madsen reports as well, �Protesters in Spain, Denmark and Italy have smashed shop windows, pelted police with bottles and attacked banks this week. Last March�s riots in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, also saw banks attacked by protesters. Xinhua reported on March 17 that �A branch of the Bank of China . . . [was] attacked by vandals.��

Also �This past year has seen riots and protests break out in Haiti, Somalia, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Guinea, South Africa, Cameroon, Senegal, Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Philippines, Bangladesh, Argentina, Italy, Peru, Mozambique, Indonesia, and Burkina Faso over the rise in the price of food and fuel. A Merrill Lynch report in May of this year predicted that riots and political unrest would sweep the planet as the gulf between the �haves� and �have nots� widens.�

Ah, and there we have it, as the gulf between the �haves� and �have nots� widens. And it is happening here in New York State and its New York World City as well. In fact, our Metropolitan Transit Authority, also claiming to be drowning in billions of debt, is good enough to promise us budget cuts that will raise fares by 30 percent and severely diminish service. How�s that for a left and a right?

They�ve even wheeled out Richard Ravitch, the 1979 MTA head, who got the graffiti-laced, worn-out subway system rolling by borrowing big time via bonds to reassure us it�s all okay to do it again. Of course, previous to that, he had been a principal owner and chairman of the Bowery Savings Bank of New York.

Yet, just once I want to see those dead-eyed, jam-packed rush-hour riders swallowing it all open their mouths as they spill onto over-crowded platforms past the overfed, overpaid, police-state cordons of cops and into the street to shout, �We�re mad as hell and we�re not going to take this anymore.� Damn it. I want to see New York, Chicago, L.A., California itself, America itself wake up, and rattle the cage. And not just through an election whose financial team looks like the same gangsters that got us into this debt-crucifixion in the first place.

G�wan, go out there, America, like the Greeks, or open your windows like Paddy Chayevsky�s immortal anchorman Howard Beale in the film Network recommends and shout, �I�m as mad as hell and I�m not going to take this anymore.� Watch the five-minute clip (linked above) that could have been shot yesterday not 30-plus years ago. And watch it to pump yourself up.

Even in so-called brassy New York, it�s amazing the pain that people silently swallow every day, a variety of rising taxes on motor vehicles, now on sugary soft drinks, new tolls for every bridge that crosses the East River, no more real estate tax rebate, less money for education, fewer teachers, less, less, and on and on . . .

What more, protesters, it�s just a hop, skip and jump to shout on Wall Street, where the monsters in charge have shed 25,000 jobs of those doing their dirty work, helping them collateralize the toxic mortgage debt �downstream,� so far away from its sources of origin that the whole stream is poisoned. Want a drink, anyone? Sit down with me brother and let�s talk.

It�s enough to make me want to change NY�s famous slogan �I love (with an apple for an o) New York, to �I hate New York,� or what it�s become, hostage to TWOT, and insane over-building, a noxious stream of cars and Robert Moses highways that have buried the original city, taken its streets and neighborhoods away from the people, and handed us fumes, crazed cabs, black smoke-belching tourist buses, chaos in a handful of dust. If I sound like your local Harold Beale, I take it as a compliment. I once stood next to Paddy Chayevsky in a car rental office on West 55th Street. He was a little guy, unimposing, in a tan raincoat, but oh what a voice, what a heart.

It�s his voice that I want to hear from New York, America, and the world. The �Resistance,� rebuttal to all these excuses from all our so-called expert, informed leaders, whom I expect are having no trouble funding their retirement plans, or hoping for Social Security to last, or paying the rent or meeting their mortgage payments, or even watch their city like New Orleans wash away in Katrina, just as the Greeks witnessed thousands and thousands of acres burning in their wild fires of 2007, as Kostas fiddled, many lives going up in smoke as well.

It�s the goddamned carelessness of these leaders, in Athens, New York, around the world, and their multinational corporate friends slavering to swallow the world and us that galls me.

Maybe the time has come for �Resistance� to catch like a spark and have all workers walk out, as Danny the Red led them in 1968 in France. Maybe that will match the way Paulson just walked in and threatened a nation with a world financial collapse if Congress didn�t sign his three-page ransom note for $700 billion pronto, before anyone had to a chance to think about it. Nor does anyone yet really know what the $350 billion already spent accomplished besides enriching his banker friends.

We are still all being held hostage by these bank-o-maniacs! And I say fight back! Take it to them! Where�s Bill Ayers when we need him? The Weathermen weren�t as crazy as that loopy Sarah Palin and her rifle-toting friends claimed. They knew how to get people�s attention about what mattered!

They, those highly educated young people, were looking for, demanding the same attention be paid by government to the real issues of life, not just war and more war, death and more death. They were dealing with some real issues that we are asking to be tended to today, as those protestors in Greece and around the world are asking for. Asking for someone to focus on something besides profit, money, and more money, but focus on the problems that face humanity, its societies, its poor, its aging, its young hungering to learn, and how to provide solutions to bring life to this planet not a bigger bomb to destroy it.

We don�t want their apologies. We want real and positive results. Or move over. We are coming through, and right over them if they don�t get it and deliver. And that�s why you gotta love the Greeks, the people who handed us democracy, such as it was then. They didn�t just take no for an answer. So yes to one all. Let�s go, it�s time!

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at read his new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 onat, Amazon or

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