World Politics

Panicked super rich buying boltholes with private airstrips to escape if poor rise up

Hedge fund managers are buying up remote ranches and land in places like New Zealand to flee to in event of wide-spread civil unrest

Escape: Rich financiers have put plans in place to getaway from rioters

Super rich hedge fund managers are buying ‘secret boltholes’ where they can hideout in the event of civil uprising against growing inequality, it has been claimed.

Nervous financiers from across the globe have begun purchasing landing strips, homes and land in areas such as New Zealand so they can flee should people rise up.

With growing inequality and riots such as those in London in 2011 and in Ferguson and other parts of the USA last year, many financial leaders fear they could become targets for public fury.

Robert Johnson, president of the Institute of New Economic Thinking, told people at the World Economic Forum in Davos that many hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes.

He said: “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway.”

Hideaway: Rich people are plotting to escape to remote parts of the world 

Mr Johnson, said the economic situation could soon become intolerable as even in the richest countries inequality was increasing.

He said: “People need to know there are possibilities for their children – that they will have the same opportunity as anyone else.

“There is a wicked feedback loop. Politicians who get more money tend to use it to get more even money.”

His comments were backed up by Stewart Wallis, executive director of the New Economics Foundation, who when asked about the comments told CNBC Africa: “Getaway cars the airstrips in New Zealand and all that sort of thing, so basically a way to get off.  If they can get off, onto another planet, some of them would.”

He added: “I think the rich are worried and they should be worried. I mean inequality, why does it matter?

“Most people have heard the Oxfam statistics that now we’ve got 80, the 80 richest people in the world, having more wealth that the bottom three-point-five billion, and very soon we’ll get a situation where that one percent, one percent of the richest people have more wealth than everybody else, the 99.”

Credit :- Alex Wellman/Daily Mirror

World Politics

Don’t Let the Ridiculous Smears Fool You: Syriza Is No Party of the Radical ‘Far Left’

Alexis Tsipras, Leader of Syriza

Political language, as George Orwell observed in 1946, is “designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind”. Seven decades later, consider the way in which mildly progressive political leaders are depicted by their right-wing critics. In the US, Barack Obama, who has bragged about securing “the lowest level of domestic spending” since the 1950s, is condemned as a “socialist” by his Republican opponents. (If only.) In the UK, Ed Miliband, who supports a public-sector pay freeze and wants to slash child benefit, is dismissed as “Red Ed” in the right-wing press. (We wish.) In France, François Hollande, who has presided over the steepest spending cuts in that country in more than 40 years, is deemed to be “anti-austerity”. (Huh?)

Then there is Greece, where Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras, a mild-mannered, tieless civil engineer, was sworn in as prime minister on 26 January. Judging by the hysterical tone of the press coverage, you could be forgiven for assuming that the love child of Karl Marx and Che Guevara had been elected to office in Athens. “Far-left firebrand races to victory”, read a headline in the Times. “Shock waves across Europe as the far left sweeps to power in Greece”, shrieked the Daily Mail.

Syriza, we are told, by everyone from the Mail to the BBC and the Guardian, is a bunch of radicals, revolutionaries and extremists. It’s not centre left; it’s far left. In this bizarre inversion of reality, those who helped to inflict mass unemployment, widespread poverty and public-health emergencies – involving a succession of HIV, tuberculosis and malaria epidemics – on a once-developed western country are deemed to be the moderates and the centrists. Is any more evidence needed of how our political debate has become so skewed to the right?

After all, what is “extreme” about providing free electricity and food stamps to 300,000 Greek families now living below the poverty line, as Syriza has pledged to do? What is “revolutionary” about wanting to negotiate a restructuring of ballooning, essentially unpayable debts? Especially after austerity measures demanded by the unelected “Troika” (the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) led to Greece’s public debt climbing from 126% of GDP in 2009 to over 170 per cent of GDP in 2014. Is it “radical” to describe – as Tsipras has done – five years of relentless, growth-choking austerity, in which the suicide rate rose by 43%, as a period of “humiliation and suffering”? Or to refer to Troika-enforced spending cuts – as Syriza’s Yanis Varoufakis, the new Greek finance minister, did – as a form of “fiscal waterboarding”?

Don’t be distracted by the “far left” smear. Syriza’s programme of debt relief, fiscal stimulus and financial support for the poorest, rather than the richest, is mainstream macroeconomics. The party is merely planning to do what the textbooks suggest.

Don’t take my word for it. On 23 January, two days before the Greek elections, 18 eminent economists, including the Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Christopher Pissarides, the Oxford University professor Simon Wren-Lewis and the former Bank of England interest-rate setter Charles Goodhart, published a joint letter to theFinancial Times endorsing Syriza’s call for debt forgiveness. Economic stability in Greece, they argued, could be “achieved through growth and increased efficiency in tax collection rather than through public expenditure cuts, which have reduced the revenue base and led to an increase in the debt ratio”.

Stiglitz and the others also called for a “further conditional increase in the grace period, so that Greece does not have to service any debt, for example for the next five years and then only if Greece is growing at 3% or more”. They cited the precedent of the “bisque” clause of the 1946 Anglo-American financial agreement, under which the UK was allowed a waiver of 2% interest payment until its economy “met agreed conditions”. As the 18 economists concluded, “the whole of Europe will benefit from Greece being given the chance of a fresh start”.

Remember, the Greeks have not suddenly embraced Marxism. But they have revolted against the insanity of neoliberal economics – and against the extremists in Brussels and Berlin bent on imposing austerity on them. The only real “shock” is that it took so long for this Hellenic backlash against fiscal sadism to commence. On a visit to Athens in 2012, I met Nikitas Kanakis, the director of the Greek branch of the charity Doctors of the World. He described to me in graphic detail how his country was in the midst of a “humanitarian crisis”. “If the people cannot survive with dignity,” he said quietly, “we cannot have a future.”

Will Syriza give them back their dignity? “Hope is here,” declared a victorious Tsipras on 25 January. But time is not on the party’s side and this movement of political novices will have to confront a vast array of vested interests at home and abroad – from the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and the bean-counters of the Troika to the tax-dodging business elite of Athens and a Greek police force infiltrated by neo-Nazis. It won’t be easy and if Syriza fails, the swing back to the right will be both decisive and disastrous.

A few days ago, I rang Kanakis to see if he was celebrating Syriza’s rise to power. He wasn’t. “What I’m afraid about,” he said, “is that sometimes hope creates illusions.”

Credit :- Medhi Hasan/Huffington Post