The real danger - roaming speculators, not migrant workers!

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
1 April 2013

By now, the Cyprus banking crisis - itself a by-product of the Greek crisis - seems to have eased off, after it was said that only the banks' richest customers would pay some of the bill, and only on the part of their deposits over and above £85,000. After a 12-day closure, banks re-opened without causing the withdrawal panic that had been feared.

For better-off depositors, the pill may be bitter, but they can swallow it. Not so for the majority of the population though, which after 2 years of austerity, faces another turn of the screw. The jobless rate, already at 15%, is bound to soar due to the massive job cuts planned in the banking and public sectors, while living standards will plummet, due to tax and price rises and cuts in wages and pensions.

Vultures at work

But why is such drastic treatment metered out towards a tiny country whose economy is less than 1% that of Europe's and whose population is even smaller than Birmingham's? Wasn't this bailout (£8.40bn) very small, compared to the combined budgets of the EU countries?

Of course it was. But in this capitalist world, where the law of the jungle rules, the weakest always pay the highest price and bailouts are never designed to help the populations - only the big international banks. In this case, European governments chose to set an example - and they thought they could make it all the more painful as tiny Cyprus couldn't bargain. Hence their original decision to bend their own legislation by demanding that all bank depositors should be taxed - only to realise belatedly, that this might trigger a run on the banks, not just in Cyprus, but across the whole of Europe.

And now, the population of Cyprus is being made to foot the bill, just as in so many other countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal or Ireland - not to mention Britain - to ensure that the profits of the big banks are preserved at all costs!

To justify this ruthless treatment, endless claims have been made by the media about the "exceptional" nature of Cyprus - its overblown, opaque banking system, used by Russian millionaires in order to avoid tax and by the Russian mafia to launder its profits.

But was the Cypriot banking system all that overblown? Its loans may have amounted to 8 times the country's GDP, but British banks' loans amount to over 6 times Britain's GDP and 90 times those of the Cypriot banks! As to Russian millionaires, they seem to have got into the habit of buying properties and football clubs in Britain, not to mention executing their rivals here!

From this point of view, there is nothing "exceptional" about the economy of Cyprus: it is just another cog in this world's crazy, profit-driven machine, in which speculation rules - just like London's City!

The only parasites are in the City

Very early on, Osborne rushed to the rescue of the 3,250 British soldiers and civil servants in Cyprus - why are they still there?? - promising that their "savings" would be protected. Strange though, since Cypriot banks hold an estimated £1.7bn in British deposits - far more than the "savings" of these 3,250. Obviously, Osborne is protecting the interests of a roaming British business mafiosi, which is using the island and its rock-bottom corporation tax, for tax-evasion purposes. Never mind that these migrant British speculators helped feed the country's crisis!

What a contrast with Cameron's scapegoating of migrant workers in the speech he delivered last week in Ipswich! For Cameron, migrant workers who come to Britain in order to make a living, by doing something which is at least useful, are to be stigmatised as if they were some sort of danger.

For him, these migrant workers, who, like the rest of us, are subjected to lousy pay and conditions, shouldn't be automatically entitled to benefits (which they're not - any more than the rest of us), nor to free medical treatment (which they aren't either, unless they are residents), let alone to social housing (which is virtually unavailable to them, or anyone else, anyway!). In his attacks on migrant workers Cameron uses the same language that he used against low-income families, the jobless and the disabled, in order to justify his cuts in benefits: poverty is a crime, or a form of parasitism - and should be punished!

Workers in Cyprus and many other crisis-ridden countries, have every reason to point a finger at the roaming British capitalists who've been speculating on their backs and causing the social catastrophe that they now face. And here, the criminals we should point a finger at, are the City parasites who caused the present crisis, and the likes of Cameron who are trying to divert the discontent caused by his policies against our own brothers and sisters.