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Vanishing Cyprus: consumerism

Cyprus has become the most expensive country in Europe while consumers are trapped and as victims of sheer greed, corruption and government incompetence they try to make ends meet against insurmountable odds.

UNREGULATED globalization driven by an unquenchable thirst for consumerism can be considered as one of the many contributing factors to the ravaging socio-economic turmoil of modern times.

The gap between the “haves” and the have “nots” has become so great mankind will have an upright struggle to ever recover from its effect.

At the fringes of utter affluence lay utter poverty, hopelessness and desperation. Poverty, a stigma of modern society is on the increase. Fundamentally, poverty is a denial of choices and opportunities to earn a decent income for a modest standard of living. In complete violation of human dignity and self-esteem, today, there are about 1.7 billion people today, who live in absolute poverty. If that’s not bad enough, the most shocking part of it all, six million children die each year from hunger; an appalling record of world-governments’ failure to eradicate such disgrace on humanity!

Yet, in accordance with the United Nations (World Food Program, January 2012) the world produces enough food to feed everyone and could feed double the world population, which is estimated to reach 10.5 billion people by the year 2050 (US Census Bureau). It also claims that every country in the world has sufficient capacity to feed its own people, but the “free trade” economic order associated with such institutions as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) prevents this from happening.

Without exceptions, the European Union (EU) – a monetary driven institution – has also been a notorious advocate of unfair economic practices. Misguidedly, it pursues a policy forcing small EU farmers (the backbone of nations) to uproot and destroy crops with cash handouts as compensation. In fact, the main purpose of this directive it’s to maintain prices of goods at a certain level so as not to reduce profit margins; for bumper crop production means cheaper foods to the consumer and that goes against the grain of a corporate profit-driven philosophy.

At the taxpayer’s expense, government subsidies and protectionist quotas have become an irrevocable part of trade practices rather than to apply competitive market principles. Many will argue that this kind of practice causes unfair competition at the expense of poorer nations struggling to compete against wealthy nations. That is certainly true! Ultimately, those poor nations become dependant on imports from rich countries rather than be given the opportunity to boost their export markets so as to shore up their own economies and rise above poverty.

At the very heart of this dastardly practice lie the banking institutions, stock markets and speculators driven by an insatiable demand for profits. They often release false rumours of impending “shortages” to generate a global frenzy in order to push up the prices of grain, crops and other goods and commodities. Hording is another common practice used by large producers to instil “food shortage fears” at the expense of trapped consumers.

That is the ugly face of an unbridled and unregulated global capitalism; a system enwrapped in spin, speculation and market manipulation on a worldwide scale while the consumer remains a captive victim of a ruthless system in the name of profit and greed.

Global problems have now become local problems. In the pursuit for instant indulgence brought about by easy consumer credit access, the system has created a financial monster. Others will simply call it “progress”! In fact, there is a public perception that the banking institutions and supra-national corporations have pioneered this social reliance on credit simply to monopolize and dominate markets globally.

A few years back those same banking institutions strategically initiated massive campaigns to convince the public with the presumption that banks are their friends. To shape the masses into a new type of global consumer dependent on credit, banks had developed a policy of mailing out millions of free credit cards to anyone. Those entrapments worked wonders and have successfully managed to transform peoples’ social purchasing behaviour, from one of thriftiness to a debtocracy; the banks today control every breath we take!

Plato in his time also recognized that money lending was a sly profession practised by men motivated by greed. He stated: “If loans were made at the lender’s risk, there would be a good deal less shameless money making”. Those words are as true in today’s society as they were then; debtocracy has become part of everyday life!

The notion that “people are born free and die slaves” has become a reality. Most people today, are enslaved by debt till death and beyond! The master plan of absolute control of a new social order by the selective few – mainly the banking establishment – has been a tremendous success; banks today control entire nations! Due to globalization, faceless foreign bankers now dictate domestic policies of nations and intervene in the democratic process of those countries. Greece is a good example of foreign financial subjugation, while Argentina dared and told foreign banks: “Enough is enough!” and threw them out; she never looked back!

Obviously, like all other businesses banking has its purpose and they certainly have an important role to play, but allowing them to determine the terms and conditions at the expense of the masses is madness.  In a true democratic system, these institutions should be held accountable like all other businesses, yet they receive preferential treatment by governments who bail them out in turbulent economic times caused by their own bad practices. To penalize victims rather than the offenders, it’s not only ludicrous but it’s a crime against decency and humanity.

As a new member of the EU, Cyprus quickly jumped on the gravy train and established the Cyprus Stock Exchange to play its part of this globalization. The government and politicians hailed this as the result of a great foresight. The buzzword was “economic wealth for all” and citizens were urged to rush out and purchase shares to help the nation grow into prosperity. That they did! Trusting their government, people bought shares with the result of losing fortunes due to corruption.

Banks, industrialists, politicians and those who had “insider trading connections” made millions from this financial honey trap, while Citizen Joe lost his savings, home and livelihood. To this day, nobody has been prosecuted or held accountable for the biggest financial scandal and fraud on the island. Profiteering, protected by vision-less governments has gone too far!

The British slogan “Rip-Off Cyprus” has become a reality

As it stands, Cyprus today has become the most expensive county in Europe. The British slogan “Rip-Off Cyprus” has become a reality. Meanwhile the consumers are trapped and as victims of sheer greed, corruption and government incompetence try to make ends meet against insurmountable odds.

At the moment, the overall public perception on the island is one of hopelessness! High-energy prices (a 40% increase since last year after the Marie explosion) have become unbearable while food costs are no longer affordable; there also seems to be no ending to the rising unemployment, which has reached 11% with more than 45,000 people out of a job. There is zero growth in the economy and 35% of all new homes remain unsold and empty while the construction industry is dead. Personal bankruptcies are on the rise with 900 convictions last year and hundreds of others in waiting. Poverty and hunger is now detectable in some parts of the island while a silent sector in society has become destitute and lives in despair.

From a surplus position of a public purse, a squandering government had to borrow billions on the open market to cover the interest on its loans and operating costs. The nation is certainly suffering, but a lame government, instead of making sweeping changes in support of consumers and citizens at large, continues to play political shenanigans and dogmatic games; a most shameful act indeed!

Author of:
WHO SHALL GOVERN CYPRUS – Brussels or Nicosia? -Political analysis
ANDARTES – a revolutionary riveting novel
PORPHYRA in PURPLE – a metaphysical spellbinding novel

All books are available from: Bookshops, Barnes & Noble, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Waterstone’s, Kindle and the Internet. Other published articles can be found on Google under “Vanishing Cyprus” or under “Andreas C Chrysafis”.

Readers' comments

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  • Peter says:

    “Cyprus has become the most expensive country in Europe while consumers are trapped and as victims of sheer greed…”

    I don’t agree. I use the internet for white goods and electrical items from computers to televisions. With at least one trader bringing in a 40′ container every month from the UK there is no need to shop in Cyprus.

    Items such as basic food stuff and electricity are the only items we now buy here.

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    @Hector. I agree that capitalism is not on trial here. If anyone borrows money from a bank, then surely they must know that the debt is owed. That is not the bank’s fault and it is the borrower’s responsibility to discharge the debt. The la-la fantasy land culture of ‘I borrowed someone else’s money but I don’t have to pay it back’, which is endemic here and in Greece, has been propagated by successive governments. It suited everyone so long as there was no recession and the tourist and property markets were bouyant.

  • hector says:

    An unconvincing rant against capitalism in general which doesn’t address the cost of living in Cyprus until the last 3 paragraphs.

  • Jim says:

    Just about sums up the Christofias effect on the Cypriot economy since he took office.

  • mbEyes says:

    Adding to Denton’s comments:

    Argentina has done what you say, and to this day citizens still don’t trust the banks with their money, preferring instead to put whatever wealth they have into property, foreign currency, gold and other commodities.

    In Cyprus, should any wealth be accumulated by it’s citizens, they will do the same (except property of course!!).

  • Denton Mackrell says:

    Andreas Chrysafis makes a good case for ‘the masses against the external bankers’. However, it distorts the picture by implying that somehow ‘the masses’ are mere victims who have played no part in their current demise.

    All a country has to do, he asserts, is to control the banks just like Argentina did. What he forgets to report is the fact that for decades Argentina was in a self-created environment of gross fiscal mismanagement and state profligacy with the willing, nay active and determined, participation of its citizenry, no different to Greece, and dare I say Cyprus, in recent years. Argentina has now gotten on top of all that internal mismanagement and, as a result,has a healthier and more respectful debt relationship with the banks and the outside world.

    Do I expect to see Cyprus ‘do an Argentina’ any time soon? No, this government prefers to chance it all in the hope that its overbloated civil and public sector can retain all their pampered state largesse and privileges. The ‘drip feed syndrome of the living dead’ that is Cyprus Airways is a classic example.

  • Matthew Ring says:

    Oil and other such commodities today, increasingly also carbon tax credits and the cynical manipulation of the environmental lobby. Soon Hedge Funds and Banks will be propagating war over water, as well as oil. Liberty and free enterprise? Globalisation is the planned economy par-excellence: the plan being, of course, the plutocrats, the 1%, get ****-off rich, and the rest can just, well, ****-off. Ultimately and perhaps catastrophically self-defeating but since when was greed rational.

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