Yesterday I got all bundled up and headed down to the weekly Saturday demonstration, in the freezing cold. Yes, the demonstrations are still being held, although the number of people in attendance have dropped substantially. Yesterday there were 500-1,000 people there, including a group of four Germans who came to Iceland expressly to find out what Kaupthing has done with their savings.
The drop in protester numbers comes as no surprise, although it is a bit disheartening … after all, there is so much that needs to be done, and it is so essential for us, the public, to remain vigilant. One of the speeches yesterday [by Andrés Magnússon, a psychiatrist] focused on the need to hold the tycoons who bankrupted this nation accountable – not only morally, but, more importantly, financially. Indeed, so many of the foreign reporters and journalists I have spoken to in recent weeks are flabbergasted that the Icelandic people have directed their anger primarily at the politicians and regulators, and not at those who have created the mountain of debt that we are now saddled with. My personal feeling is that they have just not been accessible – they have hauled their sorry asses out of the country and have returned only fleetingly to appear on Kastljós or Silfur Egils just long enough to point the finger at everyone – and anyone – else.
Yet public sentiment is shifting. We needed a change in leadership, needed it in order to restore order and credibility. The old government had lost trust. This was the government that privatized the banks five or six years ago, sold them to their own personal friends and party supporters [YES]. Sold them to people who proceeded to use them – to use OUR deposits – as vehicles to finance their own ventures, pet projects and boundless greed. They literally sucked them dry. Not to mention what they siphoned off into their own private bank accounts abroad … one of the Left-Green MPs estimated a few days ago that between ISK 1,000 and 1,5000 billion has been transferred into tax havens by those who owned the banks. A horrifying figure.
Meanwhile we, the tax-paying public, are suffering. Saddled with paying back their debts, while they sit on their gold coffers like vipers. Forced to endure large-scale unemployment, cutbacks in health care and education, massive inflation. The scale of that injustice is so huge that I can hardly get my head around it.
Meanwhile, we have those two Central Bank directors who refuse to step down from their posts, allegedly because they don’t feel it is “fair” that they should have to go. Yet all across this nation people are being fired or laid off by the thousands as a result of rationalization or downsizing. Well, this new government has now decided to downsize the operations of the Central Bank. And the two remaining directors should have the decency to leave without complaint – just like the thousands of other Icelanders who are having to do the same, in large part due to the failures of those same CB directors.
On that note, the organization Raddir Fólksins is calling a protest in front of the Central Bank tomorrow [Monday], where people are encouraged to show up at 8 am with their pots and pans [a continuation of what is now being dubbed Búsáhaldarbyltingin, or The Saucepan Revolution], in an effort to block the directors from entering the bank. If it worked before, who says it won’t work again!
ON ANOTHER NOTE
I will be taking part in a live panel discussion [by telephone ] for Worldfocus, an international news program airing on public television stations across the US and being broadcast on Tuesday evening at 6.30 pm EST [that’s 11.30 pm GMT – in Iceland and the UK]. They are inviting questions from the general public, so if there is anything you would like to ask, please submit your questions by clicking here. Afterward the broadcast will be archived on their site and also on the Huffington Post. I’ll make sure to post a link.
AND ONE MORE THING …
For the last several weeks it’s become apparent that some sort of comment guidelines are needed for this site. Obviously I love getting comments and have no problem with the vast majority of those; however there have been instances recently in which I’ve had to delete comments or blacklist people, and these guidelines illustrate why. Please take a moment to read them over. Thanks.
IT IS AN ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS DAY
We had brilliant sunshine until just a few minutes ago, when a small cloud formation moved in. It’s milder than it’s been for days, right now 2°C [36F]. The day keeps getting longer and the sun rises higher in the sky each day … sunrise today was at 9.45 and sunset is due for 5.39 pm.