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Vanishing Cyprus – Consumerism

Unregulated globalization driven by an unquenchable thirst for consumerism can be considered 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 faces an uphill 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 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 indication of world governments’ failure to eradicate such a 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 is 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 the application of 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 dependent on imports from rich countries, rather than being 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. Hoarding is another common practice used by large producers to instill “food shortage fears” at the expense of trapped consumers.
That is the ugly face of unbridled and unregulated global capitalism; a system wrapped in spin, speculation and market manipulation on a worldwide scale, while the consumer remains a captive victim of the 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 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 to tell foreign banks: “Enough is enough!” and threw them out; that country never looked back!
Obviously, like all other businesses, banking has its purpose and an important role to play, but allowing the industry to determine 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 is 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 in this movement of 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, and as a result lost 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!
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 are 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 the 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,,, Waterstone’s, Kindle and the Internet. Other published articles can be found on Google under “Vanishing Cyprus” or under “Andreas C Chrysafis”.

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