Iceland Busts the Banksters: In a symbolic decision, democracy trumps capital as Icelanders say "no" to big bank bailouts.
by John Nichols
What if Americans had been asked whether they wanted to bail out big bankers and Wall Street speculators?
How many would have voted "no"?
A measure of patriotism feeds the hope that they would have made their opposition known as resoundingly as have the voters of Iceland, who on Saturday rejected demands by the United Kingdom and the Netherlands—working hand-in-hand with the rapacious International Monetary Fund—that the people of the tiny island nation cover losses triggered by the failure of a private bank.
A "yes" vote on Saturday's referendum would have saddled each citizen of Iceland with $16,400 of debt, with the money to be paid to compensate the British and Dutch governments for expenditures to cover depositor losses stemming from the failure of the Icelandic bank Icesave.
The overall debt of $5.3 billion, or 45 percent of Iceland's economic output for last year, would have impoverished the country.
As Icelandic President Olafur R. Grimsson explained this week: "Ordinary people, farmers and fishermen, taxpayers, doctors, nurses, teachers, (were) being asked to shoulder through their taxes a burden that was created by irresponsible greedy bankers."
Fortunately, Iceland is a democracy. So those farmers and fishermen, taxpayers, doctors, nurses, teachers got to decide whether they were inclined to pay for a bank bailout.
They shouted "no" as loudly as that word could be uttered.
An early analysis suggests that roughly 98 percent of the Icelanders who cast valid ballots rejected the "deal."
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