Editorial: the Cypriot bail out

Tim Haïdar

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)

If there were any doubt that the world was in a global economic Depression of Gaussian proportions (which has been indubitable to this journalist since 2009), proof was never more forthcoming than the announcement that the government of Cyprus would be levying a "one-off tax of up to 10 per cent" on the bank accounts of its 1.1 million inhabitants.

I have heard and read the word "unprecedented" in conjunction with this bailout more times than I could count across the mainstream media in the past few days. Mainstream media, you are wrong and shamefully so.

Executive Order 6102 signed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, criminalised the possession of monetary gold by any individual, partnership, association or corporation and obligated all persons to deliver their holdings of gold coin, bullion and certificates to the Federal Reserve. EO 6102 was issued as a ligature to stem America’s haemorrhaging finances during The Great Depression. If the Cypriot ram-raid is anything to go by, in economic terms we are running parallel to April 1933.

Americans were given $20.67 per troy ounce of gold surrendered. Cypriots will apparently be compensated with shares in the banks that their money is to be seized from, and those who keep deposits for the next two years will be awarded bonds linked to revenues from newfound natural gas. Given that Cypriot gas reserves are disputed by the country that invaded the island nation in 1974, this could be a promise of nothing.

We should all be able to agree on certain "inalienable" rights that define just and civil society. Economic rights and the freedom from arbitrary seizure of that which would allow us to succeed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be right up there with the freedoms of expression, movement and due process of the law.

Heed Franklin’s words, Cyprus, and halt in its tracks a corrosion that could rust the world.


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