Iceland’s president has recently given the middle finger to the “international financial system” (or more likely the two-fingered fingered flip favored in the UK) by blocking a $5 billion (US) debt repayment deal, pending a referendum on the matter. The Icelandic taxpayers are rightly questioning why every family in the country should give 40,000 pounds to England and the Netherlands to make amends for the failings of their genius MBA banking class.
President Olafur Grimsson’s role is largely ceremonial, or it was, until he took the bold step of nixing the deal, after he received a petition signed by 20 percent of Iceland’s population. Polls have about 70 percent of the voters saying they’ll vote against the repayment package as it stands. Bad things are being threatened.
“The Icelandic people … would effectively be saying that Iceland does not want to be part of the international financial system,” Britain’s Financial Services Minister Paul Myners said.
How do you say “What are the benefits, exactly?” in Icelandic.
OK. I may well be oversimplifying things. But I like the sound of this. A president who steps beyond his designated role to respond to the popular will, in the process stepping hard on the bunions of the very moneyed interests who put him into office. I guess it could happen. But could it happen here?
Oh, yes, the video. Emiliana Torrini, Icelanic/Italian singer. Lovely woman, lovely song, lovely video.
One thought on “From Iceland with love”
I was in Iceland a couple of years ago for the Saving Iceland conference and anti-smelter activist camp, well before the financial crisis, while I was researching my book on the global aluminum industry. What no one seems to realize is that it was the Icelandic government’s investment in building a massive hydropower dam in the wild interior, at Karahnjukar — along with a mile-long Alcoa aluminum smelter (built by Bechtel using foreign workers), and all of the imports of materials associated with that project — that contributed to a poor debt ratio and destabilized the banking system. And the likely pathway out of the financial disaster will probably be to build more smelters, harnessing Iceland’s wild rivers to generate electricity for one of the most power-hungry industries in the world, exporting that electricity in the form of aluminum. But its a path of ecological devastation.