To most Americans, Iceland is a weirdo fishing country with a misleading name that’s home to Bjork and unpronounceable volcanoes. Our ethnocentrism and inability to see beyond our provincial outlook (like what B-star is dancing on tv) is so pervasive that we probably couldn’t even locate Canada on a map. And what a pity, especially when you consider how much Americans can learn from the way Iceland’s citizens handled the financial crisis of 2008. Yes, learning for the sake of learning and learning about another culture that doesn’t worship wannabe celebrities and politicians caught with their pants down is good for you.
While many European countries are still recovering from the Euro crisis and international economic abortion of 2008, Iceland is improving rapidly. I know–what could we possibly learn from a country that spends its days chasing after Luck fish.
Iceland joined a whole host of previously unsophisticated economies that espoused America’s “wild, wild west” form of casino capitalism. It was like the country went from worshiping fishing poles to worshiping dangerously convoluted financial wizardry in a matter of hours. But something as foreign to American policy-makers as term limits happened in the aftermath of Iceland’s 2008-2009 financial crisis: Iceland sent all of its leading banksters to jail. Meanwhile, America’s plutocrats paid off the police while kids got pepper-sprayed and had the crap kicked out of them, and the Koch snorters on Congress continued to protect their wall street sugar-daddies.
However, the IMF now says that Iceland has managed to achieve economic recovery—“without compromising its welfare model,” which includes universal healthcare and education.
“Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?” special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said after Iceland’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions for three bankers—and sentenced them to between four and five and a half years each. “It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate—it gives a sense there is a safe haven.” (Antimedia.org)
The hell you say! But what about guys with boats to park in bigger boats? How will they ever be able to survive without caviar 50 times a day??
Better still, Iceland is on track to become the first European country that suffered in the financial meltdown to “surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output”—essentially proving to the U.S. that bailing out “too big to fail” banks is utter nonsense reserved for Fox News viewers. Hopefully a Bernie Sanders presidential run will produce a substantive debate on Wall Street reform.
Featured image via Believenothing.net