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Only in America can you find high employment together with rank poverty

How much of that employment pays a wage that someone can afford to live on?

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The current employment statistics in America look pretty good, they say that we’ve basically reach full employment. That’s great, right? But the poverty statistics, and fates of various industries are not so sure about that.

One might expect that with high employment, there would be more economic activity, investments, more major purchases, like homes, more families, a natural population growth, etc. But that’s not what’s happening. The generation that is of child rearing age isn’t replacing itself the same way the previous generation did. They’re not buying homes the way their parents did. And numerous industries which sell products aimed at families and kids are feeling an economic pinch.

Before getting into the weeds about demographics and markets, let’s take a good look at our initial point of concern, and that’s the employment factor. While we might see a statistic that looks fantastic in its generality, we’re not seeing the benefits of such a reality because of the fact that what we’re not getting here is quality of that employment. How much of that employment is full time, how much of it pays a wage that someone can afford to live on? How much of it is part time? How much of it might actually be qualified as a sort of side-gig? How much of it matches the qualifications of its workers? The list goes on.

Frankly, the answer to these questions, and more, is that for a substantial number of people, it doesn’t do any of that, except provide some pocket change and take up time.

Jack Kelly over at Forbes gives a brief description of what the scenario entails:

The government and media have been reporting that the job market is remarkably tight. The unemployment rate is at 3.8%—a historic low. Economists contend that 5% unemployment is deemed full employment. This means that pretty much anyone who wants a job already has a job or could easily attain a job. The rationale is that it is anticipated that there will always be a given number of people out of work—not because the job market is soft, but rather due to miscellaneous reasons that leave a number of the population without a job. There is always going to be a certain number of people between jobs, but that does not fundamentally reflect the soundness and strength of the job market.

Since we are at 3.8%– which is lower than 5% (I’m pretty good at this math stuff), we should be celebrating. Sadly, I don’t believe the hype one bit.

We are not getting the full story. If we have better-than-full employment, the following things should happen:

  1. Wages of current workers should rise, as there is pressure to keep employees from being poached by rival corporations due to the shortage of workers. It’s “Economics 101” (my son just took this course as a college freshman, so I’m an expert on the matter). If qualified employees are scarce and in short supply, the cost (i.e. salary) should rise. But employee wages are stagnant and not increasing.
  2. Companies should be offering a premium to recruit workers since they are in short supply, but they’re not. Most firms are not offering attractively high offers to job seekers. This doesn’t make sense if there is full employment and a shortage of talent. If the job market was so tight, companies would be forced to offer higher starting salaries to people to entice them to join their company. However, this isn’t happening, so why would current candidates leave their current position for a new firm?
  3. If there is truly a shortage of candidates, companies would have to lower their standards and hire people without all the requisite qualifications. Because of this, they would offer the incoming candidates training to help them learn the job. However, this is not the case. In fact, if you look at job descriptions lately, the requirements listed are ridiculously long and the compensation is far less than the job calls for.

What I think is happening is that people are working, but we are not given the full truth.

  1. Millions of millennials are working at McJobs—jobs that are debasing and unfit for their $200k education. Yes, they may be working, but it is not the type of job they want nor does it measure up to their educational investment.
  2. Millions of people have dropped out of the job market and are not counted in the government data. If you stopped collecting unemployment checks, you simply disappear; the government doesn’t include you in their data. Therefore, even though you are looking for a job, you are unaccounted for. These unemployed folks have conveniently fallen through the cracks.
  3. Similarly, millions of people have simply given up hope. As a result of age discrimination and other perceived injustices, distressed job seekers throw up their hands in defeat and abandon their job searches entirely. Maybe they’ll settle for some part-time work or try to live off of their savings. Unfortunately, the outcome looks bleak for these folks.
  4. We have witnessed the ascendance of the “gig” economy— a “side hustle” or whatever sexy-sounding title you want to assign it. People are pushed into working short-term, going-nowhere contractual engagements. It is scrapping and clawing to constantly find consistent work.
  5. Also, the data doesn’t count a person who is working and just holding on by the skin of one’s teeth. They come to work each and every day worried about losing their jobs, having to relocate to a cheaper location or another country, being replaced by someone younger and less expensive or superseded by artificial intelligence.
  6. Baby boomers are desperately clinging onto whatever jobs they have. Without corporate pensions and having lost money in the financial crisis to reinvest into the bull stock market, they don’t have the money to retire.

The objective for this piece is to provide a more realistic perspective on the job market. Job seekers can become very depressed, disheartened and discouraged when they read the headlines about how great the job market is, while they themselves are either unemployed or underemployed. They feel alone in these circumstances, but, alas, they are not. I hope that, while I’m not offering you an answer today, at least you can have some comfort in knowing that it’s not just you, but rather a bigger trend that’s impacting millions of others just like you.

What America has here is a wage problem, and Trump is taking the long way, around the world, to solve it. Imagine if you’re in Ohio and you want to get to New York. Instead of heading East, you go West and circumnavigate the globe to get there. That’s exactly what Trump is doing by starting trade wars in the hopes of bringing jobs into America. But even if he is successful in motivating industries to open up in America, as it currently stands, the industry that is currently in America only pays its workers around $18,000 a year, with those workers still having to rely on food stamps for their survival. In the end, Trump is not solving for X, he’s simply moving it from one side of the equation to the other.

The wage problem would still have to be addressed. Trump is part of the baby boomer generation, and in their memory they remember manufacturing jobs being good paying jobs. In America’s time of greatness, post WW2, when America had this amazing prosperity, the average manufacturing laborer in Detroit was making the equivalent of $50/hr by today’s standards. But, at the same time, the average menial worker was on average earning $20/hr by today’s standards. What’s happened here is that the fruits of labor are no longer earned by the laborer, but end up in the hands of an investor class of shareholder, rendering today’s American economy to little more than usury.

There are two sorts of wealth-getting, as I have said; one is a part of household management, the other is retail trade: the former necessary and honorable, while that which consists in exchange is justly censured; for it is unnatural, and a mode by which men gain from one another. The most hated sort, and with the greatest reason, is usury, which makes a gain out of money itself, and not from the natural object of it. For money was intended to be used in exchange, but not to increase at interest. And this term interest, which means the birth of money from money, is applied to the breeding of money because the offspring resembles the parent. Wherefore of an modes of getting wealth this is the most unnatural.
– Aristotle, Politics

While many may perceive that a living wage is economically infeasible, this is inconsistent with the mode of compensation and labor in that post WW2 period. If living wages were the death knell of a company, no company which operated at that time should have survived. But they are now some of the world’s largest and richest companies today. When America was ‘great’, Americans were earning a living wage as a minimum wage. The American president who took America through the Great Depression, when he instituted the minimum wage, expressed how he perceived it

“No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country…. “Without question, [the minimum wage] starts us toward a better standard of living and increases purchasing power to buy the products of farm and factory.”

In the end, the problem of employment is not merely its quantity, or the quality, but also in its capacity to render compensation for labor rendered. Without tackling this issue, increasing the sheer number of jobs does not address the core problem of poverty or of jobs meeting the needs of the population.

It looks like Trump should take a few pointers from Russia’s Putin, who has brought Russia from an economic nightmare to being a world power. Putin knows that Russia can’t be great if its people are impoverished.

Some may believe that America is at a disadvantage and therefore cannot offer a living wage due to its trade deficit. But this is a mistake, because America does have an export: dollars. Thanks to Breton Woods, it exports dollars. This is what gives America its global hegemony. This is what makes America the richest country in the world.

America chooses to concentrate its wealth not at the ground level, but in an elite class of usurers. To change the fate of the American citizen, one does not need to bring about the end of the post WW2 era, but merely to usher in some updated policy changes.

 

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Robert Hilltibetan cowboyRodney AtkinsonTheRealDeplorableVoiceofReasonMagua1952 Recent comment authors
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Robert Hill
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Robert Hill

Those policy changes are some hot potatoes no ine wants to touch…. Im from Croatia and can see clearly that corporarions have destroyed USA… it will be hard to tear them down without some kind of revolution… some huge catalist is needed….. of epic magnitude to move people to take back their country… I dont rly seebit happening… I see it getting worse… the bad thing for DC is: most Americans are armed people….

tibetan cowboy
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tibetan cowboy

This is another rather worthless distracting article full of misinformation. The real unemployment rate is over 20%, the inflation rate is 10% and accelerating, and up to 50% of the civilians in the USA now live below the poverty line. Read these articles instead of this one: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/49632.htm. https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/10/16/yes-half-americans-are-or-near-poverty-heres-more-evidence. Wages in the 1960s in Elkhart, IN, my hometown when I was in high school, paid $15/ hr. and once in a job 6 mos. or so, hourly wages you were promoted to were $25/ hr., at NIBCO and probably 20+ other companies in Elkhart then. These were sub-contractors to the… Read more »

Rodney Atkinson
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Rodney Atkinson

Big business and the political left have promoted mass immigration. The former for profit the latter to destroy nation states. Labour supply up – wages down. Vitious circle ensues….low wages, higher debt, less investment, lower skills, lower wages etc etc etc

TheRealDeplorableVoiceofReason
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TheRealDeplorableVoiceofReason

Yet I have read recently about two major railroads offering over 20K per person for folks signing on. Places in the Dakotas where oil shale took off were $15-17 an hour to clerk at WalMart.

In rural North Dakota, 600 a week plus OT is a veritable fortune.

Magua1952
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Magua1952

I’m afraid Russia’s economy is not a good example to follow. The GDP is smaller than Texas.

Years of 4 and 5% growth will improve wages. It will take time to recover what was lost by the so called free traders and open borders fanatics.

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US Blunders Have Made Russia The Global Trade Pivot

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead

The Duran

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Authored by Mathew Maavak via ActivistPost.com:


The year 2019 had barely begun before news emerged that six Russian sailors were kidnapped by pirates off the coast of Benin. It was perhaps a foretaste of risks to come. As nations reel from deteriorating economic conditions, instances of piracy and other forms of supply chain disruptions are bound to increase.

According to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), 107 cases of piracy were noted during the first half of 2018 vis-à-vis 87 throughout 2017.  The 2018 tally included 32 cases in Southeast Asian waters and 48 along African shores – representing 75% of the total. To put this figure into perspective, Asian behemoths India and China – despite their vast shorelines – recorded only 2 cases of piracy each during the study period. Russia had none. In terms of hostages taken, the IMB tally read 102 in H1 2018 vs 63 in H1 2017.

Piracy adds to shipping and retail costs worldwide as security, insurance and salaries are hiked to match associated risks in maritime transport. Merchant vessels will also take longer and costlier routes to avoid piracy hotspots.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report in 2016 sums up the perils ahead:

As over 90% of global trade is carried out by sea, the economic effects of maritime crime can be crippling. Maritime crime includes not only criminal activity directed at vessels or maritime structures, but also the use of the high seas to perpetrate transnational organized crimes such as smuggling of persons or illicit substances.  These forms of maritime crime can have devastating human consequences.

Indeed, cases of human trafficking, organ harvesting, and the smuggling of illicit substances and counterfeit goods are proliferating worldwide in tandem with rising systemic debt and suspect international agendas.

Australia offers a case in point. While it fantasizes over a Quad of allies in the Indo-Pacific – to “save Asians from China” – criminal elements from Hong Kong, Malaysia to squeaky-clean Singapore have been routinely trafficking drugs, tobacco and people right into Sydney harbour for years,  swelling the local organised crime economy to as much as $47.4 billion (Australian dollars presumably) between 2016 and 2017.

With criminal elements expected to thrive during a severe recession, they will likely enjoy a degree of prosecutorial shielding from state actors and local politicians. But this is not a Southeast Asian problem alone; any superpower wishing to disrupt Asia-Europe trade arteries – the main engine of global growth – will have targets of opportunity across oceans and lands.  The US-led war against Syria had not only cratered one potential trans-Eurasia energy and trade node, it served as a boon for child traffickingorgan harvesting and slavery as well. Yet, it is President Bashar al-Assad who is repeatedly labelled a “butcher” by the Anglo-American media.

Ultimately, industries in Asia and Europe will seek safer transit routes for their products. The inference here is inevitable: the greatest logistical undertaking in history – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – will be highly dependent on Russian security umbrella, particularly in Central Asia. Russia also offers an alternative transit option via the Northern Sea Route, thereby avoiding any potential pan-Turkic ructions in Central Asia in the future.

Russo- and Sinophobia explained?

In retrospect, Washington’s reckless policies post-Sept 11 2001 seem aimed at disrupting growing synergies between Asia and Europe. This hypothesis helps explain the relentless US-led agitprops against Russia, China and Iran.

When the gilet jaunes (yellow vest) protests rocked France weeks ago, it was only a matter of time before some pundits blamed it on Russia. US President Donald J. Trump cheered on; just as “billionaire activist” George Soros celebrated the refugee invasion of Europe and the Arab Spring earlier.  If the yellow vest contagion spreads to the Western half of Europe, its economies will flounder. Cui bono? A Russia that can reap benefits from the two-way BRI or Arctic trade routes or a moribund United States that can no longer rule roost in an increasingly multipolar world?

Trump’s diplomatic downgrade of the European Union and his opposition to the Nord Stream 2gas pipeline matches this trade-disruption hypothesis, as do pressures applied on India and China to drop energy and trade ties with Iran.  Washington’s trade war with Beijing and recent charges against Huawei – arguably Asia’s most valuable company – seem to fit this grand strategy.

If China concedes to importing more US products, Europe will bear the consequences. Asians love European products ranging from German cars to Italian shoes and Europe remains the favourite vacation destination for its growing middle class. Eastern European products and institutions are also beginning to gain traction in Asia. However, these emerging economies will suffer if their leaders cave in to Washington’s bogeyman fetish.

Even if Europe is somehow taken out of the trade equation, greater synergy between the RIC (Russia, India and China) nations may be enough – at least theoretically – to pull their nations through anticipated global volatilities ahead.

In the meantime, as the US-led world crumbles, it looks like Russia is patiently biding its time to become the security guarantor and kingmaker of Asia-Europe trade.  A possible state of affairs wrought more by American inanity rather than Russian ingenuity…

Dr Mathew Maavak is a regular commentator on risk-related geostrategic issues.

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Historic Eastern Christianity: An Uncertain Future

The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Elias Samo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The survival of historic Eastern Christianity has never been as urgent as it is today. Christianity saw its beginning in Greater Syria which was subdivided by France and Britain after WWI into modern day Syria, Lebanon, Palestian/Israel and Jordan. The land that housed, nurtured and spread the teachings of Jesus Christ for over two millenniums, now threatens children of that faith. The survival of historic Eastern Christianity, particularly in Syria, is critical for several reasons:

  1. Greater Syria is the homeland of Jesus and Christianity. Abraham was from modern day Iraq, Moses from Egypt, and Muhammad from Mecca; Jesus was from Syria.
  1. Paul converted to Christianity and saw the light while walking through ‘The Street Called Straight’ in Damascus.
  1. Jesus’ followers were called Christians for the first time in Antioch, formerly part of Syria.
  1. One of the earliest churches, perhaps the earliest, is in Syria.

The potential demise of historic Eastern Christianity is reflected in the key question Christians ask: should we stay or emigrate? The urgent question – in the face of the ongoing regional turmoil – precipitated with the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and escalated since the Arab uprisings in 2011. Historic Eastern Christians’ fears were further magnified when Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim of the Syriac Orthodox Church and Archbishop Paul Yazigi of the Greek Orthodox Church, both of metropolitan Aleppo, were kidnapped on April, 22, 2013; with no traces of their whereabouts, dead or alive, since. For many years, I was deputy, friend, and advisor to the Archbishop Ibrahim, which provided me an opportunity to meet many Christians. I have, over time, noticed the change in their sentiment, with more considering emigration after the uprising and the kidnapping of the two Archbishops. Historic Eastern Christians survived the Ottoman Genocide in 1915 and thereafter; they multiplied and thrived in the Fertile Crescent despite some atrocities until the start of the misnamed “Arab Spring” in early 2011. Prior to the “Arab Spring”, historic Eastern Christians were victims of violence on several occasions. In the mid-1930s, the historic Assyrian community in Iraq suffered violent onslaughts and were driven to Syria. In the 1970s and 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War, Christians were victims of sectarian violence. During the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, Christians were victims of widespread sectarian violence which led to mass migration. The “Arab Spring” began with great hope for the right of the people to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. However, it was swiftly hijacked by Islamists and Salafists and turned into an “Islamic Spring, an Arab Fall and a Christian Winter”; bringing along with it a new massacre of Christians. Presently, Eastern Christianity is at the mercy of clear and identifiable domestic, regional, and international, historic and contemporary conflicts in the Fertile Crescent, namely:

  1. Jihad vs. Ijtihad: A long standing conflict amongst Muslims between the sword vs. the pen.
  2. Sunni vs. Shiite: A conflict which began following the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
  3. Arabism vs. Islamism: The former has territorial limitations, the later has no territorial limitations.
  4. Syria vs. Israel: It is an essential component of the Palestinian problem, not the presumed Arab- Israeli conflict.
  5. West vs. East: A throwback to the Cold War, or its revival.
  6. Historic Persian, Ottoman and Arab Empires animosities: Each seeking regional hegemony.

One is reminded of the proverbial saying, “When the elephants fight, the grass suffers.” Certainly, Eastern Christianity is suffering and threatened with extinction.

Syria was a model of religious tolerance, common living and peaceful interaction amongst its religious, sectarian, cultural and ethnic components. Seven years of turmoil, in which various international and regional powers manipulated segments of Syrian society by supplying them with an abundance of weapons, money and sectarian ideologies, has heightened Eastern Christians’ fears. During the seven-year turmoil in Syria, the entire society has suffered; Sunnis, Shiites, Alawites, Yazidis, Kurds, Christians and others. Christians, being a weak and peaceful component of the society, have suffered immensely. Ma’aloula; a religious treasure for Christians globally, and the only city in the world where Aramaic – the language of Jesus Christ – is spoken, was attacked and besieged by ISIS. Numerous historic Churches were damaged, and many destroyed. Christians in Raqqa were forced by ISIS into one of three options: 1. Pay a penalty in pure gold – known as a ‘Jizya’ to keep their life and practice their faith – albeit in secret only; 2. Convert into Islam; or 3. Face immediate death. To top their pain, the kidnap of the two prominent Archbishops meant no Eastern Christian believer was safe.

Amidst all the doom and gloom, however, there remains hope. The survival of Christianity depends on the actions and reactions of three parties:

Eastern Christians: During the last hundred years, 1915-2015, since the Ottoman Genocide, Eastern Christians have been victims of a history of massacres, which meant that every Eastern Christian was a martyr, a potential martyr or a witness of martyrdom; if you fool me once, shame on you, if you fool me twice, shame on me. The ongoing regional turmoil has heightened their sense of insecurity. The answer to an age-old question Eastern Christians had on their mind: To flee Westwards or remain in their land, in the face of death, is increasingly becoming the former.

Eastern Muslims: There is a difference in perceptions between Eastern Christians and mainstream Muslims regarding the massacres committed against Christians. When certain violent groups or individuals kill Christians, while shouting a traditional Islamic profession: “No God but one God and Muhammad is God’s messenger”, it is reasonable for Christians to assume the killers are Muslims. However, for mainstream Muslims, the killers do not represent Islam; they are extremists, violating basic Islamic norms such as Muhammad’s sayings, “Whoever hurts a Thummy – Christian or Jew – has hurt me”, “no compulsion in religion” and other Islamic norms regarding just treatment of people of the Book; Christians and Jews. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Muslim elites to impress upon their fellow Muslims that:

a. The three monotheistic religions believe in one God and all ‘faithfuls’ are equal in citizenship, rights and duties.

b. Christians participated in the rise of Arab Islamic civilization. They were pioneers in the modern Arab renaissance and they joined their Muslim brethren in resisting the Crusades, the Ottomans and Western colonialism.

c. Christians are natives of the land and they provide cultural, religious, educational, and economic, diversity.

d. Christians are a positive link between the Muslims and the Christian West, particularly in view of the rise of Islamophobia. Massacres of Christians and their migration provide a pretext for the further precipitation of Islamophobia.

e. Civilization is measured by the way it treats its minorities.

The Christian West: The Crusades, Western colonialism, creation and continued support of Israel, support of authoritarian Arab political systems, military interventions, regime change, and the destabilization of Arab states made Muslims view Eastern Christians ‘guilty by association’. The Christian West helped Jews come to Palestine to establish Israel. Shouldn’t the same Christian West also help Eastern Christians remain in their homeland, rather than facilitate their emigration? Western Christians, particularly Christian Zionists, believe that the existence of Israel is necessary for the return of Jesus to his homeland. However, it would be a great disappointment for Jesus to return to his homeland, Syria and not find any of his followers.

Prior to 2011, Eastern Christian religious leaders were encouraging Syrian Christians in the diaspora to return to Syria, their homeland, where life was safe and secure with great potential. Now, the same leaders are desperately trying to slow down Christian emigration. Eastern Christians’ loud cries for help to remain are blowing in the wind.

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Protests erupt in Athens, as ‘North Macedonia’ vote fast approaches (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 62.

Alex Christoforou

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NATO and the EU are full of joy with the Prespes agreement, which is sure to pass the Greek Parliament and fast rack the newly minted Republic of North Macedonia into NATO and the EU.

Meanwhile in Athens and Skopje, anger is reaching dangerous levels, as each side debates the pros and cons of the deal inked by Tsipras and Zaev.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at yesterday’s protests in Athens, Greece, where things got very ugly as radical left Prime Minster Alexis Tsipras used tear gas and a heavy police hand to put down protests, that reached upwards of 60,000 people in the Syntagma downtown square.

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As Greece gets ready for a political showdown this week over the Prespes agreement, we are witnessing a relentless, often cynical, maneuvering between parties, their leaders and even individual deputies.

What is at stake is not only the ratification of the deal between Athens and Skopje, but also the potential redrawing of the domestic political map.

Greek society and the country’s political world are deeply divided. The public is clearly against the deal, with up to 70% opposed to it.

The tens of thousands that demonstrated in Sunday’s rally in Athens, showed once more that sentiments run high.

The violence, which the Prime Minister blamed on extremists, while the opposition leader criticized the extended use of tear gas and called for an investigation to find out who was responsible, is indicative of the slippery slope the country is facing in the months leading to the national elections.

Despite the voices of reason calling for a minimum of cooperation and looking for common ground, Alexis Tsipras and Kyriakos Mitsotakis are in an all out war.

The leftist Prime Minister is attempting to use the Prespes agreement to create a broad “progressive” coalition that extends well beyond SYRIZA, while the conservative opposition leader, who is leading in the polls, is trying to keep his party united (on the name issue there are differing approaches) and win the next elections with an absolute majority.

With respect to the Prespes deal itself, the rare confluence of shrewd political considerations with deeply held feelings about one’s history, makes for an explosive mix and ensures a heated debate in parliament.

As for the raw numbers, despite the public opposition, the passage of the Prespes agreement in the 300 member Greek Parliament should be considered a done deal. In the most plausible senario 153 deputies will support the deal in the vote expected later in the week.

The governing SYRIZA has 145 deputies, and one should add to those the positive votes of Tourism Minister Elena Kountoura, centrist To Potami deputies Stavros Theodorakis, Spyros Lykoudis and Giorgos Mavrotas, former To Potami MP Spiros Danellis, and ANEL MP Thanasis Papachristopoulos.

This leads to a majority of 151. Last night one more positive vote was announced, that of Thanasis Theocharopoulos, leader of Democratic Left which untill now was part of the Movement for Change coalition, from which he was ejected as a result of his decision to support the deal.

Finally, Citizens Security Deputy Minister Katerina Papacosta, a former member of New Democracy, is expected to also vote for the agreement, but has not officially said so. Thus, for all practical purposes, the Prespes agreement is expected to pass, with 152 or 153 votes.

Former Prime Minister George Papandreou, who is not a member of parliament and who has worked tiressly on the issue, both as foreign minister and PM, has gone public in support of the deal.

Despite the discomfort this move created in the leadership of the Movement for Change, doing otherwise would have made him look inconsistent. As he is not voting, the damage is seen as limited, although the symbolism does not help the Movement for Change approach.

To the extent that Greece’s transatlantic partners and allies want to see the agreement implemented, they should feel relief. Of course, nothing is done until the “fat lady sings”, but one can clearly hear her whispering the notes in the corridors of the Greek Parliament.

Still, for the astute observer of Greek politics and the foreign officials and analysts who value the crucial role of Greece as an anchor of stability in the Balkans – being by far the strongest country in this region, both militarily and economically, despite the crisis of the last eight years – the deep divisions the issue has created in the society and the political world, are a cause for concern and could spell trouble in the future.

Dealing with such a volatile landscape calls for delicate moves by all.

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