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SEMİH İDİZ

SEMİH İDİZ > It’s not all about the economy, stupid!

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Whatever its “EU perspective” bears in the final run, it goes without saying that Turkey needs an economically and politically stable Europe for its own economic prosperity. Turkish “schadenfreude” vis-a-vis Greece and all that aside, it is apparent that every economic failure in Europe, and that includes our Aegean neighbor, reverberates in this country.

The thinking in Europe is now shifting from an uncompromising “austerity” approach to one that has growth and jobs in view. There are those such as Jim Rogers – an often quoted analyst who also has the sobriquet of “Doctor Doom” – who feel it is “ridiculous to take from the strong and give to the weak” as a means of trying to overcome the economic crisis.

But the “weak” in this case are the common people, and they have been showing their dissatisfaction in one election after another across Europe. This is obviously forcing the rethinking, but not necessarily a jettisoning, of the kind of austerity measures supported by the German government.

Put simply it’s the old Keynes vs. monetarists debate once again. But economic developments in Europe are such that it is time for creative thinking that involves a little Keynes, little Friedman and a little of the previously not thought about.

The alternative is that it will become harder to avert the possibility of political extremes, and especially the ultraright, from gaining a foothold by taking advantage of public anger and frustration, as happened in Greece.

That country goes to the ballot box again this Sunday to try and come out with a viable government that will take the country out of its present mess. Hopefully the violent and anachronistic behavior of the neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn” party will have alerted the Greek public to the dangers that lie ahead should they choose to go in that direction.

Nouriel Roubini, the famous economist who foresaw the global economic crisis and does not predict an early end to it, has come up with a novel idea that serves a couple of purposes. It also points to the kind of creative thinking that should be going on in order not just to contribute to efforts aimed stimulating growth in the weaker economies, but to increasing amity between Europeans who have fallen; a case in point being the Greeks again, and the Germans.

His idea, put forward in an interview with a German paper, goes something like this: As a substitute to extending funds to stricken countries, which the public of the giving country considers to be “unjustified handouts,” and which is thus politically unpopular, Germany should give its citizens who want to take a holiday in southeastern Europe 1,000 euros to spend.

Not only will this stimulate those economies, which as in the case of Greece in principle, are heavily dependent on tourism, but will also contribute to a better climate between “northern Europeans” who feel they are forking out for others, and the “southern Europeans” who are angry about the condescending and snide attitudes of northerners.

Beneficiary countries however have responsibilities here too and must curb anti-EU nationalism in the first instance in order to deem themselves attractive. This is especially important when we read reports of significant cancelations by Germans in terms of pre-booked holidays for Greece, for example.

In the meantime enough capital has been amassed by the governments of the stronger countries, and by private industry, so it is time to spread the wealth around now for the sake of political stability. Unless that is done in feasible and imaginative ways, in order to get the economic wheels turning again, the likely outcome is that people will be forced to take to the streets and do dangerously silly things like relying on the far right.

That part of the political spectrum has never led to anything good, neither in Turkey, nor anywhere else. So it is not “All about the economy, stupid!” in this case. There is much more at stake than that.

June/15/2012

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Blue Dotterel

6/16/2012 12:03:36 PM

Mara, "genuine socialism", you mean the quantitative easing programs implemented in the US which are taxpayer handouts to the rich that are never provided as loans to small businesses to kick start the economy, but are gambled away on derivatives, and given to shareholders and upper management.; or do you mean the bailouts to Greece which go directly into the foreign banks pockets, the very people whose incompetence or worse led to the crisis in the first place, and who benefit from austerity.

mara mcglothin

6/15/2012 4:52:56 PM

BLUE Don't you mean "genuine Socialism" The whole World has the same problem. People have become lazy and have no work ethic. Everyone wants to sit around and let the government take care of them. Very sad.

DORUS LIVIS

6/15/2012 11:35:02 AM

Very good to see that there are people among Turks that realize how serious the problem is, and how it affects all countries directly or indirectly. At last, someone sees the whole picture!

Blue Dotterel

6/15/2012 9:38:41 AM

Warren Buffet knows: "There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war and we're winning." The problem is the rest of us do not seem to know that we are being attacked (well, the Greeks know). In the 30s, there were enough of the elite, like Roosevelt and Churchill who saw some merit in democracy to side against the corporate fascists, and fight Hitler. Today, who is there among the elite to fight against these corporatists in favor of genuine democracy?

Blue Dotterel

6/15/2012 9:31:06 AM

The same mentality that encouraged the wealthy and powerful in the US and UK (like Bush's grandfather Preston Bush) to support Hitler and Mussolini's fascism, and their attack on trade unions, is driving the austerity measures today. This is a direct attack on democracy. The anti-democracy advocates among the elite are intentionally undermining economies in order to set up fascist regimes. That is what the austerity measures are intended to do.

Stefanos Kalogirou

6/15/2012 7:26:55 AM

Well said Mr Idiz! do we need more evidence than seeing certified retards following a retard like Mihaloliakos (Golden Dawn leader)? people are losing their minds and peace is at stake. The EU must fulfill its goal, must abide to what was made for, Peace!
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