Let the all-too-clever Greeks drink Socratic hemlock
It seems to me that it’s time that the European Commission, the Germans, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, the private banks, the media and the rest of us took a deep breath and gave the Greeks a break.
The script is now familiar: The all-too-clever Greeks scammed the EU, ran up bills they can’t repay and this week’s reckoning was a deserved sip of Socratic hemlock. You have surely seen the pictures on TV of Athens burning, Greeks rioting and homeless shelters swelling. But you may have missed a far more informative piece of video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5vhv-VwKNw.
Please watch the latter. In place of tragedy, it’s a staging of Greek comedy in the form of an official video from the European Parliament as Europarliamentarian Nigel Farage tells the EU chieftains what short-sighted, self-dealing, hypocritical horses’ asses they really are. Spot on.
Yes, the Greeks dipped their hands too deep in the EU cookie jar. They shouldn’t have. Now the cookie jar is closed and the children must eat only their vegetables. Fair is fair. But C’mon, a “failed state” as the German media has declared?
For political and fiscal fun and games, let’s go back 41 years, to why the Europeans really created the euro (or its precursor the ECU). This was the “Nixon shock,” named for the U.S. president who took America off the gold standard, effectively forcing Europe to pay for the Vietnam War through currency devaluation. As then-Treasury Secretary John Connally told a group of European Central bankers: “The dollar may be our currency but it’s your problem.” The pouting Europeans responded with the ECU as the start of an “alternative to the dollar.”
So which of the little countries in Europe coined the phrase, “the wine changes but the bottle stays the same?” That’s the truth of the matter.
Politicians generally and European politicians specifically are masters of the game. Former Swedish Prime Minister and current Foreign Minister Carl Bildt got caught cheating on his taxes. And German President Christian Wulff quit Friday amid the fallout from a real estate scam he pulled off.
The EU is a monument to scams, from the multibillion cost of “twin capitals” in Brussels and Strasbourg just to mollify the French to the 50 million euros of padding the EU’s new foreign policy czar Baroness Catherine Ashton added to her new office just in the past year. She now has more than 100 new EU diplomats at her beck and call who ALL make more money than the British foreign secretary.
Germany’s dirty little secret is that the steroids given the economies of the naughty (but importing) “southern tier” countries are what really animate the muscle in their own “export powerhouse.”
The fact is that the European financial establishment could easily have prevented the crisis had it moved to maintain low interest rates on Greek debt two years ago. Stiff medicine would still have been in order, but not hemlock. But no, the chance to reform profligate pensions, retirement ages and the dangerous welfare state through an abetted – if not manufactured – crisis was irresistible.
Now we can pass the poisoned chalice to Italy, Spain and Portugal. After all, they are just as all-too-clever as the Greeks.