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It is hard to see a downside for the even-farther-left winning in Greece…

… not for Greece, which is screwed regardless of who wins, but rather for the rest of Europe on the basis that cutting a gangrenous limb off is often a good idea.

After all, to yet again use one of my favourite quotes from H. L. Mencken: “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard”.

And if ever there was a nation filled with people who deserve to keep getting what they voted for, it is Greece circa 2015.

Discuss.

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68 comments to It is hard to see a downside for the even-farther-left winning in Greece…

  • Mr Ecks

    If the EU’s ranks can once be broken–if even only one nation drops out–then I think there is a good chance that the whole thing will fall apart. It seems the Greeks don’t seem to want to be shot of the EU but they can’t both duck austerity and stay. We shall see.

  • Stop calling one group of people receiving less of some other people’s appropriated money “austerity” 😀

  • Paul Marks

    Agreed Perry.

    And if most people want even more government spending (which is what the left are promising) they do indeed deserve the consequences – pity about the minority of people though.

    As for “austerity” in Greece.

    Government spending is actually taking more than half the entire economy.

    Shock-horror.

    The mainstream media are lying about the “cuts” in government spending (and not just in terms of Greece).

  • Cal

    >If the EU’s ranks can once be broken–if even only one nation drops out–then I think there is a good chance that the whole thing will fall apart.

    I suspect so, too. But I also think that’s a big reason why the EU will be very reluctant to kick Greece out, no matter what Greece does.

  • Mr Ed

    Well I have just found a Debt Clock for Greece, lt is grim.

    http://www.nationaldebtclocks.org/debtclock/greece

    So this calls for a song, ‘Beat the Clock‘ by Sparks.

    And for the election outcome, ‘This town ain’t big enough for the both of us‘ with the finest ‘Chaplinesque’ performance in pop music history.

    ‘Syriza’ is an acronym for the Alliance of the Radical Left, imagine the equivalent of a coalition of all the crackpots and thugs too mad for even the UK’s Labour Party taking power, Greece may be run by a young Michael Foot with no sense of houmous. What tzatziki will happen is anyone’s guess, taramasalata for now.

  • bob sykes

    The Greeks have been unable to govern themselves since they won independence from the Ottoman Empire. Maybe it’s time to re-establish Turkish governance on the peninsula.

  • Maybe it’s time to re-establish Turkish governance on the peninsula.

    Yeah because Turkey under Tayyip Erdogan is such a great place. Gah! The guys is essentially an Islamic Vlad Putin.

  • lowlylowlycook

    >I suspect so, too. But I also think that’s a big reason why the EU will be very reluctant to kick Greece out, no matter what Greece does.

    But once countries learn that they can cheat the system with impunity then the Euro is suddenly in real trouble isn’t it?

  • Richard Thomas

    The Euro is in trouble because you can’t separate sovereignty from control of a currency (unless you do it completely for everybody) and so was built on unstable ground. There was no way this was not going to happen eventually.

  • The Euro is in trouble because you can’t separate sovereignty from control of a FIAT currency, that is true.

  • c777

    Greece is the new Albania.

  • bloke in spain

    I do think it’s unfair to refer to Greeks as if they’re all the same people. I doubt if they’re much different to our Dagos. Or Brits for that matter
    The people who’ve fucked it up will be sitting in their big houses or their shiny cars, largely untroubled by the crisis. The Costas & the Miguels will be trying to scrape by in a shit job, or not able to get a shit job & paying for it all.
    Good luck to Syriza. Good luck to Podemos for that matter. The comfortable middle class professionals aren’t going to change anything. They’ve too much invested in the system.

  • Mr Ed

    The Costas & the Miguels will be trying to scrape by in a shit job, or not able to get a shit job & paying for it all.

    That may well be, but in the final analysis, for the vast majority of those in that position, it would appear that they would not have done anything different to those they help to put into power, and if they are dumb enough to think ‘It’s time to let the Communists have a go” then frankly they do not deserve not to starve.

    In my view, anyone who votes Labour votes to reject economics and a rational basis for existence, and if that person should should starve as a consequence, it would be a sad but natural consequence of their own choice and preference, intention does not come into it. The pity is for those dragged down by or with them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What Bloke in Spain said.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I, too, agree with Bloke in Spain … except for Podemos: i believe that Syriza will make an example of Greece, and hope that that will happen soon enough to serve as a lesson to the rest of Europe, and the world.

    Another qualification: life isn’t meant to be fair. You choose to live in a country, you are going to share its misfortunes. Just be grateful to Oðin or whomever, that you live in a country from which you can easily emigrate. You might not want to emigrate because of your social bonds: fine, but then you can hardly demand that the EU bails your country out just so that you can maintain your social bonds.

    Actually i suspect that most of Greece will do just fine without government, but we’ll see.

  • Cal

    Well, it looks like the left-wingers have won in Greece. It’s going to be interesting now. Both sides will do all they can to keep Greece in the Euro, but hopefully the rhetoric has gone too far for that too be possible.

  • Regional

    The Greeks have voted to tell the E.U. with it’s demand for austerity to go fuck itself, which is ironic. The rest of the PIGS, Cyprus and Ireland will not doubt be taking note.

  • Stop calling it “austerity” 😉

    Austerity is what the people who get taxed experience when their money is taken from them and given to someone else. Having a state not rob people quite so much on other people’s behalf is not “austerity”. Calling less state spending “austerity” is a bit of semantic statist legerdemain.

  • Regional

    Perry,
    Double book keeping too.
    In Astraya the Hawke Labor Government ramped up the Disability Pension Scheme to hide the true unemployment rate.
    When the Howard Government was elected they told all Departments except Defence to a to cut their budgets by 10%. When they got chucked out of office unemployment was 3·6%, no debt and substantial sums of money in future funds to meet future liabilities. Labor soon put a stop that and the ABC adore Labor for that injustice. The Bias of the ABC is so bad that when a Labor politician is being interviewed the presenter is nearly ready to mount him and conceive their love child and that’s just the males.

  • CaptDMO

    Wait….wait….BITCOIN can “fix” it!
    Or I’ll bet more than a few folks would be willing to buy up a few “artifacts”.
    But the hill climb to the new Acropolis Global Amazon Outlet MIGHT be a bit much for
    some two cycle, three wheeled, (ahem…electric?)delivery vehicles on the Airport circuit.

  • John Galt III

    The Greeks have been statist in one form or another for a very long time. Not too different than Spain and Portugal and much of Latin America. I don’t see a free market, rule of law, property rights type of country ever in so far as Greece is concerned or the other countries mentioned. They always seem to relapse. Hope I’m wrong.

  • This is going to be interesting from a strategic point of view.

    I strongly suspect that one of their goals is to get out of NATO. This will probably have an impact on Turkey’s relations with NATO.

    There is also the migration question. Greece has a big role in handling the refugee flow from the Syrian civil war how will the new guys in Athens deal with that ?

    Also there is the Balkan issue. Will the new Greek government be favorable to a new deal for Kosovo and Macedonia (FYROM) ? How about Serbia ?

    They’ll be dealing with all this fun stuff while they face Venezuelan levels of toilet paper and diaper shortages .

    Will the NATO base at Souda Bay be turned into a Russian one ?

    This is going to be fun

  • staghounds

    I wonder what would happen if every Greek consulate in Africa and Asia suddenly started selling Greek passports for say $1000 each?

  • Rich Rostrom

    The question is: how far will the Eurocrats go to save their project?

    They have already poured hundreds of billions of Euros into the ratholes. New Democracy at least tried to stem the losses. SYRIZA demands even more spending instead

    If the ECB says no – then SYRIZA probably defaults on Greece’s national debt, which means Greece is out of the Euro, and the ECB has to write off Eu320B.

    (Incidentally, what exactly would it mean if Greece is “out of the Euro”? There’s nothing to prevent Greece from using the Euro the way Ecuador does the US$.)

    I don’t think the Eurocrats can admit failure. They will have to pay off Greece.

    The further question is how far the Eurocrats can continue this course before provoking a genuine political upheaval in the EU’s core states (especially Germany).

    Europe has a severe “democratic deficit”; the Eurocrats and their enablers in the traditional political parties conspire to prevent such an upheaval. How long can that last?

  • Bogdan from Aussie

    F**k the austerity said to me my TAPEWORM…

  • Bogdan from Aussie

    P.S: In the end I lost as the tapeworm, the pinworm and the ascaris created a coalition and outvoted me…

  • Bogdan from Aussie

    And another question: I don’t speak Greek. Does SYRIZA means ASCARIS in Greek?

  • tranquil

    As Spock would say – “Fascinating.”

    Silly socialist policies destroyed Greece’s economy in the first place so now they’ve voted for “socialism on steroids”.
    Ok, I can see why they’ve done it – the seductive-looking promises of Syriza, all of which will turn out to be fool’s gold.
    It’s like a dieter who wants chocolate instead of a tomato sandwich.

    In summary – out of the frying pan, into the fire.

  • Mr Ed

    This BBC piece on Drama, a dusty town in northern Greece (on the train line to Konstantinopolis) has a snippet from a local who returned from Manchester recently to start a coffee shop:

    “When I registered a new business at the tax office,” he says with a rueful grin, “even they told me I was crazy”.

    “We sell Greek coffee for one euro, and we pay 43 cents in tax on every cup. It makes no sense.”

    Last week on Radio 4 they interviewed a Greek new car salesman, who said he was being shaken down for bribes by officials from the tax office, who came in threes, the boss, the nice one and the nasty one, in broad daylight, in bureaucratic triplicate, boasting that they could close him down using the tax code of many thousands of pages.

    As Paul Marks says, deep down everyone knows what the problem is and implicitly, the solution, yet they vote for more of the same.

  • Barry Sheridan

    Nothing Greece does will derail the European project, it is simply too small to be of enough consequence. Should they decide to default the debt will be written off by the Mandarins of Brussels, they are after all about to start printing money so a few hundred billion is neither here nor there. The issue really is how Greece will cope once outside of the club should it go down that route. Frankly I think a deal will be struck in some way that keeps the Greeks in, the deciding factor being the realities of life outside.
    Those who feel this election marks some end are mistaken, the future of Europe will not alter significantly until the Germans come to terms with the reality that it is the intention of those who run this thing to use German wealth for the projects ends, and to go on doing so until that money is squandered, as it eventually will be.

  • “Nothing Greece does will derail the European project, it is simply too small to be of enough consequence” that’s as may be but the problem (as far as the Euro idiots are concerned) isn’t Greece, it’s the knock-on effect of a Greek renegotiation on public opinion in the rest of the basket cases.

    However, like you, I think a deal will be done. It won’t make any sense and it’ll be ruinous to even more people in the medium term but the ‘grand project’ must go on, no matter how far the participants have to bend over.

  • Cal

    Richard North at EU Referendum says:

    ————–
    I have my doubts about whether anything substantial will come of this. Greece is a small country, on the fringes of the Empire with a small population (less than 11 million) and a tiny GDP, under $250 billion – not even one percent of the eurozone.

    In brute terms, the amount of damage it can do to rest of the eurozone economy is slight, while its own economy is fragile and highly sensitive to external shocks.

    My guess, therefore, is that we will see from the new Greek government, some ritual chest beating, and some scare headlines from the pundits, followed by a few minor concessions from the “colleagues” and some none-too-subtle waving of the big stick.

    Then the Greeks will knuckle under like they always do, and some sort of stability will be restored, with limited disruption to the EU as a whole. For the one thing the last crisis taught us is that the eurozone is far more resilient than that pundits would have us believe, with no interest in the global community in bringing it down.

    The one thing the “colleagues” can’t afford to do is submit to blackmail so, if necessary, Greece will be driven to the wall, pour encourager les autres. It will not be allowed to pull down the euro – no one sensible wants that, and no one could welcome the chaos that would ensue.
    ————–

  • Barry Sheridan
    January 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

    Eventually? I think it will be sooner than that.

  • Mr Ed

    Snorri, that link is a goldmine of horrors, disability pensions for paedophiles, no wonder Greek coffee is 43% taxed. The Greek state itself needs to be brought to a crashing end, a bit like this cruise ship in a Turkish breakers’ yard.

  • Tarrou

    Barry has it right. The status quo will continue. Greece will not exit. Germany will foot the bill. Europeans have lost too much nationalism to stand up for their individual states, except in the cases of truly appalling governance. Those states seem to have nationalism just fine. Shriek “Remember the Forties” at the Germans and wait for the cash.

  • Pardone

    I wish the Germans would pay for their own railways instead of forcing us Brits to pay for theirs. Why should my taxes fund German trains?

    PS Also screw the US Government for taking down Afterburner Climax.

  • Rob

    The EU will find some underhand way to load the shit onto others, presumably us.

  • Gareth

    Mr Ecks said:

    If the EU’s ranks can once be broken–if even only one nation drops out–then I think there is a good chance that the whole thing will fall apart.

    I disagree. I think the EU would continue largely in its present form even if Greece left. There would be a costly, temporary distortion but economies and politics would recover. The EU has powerful institutions and its influence has been welcomed by Quislings at every level from the EU down to local government.

    A Greek exit could even be the beneficial crisis required to get the members bounced into a proper federal government in control of the Euro and some redistribution of taxes. It could be presented as enough of a disaster that only the formation of a proper European nation could prevent it. It wouldn’t be true of course. The EU melting back into individual nations isn’t the end of the world, only the end of the gravy train.

    It is politically convenient for pro-EU types to get on the telly and in the papers saying that a nation leaving risks the whole thing collapsing – it is bog standard fear mongering. It goes hand in hand with the bluff calling that some Eurocrats like to do over UK membership, saying it’d be no problem if we left. But then take a step closer to the door and they’re shouting at us that it’ll all fall over, Europe would be exterminating minorities again and it’d be Dave’s fault.

    What they are usually just doing is saying whichever lie suits them most at any given time.

  • Mr Ed

    Greenland left the EEC in 1979, no one really noticed, apart from the seals. The basic idea at present seems to be that Germany pays for the various sunny but essentially unreformed bureau-welfare states where olives can grow, and that is that. This arrangement is some form of cosmic revenge for the predecessor to the Federal Republic of Germany setting up a welfare state in the Protectorate of Bohemia in 1938.

    However, the Greeks appear to have not got the memo about how far they can take it with their fantasy borrowings, and want things to carry on as before the spending/debt issue came to a head, and to borrow more money (or default on that borrowed), money which doesn’t exist from people who never really had it and won’t get it back, but with baleful consequences for bank balance sheets.

  • bob sykes

    My own snide comment above aside, does not anyone understand the extreme suffering of the actual Greek people.

    Overall unemployment is 26%, yout unemployment is 50% and the economic has shrunk arount 25%. Dear Sweet Jesus, why aren’t they rioting in the streets and killing politicians and bankers? The are the conditions that prevailed at the depth of the Great Depression.

    This morning on the BBC, the economic correspondent was whining that under austerity unemployment had fallen (from 28% to 26%) and that the Greek government ran a surplus last year. So why can’t the Greeks see how wonderful everything is? Now there a good candidate for a lynching. Syriza should send some goons to London.

    You cannot impose this degree of pain on a people without an explosion. Greek will have to default on all its debt (which it has done numerous times in the past) and leave the EU.

    This is a nice opportunity for the budding Russo-Chinese alliance. China can cash out a few hundred billions of T-bills to loan to Greece, and Russia can get a first class harbor for its navy.

  • Mr Ed

    bob,

    What is it that the Greeks want? When you have a country where tax on a cup of coffee is 43%, it is not for want of taxation that the economy is in trouble. It is a country of 11,000,000 with 900,000 bureaucrats and more, with a massive tax code that can be and is used to shake down businesses for bribes, and if not, is used to shut down businesses, whether by honest or corrupt officials scarcely matters.

    There is no complaint about the policies that got Greece into this situation, only about the consequences of the policies when those who pay for them cough and point out that this cannot go on. There is no closing of tax offices, no closing of government ministries, no ‘bonfire’ of regulations, no proposal to do anything but bleat and cheat.

    Politically, Greece has abandoned any pretence of economic reason by its policies, and seems to think that borrowing 215% of GDP to finance government operations is something that could or should carry on. When you come to the end of the road, you ought not to blame to road for ending, but yourself for driving down it. They are there now, and all they have done is whinge about the fact that reality is reality. The political plan is quite simple, as in the UK, but on a more brazen scale: Beg, steal and borrow.

  • You cannot impose this degree of pain on a people without an explosion. Greek will have to default on all its debt (which it has done numerous times in the past) and leave the EU.

    Well yeah, but Greece has just voted for people who think Greeks are entitled to more, not less, money from the magic money tree. So fuck ’em, anyone with any wits who can see that folly of that needs to get the hell out whilst they are still in the EU.

  • Perry, actually that is a very good point.
    Where the hell are all the economic migrants from Greece?
    Plenty of eastern Europeans round here finding work. Where are the Greeks ?

  • Cal

    Loved this in the Mail:

    “But after meeting Ms Batziana, something of a firebrand student, in 1987 when they were at high school together in Athens, she convinced him to join the Communist Youth of Greece in 1990.”

    And then in the very next paragraph:

    “Supporter Eleni Sarli, 54, told The Times: ‘He is the good guy everybody wants to be and the honest politician everyone wants to trust.'”

    Because if there’s anyone you can trust in politics, it’s a Communist.

  • Cal

    From the Mail:
    “Yanis Varoufakis, who is tipped to be Syriza’s finance minister, celebrated the win this morning, but said the party was faced with a ‘poisoned chalice’.

    Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he said: ‘Tragically our state became bankrupt and Europe decided to deal with this by placing the largest loan on the poorest shoulders on the condition that we would have to shrink our income to a quarter.”

    The EU demanded that Greece shrink its income to a quarter? Really?

  • Mr Ed

    Cal 3:35pm. Quite, they trusted Stalin, all the way to Kolyma.

    3:40

    ‘Tragically our state became bankrupt and Europe decided to deal with this by placing the largest loan on the poorest shoulders on the condition that we would have to shrink our income to a quarter.”

    Surely that is lost in translation (from reality to victimspeak) and it should have come out as “We borrowed twice our national income to fund pork, outright fraud and welfare schemes and when the money ran out the people lending us more money were a bit miffed and wanted to be able to pretend that we could pay it back, so they put us on a Wonga payday loan deal that’s really harsh.”

    The terms of the bailout are rather hard to find. The Guardian provides some headline figures, but talk of ‘cuts’ of €28,000,000,000 is rather hard to decipher, given the tendency to describe a reduction in a planned increase as a ‘cut’.

  • llamas

    ‘Our state became bankrupt . . . . ‘

    No doubt due to undetected bankrupting radiation, beamed at Greece from an unknown planet hiding behind Pluto. It’s amazing, how that happens. One minute, you’re eating ouzo and drinking olives, and the next – you’re bankrupt! It must happen in some stealthy manner, like male pattern baldness, or the growth of my first wife’s hatred for me.

    ‘ . . . placing the largest loan . . .’ They forced us! We didn’t want the money, but they made us take it! We had to! If we didn’t, they said they’d do – well, we can’t quite remember what they said they’d do if we didn’t take their money at once, but it was bad! Terribly bad! We had no choice! We’re victims of Providing Money with Menaces!

    You can’t make stuff like this up, you really can’t.

    I and others predicted on these here very pages, a few years ago, that this is what would happen to the money – that it would all get p*ssed away in propping up the state, none of it would end up doing any good or helping the Greek economy out of the total cr*phole it’s dug itself into – and here we are.

    llater,

    llamas

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just remembered a line from a etter by Groucho Marxto his son:

    That’s one of the nicethings about holding the purse strings: Eventually, children come around to seeing things your way.

    Merkel would do well to keep this in mind.

  • Why the fuss? Greece’s GDP is a little less than that of Atlanta, GA in an economy putatively the same size as that of the U.S.A. The only reason anyone would worry about Greece leaving anything would be purely political.

    Oh, wait; I just answered my own question.

  • Pardone

    Was it not Goldman Sachs who fiddled the figures for the Greek government?
    Why no reckoning for the Corporatists at Government Sachs? I’m sure its just a coincidence that GS “alumni” head many of the central banks across Europe, just like in the US where Mr. Paulson and Mr. Geithner accidentally gave Goldman huge welfare handouts and billed it to the taxpayer.

    And is it not the case that Merkel is happy to indulge Greece’s wasteful and corrupt millitary by virtue of Greek money being pissed away on those juicy arms sales?

  • Laird

    Pardone, Mario Draghi of the ECB is also a Goldman Sachs alumnus.

  • Cal

    >>Perry:
    >>Greece has just voted for people who think Greeks are entitled to more, not less, money from the magic money tree. So fuck ‘em, anyone with any wits who can see that folly of that needs to get the hell out whilst they are still in the EU.
    >
    >Wh00ps:
    >Perry, actually that is a very good point.
    >Where the hell are all the economic migrants from Greece?
    >Plenty of eastern Europeans round here finding work. Where are the Greeks ?

    From A E-P at The Telegraph:
    “The Greek media reports that capital flight last week reached €10bn as it became the clear that the amalgam of Maoists, ex-Leninists and radical socialists known as Syriza would win the election. Barclays estimates the outflow at €20bn since early December, roughly 12pc of GDP.”

  • “if ever there was a nation filled with people who deserve to keep getting what they voted for, it is Greece circa 2015”

    Except for the Greeks who didn’t vote for it, of course. Yay democracy.

  • What Rob said. The blaming of “the Greek people” as a whole is completely unjustified. With something like 65% of the eligible population turning out to vote in these elections, and with SYRIZA winning only 35% or so out of that, it is clear that the majority of the adult Greek population did not support the latter. And my more or less educated guess is that there are no better parties on offer – only more-of-the-same kind of crap, like everywhere else, really. And, that not all sane Greeks can leave their country and go elsewhere – and that is even before asking where on earth would they go to if they could.

  • The blaming of “the Greek people” as a whole is completely unjustified.

    Except that is not what I wrote…What I did write was: “And if ever there was a nation filled with people who deserve to keep getting what they voted for, it is Greece circa 2015.”

    I stand by what I actually did write, for there are indeed a very large number of people who are getting exactly what they voted for. The same can be said of Venezuela and may one day be true of Britain again (it was certainly true in the 1960’s and 70’s here). I am all out of sympathy.

  • Perry, my comment was not addressed to you at all.

  • Snorri Godhi

    How many times do you need reminding? life was never meant to be fair.
    If you want it to be fair, then you should also ask for 100% inheritance tax, plus a tax on intelligence and another tax on good looks.

  • Mr Ed

    If you could have voted for the least vile candidate or party, and did not vote, you have acquiesced in the triumph of evil, and are to blame to that extent. You are more at blame than a shredded gazelle on the Serengeti bemoaning the fact that the carnivores eat meat, and not running when it had the chance.

    I recall talking to an Irishman resident in West Berlin Summer 1990 at Checkpoint Charlie, he said of the East Germans ‘Why didn’t they leave?’ ‘Why didn’t their parents leave?’.. They had the chance, before 1961.

  • pst314

    John Galt III “The Greeks have been statist in one form or another for a very long time.”

    Mr Ed “Last week on Radio 4 they interviewed a Greek new car salesman, who said he was being shaken down for bribes by officials from the tax office”

    A Teaching Company lecture series on Greece mentioned a professor’s experiences living in Greece: He had a vineyard where he experimented with innovative cultivation techniques–safer to do when you have a professor’s salary to pay the bills. At the end of the summer the grape vines were doing very well and he looked forward to a fine harvest and much wine. But the night before the harvest one or more jealous neighbors came and cut down all his vines. He was doing better than them, and this could not be allowed.

  • How many did have that chance, Ed?

  • And the comparison is moot anyway, as the 2000s are nothing like the 1960s, as in the 2000s (and long before) most countries have been on the same path Greece has. Very much unlike East Germany vs. the West of the 1960s.

  • Pardone

    The economics minister worked for Valve, making him more qualified than the carpet folders and Goldmanites of other states.

  • Mr Ed

    Alisa, every single one in Berlin, any who could get to Berlin, but not those in the many camps, and Generalfeldmarschall von Paulus, who was made to live in Dresden, far to the East.

  • Mr Ed

    It is not a comparison, it is an observation.