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The Greek tragedy: not a bug, but a feature?

London mayor and newspaper pundit Boris Johnson has a good article in his usual Daily Telegraph redoubt and it is getting a lot of attention, as it should:

“The Greek debt crisis is deepening, in other words; and there are only two options. We could continue down the road we are on, in which the euro shambles becomes an invisible and surreptitious engine for the creation of an economic government of Europe. Indeed, there is a sense in which the slow-motion disaster of the PIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain – has been terrific for the federalist cause. Bit by bit we seem to be creating a fiscal as well as a monetary union, in which huge sums – including about £20 billion of UK bail-out cash – are being transferred from the richer to the poorer parts of the EU. The idea is that Germany, France and others should “socialise” the debts of the periphery – take them on, in other words – so as to keep the eurozone together and to stop the domino effect, with all the attendant damage it is feared that would do to the European banking system.”

“These profligate and improvident countries would be obliged, in return, to submit to a kind of economic supervision that is now proposed for Greece. Taxes, spending, benefits – all the panoply of economic independence – would then be subject to agreement with Berlin and Brussels. I sometimes think Kohl, Mitterrand, Delors and co instinctively knew that this would happen.”

Oh, they knew. They wanted this to happen – maybe not in the wrenching, embarrassing way that has manifested itself in the case of Greece, Ireland the rest, but they surely wanted economics to be melded to the service of politics.

“They probably calculated that if only they could achieve monetary union, the euro would create such strains that the de facto creation of a United States of Europe would be impossible to resist. The trouble is that there is just no democratic mandate for anything of the kind.”

Democracy, schemocracy, as Mel Brooks might have put it.

19 comments to The Greek tragedy: not a bug, but a feature?

  • John B

    Absolutely spot on.

    Which also clearly indicates that Cameron and friends are not primarily British, but rather European.
    And also that the Pound may be smashed up in order to bolster the Euro and prop up the EU Empire.

    I didn’t know Boris had it in him.

    Could he be a Maggie replacement – just when all hope seemed lost?

  • Agreed. This was always the game plan. There was no way that people would vote for anything more than a free trade zone. So that was the only vote that most countries (including Britain) ever got.

    It has been quite clear for a long time that the general public want free trade, visa free travel and the ability to have holiday homes in the sunnier parts of Europe, however that is about the limit.

    They don’t want to have to continually pay for the profligacy of others. It’s difficult enough having to pay our own New Labour debts.

    Political Union was only ever going to happen by stealth and the continual bleeding of sovereignty by the traitorous MP’s in Westminster to Brussels.

    Certainly a debt union or transfer union is the next stage of the game and as with all of these things it will be done without the consent of the governed.

    Although I don’t think this crisis is manufactured, the EU elite will certainly take full advantage of the problems to push forward their vision of an EU superstate.

    The only way that this will be prevented is by the election of anti-EU parties or out-and-out rebellion. Apart from UKIP, no-one else is pushing withdrawal from the EU in their manifesto.

    Time for hemp ropes and lampposts I suspect.

  • Your quote left out the second, highly preferable, option, that Greece leave the Euro. Of course the conclusion of that tune is that the whole Euro game ends up being a rename of the Deutsche Mark. Which it already is, really.

  • Economic policy as war by other means?

  • Paul Marks

    The Welfare State – where the state offers to provide everyone with everything (education, health care, old age income, ……) does not, and can not, work.

    Eventually it MUST lead to bankruptcy and many people predicted that it would.

    But before bankrupcty it produces a dependent welfare class – and that ws predicted by many people also.

    As for a credit bubble financial system – that does indeed delay the inevitable (but it also makes it worse).

    “Targeting” – this is what was done in New Zealand, and certainly targeting government aid to the poor (and away from the non poor) does save money (at least at first), but it also means the growth of the underclass (and the undermining of such institutions of civil society as the family) is made even worse (poverty trap).

    As for the European Union.

    It is an absurdity – people who believe in it (at this stage of the game) either have no judgement whatever or are “part of the problem” (to put it mildy).

    The E.U. is an extra layer of government and gives the ILLUSION that hopeless cases (such as Greece) are good credit risks because “the E.U. stands behind them” thus leading bankers to terrible folly.

    As for “democracy”.

    Well REPRESENTATIVE democracy is a system by which people get to vote for politicians offering them wild promises – without haveing to worry about how those promises are to be paid for.

    Because it is for the politicians (and administrators) to decide how those promises will be put into practice.

    That is an insane system of government.

    No wonder the American Founding Fathers denounced it.

    To them a citizen should read Bills before they became Acts – and if the Bill was too long or too complicated to be read, it meant that the folk who suggested it were corrupt (and should be voted out).

    Also any politician who promised people stuff was corrupt (by definition) BUT SO WHERE THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR THEM.

    The only way a Republic could survive was if the people had virtue (if they did NOT look to government to give them stuff).

    If people looked to government (not themselves and mutual aid) for their material needs – then the Republic was doomed to collapse into a degenerate “democracy” with inevitable bankruptcy, tyranny and chaos.

  • Ian F4

    but they surely wanted economics to be melded to the service of politics

    Don’t we all ? The difference being politicians doing economics is a lot worse than economists doing politics.

  • Laird

    I’m not so sure about that, Ian F4. Have you read any of Paul Krugman’s columns lately?

  • Ian H

    [sarcasm]Why give Europe haters the oxygen of the ballot box to spread their poisonous bigotry?[/sarcasm]

  • Sunfish

    Ian H-

    Why give Germany power over English people? Why give Greece a free pass to reach into English wallets?

  • Sunfish… Ian H rather unwisely put his ‘sarcasm’ tags inside < and > tags, so his meaning was not clear. I have edited his comment to make his intentions clear.

  • Sunfish

    I see, as the blind man said to his dead wife. I recline corrected.

  • PeterT

    It would make more sense for Germany (and I am guessing, the Dutch and Finns) to leave the EMU. The situation of the rest is closer to that of Greece than it is to that of Germany.

  • Roue le Jour

    Why doesn’t the ECB just print the money and ‘lend’ it to the Greeks? Everybody else is doing it. Yes, I know, their charter forbids it, but it has to be the favourite can kick.

  • Paul Marks

    The bailouts are indeed, in part, funded by monetary expansion.

    Yes it is all aganst the charter – but, so far, they have broken their own laws.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Democracy, schemocracy, as Mel Brooks might have put it.”

    Indeed. The EU is not, and was never intended to be, a democratic institution. Neither is it merely undemocratic; it’s actively anti-democratic, intended by its founders (and, no doubt, their successors) to curb what they saw as the “excesses” and “extremes” of democracy. And not openly like the Soviets, Nazis and today’s islamofascists either, but sneakily and on the sly, fooling the people along the way into thinking that nothing had really changed and their votes still meant something.

    Until this is widely understood – together with the fact that, as Richard North pointed out the other day, Her Majesty’s Government is not a reluctant client of this institution and its system, but part of it – the situation is hopeless. Once it is (if it ever is)… well I don’t know. It could get very ugly.

  • Sam Duncan

    Of course Paul (I’ve just read his comment) is quite right about democracy and the Founding Fathers of the US. But their Republic was still a democracy of sorts: the people would still govern themselves.

    However, better a flawed representative democracy than a technocratic dictatorship that merely pays a condescending lip-service to its citizens.

  • Eric

    I’m sure the “United States of Europe” enthusiasts will try to use the PIIGS problems to centralize political power, but I don’t see how they can actually succeed. If austerity is imposed from Brussels the smaller countries will eventually leave (or be ejected from) the EMU.

  • Laird

    Sunfish, as long as you’re reclining, shouldn’t that he “his deaf wife”?

  • MattP

    Very instructive. It’s like getting a glimpse of our own future here in the US.

    Substitute a few names (i.e. California instead of Greece) and you have a roadmap to the destruction of what little federalism remaining in this country.

    It won’t matter that one lives in a low tax state like Florida or Wyoming. We’ll all be rewarding Illinois and California for their irresponsible profligate spending.