Europe’s leaders, elected and unelected, believe that if austerity is imposed on a country to such an extent that its economy collapses by 25% in 3 years, then that will increase the country’s chances of repaying its debts. Outside Europe there is not an economist in the world who believes such crass nonsense.
Greece has been profligate, its people have lived off credit and led lives of luxury which they could not afford. The day before Greece joined the Euro interest rates in Greece were 23%. The following day, under the one size fits all principal, they fell to 3% and Greece went on a shopping spree. This delighted the Germans who were struggling to pay for the reunification with East Germany and breaking every rule in the European rule book, to do so. They needed a boom and welcomed the Greeks sudden ability to buy Mercedes, Porsches, Bosch and every other piece of hardware that Germany is so good at making. A new airport for the Olympics ?, certainly we can build it and we’ll run it for you as well, cried the Germans.
Greeks happily agreed to austerity, believing the lies they were told about how it would enable them to build a better economy and repay their debts. Instead they saw soup kitchens, starving people searching through rubbish bins for a scrap of something which may still be slightly edible, children taking their school meal home to share with their hungry parents. Thus the European dream became a nightmare until in 2015 the Greek electorate realised they had been taken for a very long ride and bravely elected a new and honest set of politicians, who were prepared to say no to the nonsensical policies emanating from Brussels and Berlin.
And then the threats started, as unelected bank bosses and beaurocrats suddenly found themselves facing a government which dared to refuse to obey. We will throw you out of the European Union if you dont behave – said the bankers, ignoring the fact that the threat was both empty and illegal, we will stop supplying cash to your banks forcing them go bankrupt and close down, leaving you all without money – again another illegal threat.
Meanwhile Germany continues to earn its 6% budget surplus in breach of the same set of rules which Greece was accused of breaking. But Germany is now powerful enough to ignore the repeated requests made by a toothless Brussels to reduce its surplus to within the legal limits.
Not much sign so far of the European Dream in which countries helped each other, when they got into difficulties.
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