Let’s just get this right. Yesterday in its referendum the Greek nation backed its Prime Minister and thereby rejected the latest EU-led bailout deal, which the EU claims was no longer on the table anyway.
Mr Tsipras will now claim that he has a democratic mandate for ‘no more austerity’ and insisting upon better terms for a new Greek bailout deal, which will probably include somebody (or everybody) writing off a great proportion – if not all – of the debts that the Greek nation has run up and another substantial dollop of money ‘just to keep the Greek government functioning’.
What I don’t understand, if indeed I follow the supposed logic, is how on earth the Greeks imagine that (1) they have any right to live ‘way beyond their means’ (if that is what it takes to enjoy the ‘good life’, whatever their definition of that is) at somebody else’s expense; and (2) they can avoid austerity and/or having to ‘cut their cloth’, by simply voting against it.
I think Greece should be allowed to exit the Eurozone – and/or the EU if necessary – and go its own way. If its people are pathologically programmed (or simply have an aversion) to working hard, paying or collecting taxes and/or repaying their borrowings, let them slide into membership of the Third World, to which they probably naturally belong anyway.
Greece seems to think that it has a right to the same, high, standard of living as the power-house economic nations of Europe enjoy without actually working for it.
The answer, chaps, is “No, you don’t!”
In many respects, the architects and administrative bureaucrats of the EU project [ambition: total federal union and integration] are stuck on the horns of a dilemma of their own making. Politically they want Greece to be part of the EU, not least because they want as many countries as possible to be in it in order to provide a PR image to the world of size and solidarity, whilst in practice – simply because it is an economic basket-case – the EU would be far better off with Greece excluded from it.
Plus, with this ‘austerity’ business there’s a fundamental lack of understanding in Greece about how the world works financially and indeed democratically.
Way back in the 1960s and early 1970s, in the United Kingdom there used to be car window stickers doing the rounds saying ‘Don’t blame me, I voted Conservative’ during a period the Labour governments of Harold Wilson seemed to be doing particularly badly.
It’s as obvious as night follows day that if you ask someone “Would you like me to stop beating you over the head with this cudgel?” they will answer “Yes”. And yes, of course, if there was an option whereby ‘austerity’ could just be voted away, you’d be hard pressed to find any electorate that wouldn’t opt for that.
But that’s not the point.
Let’s put it another, more realistic, way. The proper question to have been put to a Greek referendum vote should have been something like this:
“You can carry on as you are and have an immediate guaranteed end to austerity, but only if you accept a 50% reduction in your current, already reduced, living standards – do you want that?”