July 09, 2015

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The party ended when the you-know-what hit the fan around 2010. Soaring wages and gold-plated pensions had to end. Eternal austerity was the antidote. This was the EU at its best”€”worst, actually. It was like taking a middleweight boxer, putting him on a very strict diet, and expecting him to become a heavyweight contender. It was and remains an impossibility. Three successive Greek prime ministers played along with the EU charade of austerity, bankrupting the nation further, until the present bunch of ex”€“student activists and so-called academics with dubious degrees came along and gave the nation the coup de grace. Which brings me to the present.

What the EU bureaucrats expect of Greece is a contradiction in terms. Austerity cannot grow an economy, even the unelected and unaccountable technocrats living in la-la land should know that. But the EU’s first and only commitment is to keep the union going, with face-saving devices invented as it staggers along. The fact that austerity or face-saving deals will never turn Greece into a Northern European economy is obvious, but is ignored by the bureaucrooks of Brussels who tend to see only the immediate future. Preserving the euro and averting default have now turned into a Brussels-speak mantra. And nothing could be worse for both Europe and Greece.

Tsipras and Yanis Varoufakis, his buffoon of a finance minister who has resigned, have a lot to answer for also. They wasted five months playing liar’s poker and showing up tieless and in leather bike jackets while showing off to the media. During those wasted five months the economy has totally cratered. The no vote means collective economic suicide. As a Greek whose family helped finance the war of independence against the dreaded Turks in 1821, I sincerely hope there will be a compromise, and the ill-advised plebiscite will be ignored by the powers-that-be in the EU. Putting so complex and fateful a question on such short notice is typically shortsighted and ridiculous, as ridiculous as the Greeks showing up in various foreign ministries and capitals dressed in Glastonbury attire. The irony is that both the EU commissioners and the Tsipras gang have one thing very much in common: They both love power more than any love they might have for the common good. Will it end in tragedy? As in everything that has to do with politics, it will end in a compromise. But Greece will be paying the price for at least three generations to come. Welcome to the EU dictatorship.


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