Its an object of blame for a crisis that it is not to be blamed for. This idea of north and south is an excuse for invidious comparison: the industrious, virtuous, thrifty north and their slightly darker Mediterranean neighbors to the south who are lazy, hot tempered etc. We have seen this before and its becoming an old record. The ridiculous “cure” for what they term as parasitical behavior is austerity. And austerity seems like nothing more than a tax on the poor who can least afford to bear it.
The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set…
The mountains look on Marathon–
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians’ grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.
A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o’er sea-born Salamis;
And ships, by thousands, lay below,
And men in nations–all were his!
He counted them at break of day–
And when the sun set, where were they? ( Byron, Isles of Greece)
The Greeks are hardly innocent, with a political culture that seems defined more by its absence than a proactive affirmation of sovereignty. A sort of paralysis that gives the wealthy time to cash in their Euro chips and move assets outside the country: the donut effect and hollowing out of the nation. In WWII Greeks fought the nazis courageously, and thousands starved to death. Here we have with austerity a reawakening of national trauma where the average citizen has to pay for a banking crisis that originated far from its national borders. Pretty repugnant stuff. But despite what the northern propaganda claims, Greeks are smart people and can work out of their jams if they undertake structural reform instead of the path of least resistance of legislative cuts of benefits:
from Lawrence Solomon ( see link):How would deregulation and free markets liberate Greece? Take tourism, a notoriously underperforming industry despite unrivalled attractions such as the Parthenon and some 3,000 islands in the Mediterranean, only 140 of which are populated. Because of a plethora of byzantine rules — resorts could only be built adjacent to major hotels, new golf courses were effectively banned, cruises couldn’t start or end at a Greek port without Greek sailors aboard — Greece has attracted just 3% of Europe’s tourist industry — far less than, say, either Ukraine or Austria. If Greece upped its game to become a travel destination merely as popular as its Mediterranean neighbour, Turkey, the Greek GDP would rise by more than 10%. If Greece became as popular as Spain, the Greek GDP would soar by 37%. Both of these Mediterranean neighbours have far less coastline than Greece and its islands….
…Other Greek economic sectors have also suffered from stifling rules. Because no new trucking licences were issued over 40 years, the cost of transporting goods within the country became a standing joke. It cost less to import a tomato from the Netherlands than to buy one from a Greek farm, less to rent party goods from Italy than from a neighbouring Greek town. The inefficiency associated with the trucking industry thus hobbled the rest of the economy as well. And trucking is only one of some 70 industries that have stagnated under monopolistic rules. Read More:http://opinion.financialpost.com/2012/02/
It seems to be that the end game is to solidify European banks ; subsidize Greece so they can pay banks, hopefully making them strong enough to withstand a Greece being turfed out of the Euro. The lesson is that Greece is a tiny football being booted around for fun and profit by Wall Street and the wealthier nations. But what goes around comes around….
The Greeks have never been a subservient people. As subjects of the Turkish Ottomans, they repeatedly rebelled against all odds despite brutal repercussions they knew would follow failure, finally becoming in 1832 the first of the Ottomans’ subject nations to win independence. Their rallying cry then — “Freedom or death” — still resonates in Greece. Many Greeks today want freedom from the neo-Turkish domination and freedom from the EU domination.Read More:http://opinion.financialpost.com/2012/02/17/new-glory-for-greece/a
Mark Blyth:It is more than ironic that those two foundational Western civilizations — the Greeks and the Romans — who were among the very first to experiment with democracy, now have to let unelected Eurocrats run their economic affairs. There is even a whiff of the 1930s here, too, as weak democrats are pushed aside in favor of strong leaders at the behest of international creditors. As Hobsbawm noted, this did not end well last time. Read More:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/136685/matthias-matthijs-and-mark-blyth/why-only-germany-can-fix-the-euro
Megan Greene:I have long thought that the troika would cut Greece loose and let it default and exit the eurozone once eurozone banks had been sufficiently firewalled. Perhaps this aggressive proposal by Germany is one of the unintended consequences of the ECB’s three year long term refinancing operation (LTRO). If eurozone banks have as much access to cheap, three-year ECB funding as their collateral allows, perhaps Germany and the troika have decided that eurozone banks can survive a Greek default. Greece is clearly insolvent and must leave the eurozone to eventually return to growth. The German proposal may have accelerated the inevitable. Read More:http://economistmeg.com/2012/01/28/german-proposal-for-greeces-compliance-accelerating-eurozone-exit/