Saturday, November 5, 2011 at 7:10 AM

Greece: from cradle of civilization to beggar’s colony

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

[T]he so-called “PIGS” (namely, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain) have been arguing that the sovereign debt crisis that is threatening to plunge their respective countries into bankruptcy is a burden all of Europe should bear. And everybody knows that a default by any of these PIGS will cause the disunion of the European Union.

(A Europe divided by debt cannot stand, The iPINIONS Journal, March 25, 2010)

It seemed entirely fitting that as leaders of the G20 were meeting in Cannes this week to figure out how to save the Greeks from themselves, a Greek tragedy was playing out in Greece, which featured Prime Minister George Papandreou facing a confidence vote that threatened to turn the country into an even greater dysfunctional mess.

He survived the vote, but Greece is still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

You’d think that having to go to their betters in the North – hat in hand – would humble the Greeks. Instead, public sector workers have gone on strike in a self-indulgent effort to pressure their government against imposing any austerity measures as a condition for receiving a bailout package from the EU (and IMF).

‘Workers are protesting public wage cuts, a pensions freeze and tax hikes imposed by the government to try to pull Greece out of a fiscal crisis that has shaken markets worldwide and driven Greece’s borrowing costs to a 12-year high.’ (Reuters, April 22, 2010)

Therefore, who can blame the Germans (the French and others in the North) for harboring resentment over having to indulge this Zorba-like attitude among the suntanned citizens of the PIGS…? And I imagine recognizing that refusing to bail them out would be tantamount to cutting off nose to spite face only intensifies their resentment.

(Greece just another panhandling PIG, The iPINIONS Journal, April 29, 2010)

As things stand, members of his own party prevailed upon Papandreou to withdraw his (wholly democratic) plan to allow the Greek people to decide in a referendum whether or not to accept the terms for the EU bailout package.

But, aside from the fact that these political leaders seemed completely oblivious to the irony, if not hypocrisy, inherent in withdrawing this referendum, the restive demos remain determined to wreak havoc on any attempt to impose the EU’s austerity measures upon them.

Greeks will have their cake and eat it too – the dreaded domino effect upon the rest of Europe be damned.

Yet the PIGS are the least of Europe’s problems. For here is how I remonstrated against the inherently flawed, hypocritical and shaky foundation upon which the EU was built in the first place:

Given the European pathology of dealing with conflicts by pretending they don’t exist, it is not surprising that all of the disagreements that doomed the original constitution remain extant…

European leaders met in Portugal … to eradicate the “democratic mandate to ratify the constitution by a referendum of the people” in favor of the more expedient process of pro forma ratification by national parliaments.

[F]ormer French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, who headed the committee that drafted the original constitution, declared rather proudly that … it was drafted by legal experts and is simply too “impenetrable for the public”.

[I]t is patently absurd to ratify a constitution that only lawyers can relate to….

(A dead EU Constitution resurrected as a “new treaty” is still a dead EU Constitution, The iPINIONS Journal, November 27, 2007)

Stay tuned….

Related commentaries:
A Europe divided by debt cannot stand
Greece just another panhandling PIG
A dead EU Constitution resurrected

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