Thursday 29 September 2016

So now the beatings will continue until morale improves

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

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Did you know that on the same day that Greece - home of the first openly gay city, Sparta - was forced to humiliate itself again at the feet of the EU's creditor nations, the isolated island of Pitcairn became the smallest nation to legalise same-sex marriage, despite having only 48 inhabitants and no gay couples?

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While reading about Pitcairn, the expression attributed to Captain Bligh of the stricken HMS Bounty, against whom the mutineers revolted, came to mind.

While flogging sailors for small misdemeanours, he is said to have declared: "The beatings will continue until morale improves."

When we see the torture of Greece by its creditors, I see that the EU has taken the same approach with one of its own family. The economic beatings of Greece will continue until its political morale improves. Have you ever seen anything so stupid?

The Greek crisis has gone on for the past five or six years now. It is a brilliant example of Einstein's observation that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Yesterday, Greece promised to raise a fresh €8bn in taxes from the rich in order to satisfy the EU creditors. The cycle has been more or less the same, year in year out. Every year, the Greek government cuts spending and raises taxes. This is followed by the economy collapsing, and so tax revenues fall and this means more austerity is demanded - and the process is repeated.

All the while, the economy shrinks. It is 25pc smaller than it was in 2009 and wages are down by 35pc. As activity and wages fall, so too does demand.

The EU response is to repeat the beatings.

Every time, the EU imposes a creditors' levy in the form of higher taxes. The people of Greece, knowing that the taxes won't go to paying for Greek education or health but will line the pockets of rich creditors, try to find ways to avoid paying the creditors' levy.

So what does the EU do? It imposes more taxes on a problem that was in part due to the inability of the government to raise taxes on the rich in the first place. What do you think will happen now? Do you think the Greeks will give in, and say 'take our money'? Of course they won't. The rule of the world is the higher the personal tax, the higher the tax evasion. Did we not learn that in our tax amnesties of the 1980s and 1990s?

The Greeks will just find different ways of getting their money out of the country because they know that the money isn't being raised for Greece, but for Germany. What would you do if you had the ability?

So this latest EU solution will fail spectacularly and we will be back at square one. What then? Repeat the beatings until Greek morale improves?

Not only does the EU creditors' approach show no grasp of economics or human nature, but in the past few months we have seen ridiculous double standards from Germany, the main driver of this nonsense.

Germany is falling over itself to usher in debt forgiveness and a debt amnesty for Ukraine - an illegitimate government, which is the product of an illegal, EU-financed coup d'état. Why is this? Why is the left-wing Greek government a pariah and a quasi-nationalist Kiev administration a darling?

It is because it is in the national interest of Germany, Poland and the other former communist states to keep Russia isolated. Is it in our interest? I don't think so.

Yet we are the main cheerleaders for Germany's hardline in Greece and double standards in Ukraine; why is this?

Do we not know our history? As the only neutral country in the Eurozone, should we not be reminding everyone of Europe's economic history? After all, what does neutrality mean if not an ability to think for yourself?

Greece needs debt forgiveness as much as Ukraine. Should we not remind Germany that after its troops murdered millions of Europeans, Germany was the greatest European beneficiary of debt forgiveness?

Should we not point out that at the 1953 London Debt Agreement, half of Germany's external debts, including their interest payments, were wiped out at the behest of a practically bankrupt Britain - which paid all its debts to the Americans - debts Britain incurred to help America defeat Nazi Germany?

Have the Germans forgotten that America insisted Germany's remaining debt payments could be spread out over a term of three decades or that, as a result, in the 1950s Germany's debts were 20pc of GDP when many of the countries it occupied struggled with debts of about 200pc of GDP?

Can't someone understand that the Greeks are only asking for fair treatment? Why can't it get the same terms as West Germany, whose debt repayments were limited in any one year to 3pc of West Germany's export revenues?

The double standard, both in terms of Germany's treatment of Ukrainian debts and in terms of its own history, is shocking.

The reason Ukraine gets favourable treatment is that gas and oil which fuel Germany's factories flow through Ukraine. It's that simple.

But in order to dress up its own selfish interests as policy, Germany needs some eejit to do its bidding.

And guess who that is? Guess who the chief baiter of the Greeks is? Yes, you guessed, Ireland!

So Michael Noonan, according to the reports, has led the charge against Greece in the past 48 hours.

He's the one gleefully counting the lashes as Europe adopts the Captain Bligh dictum to Greece, insisting that the "beatings will stop when morale improves".

What do you think happened next?

Yes, you got it; the mutiny on the Bounty.

Irish Independent

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