A British-American bluestocking living in the UK writes about politics, pop culture, and emerging new paradigms as they unfold on both sides of the Atlantic. (New content.)

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Batten Down The Hatches: Eurozone Storm is Brewing

In the UK, at the moment, the average Brit is still happily eating his Marmite thrilled that "Pudsey the Dancing Dog" won "Britain's Got Talent". Or that the Queen's Diamond Jubilee will give them some days off work and a chance to flirt with their neighbour down the road at the thousands of street parties to be held all over Great Britain in early June. People are getting out their Union Jack bunting and saving their money for lager. Lots of it. We are in a recession, but we are steering the course. For now.

But across the English Channel, there is a huge storm brewing. The Eurozone is in its worst crisis ever.  Democracy was born in Greece, but it lost it somewhere along the way...and it  has voted against the austerity program that was presented to them by the European Union.  Did it matter? No, it did not. Because they are now card-carrying members of the EU, the vote was simply for show. It's rather like being on the Titanic, and the captain offers you a martini. You are going down, one way or the other and a stiff drink isn't going to make it any better. The last report is that Angela Merkel is going to meet with  EU officials to push for another Greek vote. Do they think that twisting Greece's arm until they vote "Yes" is going to change the dire circumstances of a country that is falling down a very dark hole at the moment? Not a chance. The only hope for Greece is to get the hell out of ... well....Brussels.

Greece was prospering and living well within its means. Then, it joined the European Union and began to "live large" spending huge amounts of money (handed out by the EU with little or no accountability.) Paying taxes (for example) was optional for the middle and upper classes. Corruption in all sectors was rampant. The retirement age was lowered to 50 and most professionals could retire receiving their last year's yearly wages as an annual pension. It was the "good life" without having to pay much into the system. It was everything the EU stands for but totally out of the closet and in full view. It was also the most flagrant demonstration of all that is wrong with this one currency and this one European government. Greece is looking like the big gate-crasher at the elegant wedding. And she isn't going down without a some plates smashing, either. The EU is not going to be able to usher her quietly out of the ballroom. Greece is uproariously angry at the new measures of austerity that are being implemented. One might say that they deserve it for being so careless and reckless in their spending. But, the EU was reckless in not curbing what was happening. That's what goes on when  you attempt to rule a nation from some far away place and dictate law to its people without their true consent. The bureaucracy is so huge, no one knows what the other one is doing, until it is too late.

The worse thing is the impact that it has had on Greek children. Children who were once well-cared for by the "system" are now being abandoned by their parents and/or sent to orphanages because there is nothing to feed them as there are no jobs for their parents. It is one of the greatest tragedies to hit the country since the last War. The Greeks had come to depend so much on the "net of the big Daddy EU" that it has absolutely no other way of surviving now that its coffers are empty. This is the long-term effect of what the EU has been stealthily implementing: a total dependency on a central government. You have only to look to see the grand failure in Greece, to view how dependency on the State takes away the will, knowledge and foresight of a people to fend for themselves.

The French have entered the fray. Rather than re-electing Sarkozy (a conservative) they elected Francoise Hollande last week. Hollande is a big, free-wheeling socialist who promised to spend, spend, spend France out of its problems. He made promises to hire thousands of new teachers, lower the retirement age, create 150,000 public sector jobs. Of course, he never stated where this money was coming from. France is, at the moment, an aging madam who can't get a desperate man to buy her a drink. What the election of Hollande has done, however, is to let the EU know that its "austerity measures" are not going down well with anyone. If Hollande succeeds in implementing even a small percentage of his big wheeling-dealing spending, it will shake the rest of the already compromised EU and definitely sever alliances with Merkel. Merkel and Sarkozy were "going steady" so to speak. They were the Prom King and Queen of the European Union. The King got ousted and the Queen Angela needs a new date. I doubt Hollande is even going to ask for a dance.

But the problems in France are not the only ones. Portugal received a £78 billion dollar bailout only last year and raised taxes to try to stave off the imploding euro. And Spain isn't far behind with its 25 percent unemployment rate and a debt of £184 billion. Spain's collapse is the most worrying to the British because it has close ties to a lot of British businesses. It is the fourth largest economy in the Eurozone.

The most worrying aspect to all of the happenings across the channel is that the Brits are not prepared at all for what might be the inevitability of the collapse of the Euro. Great Britain is entrenched in the system and has already spent millions bailing out other countries. The greatest mistake is that the bureaucrats in Brussels kept telling everyone the ship was not sinking while they were secretly manning the lifeboats. They were not courageous enough to say, "This is not working, let's tell the truth."  It's hard to tell the truth, when life is so blooming great in your position of power. The little girl in Greece who lost her parents is just a statistic. Power is the greatest drug. Money and power? In Brussels, they are an addiction.

The last time that there was a financial collapse in Europe was during the early 1930's. This led to the formation of  various extreme movements including fascism. The fear is that this may happen again.  Desperation often leads to very desperate measures.

The finance ministers are getting together again, for another round of crisis talks. Talk, talk, talk, talk.  Basically, Merkel talks and everyone else is forced to listen. Mr Cameron, how about just looking her in the eye and telling her the truth when you meet with her?  Tell her that the one currency is not the currency for true democratic states. That in order for you to save Great Britain, you are going to push for  referendum and give the Brits a chance to decide how to proceed before the dominoes tumble. (And if you need some incentive, look behind you, see that man with the wild blond hair on that bicycle...he is catching up with you.)

Where is Churchill when we need him?