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Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The €uro debacle ...

Seems to be taking up a huge amount of everyone's time at present. Reading some of the UK reports you could be forgiven that the €uro experiment was designed by the Devil himself with the express purpose of impoverishing the member nations and depriving them of their "democratic rights." President Sarkozy and the Chancellor of the German Federation, Angela Merkel seem to be in the firing line over it as well. Primarily they are accused of "stripping the Greeks of the democratic rights" and of trying to recreate the Carolingian Empire.

I have to confess that I find the latter accusation amusing to say the least. Charlemagne (Karl der Grosse in German) was crowned Holy Roman Emperor and managed to bring peace to Europe after subduing all the Germanic, Slavonic and Gaelic tribes who invaded Europe after 410 AD. On his death his empire was divided between his sons and then, in the ensuing 1,000 years, fragmented further. The boundaries we recognise today in Europe are those created after 1945 and I doubt Charlemagne would recognise them - or the supposed "European Empire" the present crop of politicians are accused of creating.

As for the Greek plebiscite - or lack of - I fail to see what they could have voted for or against. Their nation is bankrupt. A large majority evade all forms of tax and the state budget hands out freely against loans from the IMF, EU, and various private financial institutions. Sarkozy and Merkel managed to stitch together a package of funding and reforms with the approval of a number of other €uro members who all stand to lose heavily if Greece does go under and take the €uro down and then, at the 11th hour the man who got Greece into this mess decides to hold a Referendum. On what? Accept or reject the bail out? You can be sure he wouldn't have got anything better by trying to renegotiate it. And if they rejected it? What then? Resurrect the Drachma? With what? Backed by what?

The truth is that Greece probably can't leave the €uro unless they wish to adopt the same tactic Mugabe used when the Zim$ crashed to the point of having so many noughts after the first number there weren't enough printing presses to keep up. What point would a Referendum serve then? Sure "the People" might have had a say in it, but since they voted for Papandreou in the first place, what does it prove? Then they didn't pay the taxes and embarked on social welfare handout programmes and the like that made this situation inevitable. Would it have solved anything?

The simple answer is, no.

The truth is that the €uro is in fact the victim of politics of the handout cultures in far too many of its constituent economies. One of the accusations hurled at Merkel and Sarkozy is that they are "depriving" the member nations of the "right" to set their own budgets and taxes, interest rates etc. But that isn't entirely true either. Germany and France are the principle power-houses in the European economy, with Holland, Sweden and Finland providing the bulk of the economic stability and productivity. Italy is a tale of two halves with the south largely soaking up the economy generated in the north, Spain and Portugal, alongside Greece are examples of Socialist misrule and abuse of economics and then there is Greece.

Merkel, Sarkozy and the other "Northern" nations powering the EU economy would be negligent if they allowed the rogue states like Greece to destroy their countries economies as well. And here lies a major part of the conundrum. If a plebiscite were held and the voters said "yes," the anti-lobby would scream that it had been rigged or the voters "mislead" or "bullied" and if it went their way and the nation's economy collapsed, they would scream that it was the fault of the "rich" who had "robbed" the Treasury. As Churchill once remarked, democracy is the worst of all systems of government - except for all the others. This is, perhaps, where we have taken "democracy" to be something the Ancient Greeks never envisaged. After all, their original system was about REMOVING politicians and banishing them from office!

Western economies are generally declining on the world stage. The rising economic powerhouses are India, China and Brazil and this century will, I think, see them gain centre stage in the leadership of the world, probably with a renewed, restored and economically stable Russia as a fourth. Those who rage about the "democratic rights" that have supposedly been denied the Greeks should consider this carefully. If the €uro is allowed to fail it will seriously damage both the US$ and the British Pound and quite possibly stall or even reverse their economic recovery from the 2008 Crash.

We may not like the €uro, we may even wish to see a reversion to the "old currencies" but I doubt it can happen at this point without causing serious economic chaos. The truth is that today a currency is worth only what a country produces in real terms of the "Balance of Trade." As a trading bloc, Europe has a strong Balance, as individual nations, some are strong others are so weak their currencies would not have even the value of the paper they are printed on. Which is better?

I know one thing, I have a drawer full of currencies from countries who tried to buck the market. I have some banknotes from one former European currency. I hold close to a million in notes. Value? About €2. Would I like to see this happen across the EU? No.

There are many things about the EU I do not like. I don't like the Council of Ministers having the power to appoint the Commission and the President. I want those posts elected. I don't like the way Brussels is running a socialising agenda. I want more freedom and less regulation. I don't like the manner in which the Brussels bureaucrats are able to run rings round national governments, or the way many national civil servants are quick to Gold Plate anything from Brussels which increases their power. I don't like the fact that the EU Parliament is an almost irrelevant institution. What is the point of electing the clowns who feed in it if they can't call the shots to Brussels and the Bureaucrats? But I don't want to see the €uro fail.

The damage it will do will plunge Western democracy into a real crisis, one I don't think we can recover from.

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