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Friday, May 25, 2012

THE BRICK WALL OF REALITY

"The euro has turned out to be a doomsday machine, a destroyer of jobs"

Boris Johnson is a hardcore leftist. He's so leftist that even in Europe, he's considered left wing. And he's governed that way as Mayor of London, one of the more powerful jobs in the continent. But even he can see some serious problems with the EU, the Euro, and the idea of Greece and Germany being considered economic equals. In a column at the Telegraph, he makes a lot of economic and historical sense:
Come with me through the streets of Athens, not far from Syntagma Square, and your mind will reel with the horrified realisation that history is not a one-way ratchet, that human progress is not guaranteed, and that a proud country can be reduced – by years of torture and bullying – to a state verging on total political, economic and moral collapse.

You will see businesses boarded up and windows smashed because no one has the money or the energy to fix them, and on almost every wall a riot of graffiti full of poisonous hatred for politicians. You will see people sitting on cardboard, heads down, hands out, or pushing trolleys full of scrap metal.
The problem is, Boris, that's where your economic policies lead: straight to Greece. You cannot keep giving other peoples' money away in the name of social justice and doing good, eventually it runs out. Then people you've been helping have nothing and there's no structure or social network to catch them when they fall. So they're far worse off.

Better to not do quite as well, but keep that, than do slightly better for a time and lose everything. And that's the sad, absolute fact of life. People who think we can make a world where nobody suffers, nobody goes hungry, nobody loses, nobody does without, and nobody is hurt are simply idiots.

Greece isn't some strange apocalyptic scenario, there is nothing uniquely problematic about the Greek people. This is inevitable in a socialist system. Johnson sees this in terms of unfairness, where hard working Germans force other nations to compete with them and fail. The truth is, the Germans didn't do this to anyone. They did this to themselves. The Euro didn't destroy Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany, and other economies, they were faltering and collapsing before the EU was even formed.

The problem isn't competition or unfairness, it isn't the Euro establishing unreasonable standards on nations, its that these nations dove face first into socialism where you take from people who produce and give to people who do not, then systematically and deliberately remove every motivation to produce more and give more benefits for less work to everyone until it becomes utterly unsustainable.

Shorter work weeks, shorter work days, less work during the day, more vacations, with pay, and more benefits, and government programs to cover it all until businesses simply cannot keep going and see no reason to try. Eventually, you run out of the money and you're faced with a mass of people who think those absurd conditions and benefits are not just pleasant but their absolute, divine right and will riot if you try to take them away.

Politicians rose to power one after another promising more and more and giving more away, and inevitably they kept their jobs by doing so until the nation collapsed like a building eaten away by termites. Nations like Greece got there sooner than say, Norway, because their work ethic hasn't ever been as strong and their worldview is a lot more relaxed, shall we say. But all those roads lead the same place, eventually.

Johnson is right though that requiring Germany to continually bail out and prop up nations that are collapsing is simply unworkable and unreasonable. Germans won't put up with it even if there was a shred of logic behind it. Granted, that was the reason behind the EU to a large part: make it so socialism could stagger on a few more decades, but it just can't work.

In the end, these nations have to be cut loose because they simply can't make it until they change their attitude and their systems to a workable, sustainable solution. Its completely irrational to think that an entire culture can be built around working as little as possible, getting as much as possible, and expecting everyone else to foot the bill. They have to grow up, and the only way they're going to is when they get cut off, like a teenager you keep from the credit cards.

But a lot of countries have a vested interest in not seeing that happen, because if Greece is cut loose, so will they be in time. Eventually the bitter fruit of continual socialism will be their meal, and they'll see the riots, the chaos, and the failure of governments. And for those in power, putting that off as long as possible - preferably after they're comfortably retired elsewhere - is the best possible policy.

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