Greece No 2
Democracy

Greece votes 'Oxi' – the demos has spoken

 

There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.

As Hamlet defied augury, he surrendered to the inevitable. Everything will work out precisely as destined. Matters of life and death are beyond man’s control: it is God who determines such matters. The words echo those of Jesus:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered (Mt 10:28-30).

As with the sparrow, so it is with the Greek euro. There is an inevitability about its fall. If it be not now, yet it will come. Whether now or at some point in the future, Greece will leave the euro because her people will not bear the burden of interminable years of economic austerity and perpetual feelings of political oppression.

Chancellor Merkel of Germany all but ordered the Greeks to vote to stick to their agreements and remain in the euro: “I can only warn everyone against leaving the currency union,” she said back in 2012. “The internal cohesion of the euro zone would be in danger.” In this she was joined by Jean-Claude Juncker, who lectured: “If the radical left wins – which cannot be ruled out – the consequences for the currency union are unforeseeable.”

The “radical left” Syriza have taken the EU to the brink, but let us not fool ourselves about what will follow. The Franco-German axis will convene an emergency bilateral summit to agree the way forward, and then tell the other EU member states what it is. ‘Ever closer union’ precludes any restoration of national sovereignty: the answer to every crisis in the EU is ‘more Europe’. The Greeks have not voted to leave the euro. Nor have they voted to leave the EU. They have simply voted ‘Oxi’ to:

Should the plan of agreement, which was submitted by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the Eurogroup of 25.06.2015 and is comprised of two parts that constitute their unified proposal be accepted?

The first document is entitled ‘Reforms For The Completion Of The Current Program And Beyond’ and the second ‘Preliminary Debt Sustainability Analysis’.

To complicate things, they actually voted ‘Oxi’ to a deal that was no longer on the table. But that is, in a sense, immaterial. This referendum was about political feelings and national identity: it was about people, communities and their hazy priorities. Despite the formidable forces of establishment, church and media all bludgeoning the demos to vote ‘Yes’, they defied the kratos and roared ‘No’. If this expression of democracy is now seen to be subverted by external forces – either in Berlin or Brussels – the consequences will be civil unrest, political upheaval and revolution with the election of a Golden Dawn government.

There will now be enormous pressure for ‘cooperation’ to save the euro. When a deal is agreed (as it surely will), the resolution will be hailed as both Greek ‘national salvation’ and ‘victory for Europe’. That is how ‘Europe’ works.

And so the nightmare will continue: more bartering over terms, more loans from the ECB and the IMF, more debt, more recession, more burden, more bailout, more austerity, more job cuts, more salary cuts, more pension cuts, more unemployment, more poverty, more homelessness, more suffering, more social tensions, more protests, more civil unrest, more lectures from Berlin and warnings from Brussels.

There is nothing new under the sun: the sparrow will fall, as providence decrees. It is only a matter of time.

  • Anton

    As St Margaret of Finchley of blessed memory said, the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

    Greece: Oxi! Oxi! Oxi!

    Germany: Oi! Oi! Oi!

    • IanCad

      “St Margaret of Finchley”
      Had to think about that for a while.

      • The Explorer

        Which part: the Finchley, or the saint?

  • Pubcrawler

    A small, pedantic point, perhaps, but it doesn’t half get on my wick: the correct transliteration is ‘ohi’ or ‘ochi’, not oxi.

    • Anton

      I thought it was Greek oxi and German acetylene making a combustible mix.

    • Uncle Brian

      No more Xmas pudding for you, then, Pubcrawler!

      • Pubcrawler

        Don’t start me on that…

    • HI

      Eh? How come the Greeks used this on their campaign ads etc ? (Or is it like that scene in the life of Brian, when he’s told off about his poor use of Latin grammar and spelling when he’s splashing anti Roman graffiti at the soldiers barracks?).

      • Anton

        The Greek letter CHI looks like X but isn’t pronounced like it. They have XI for that.

  • Orwell Ian

    A very shrewd assessment. The EU might never make it to federal union. By introducing the single currency it may have unwittingly sowed the seed of its own demise. Interminable financial crisis in the Eurozone could be the harbinger of a great unravelling and the end of the “European project.”

  • Graham Wood

    Greece. The first of many other chickens coming home to roost we hope and expect in order to destroy the economic and political disaster which is the Euro and the EU.
    As Bernard Connolly, a one time EU insider so presciently and prophetically wrote some years ago:
    “compared to the rest of the World, Europe (EU) looks corporatist, inflexible, protectionist,and inward looking. Britain’s advantages compared to the rest of Europe would be accentuated, not diminished, by the creation of the single currency with sterling outside, since the single-currency area would be economically hobbled and politically unstable”. How true today!
    Time to leave this antiquated and backward organisation – the 1970s answer to a 1940s problem

  • magnolia

    Paul Craig Roberts claims that there is a bank derivative position of what amounts to about 21 times world GDP. It is beyond me to assess the truth of this, but it seems to me extremely worrying, and to suggest that contagion is very probable. Why it- or something similar-has been allowed to happen is extraordinary. Anyone have any insights on this? Of course banks have been making loads on their leveraged loans on a fractional reserve basis to Greece, and it is time they suffered a bit for the high interest rates they wish to be paid for “risk” which they seem to assume that if the worst comes to the worst they can bully their way out of.

    Not what risk is about, I think.

    • bugalugs2

      That sounds like a mere addition of notional positions and is a stupid figure from people who don’t know any better*. What matters in derivatives is value at risk not notional, and one should also remember that most derivatives net out, when one person ‘wins’ another ‘loses’ and vice versa.

      *Example: interest rate swap on notional £100m will never result in anyone owing anyone else £100m as a lump sum payment. So to worry about the £100m figure is silly.

      • magnolia

        Rather an honoured economist in certain right wing circles, and held a professorial chair, has degrees from several countries and phD, and advised Reagan as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States Economic policy”. Also awarded induction into the Légion d’Honneur.

        So he may be wrong, but a “stupid figure from people who don’t know any better” is probably not an appropriate phrase for someone who has had not only an illustrious but a practically successful career,

        • magnolia

          Apologies. It was Eyon Von Greyerz, who is also high quality. He does put this sentence in, which explains his alarm. “Remember when a counterparty fails, notional value is the real value that will be lost” which explains his alarm.

          Every degree over 22 takes your output down 3% I saw the other day, and that is my excuse as I read two articles and confused the authors. Maybe that has a bearing on the Greek problem.

          Air conditioning is the answer!

      • Hi

        AIG in 2008?

    • Anton

      Impossible without unbacked fiat currency – which is the real problem. Its creation is immoral.

      • Hi

        So you’d advocate a specie standard ?

        • Anton

          We live today in an era of nationalised money. Before that, a universal exchange medium emerged spontaneously in markets, namely precious metals – or receipts for them from owners of secure vaults, where people stored them. This was people’s money rather than rulers’ money. Stamping his head on coins allowed a ruler to being putting base metal in coins and insist they were of equal value to the real thing within his realm, but it is dishonest.

  • Uncle Brian

    Greece’s fate is largely in the hands of the European Central Bank and of German
    Chancellor Angela Merkel,
    it says here. Was it Merkel who told Tsipras, no more
    talks until you dump the ranting oaf Varoufakis? If so, he lost no time in obeying the boss’s command.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/06/us-eurozone-greece-idUSKBN0P40EO20150706

    • magnolia

      But it now leaves them to deal with an unknown quantity in the next man, and there are probably plenty of Greeks who feel the same as the colourful phrases that Varoufakis used.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Allegedly used.

    • bugalugs2

      So now Varoufakis is free from any constraints he might have had as Finance Minister to campaign direct to the demos, both in Greece and in Germany …. if Merkel did want him out, it may well prove to be a very bad move on her part!

    • DanJ0

      Varoufukus was not well received in the negotiations so Tsipras was probably sensible in shunting him aside whether or not Merkel demanded it as it is a gesture towards conciliation.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “The people say ‘No!’ We must get some new people….”

    “The people have spoken, damn their eyes…”

    “The show must go on….”

    “When in a hole, keep digging, it will make a nice grave….”

    And various other bon mots for the EU dictatorship to utter.

    • Linus

      You see, it’s empty rhetoric like this that makes you right-wing Christians such a laughing stock among the rest of society.

      Europe is not a dictatorship. It’s a free association of nation states that agree to pool certain aspects of their sovereignty in order to cooperate for the common good.

      The myopic and narcissistic attitudes you display, which boiled down to their essentials are basically “if I don’t get exactly what I want from Europe and it won’t impose my politico-religious vision on everyone else, then it’s evil and must be destroyed”, reveal you for what you really are. Another common garden extremist thug unable to accept that others can think differently from you.

      In this you share much common ground with IS. You both want theocracy, just so long as it’s your miserable little tribal totem who rules the roost.

      You were born in the wrong place. If you’d come into the world in Iraq or Syria, you wouldn’t be marginalised and ridiculed by society, and you could pick up a gun and impose your vision on those around you. Here in the West your only outlet for the frustration of your thwarted desire for power is blogs like this one.

      Let the poison out! Accepting what you cannot change and venting your frustration will help you come to terms with your utter lack of power and influence.

      Alternatively you could stand for Parliament and try to realise your megalomanic dream of theocracy for all. Oh no! I forgot! You tried that, and didn’t even retain your deposit!

      Ah well, a prophet is never honoured in his own time, is he? Console yourself with that thought and wait for better times. They may come, although if they ever do, we’ll all be in trouble. If religious crazies ever gain any real power in the West, it can only be because society has crumbled due to of some catastrophe. Live in hope of that then, a bit like a bubonic plague bacillus must live in hope of an invasion of flea-infested rats. Until then, bide your time and cultivate the art of patience. You’re going to need it…

      • Dominic Stockford

        Father, my God and Creator of all,
        I ask you for patience, and a kind spirit. Preserve, sustain and increase in me your strength, so that I may exercise patience, forbearance, and love for all mankind. Keep me from vituperative outbursts, and help me to show to others the Truth and the Life without replying or acting in ways that would not bring You the glory.
        As I sort out the death of a congregation member I thank you for allowing me to be with her at the moment she passed from this life into your eternal kingdom. I pray that you will open the eyes of others to see that their salvation also lies in Christ alone, that you will open their hearts to receive your Word, and that they may be transformed by the renewal of their minds, that by testing they may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
        This I ask in the name of the Lord of all, and Saviour, Jesus the Christ.

        • Uncle Brian

          Dominic,

          My condolences to the lady’s family.

          … so that I may exercise patience, forbearance, and love for all mankind. Keep me from vituperative outbursts, …
          We have something in common, I see. A doctor once diagnosed my condition as (quote) “what we call in medical jargon a short fuse.”

          Regards
          Brian

          • Dominic Stockford

            Thank you.
            And, on the whole I manage, but sometimes, when confronted by a particularly bad piece of anti-christian folly, well, my family will tell you the rest.

          • pobjoy

            ‘when confronted by a particularly bad piece of anti-christian folly’

            Worse than your own??

          • Dominic Stockford

            Explain, or leave.

          • pobjoy

            Is that a vituperative outburst?

          • Dominic Stockford

            No. It’s a question. You pile into Roman Catholics, now you’re piling into a dyed in the wool Reformed Protestant. It is all somewhat conflicted. So, explain or go away and leave people alone.

          • pobjoy

            ‘It’s a question.’

            A question would have been

            “Would you explain, please?”

            That would have been a reasonable response from an ordinary non-religious person. But the blunt imperative, with a demand to leave, would get your own dismissal from any real church, if persisted in. At any rate, it makes a mockery of that public prayer, that all intelligent adults must consider hypocritical, if not deliberate buffoonery.

            ‘a dyed in the wool Reformed Protestant’

            If that means assent to Calvinism, it is no better than the papism that it is purported to succeed. It does appear that the poster supports sabbatarianism, a legalist heresy; probably infant baptism, another legalism; and promotes himself as ‘chosen’ simply because he claims faith, rather than demonstrates it.

            It does appear that ‘Dominic Stockford’ is a nick belonging to legalist, no more genuine than the circumcision party of Pharisees that Paul warned were deadly enemies of Christ. He has the jargon, but nothing beside that; unless he is going to show that these things are untrue.

            So reader, beware.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Now I get it. Everyone else is wrong about Christianity, and you have discovered the truth.

            All the normal attacks, nothing new in the accusations, all asserting how right the accuser is, and all causing confusion and uncertainty. Nothing to do with the Gospel I read, nor to do with Jesus’ teaching that those who love him keep his Father’s commands.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Now I get it.’

            Now you’ve been sussed. You are a sabbatarian, infant baptising, self-appointed member of the elect, who dares not take on a person who knows the Bible.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Cannot keep a civil tongue? I don’t think I’m the one who accused someone I have never met of being ‘anti-christian’, that would be you. You seem to set a lot of rules for an anti-nomian.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Cannot keep a civil tongue?’

            ‘Explain, or leave’

            I don’t think a jury of twelve good folk would disagree.

            ‘I don’t think I’m the one who accused someone I have never met of being ‘anti-christian’.’

            True enough; but a person who accuses another of antinomianism without evidence doesn’t need accusation of much. It’s all self service. 🙂

          • Dominic Stockford

            No evidence eh? I guess many others would see it here, as I can.

            And, it wasn’t ‘uncivil’, blunt maybe, but not uncivil. You plod around this site making comments about others, and giving answers which others have commented they cannot understand – so it seems best that you explain your comments more clearly or leave. All you seem to do, to me, is sow confusion here.

          • pobjoy

            ‘I guess many others would see it here, as I can.’

            Then you can quote, can’t you. 🙂

            ‘You plod around this site making comments about others’

            Even more uncivility!

            ‘and giving answers which others have commented they cannot understand’

            People do that when they have no answers.

          • Dominic Stockford

            I plod round this site, but see no incivility in saying do.
            As for not understanding, it is nothing whatsoever to do with having no answers, it is to do with not understanding.

          • pobjoy

            ‘but see no incivility in saying do’

            It’s different when we say it of ourselves.

            ‘it is to do with not understanding’

            Then there’s not much to complain about.

            It will now be assumed that the antinomian accusation was a lie.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Is it? I think not.
            People are allowed to comment when they cannot understand what you have said. I would have thought you would more concerned that you are not understood, especially as you give the impression of believing that most of us here are seriously wrong about the Christian faith.
            You pick and choose the Biblical guidance you follow – discard that which you dislike – and accuse those who wish to follow the example of the apostles, and the exhortation of Paul (who disagree with you as to what they teach us) of hypocrisy, buffonery, and legalism.

            Psalm 118 ‘Teach me your statutes, Lord’
            I love God’s law. It is an invaluable guide, and encourages and teaches me to join with my fellow Christians each Lord’s day. You call me names for doing so.

          • pobjoy

            Of course people are allowed to comment if they cannot understand what I have said. Perhaps the poster would do a service by quoting from my posts in this forum any theological terms I have used that he finds unclear.

            ‘as you give the impression of believing that most of us here are seriously wrong about the Christian faith’

            I recall referring only to the posts of the risible, malicious, mendacious, self-publicist hypocrite called ‘Dominic Stockford’, who seems to want free rein to spread works-justification propaganda without interruption; which he is evidently not used to! I rather suspected that other posters regarded ‘Stockford’ as a figure of fun, and took his posts with more than a pinch of salt. Even more likely, now.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Oh dear. You know not of what you speak, and yet you keep speaking. Don’t waste any more time here, I shan’t answer again.

          • pobjoy

            Bitter and mendacious to the end, making a virtue of necessity.

          • pobjoy

            ‘Jesus’ teaching that those who love him keep his Father’s commands’

            Had Jesus said, “Explain, or leave,” he would never have been heard of.

  • sarky

    Prehaps if Germany reciprocated Greece’s debt write off in 1953, there wouldn’t be this mess.

    • IanCad

      Absolutely.

  • CliveM

    Listening to the German finance Minister he wants to move to an orderly Greek withdrawal as soon as possible. Merkel doesn’t however as she is scared of the impact of the on the Euro and the French want everyone to be kinder to the Greeks. Naturally they won’t be paying either. There is no EU position on this yet. The Finance Minister has got it right, but it will be the French position that wins.

  • Linus

    The referendum was important for the Greek government in order to legitimize its stance towards the rest of Europe. Nobody can now doubt that the Greeks will not tolerate being reduced to the status of loan slavery.

    When a country is bailed out, the terms of the bail-out cannot leave it in a worse position than it was to begin with. The Allies didn’t do this to Germany after the war, so why does Germany now want to treat another country so harshly?

    Nobody doubts where the blame for this mess principally lies. Making cheap money available in huge amounts to a nation where corruption and tax fraud are so endemic that they’re the rule rather than the exception was always going to end badly. Greece’s economic position should have been properly validated before its accession to the euro. But the rest of Europe took them at their word, and given their geopolitical position as a deeply hostile border nation with Islam (which means that any attempt to bring Turkey into the EU will always founder on the rock of the Greek veto), it was extremely convenient, to say the least, for conservative elements in the Union to sponsor Greece’s full integration, on the principle that a little Levantine monkey business is better than a lot, and anything is better than a mass migration of Turks to Berlin, Paris and Milan.

    So now we’re paying the price, and as Germany especially never admits that its schemes can backfire, a scapegoat must be found, and that scapegoat is Greece.

    Certainly Greece must pay the price for all those years of dishonest profligacy. But they are paying that price, and if we continue to squeeze them for every centime, they’ll go under and then where will our bulwark against Islam be?

    We need to renegotiate the bail-out on terms that let Greece breathe again. Post-war leaders deemed it necessary to lighten West Germany’s debt load to stop the threat of a Communist takeover and the extension of the Iron Curtain to the Rhine. Our leaders need to be just as forward thinking in order to preserve the Union from another threat.

    Because let’s face it, if Greece is forced out of the euro but stays in the EU, which is looking like the most likely option today, what happens to border controls? Greece’s economic troubles have already reduced the Dodecanese to the status of a sieve through which tens of thousands of migrants are trickling. Where do you think all the migrants massing in Calais have come from? Only a small proportion cross from North Africa in boats. Most filter in through the porous border that Greece just can’t afford to police properly.

    If Greece leaves the euro, what incentive does it have to keep migrants out? If you want fewer illegal immigrants in your country, support the Greeks. They’re all that stands between you and a flood of Turks, Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans breaking on your shores and drowning you…

    • Anton

      Aren’t you forgetting that there was a strong movement in Brussels to admit Turkey into the EU not very long ago?

      • Linus

        Yes, certain elements wanted Turkey in the Union. This is why the conservative element backed Greece’s accession, knowing that its presence would make it virtually impossible for Turkey to join at a later date.

        I know you view the EU as your enemy, but only a simpleton would view it as a unified bloc where everyone believes the same thing. If there are pro and anti movements in your country, why not elsewhere?

        • Anton

          You would do well to view it as your enemy too. I’m all for Europe and its culture, but this existed before the EU and it will exist after.

          • Linus

            The EU is nobody’s enemy, except those with a fundamentalist nationalist agenda frustrated by a international cooperation.

            Little Englanders have existed for a long time and probably always will. There’s something in the English psyche that makes you insular and inwards looking. Add to this a superiority complex that makes you look down on everyone else and it’s no wonder you view Europe as evil.

            It remains to be seen whether enough of your countrymen support you to take the UK out of the EU. I doubt it, because they don’t support you in anything else. But time will tell.

            Until then, be careful what you wish for. A Grexit will have painful consequences for us all, first and foremost Britain. You wanted to keep your own currency so you could compete against the rest of Europe and you’ve been successful in doing so. So successful that now all the migrants want to live in the UK. You’d better hope Greece can stop them flooding into Europe. They’re all heading your way. Good luck to you.

          • Anton

            You single out nationalist movements in Britain but there are plenty of others in various European countries, not least your own. The people of Europe are growing increasingly sick of Brussels, whose current trick of enacting fiscal union without political union – intending that a consequent fiscal crisis will ultimately enforce political union – isn’t working. As for us, we at least have the English Channel to slow down the arrival of queue-jumpers.

          • Linus

            Moats are a medieval solution to a security problem. They didn’t work very well then, even less so now. A few of kilometres of water doesn’t deter migrants determined to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

            You’re the victims of your own success. And how you bleat about it! But complaints won’t stop the flow of migrants. They’re coming whether you like it or not.

            Yes, here in France we have our own nationalist movement. In times of crisis people often revert to tribal behaviour. But sentiment in France is securely pro-European, even if a sizeable minority votes for the FN. There’s no referendum planned here.

          • Anton

            On the contrary, the English Channel works very well as a moat as the logjam of queue-jumpers at Calais shows.

            I am pro-European, just not pro-EU. You need to realise that the two are not synonymous.

          • Linus

            Ah, I see. So all those photographs one sees in the press of dark-skinned people leaping out of lorries and camper vans in motorway lay-bys are just students having a lark, are they?

            They dress up in blackface and tatty clothes, and secrete themselves in any convenient goods vehicle just waiting for a journalist to come by, and then they leap out and chatter away in some kind of nonsense language pretending to be migrants, pose a bit for the camera, and then run off cackling with evil laughter.

            Nice to know that plucky Fortress Britain is keeping the real thing at bay. See, it really was a good idea to leave all that rusty barbed wire on the beaches after the war ended. If any migrants manage to get through it, they’ll probably snag themselves on it and contract lockjaw and all your problems will be solved!

          • Anton

            Of course some get in. Too many. But the fact that there is a logjam of queue-jumpers at Calais proves the point that la Manche is a lot better than a land border.

          • Linus

            La Manche simply slows the rate of flow. The reservoir of migrants is still relentlessly drip, drip, dripping into the UK, and as any homeowner knows, it’s the slow leak that does the most damage.

          • Anton

            A future government with some guts can fix that, because the Manche exists. You can’t very well close all your land borders.

          • The Explorer

            It would be marvellous for migrants if the UK were France and France were the UK to obviate the need of crossing that annoying bit of water.

            I suppose the fact that the UK is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement is another nuisance; although I imagine such a legal technicality is of no significance to migrants: assuming they have even heard of it.

            Since they’ve got to cross France to get to us from Greece, why don’t you simplify things and just hang onto them? France has a lot of space into which to disperse them, and plenty of people of goodwill such as yourself to welcome them.

          • Linus

            I’m sure we’d be happy to oblige, but they just don’t want to stay. They’ve heard that the streets of London are paved with gold, and nothing we say can persuade them otherwise.

            You can’t tell them the streets of London are actually paved with trodden-on chips and partially digested curry and beer. There are some things they need to see for themselves.

          • The Explorer

            Hopefully, when they’ve seen the reality they’ll flee back across the Channel. “Paris, here we come!”

          • Linus

            I don’t think so. As they’re crossing France, they see how hard it is for unwelcome foreigners to make a life here (pity the English can’t see that …) Once they get to England and red carpet is rolled out for them, why would they want to leave?

          • The Explorer

            Are we to assume none of your properties has a moat?

          • Linus

            I am indeed the proud owner of a moat. It’s very pretty, but entirely useless for keeping out undesirables. Moats can be swum, and as it’s no longer economically feasible (or socially acceptable) to employ private troops to keep a watch on the battlements and pick off any foolhardy would-be burglars with a musket or bow and arrow, I, like all owners of historic properties, have had no choice but to resort to installing a modern security system.

            This too has its drawbacks. Such as the all-too-frequent “déclenchements intempestifs” when it goes off at 3 in the morning because an exceptionally large spider has abseiled through a sensor beam. This causes mayhem to break loose, and me to leap from my bed, grab my antique hunting rifle and roar down the bedroom corridor yelling “Montjoie ! Saint-Denis !” The idea is to strike terror into the heart of any intruder, and as intruders mainly turn out to be either of the invertebrate or rodent persuasion, it generally works rather well. I can give a mouse a coronary at 40 paces with one rattle of my blunderbuss, and spiders flee before me.

            One wonders if the UK border police employ such robust tactics when they come upon a lorry load of migrants. Do they threaten them with firepower, or do they read them their rights and then ship them off to a five star detention centre with an all-you-can-eat buffet and free pay-per-view and day spa, all funded by the British taxpayer, where the poor things will languish in luxury until their cases come up for review. In about a decade or so, by which time their English will be so good that it would be a pity to deport them, and Sunny Patel’s Curry Emporium is always looking for waiters, so why not just let them stay and contribute back to British society in the form of taxes paid?

            You see, if you didn’t eat so much curry, you wouldn’t have any immigrant problem at all. The solution isn’t moats or walls or barbed wire. It’s all those ethnic restaurants. Close ’em all down! No ethnic restaurants means no need for ethnic types to staff them. Problem solved!

            Hold on a second, did the Inspector just highjack this comment … ?

          • The Explorer

            At least the spiders and mice will keep you in good training for when the Christians come looking for you.

          • Linus

            Christians come looking for me? I hardly think so. They’ll be too busy exacting revenge on any Muslims they can find, and when the Muslims turn around and fight back, off they’ll scurry to their churches and shriek like girls about how the evil infidels are persecuting them, and it just isn’t fair!

          • IanCad

            Linus; you wrote:

            ” There’s something in the English psyche that makes you insular and inwards looking”

            Quite how that squares with the fact that the sun never went down on the once mighty British Empire, is beyond me.

          • Linus

            That was the past. Which is somewhere we no longer live. Or had you not noticed?

          • DanJ0

            Have you considered that what you see as a superiority complex is actually that we’re just, well, superior at the end of the day?

          • Linus

            I rest my case.

          • William Lewis

            Your “case” is in dire need of a rest but I doubt it will get any.

    • avi barzel

      The referendum was important for the Greek government in order to legitimize its stance towards the rest of Europe. Nobody can now doubt that the Greeks will not tolerate being reduced to the status of loan slavery.

      Poppycock. The referendum was only important to the Greek government and its mafiosi to solidify its position at the trough as it awaits the next bucket of slops from the EU. The Eurocracy is now laughing its ample arse off in relief.

  • Uncle Brian

    It’s now after 3:00 p.m. in Athens and still no news of who is going to be the new finance minister. In the meantime, Analysts with several major banks including Citi,
    Barclay’s and J.P. Morgan said a “Grexit” from the euro zone was now their most likely scenario.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/06/us-eurozone-greece-idUSKBN0P40EO20150706

  • Albert

    Good for the Greeks. I expect there will be a desire to punish them for it pour encourager les autres. We can’t have democracy standing up to the EU, for that would spell the end of the project. The scale of the vote was amazing.

    • avi barzel

      Hardly. They voted on questions that made no sense, on issues that were not even on the table and on the harangues and fearmongering of a popular megalomaniac struggling to stay at the trough. The demos didn’t “stand up to the EU,” didn’t articulate any principles, didn’t threaten the Grexit; it merely stomped its feet, tossed a few dishes and issued a pathetic whine: “We want the good life back! Fix it, Europe!” Or what? Or we’ll hold our our breath until we explode? It was a perfect display of the corruption of socialism in its natural coalition with fascism and the only thing it spelled is the end of Greek democracy and national dignity.

      • Albert

        Obviously it’s a mess – but that’s because the situation was already a mess. What would you expect them to do? Vote for an issue that wasn’t on the table? Vote for their debt not to be restructured despite the fact that pretty well everyone outside of the EU knows that it must happen?

        Greece is in a state, but it isn’t only down to the Greeks. Everyone knew that they did not have the economy to be in the Eurozone, but everyone let them in anyway. So it cannot be right that only the Greeks pay for the consequences. Their situation was created by the Eurodogma. It is entirely unfitting that the Greeks pay the price of that mistake alone.

        • avi barzel

          What would you expect them to do?

          To turf their government and reform their system.

          Their situation was created by the Eurodogma. It is entirely unfitting that the Greeks pay the price of that mistake alone.

          They got themselves in this situation because in spite of decades of evidence, they still cling to two failed systems: Communism and fascism. Throw in greed, laziness and coffee shop gossip as political philosophy and you got what you see. The price will be paid by others. Again. And again. By the German, Frenxh and British tax payers, by the industrious and responsible Czechs and Poles and even by the struggling Bulgarians and Romanians who are actually in far worse shape with no one giving a hoot.

          • Albert

            All of that may be true, but you cannot alter the fact that Greece should never have entered the Euro, and that they did so was because everyone was dishonest. Now it’s payback time.

          • Goldman Sachs should pay, they cooked the books for Greece to join. They shouldn’t be let off the hook, as there would have been a handsome kick back in it for them.

          • avi barzel

            Sure, go after Goldman Sachs and drain them of every penny, squeeze reparations from Germany and everyone else going back to the Bronze Age, penalize the whole of Europe for trusting them, put tax on feta cheese even, but when the loot is all munched up and excreted in a span of a year, what then? Sue for damages and seek restitution from the world for making them fat and popping their trouser buttons?

          • It would be hard to drain Goldman Sachs of every penny Avi. That wasn’t what I was implying, more a large fine to Greece so they can use it for the next repayment installment. The Germans can restructure Greece’s debt over a longer term and maybe confiscate the assets (ships of the rich shipping magnates, and other rich who have not paid any tax, that is if they can find them!

          • avi barzel

            Yet, the problem goes beyond the day’s details and the question of who is, or is not at fault, Miss Marie, that’s what I’m concerned about. When we’re done with blaming the lenders and with the worn jargon of “debt restructuring” (going deadbeat) and “liquidity crisis,” (gone piss-pot broke), and after we’ve “made the rich pay,” (judiciously looted all we can grab), we are still left with a nation state which has lied and cooked its books, elected extremist, corrupt cretins to lead it, and brazenly demands an income to the tune of billions of Euros per month (the “liquidity assistance,” aka free cash), while not showing the slightest inclination to change its ways. EU or no EU, what do you do with a failed state and…there is no polite way of putting this…with a stupid majority in its population (at least 60% of it) whose abysmal ignorance of grade school economics and preference for creative moronic “solutions” we must apparently honour because they voted democratically ?

            I may chortle, like many of us here, at the potential crash of the EU Leviathan project, but what is at stake is the entire Western system of free enyerprise and liberal democratic governance. And we have no solutions because our choices are equally unpallatable; 1) back down to blackmail and support Greece at the cost of innocent others, 2) let Greece sink and ignore the humanitarian and strategic disaster which will unfold, or 3) impose a change of government and a viable economic system by force. The EU, the Greek government and the politicians and economists out there pretend that there is a fourth option involving band-aid solutions for a minor growing pains problem involving sums which are a mere drop in the bucket. So, they natter about “restructuring,” and creative “compensation” for and tinker with definitions and re-definitions. But we all know this is just to buy time, and that after a few hundred billion go down the bottomless hole and there is still no end to the money dump in sight, people will start to notice.

          • Anton

            It suited Brussels that those books be cooked and Brussels surely knew it even if they didn’t know exactly how.

          • avi barzel

            Right. You cannot alter history. The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only at dusk, to paraphrase that old gnome Hegel and then…oopsie!…it’s a tad too late! The EU doesn’t do prescience; live and learn. But payback for what? For being showered with free money and for the (admittedly stupid) assumption that they can do something useful with it?

          • Albert

            It’s a mess, and responsibility for it cannot be confined to Greece. It makes no sense therefore for Greece to pay for the entire mess. Greece never was going to be able to run in the Eurozone. Everyone knew the did not meet the criteria to join, but they were allowed to join anyway? Why? Why would anyone do something so irrational? Eurodogma, and now Euroreality is coming back to bite.

      • CliveM

        The Greeks lost their dignity a long time ago.

        • avi barzel

          Ok, but now it’s official and certified with a referendum, no less.

    • carl jacobs

      This isn’t democracy standing up to Europe. This is about democracy trying to vote its debts out of existence.

      • Albert

        The European position is irrational. Europe has created the problem with the Greeks, and now Europe expects to solve it with something that punishes only the Greeks, and in perpetuity. Bizarre. Saying no to that, is a democratic act. The EU is not used to the demos saying no. However confused and messy, you can bet that in Brussels that is how it is seen.

        • avi barzel

          But they didn’t say no to the EU! They are clear that they want to stay in because they are nor entirely stupid. They only said no to repaying the loans and reforming their system.

          • Albert

            They said no to what the EU wanted them to do.

          • Uncle Brian

            Exactly. The EU told the Greeks it’s time they grew up and started earning their own living, and the Greeks just pouted and stamped their little feet.

          • Albert

            The EU tried to get the Greeks take full responsibility for a shared error, one driven by Eurodogma.

          • carl jacobs

            Albert

            “Shared error” is a tricky concept. It is not the same thing as responsibility. The Greeks are fully 100% responsible for the money they chose to borrow. There may have been error on the lender’s part. Their liability is contained in the money they have placed at risk. If Greece defaults, then they lose the money. That does not make the lenders responsible for Greece’s decision to apply for, accept, agree to repay, and receive the loan, and then spend the money. Greece is 100% responsible for those debts it voluntarily acquired no matter the wisdom of the lender in making the loan.

            So now we have a few political realities to deal with.

            1. There is no bailout plan in place to serve as a mechanism to provide Greece with money. Any plan will have to be approved by Parliaments in Europe – many of whom are not disposed to grant Greece favors. Tsipras has destroyed any good will Greece might have possessed.

            2. The referendum gambit means the EU leadership cannot now back down on debt reduction and austerity without looking like they have been rolled. They must demand agreement on austerity before debt reduction is discussed. Otherwise, they look weak. They can’t afford to display weakness to countries like Spain.

            3. If it was foolish to lend Greece money before, it is seventy times more foolish to lend Greece money now. If they can’t repay their current obligations, they how can additional loans be justified?

            The logical solution is:

            1. Don’t give Greece any more money.
            2. Write off the debt. (The lender’s consequence)
            3. Let Greece suffer the consequences of defaulting on its loans. (The borrower’s consequence.) This means severing the connection between the ECB and Greece.
            4. Provide some level of humanitarian aid to bridge the gap required by a transition to the drachma.

            What should not happen in any way is a transfer of money absent prior implementation of reforms. If Greece is given money to “stimulate the economy” it will use that money to inflate its living standard. It will not do what is necessary to fix its economy. No reforms. No money. The reforms – all of them – must be in place before any money is received. And the money stops if any of the reforms are removed. But that’s a moot point. You will never get another bailout plan approved by the individual gov’ts.

          • Albert

            That actually is exactly what I think should happen. Although the EU is in a double bind. The political consequences of giving in are that other countries think “If we elect a radical governmnet then we get our debt dropped. But if they follow your course here, Greece will surely leave the Euro, and that could create speculating in other dodgy economies. It all stems from Eurodogma. You cannot create a currency union without political union.

          • The Explorer

            It is indeed time the Greeks grew up, but the EU is to blame insofar as it gave the Greeks the opportunity not to do so.

            It’s like sustaining people on welfare for years, and then suddenly blaming them for developing attitudes of dependency. Neither group is without blame.

          • avi barzel

            Well, that’s telling them.

            As in, “We won’t repay your loans. We won’t fix our system. It’s your fault for letting us into the EU. It’s your fault for giving us money. But give us more money and let us stay in the EU so it can be your fault again.”

            Democracy is just a system, Albert. One of many. Not a holy talisman or a universal panacea. It only works under the right conditions and with the right people. It can produce good results or it can bring disaster, as the Arabs, Turks and now the Greeks have discovered. What the Greeks did was to vote themselves the end of their experiment with democracy by selling off their freedoms to a communist-fascist junta and a bureacratic tyranny, your EU. Congratulations, you guys have hung a perpetually angry and permanently dependent, squawking albatross around your already burdened necks. But, as I said before, it may not be all bad. Greece just might have started the dissolution of the EU project, which just might save old Britannia in time before she loses her body and soul.

          • Albert

            I just don’t think you are facing the fact that the situation is messy. It does not admit of a clear solution. They voted against a clearly wrong solution. I asked you what they should have done, and you replied:

            To turf their government and reform their system.

            That wasn’t on the ballot paper. What should they have done with the ballot paper?

          • avi barzel

            Honestly? They should have wiped their arses with it. It was the most illogical, barely literate and incomprehensible garble ever submitted to a vote. The whole expensive exercise was just to prop up Tsipras and the majority obediently threw their lot with him.

          • Albert

            And your serious suggestion is?

          • avi barzel

            As I said before: change your government and your system. More specifically, dump socialism and bring in reforms which encourage capital and enterprise. Others have done it. Eastern European nations, Israel, Latin American countries. If you can’t or won’t, then you’re screwed and no one owes you a free lunch.

          • Albert

            That wasn’t on the ballot paper. Should they have voted yes or no?

          • avi barzel

            Again, the questions made no sense, the clear purpose was to show off a mandate for the government. The people shoukd have told Tsioras to man up, govern or step down.

          • Albert

            And how would they do that?

          • avi barzel

            How the Devil should I know, Albert? If I can’t come up with solution, does it mean I can’t point out a problem? How about this: stop being Greeks, dump both communism and fascism and try working for a living? Not possible? Ok, then they’re screwed, I guess.

          • Albert

            What I’m asking is, if I’m Greek and I ask you your advice on Saturday night what I should do on Sunday, I’m going to be a bit miffed if you make it all sound obvious but then say you don’t know.

          • avi barzel

            Honrstly, Albert, you are drifting into irrelevancies. A critique does not require a hypothetical solution. Nevertheless, here is another stab at it:

            If you are an honest, smart, hard working Greek, get out while you still can. Millions the world over have realized that the country they live in and the culture they are stuck in suck big time. You not obligated to suffer the extremes of demented communists and the fascist Golden Piss or whatever they call themselves. You do not have to sit and watch elites and mafias living it up and the lazy mendicants loafing about on your hard-earned dime. That is not loyalty, that is slavery. That is the way of the world and the wsy of humanity since we staggered out of the savannah on two feet. When everyone and everything fails you snd there is no solution in sight it is ypur obligation to pack up your stuff and your family and start walking. It is your last and often the only possible option.

          • DanJ0

            We have four Greek engineers at my workplace now. Greece’s loss, our gain.

          • avi barzel

            Quite a few have come to Canada as well. Due to our current government’s policies and points-based system, people with skills and education have a priority. Thank you Saryza and Golden Piss!

          • CliveM

            Albert

            This was a corrupt vote. Avi is right ( as he is with tedious regularity) the only rational use of the ballot paper was for wiping your arse. You boycott corrupt referendums, you don’t vote in them.

          • avi barzel

            PS I was serious about the toilet paper option; they’ll soon be running out of that too.

          • CliveM

            I think it is fair to point out that Greece’s over gorging on EU largesse pre dates the Euro. It just became more lucrative for them (for a while at least).

          • avi barzel

            Not even that. They just voted the way they were told by a demagogue.

          • Albert

            That is to assume you know how the motivation behind each of about 4 million people you have never met.

          • avi barzel

            Simple party line voting, with stats you don’t need to know more.

          • Albert

            So they voted for the opinion of the man who was only in power because they voted for him?

            But you do not address my question, what should they have done yesterday, with the ballot paper? It’s easy to say all these things, but what option are you defending?

          • avi barzel

            See my other response below. Hint: Paper has many uses, some even practical.

          • carl jacobs

            They said no to what the EU wanted them to do

            Which would be “Repay the loans and reform your system.”

          • Albert

            When you give loans, you know you are taking a risk. It may not be paid back. This happens. It’s called bankruptcy. Such a state occurs when it is evident that the debtor simply cannot pay back what they owe. That’s the risk you take when you give a loan. If you give a loan to a bad economy more fool you. If you give a loan to an economy which is bad because you have allowed them into a currency union which you knew they could not qualify for and which was obviously going to mess them up, then more fool you. That risk is irrational. Demanding they pay back what they cannot pay back is irrational. Everyone can see this – even the US as far as I am aware. It is a corrupt dogma that prevents reality kicking in here.

          • carl jacobs

            Greece’s position is not “We can’t repay the loan, so stop demanding that we pay it.” Greece’s position is “We can’t repay the loan so just forget we ever borrowed it and oh btw we still need more money.” There are two logical ways forward:

            1. Europe can trade more loans for debt relief but only on condition of structural reforms.

            2. Europe can refuse to lend any more money.

            What Greece wants is debt relief, and more money based upon its promise to implement reforms in the future. Except it won’t implement reforms. It will use the money to finance its current structure. This is the game Greece has been playing for years. Without the pressure of economic pain, there is no way Greece will change. And it is irrational to keep lending Greece money without some assurance that Greece will change.

          • carl jacobs

            To summarize. If Greece changed its economic structure, Greece could pay back a substantial portion. That is Europe’s fundamental assumption. Europe would probably be willing to forgive a large part of the debt, but Greece has to be willing to change. Greece has not been willing to change. It has been dragging its feet on reforms for years.

          • Albert

            I’m no economist, and I don’t think you are either, but perhaps you are. All I can say is that economists I have spoken to were predicting this years ago. Greece simply cannot get up to speed with the current arrangements. This being so, and the responsibility being shared, it seems reasonable to me that the whole situation be change. I expect that what needs to happen is for Greece to leave the Euro and start afresh.

          • avi barzel

            Fair points about loan risks, shared responsibilities, debt forgiveness and bankruptcies. One small problem. This may work on a small scale in a healthy economy, when a few students and Visa card holders default for various reasons. The consequence to individuals is a considerable set of serious oenalties in the form of a bad credit rating and no more loans for a long time.

            But in this case you have a country which is defaulting, while other countries are struggling, and one which demands ongoing financial assistance and further loans, while others must tighten their belts and make do. Are you ok with Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland defaulting as well because there is now to be precedent, or is Greece, for some reason you are not sharing with us, special and exempt? You seem to demand solutions, so what is yours to this little problem, Albert?

          • Albert

            I should put my cards on the table: I think the Euro is a bad idea, baldy implemented. I have always thought this. There is no way out of this that does not result in some kind of contagion.

            Either Greece’s creditors give Greece a better deal or they don’t. Either course leads to some kind of contagion:

            1. If Greece’s creditors give Greece a better deal, then other basket cases will realise that if they install a radical left government then they may get away with it as well.
            2. If they don’t then Greece will probably have to crash out of the Euro, and that will lead to pressure on other basket economies doing the same.

            I’m no economist, but as far as I can see, there is no solution to this. Either case is bad. My solution would be to say that I wouldn’t be starting from here. The Euro is a bad idea badly implement. As I think the Euro is the central problem, then I think we need to consider a future in which Greece is not in the Euro. I don’t suggest that will be easy, but it will mean that one millstone will be removed from Greece’s neck.

          • avi barzel

            Well, with tin foil hat “economists” like Varoufakis around, not being an economist has suddenly become a badge of credibility. What is amazing to me is that our higher education system has progressed to a point where a fellow like him can pass exams, avoid having his essays and papers flung back at him with a big red “F” on the title page, manage to graduate from Birmingham and Essex U’s, go on to get hired to teach in reputable institutions in First World countries and end up as a finance minister of a European nation. Truly remarkable. As an aside, how does one explain tanking of a Western country’s economy and what “transferabe skills” can he list in a C.V.? But I digress and who am I to judge, as I’m no economist either.

            Seeing that the field of

          • avi barzel

            Oops…fat finger pressed post button!

            Anyhow, now that the field if economics has been indecently assaulted and left wide open for riff raff like me, and since you asked me what my solution would be, I have given the grave matter serious condideration and I’m ready to render an opinion.

            Confining mysrlf strictly to the pribkem of the immediate and looming humanitarian crisis, the least painful and intrusive approach which doesn’t perpetuate the problem is strictly monitored and controlled emergency assistance which entirely bypasses the Greek government and the usual kleptocratic suspects who would normally act as “middle men” with sweaty hands in the till. Greece will surely scream at this intended insult and speechify about national dignity, which if fine, because the aim must be for the assistance to be not only effective…especially fir the poor… but instructionally humiliating at least to some, the hope being that shame can spur those who can to get off their duff.

            A nation which celebrates giving the middle finger to its creditors with one hand and extending the other for handouts cannot be hampered by an excess of pride, anyway. My approach avoids rewarding a deadbeat nation and a communist-fascist coalition government with a comfortable income or from the mess of taking over a nation’s capital with UN troops when it plunges into yet another Greek civil war in living memory. As for the rest, the EU and Euro issue, loans, restructurings and whatnots, that’s for the economists to work on.

          • Albert

            The way things are going, I think you are going to get your wish! I see the Greek Government has turned up without any proposals. That doesn’t look good!

          • avi barzel

            Not a wish, the only feasible option in a bad lot I can think of.

          • Albert

            Errrrr….not quite sure how to respond to this…!

          • avi barzel

            Refresh page and see my continuation below…I mucked up the posting.

        • carl jacobs

          Greece was not sitting around minding its own business when evil Europe came along to impose a crushing debt burden for its own nefarious purposes. Greece is not an innocent actor. Greece saw a way to inflate its standard of living by eternalizing the cost. Europe may have enabled it. But Greece made its own choice. Europe is trying to whip Greece into shape. If Greece doesn’t fix itself, then Europe is condemned to perpetually finance Greece’s overspend.

          • Albert

            Yep. All true. But the European model will not fix Greece it will make it poor for the foreseeable future. I’m not saying Greece has no responsibility. I am saying responsibility is shared. I would say that the cause is the European dogma, and that has been given the finger here.

          • dannybhoy

            ‘eternalising’?’.
            As in “pay me back when it suits you?”

          • avi barzel

            “Kicking the can down the road”?

          • dannybhoy

            It’s the European Union extended version of the year of Jubilee..

          • avi barzel

            And they say the EU doesn”t do religion!

          • carl jacobs

            What? You didn’t notice the ‘x’ in ‘externalizing’ that I TOTALLY didn’t just include.

          • dannybhoy

            Much more fun not to notice..

            ‘externalise’ is spelt with an s

          • avi barzel

            The “z” is only necessary for Americans, who are likely to assume that word has something to do with singing. English speakers know to vocalise (sic.) the “s” as “z” (pronounced “zee,” not “zed”). But why worry, haven’t you guys already evolved your lingo to a fine blend of Spanglish, Ebonics and L.A. Gansta?

          • dannybhoy

            The nonsense was a ‘one size fits all’ budgetary model. It would have been better to allow the weaker economies retain their own currencies with favourable exchange rates with euro economies.
            In fact it would have been far better to allow Europe to gradually grow towards greater integration by standardising certain governmental and economic functions without taking away national sovereignty. The mistake has been in trying to impose a political model before the Europeans were ready for it.

  • The Explorer

    Let us not forget that the Greeks gave Europe its name. It will be appropriate if they help to determine its future. . .

  • carl jacobs

    It is pointless to try to fix the debt problem unless the structural and cultural expectations that drive the debt are also fixed. Greece wants external funding for its welfare state. Greece needs to accept that its welfare state is no more. It needs to adjust its understanding of productivity, job security, retirement, wages, and taxation. Lighten the debt load. Get them out of the Euro. Those need to be done. But unless you fix the actual problem, you will be seal ng with thus same problem in short order.

  • carl jacobs

    And anyways. Who could trust Tsipras to keep any commitment he makes? He will promise reforms, take the money, see his debt reduced, and then never deliver the reforms. When he runs out of money, he will demand more money. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    I can’t see all the nations of Europe approving a new bailout plan for Greece as long as he is in power.

  • len

    I suppose controlling Nations(and people) through debt is an effective means of manipulation and control.. That very small percentage who owns most of the wealth have found this method to be very effective..

    “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes it’s laws” — Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild

    • dannybhoy

      Sounds kinda simplistic to me…

  • Inspector General

    Fancy that! Plucky little Greece telling Germany’s EU to wait outside in the wet while it deliberates, and getting away with it too. Who’d have thought it!

    Anyway, Cameron must know he can get what he wants out of the EU, like our law back, for example, by just ignoring them when they say No!

    It’s all there for the taking, what!

    Tally ho!

    • dannybhoy

      As far as I can see Cameron remains a Europhile. Maggie was a conviction politician Cameron is a consensus politician, not dissimilar to Tony Blair.
      A thought just struck me: what if Maggie had joined the Church of England instead? Imagine her handbagging all those wishywashy bishops..
      Such larks, Pip old chap!

      • Inspector General

        Nonsense, dear boy. If we can’t understand Cameron, what chance do the continentals have. He’s our champion, of sorts. If anyone can do it, will be him…

      • CliveM

        She did join the CofE!!!

        • dannybhoy

          Wouldn’t you just love to have seen her at synod?
          “No, No, NO! Justin. This lady Bishop’s not for turning..

          • CliveM

            I have read she wasnt particularly dogmatic about her faith. Partly in response to her strict upbringing. She played the ‘fundamentalist’ but in reality was broad minded.

  • David

    It is both deeply ironical and satisfying that the mighty machine of Merkel’s EU has been challenged by the small democratic voice of the Greek people, inhabitants of the birthplace of democracy.
    The one size fits all euro is a total nonsense.
    The EU is an undemocratic tyranny.
    Good luck to the Greeks, feckless lot though they are.
    Perhaps now they will finally grow up, accept the responsibilities that go with being a democratic country, and start out on the long road to becoming an independent, debt free country – outside the EU !

    • dannybhoy

      Hmm.
      You can coat a chamber pot in gold, but it still won’t pass as a goblet..
      In other words, one is as guilty as the other..

      • David

        Agreed !
        Both are culpable, but apportioning blame wasn’t my point.
        I was savouring the expression of local, national democracy, even if they are a feckless lot.

    • avi barzel

      Some challenge. It’s only Monday and Tsipras already dumped his idiot finance minister at the request of the EU. The noble demos will bluster until the banks run out of money and then they’ll drag Tsipras himself by the heels and in chains to Brussels.

      • David

        Maybe it’s not as effective a challenge, as those like me in the anti-EU camp would like.
        But hey, it’s a highly visible, symbolically significant, serious embarrassment for the fanatically pro-EU political establishment.
        So let’s savour it !

        • avi barzel

          Perhaps, but when the Greeks fold, and they will, the damage will be greater. Wrong people to fire the first shot and for the wrong reasons; not a lot of romance and stuff of legends in actions of deadbeats whining for more Free Stuff.

          • David

            No one will accuse you of being an optimist !

          • avi barzel

            Why, thank you!

      • Dude

        ah the ex Greek finance minister ,Yanis Varoufakis, has already got a column going in the guardian, in which he explains to the readership :

        “Europe is disintegrating because its architecture was simply not sound enough to sustain the shockwaves caused by the death throes of what I call the Global Minotaur: the system of neoliberal capitalism centred on Wall Street, extracting tribute from the world after 1971.”

        • avi barzel

          What a shame. Greece lost a brilliant economist and a philosopher of inestimable depths. The Guardian got a bargoon; they should keep him.

  • Inspector General

    Let’s cheer on Cameron when he goes to battle on our behalf, encouraged by the Spartans.

    On a slight downside, he might exact a terrible cost on British society by doing that little bit more for his and the wife’s homosexual friends by making pederasty legal, but what the heck. We’ll be out of ‘ever closer political union’

    Sorry, you young lads who are following Cranmer. Needs must, what!

    {ahem}

    • CliveM

      Conditions couldn’t be better. He has the EU by the short and curlies if he chooses to take advantage of the situation.

      I expect him to muff it.

      • Shadrach Fire

        Of course he will. He does not want the UK out of the EU.

  • CliveM

    Am I the only one after seeing Merkel and Hollande on screen, already hearing the can being ready to be booted down the road.

    Expect a compromise that resolves nothing but saves face.

    Problems are after all for others to resolve.

    • avi barzel

      Better. You may even be the first to have detected the start of a new European tradition. An annual passion play where Greece winks, goes hysterical for a few days, Europe wags its finger and plays the stern father, everyone fishes out and ponies up the change and lint from their pockets, the chorus puts on its smiley mask and breaks into a happy song, and all is well in the kingdom of fools.

      • CliveM

        In the Roman equivalent of Greek plays, they tended to major on comedies with some guy parading around the stage with a comic phallus. Usually in persuit of some reluctant woman. Tsipiris and Merkel perhaps? Although who has the comic phallus has still to be decided.

        • avi barzel

          …or if there is any drug in any pharmacopaea out there to keep the damn thing stiff.

          • CliveM

            Either way, one or other of the parties is in for a big disappointment……,. Or should that be small?

          • avi barzel

            Oy!

          • sarky

            The Greeks are staging the ultimate ‘stick up’ and are acting like ‘hardened’ criminals!!

          • avi barzel

            Ouch!

    • Orwell Ian

      That doesn’t square with the actions of the ECB this evening. They have tightened the noose around the Greek banks by upping the collateral requirement, making it even more difficult for them to raise cash. In 48hrs the banks will become insolvent. This would not have been done without political authorisation and is designed to concentrate minds in Athens.

      • CliveM

        We’ll time will tell. I suspect Linus is right and Merkel will blink first. Her body language was unconvinci.

        However I have been wrong on many occasions!

        • Orwell Ian

          Tomorrow is already being dubbed “last chance Tuesday”
          but we shall all have to wait and see.

          • CliveM

            I’ve heard of this last chance to take it seriously!! But yes we shall see.

  • The Explorer

    Why the desperation to keep the EU intact? Is it:
    1. To keep the nations of Europe from warring with each other once again?
    2. In order to become, once full unity has been achieved, the new global superpower? (Something that none of the individual players can aspire to be any longer in their own right.)

    • Linus

      A strong and united Europe is our best defence against likely future threats.

      Politically we have Russia acting the way Russia has always acted: belligerently, and still obsessed with gaining an ice-free port, access to which is not controlled by another nation. We can thank our lucky stars that Greece doesn’t control the Dardanelles, or Russia would have purchased their “cooperation” years ago.

      We also have the rise of militant Islam to deal with. The threat has more to do with terrorism than any kind of military assault on Europe’s borders. But if we’re not united and don’t have a common security policy, migrants will flood in and with them a tide of terrorism. We’re already seeing the results of the Greek near-bankruptcy in the massive rise in migrant numbers arriving in Europe. Driven out of their homelands by IS, they’re massing on our borders. Only a coordinated and united response can hope to control the flow.

      Economic threats also need to be countered. The rise of China requires a coordinated and united economic response. History shows us that independent nation states are more likely to compete against each other than cooperate for the common good. The European Union provides a formalised and legally obligatory framework for that cooperation. If every member state “did a UK” and decided to opt out of the bits of the EU it didn’t like, there would be no EU and we’d be reduced to the same patchwork of squabbling, competing states we were before the Treaty of Rome.

      Of course that’s what Britain wants Europe to look like. Like every physically well-endowed child, it sees nothing wrong with the sink-or-swim principle of “might is right”. It wants a competitive Europe because it’s well placed to succeed in such a scenario. The bigger kids always pick on the smaller. Britain wants carte blanche to undercut all of its neighbours with its socially disastrous employment policy, but the rest of us refuse to play that game.

      In some ways Britain’s exit from the EU might be desirable. It would remove a constant thorn from our sides and you could go off and implement policies as Dickensian as you like without any interference from us.

      Of course you’d lose your privileged access to European markets, but you can always try to revive the Commonwealth. Let’s see if the combined population of the economically viable part of that organisation can make up for the loss of a market 4 or 5 times as big.

      Perhaps the UK should go it alone. Or England rather, because I can’t see the Scots quietly acquiescing to yet another English diktat. So the very notion of Britain would die if you were to leave the EU. But that’s your choice. I just hope you think very carefully before you make it. Greece may not be the only country to cut off its nose in order to spite its face by means of a referendum.

      • Ivan M

        Overall I have to say that you have demonstrated the best grasp of the situation on this blog as it is likely to unfold. It will be more of the same for the reasons you have outlined. Well done.

      • The Explorer

        Most impressive, Linus. And even praise from Ivan!

        I agree about the principle of unity for defence. My question is whether the EU has long-term aggressive intentions as well. Germany has long looked east: at least since the time of the Teutonic Knights. German desire for the Ukraine arguably drove the First World War, and the Second, and is not absent even now from recent events.

        It was Hegel, I think, who said it was Germany’s destiny to rule the world. A German-driven EU may be the long-term mechanism for doing so.

        I may, of course, be wrong. (My default position in your view, I know.)

        • Ivan M

          Its hard to see how Hausfrau Merkel would kick Greece out. By instinct she is a conciliator as she demonstrated over the Ukraine. Coming from Eastern Europe she should have some sympathy for the also-rans. And she may recall that during reunification in the 90s the other Europeans grumblingly accepting high interest rates to finance the German bonds.

        • Linus

          No, I don’t think Germany has designs on the Ukraine. The whole “Drang noch Osten” thing died in the flames of WWII.

          Since the end of the war, Germany has consistently shown itself to be a model European citizen. Now that they’re by far the strongest economy in the EU, it’s only natural they should seek a position of leadership. Britain does the same, but you’re just not on the same wavelength as the rest of us, so your calls for less regulation and more freedom for the rich to fleece everyone else and get even richer while the rest of society subsists on as little as possible are generally ignored.

          Of course Germany as a European partner has to be watched quite carefully. The problem with German ideas of leadership is a certain tendency towards doctrinaire and inflexible thinking. This is why they need to be in partnership rather than direct competition with their neighbours. The rest of the Union combined makes a counterweight to the German tendency to bulldozer what they want through regardless of the effect it may have on others.

          If the EU fails and we all become independent nation states again, may your imaginary God help us, because without being firmly tethered in a Union where they’re obliged to respect other countries’ needs and wants, history shows us that Germany is dangerous. A European vision may have replaced old German ideas of conquest and ethnic cleansing, but freed from the obligation of cooperating with their neighbours, who knows what they might do?

          If the Union fractures and first Greece departs, and then maybe some of the other PIGS nations, and then Britain, the whole thing could unravel and we’ll be left with an untrammeled Germany free to reconsider the concept of Lebensraum and perhaps start to reassert itself militarily.

          That prospect alone should give the British pause for thought. The last time Germany flexed its muscles, it didn’t go too well for the UK (or France, of course). In the end you won that conflict, but only because you received outside help, and in the process your infrastructure and your ability to hold on to your Empire were decimated, and you lost your position as a world superpower. Is that what you want to happen again?

          Germany needs to be contained. The best way of containing it is a strong EU. Put that in jeopardy and you’ll live to regret it. When the Germans are not on your team, they fight hard and they fight dirty and, at least in economic terms, they generally win. Is that the competition you want to be faced with? Good luck to you. Indeed good luck to us all.

          • The Explorer

            Linus,
            I very genuinely value your opinion; so thank you for such a detailed and thought-out response.
            ‘Germany needs to be contained’ is, I agree, absolutely key. That, indeed, is what has driven European politics ever since German unification in the C19.
            If Germany has European-only ambitions (and stretch the definition of Europe to include Ukraine) then the EU is the answer. But if Germany has global ambitions, then the extra population and resources provided by the EU could be the means of achieving them.
            Not that I expect a UK referendum to have any effect on its politicians. The question will be framed in such a way that either answer will be meaningless.

          • CliveM

            Explorer

            Could you define global ambitions? If you mean influence and things like becoming a permanent member of the security council, heading the IMF etc I can see that and can’t get to worked up over it.

            If you mean an attempted re-run of the Third Reich with additional resource, you’ll need to explain further?

            Or do you mean something in between?

          • The Explorer

            Very vague thoughts, I’m afraid. Just thinking aloud. Three main lines:
            1. Given the anniversary of WW!, I decided to try and make sense of why it happened. Best answer I can come up with is German aspirations on the Ukraine. Austria as front to make Russia the aggressor. France drawn in to support Russia, Britain drawn in when German troops crossed Belgium to knock out France. But basically a Russo-German conflict that others got caught up in.
            2. German Imperial ambitions: hampered by Germany being a late starter and by then having so much territory taken off her in Africa post WW1.
            3. I’m told the EU sees itself as the model for a future world government. So if Germany runs the EU, and the EU runs the world…

          • CliveM

            I think there are strong parallels in the dynamics and psychology of what is happening in the current euro crisis and how the world stumbled into WW1.

            A combination of stubbornness, arrogance, stupidity and ambition, combined with the key political players trapped by their rhetoric and constituency.

          • Linus

            The question that remains is if Germany needs to be contained, how do you propose to do so if there’s no EU?

            Bring down the EU and the only thing keeping Germany in a friendly and cooperative mood disappears completely.

          • The Explorer

            I suppose we’d be back to the sort of system of alliances that led to WW1. I quite agree that the issue of the EU is not a simple one.

          • Linus

            The issue is not a simple one and yet you think that whacking it over the head with the blunt instrument of an in/out referendum is the best solution?

            Would you take the same approach if you found a sleeping dragon in your cabbage patch? Knock it over the head with a large monkey wrench and hope it didn’t wake up again?

            The consequences for you – for all of us – if it does may be catastrophic. Are you ready to bear that responsibility?

          • The Explorer

            Is an in/out referendum the best solution? Possibly not, but it’s the only one available to the British public.

          • Linus

            In other words, you don’t care what happens as long as you get your way now.

            Very forward thinking of you. Instantaneous gratification, and the Devil take the consequences, eh? A very Anglo-saxon attitude. No wonder you’re the fattest nation in Europe.

            Of course if you do provoke a general meltdown of the EU, you’ll pay the same price as we all will. And it will be bien fait pour vos gueules. You’ll be singing a different song when you’re isolated from a fractured Europe and your former colonies have told you to bugger off when you try and stitch your Empire back together. Why would Australia dump its current markets and give you privileged access to theirs when you abandoned them without so much as a by-your-leave in the 1970s?

            Britain is like a raddled fat old geezer with a pot belly and a comb-over who’s decided to dump the European mistress he left his first wife for and then married. Now he wants his first wife back, but she’s moved on and just isn’t interested in him any more. She has her own life now and doesn’t hang off his every word the way she used to.

            Poor old bloke, he’s in for a tough time. His first wife doesn’t want him, and he’s abandoned his second wife to the the wolves, so she’s hopping mad and he dare not cross her threshold again. Nobody wants anything to do with him. And he brought it all on himself by imagining he could turn back the clock and get exactly what he wanted on his own terms.

            There’s no fool like an old fool, is there? Who’ll have him now?

  • David

    Heads : Stern Germany holds the line. Greece slides out of the euro proving that a. exit is not unthinkable, b. an expanding, ever closer EU is not inevitable. a +b = a weaker EU.

    Tails : Stern Germany buckles. More subsidy is thrown at Greece, which retains membership without accepting the discipline of good housekeeping, thus proving, a. that Germany doesn’t always win, b. financial irresponsibility within euro-land pays, c. other socialist regimes with in euro-land are encouraged to misbehave. Again a+b+c = a weaker EU.

    Heads or Tails the anti-EU camp win !

    • Uncle Brian

      One reason why I would personally like to see Greece going back to a national currency of its own is that it would establish the precedent that the euro is a two-way street. Countries can join and countries can leave.

      • David

        That’s an interesting point.
        Indeed a two way flow into and out of the EU itself, would remind everyone that national decisions cannot be suppressed for ever. But that they may be voluntarily, democratically made subject to the greater whole, but only for as long as it suits that particular nation.

  • Shadrach Fire

    One wonders what can come of this situation. You hear one thing like people get there pension from 55 years, old but then I read that if they are drawn into the system at that age they are locked out of the labour market and live in poverty for the next 30 years. I also read that the retirement age has been raised to 67 but they still get a poverty scale payment.

    Many over the last forty years must have been using the system of loose Government to seriously line their own pockets.

    God help them but I respect their bravery at refusing to be enslaved by the EU.

  • Ivan M

    The bankers will cave in as they were the ones whose interests were protected by the kabuki play. Once that is done, there remains nothing for the politicians to do but sign on the dotted line.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-06/who-biggest-winner-greek-tragedy

  • noix

    Germany as a nation caused a lot of death and carnage during the last century, but also defaulted the largest amount. The United States virtually wrote off the debt in 1953, probably because of the Cold War. In 1990 as well they had a pause. The total amount in today’s money dwarfs the amount owed by the Greeks. Ritschl in Der Speigel and Piketty in Zeit point this out. The Germans have been forgiven a lot more than the Greeks have.

    • avi barzel

      The Germans have been forgiven a lot more than the Greeks have.

      …and than the Italians, Spanish, Portuguese and dozens of others. But neither they or the Greeks said, “we don’t want a loan, we want a grant, like what the Germans got.” No, they proudly signed up for a loan with a repayment plan and gave their Scout’s honour on it. So, are you suggesting forgiving all loans?

      • noix

        The Greeks have gone bankrupt five times since 1800. The European commission advised against their joining of the EU and the politicians ignored them. The commissions economist Bernard Connolly advised against them being allowed to join the Euro, he was locked out of his office and sacked for that advice. The present chair of the ECB was the director of the team from Goldman Sachs that fooled the EU using derivatives to get Greece into the Euro. Most banks would look at the previous record of the creditor, there was plenty of information there. My experience as someone from northern Europe living around the Mediterranean now, is that rules are applied more selectively than where I am from, both which ones and to whom. When a drunk begs money as a loan and then does not pay back most would say it is the fault of the lender. It will make no difference except how long the Greek people will suffer, the debt cannot be paid. The young in Greece are the ones suffering the most and they had no part in this.

        • avi barzel

          But the question is what now, and that question is rather urgent, with Greek banks running out of cash and the economy taking a power-dive. Are you saying Greece and only Greece should be allowed to default? I’m sure there are “extenuating circumstances” similar to the ones you describe in the case of other lenders (edit: borrowers).

          The shadowy conspiracies of governments and banks make for an interesting read, but no one forced the Greeks to accept a loan or to cook their books to submit fraudulent numbers and to elect a communist-fascist coalition which they knew would drain the economy. The fate of young Greeks may be touching, but so is the fate of other young Europeans who will suffer from a Greek default and continued propping of its economy. Is there something special about Greece and Greeks I’m missing?

          • noix

            This is a consequence of the arrogance and stupity of politicians. It was predicted that the Euro would not work with countries like Greece in it as they are too dissimilar to northern European economies. Greece is 2% of the total economy. The problem for the EU will be if Greece defaults, leaves the Euro and then prospers like Iceland. That is when the real financial problems arise.

          • avi barzel

            I’m with you on the stupidity and arrogance of politicians, with the addendum that the Greeks are collectivelly equally stupid and arrogant, as they are eagerly demonstrating for us. And the Greeks are not Icelanders, with centuries of real democratic governance through their unique parliament, the Althing, or nearly as industrious and willing to sacrifice comforts. They opted for the good life under a creative mix of communist and fascist socialism. They are going down big time unless they are either forced to change government (not to mention their work cukture) or are kept peroetually on the dole with enough pittance to keep them from plunging into civil war. Both options threaten Western models of economics and governance no matter what you do.

          • noix

            Greece is a country where you have to bribe someone to get a passport etc. The two main politicians after the Colonels started there own political parties and got rich which tells you everything.
            The money is not going to be repaid. Greece is in surplus apart from the debt interest. The Mediterranean as a whole is not a place where you can do business with a handshake, I do not think it will change however much politicians in Brussels might wish.
            The whole Western world seems to be struggling to accept reality at present.

          • avi barzel

            As long as the geniuses in Brussels don’t get pissed enough to try to spite Greece by inviting Turkey (and thus the entire homeless Syrian population hovering near Turkey’s borders) into the union!

  • Uncle Brian

    The news from Brussels, one source says, is that no agreement is to be expected until Sunday at the earliest. How much longer are the Greek banks going to remain closed?

    The longer the delay, the less chance the Greeks will have of getting what they wanted. But they know that as well as we do. So what are they up to? One possibility is that they’ve belatedly realized that they have no future in the euro zone and are ready to bite the bullet and switch to a New Drachma. However, they want the voters back home to think that this is being forced upon them, against their own better judgmen, by the evil Germans, which means they can’t be seen to be giving in too readily.

    • avi barzel

      Well, Brian, poltics would be as dull as trigonometry (for me, at least) if only reason and realities were involved. Passions, cultural choices, idiocies, brilliance, chauvinism and machismo make it all so much more fun…and potentially rewarding. I thought of starting a betting pool here, but with our own cash-strapped, socialism-lite provincial government, I might get a knock on the door from the Ontario lottery and gaming commission folks!

      • Uncle Brian

        Hello again, Avi!

        I suppose most of the Eurocrats at the Brussels summit will have read by now what Gideon Rachman wrote on his blog at the Financial Times after Sunday’s vote:

        If European leaders were thinking clearly, they should see that rather than punishing Greece, it is now in the EU’s interests to do its level best to make sure that Greece can leave the euro, but stay inside the EU with a minimum of pain. If that means giving Greece debt relief as part of the exit package, so be it. Debt relief, in return for Grexit, could make political as well as economic sense.

        Even so, restoring the drachma in Greece without provoking an even more intense economic crisis will be very difficult. But, if it could be done, the EU may finally have a model for liberating other European nations from a malfunctioning euro.

        Amen to that.

        http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/501f9a62-23c0-11e5-9c4e-a775d2b173ca.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3fEC4fxHX

        • avi barzel

          Sure, good plan, if they can sustain debt relief for all the other creaky economies which will assemble in the waiting room for the free coffee and cookies. What’s good about all of this is that Britain might pull the brakes on the “ever closer union” and the EU will be too busy with its own problems and just might get off Israel’s arse about rushing in the creation of another terrorist pauper state which, along with Greece and the rest of Southern Eurooe, the EU would have to support. If I were Netanyahu, I’d throw the wrench…or spanner,, as you call it…into this rickety wreck by loading up planes with free Israeli meds and food for Greece, all produced in Judea and Samaria. Let’s see Europe BDS that one!

          • Uncle Brian

            The Greeks are said to be among the most fanatical Israel haters in Europe. That would be a good test to see whether they put their money where their mouth is. Will they make a big show of chucking the Israeli produce in the sea, or will they hide it under their coats and furtively take it home and scoff it?

          • avi barzel

            Hm. Seems my earlier retort disappeared into binary space. True, the Greeks have an excellent score, far above any other non-Muslims, on their disluke of Jews. Very few Jews left in Greece (can’t imagine why, the Parthenon looks just like so many Reform Temples in the US), so they must feel snubbed. But they are welcome to scoff at the boxes of matza and even chuck them into the sea. I had enough of that stuff this Passover.

  • Pubcrawler

    Fear not, the Obamessiah’s on the case!

    “The President and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone this
    morning about Greece. The leaders agreed it is in everyone’s interest
    to reach a durable agreement that will allow Greece to resume reforms,
    return to growth, and achieve debt sustainability within the eurozone.
    The leaders noted that their economics teams are monitoring the
    situation in Greece and remain in close contact.”

    Phew!

    • Uncle Brian

      How nice for Angela Merkel to have Obama on the phone from time to time, passing on helpful tips on what she needs to do to make sure she’s doing her job properly.

    • avi barzel

      Brilliant! The sober approach diplomatic which, as we can see has resolved that little awkwardness with Iran, is always the best.

      I suggest a series of meetings at various capitals (the Syriza and Golden Piss crowd in the government hasve not had an opportunity to socialize or travel much with this hullaballoo going on). And a grand signing ceremony in the end, with dear old Federica dressed as Europa, being abducted by Zeus in the form of the Wall Street bull. Time is of the essence though, so perhaps the signing should be rushed to the Fall of next year. Athens is simply delightful in the Fall!

      • Dominic Stockford

        Or, maybe we should encourage Obama to go down among the people of Greece and meet them? After all, as the Obamessiah he could do it without all his bodyguards as everyone loves him so much. That would be interesting.

        • Pubcrawler

          He’d only go if he thought there was a golf course there.

        • avi barzel

          Ha! Now you’re talking! Although with all the Africans landing up in Greece and the fascist party growing, they might miss his gading halo….

  • CliveM

    Saw this in today’s telegraph. Frankly I think it’s the best summary I have read.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11724924/Europe-is-blowing-itself-apart-over-Greece-and-nobody-can-stop-it.html

    • Uncle Brian

      The comments thread is fun, as well. Why are so many people so angry about it? It all adds up. First they elected Syriza and then they voted to reject the rescue package. Syriza + No = Grexit.

      • CliveM

        I find it interesting that Syriza are as depressed by the result as the rest of the Euro leaders. I wondered that at the time.

      • CliveM

        Ps didn’t read the comments thread, will look it up.