My thoughts on Greece and the euro crisis

I keep wanting to link to this, that I posted to Facebook a while ago, so figured I’d put it somewhere useful.

I had a quality rant about this elsewhere earlier chatting with a friend, married to a Greek, who said:

It’s spoken about a lot … but until you see it with your own eyes, you cannot comprehend the degree of institutionalised tax evasion that happens in that country. From the very smallest person to the very biggest corporation and on into government. And then there’s a healthy dose of corruption on top of that (but hey, we all have a bit of corruption).
Added to that the arrogance of the nation (they genuinely think they are the best country in the world … and I said that without a gram of sarcasm) and the quite incredible levels of naivety and ignorance (from a country that supposedly “educated” the world) about how the world works and you have a recipe for disaster waiting to happen.”
It is very much time for a new Greece to rise from the ashes … but that has to be a completely new Greece … with none of the habits of the old one left over. And if that takes an unpayable debt, a humiliation of the ruling party and a generation-worth of capital controls then so be it.”

And I replied:

Yeah, I can understand that. I’ve made the point on Facebook threads a handful of times now that there have been two main problems:

  1. Greece should never have been allowed into the Euro, as it was obvious to everyone that they didn’t meet the convergence criteria.
  2. When the IMF bailed them out, they should have insisted on structural reform to address the fact that Greece is not a solvent state with the rampant tax evasion and corruption that, again, we all know is the case. And some of that bailout should have involved French and German banks taking a hit on their idiotically inadvisable investments.

I agree that the collapse of the Hellenic Republic is probably what’s needed here to get the message across to the Greek people that (a) they’re not the best country in the world — and haven’t been since well before the Fourth Crusade — and (b) that they can’t have the castles-in-the-sky something for nothing that they’ve been used to.

Frankly, being ruled directly from Brussels by a benevolent dictator (in the Paddy Ashdown / Bosnia model) would probably be great for the nation, except that noone anywhere would trust that such rule would be anything other than the ECB taking yet another pound of flesh.

I don’t give a toss about the IMF or the bankers, but I do care that 11 million people have been made to walk through the fire for the last near-decade and are almost certainly about to be shown that it really can still get worse. And, well, a generation of that is what’s bred the hatred we see being writ large across the Middle East for our entire lives.

A plague on all their houses — especially those of the IMF and the fiscal conservatives hypocritically preaching austerity for the last 7 years.

Huh. Didn’t realise I had that rant in me; sorry about that!

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