ekathimerini.com came out with this editorial today (see bottom) and it is just the type of nonsense you would expect to come from a highly unionised industry which stands to lose a lot from a Greek default and the inevitable reforms that will follow.
If I can just highlight the main points.
It is a basic precondition for every group that its members believe that it is in their greater interest to cooperate for future benefit rather than each put their short-term benefits above those of the group.
For some reason the author is classing the individual and the group as separate entities. As if what is good for the individual is not good for the group and vice versa, and of course this is not the case, the group and the individual are the same thing, what is good for the individual is good for the group and not the other way round as the author is implying.
This sort of thinking leads to tyrannical dictatorships like the one once found in Greece’s neighbour Albania under Hoxha. People suffered massively, but apparently that is okay for the author of this ekathimerini piece because their suffering was for the “common good”.
The only way to accurately judge the health & well-being of a group is to judge the health of its members. Talk of the “common good” is an excuse used by communists/socialists and dictators to centralise power and to centrally plan economies.
This type of communist/socialist philosophy is typical from the media in Greece.
The group’s cohesion depends on a vision of what can be attained, by leadership that inspires confidence in the cause, and by the fear of the unknown if the group falls apart.
And the ekathimerini decide to put the boot in and bring fear into the equation, again. The author is saying it is acceptable to coerce people in the group with the threat of fear, again this is typical of what has happened in Greece over the past 4 years, namely the politicians threatening the people. I could expand in the previous Albania example but I think I would be labouring the point unnecessarily.
This paragraph is the highlight of the article
They all understand that the only way to save the euro is to hasten economic and political union, yet each country wants to look after only its own interests: fearing that it will lose something – either money or sovereignty – it undermines confidence in the common cause.
Such a statement could only come from a blinkered socialist. The acknowledgement that the current economic crisis in Europe is unprecedented, the acknowledgement that the Euro system is the cause of the problem and yet the ultimate contradiction, the author does not say that it would be better to return to the old system, which would be the obvious and logical solution.
No. The author says the exact opposite of what is logical, despite acknowledging all the causes of the problems, his solution is to continue on the same course. This kind of thinking is bordering on delusional, Albert Einstein would consider it insanity, ie to continue to do the same things and expecting a different result. But the author’s line is consistent with the propaganda being pumped out by the EU and politicians throughout the Eurozone, except perhaps Merkel.
if the Euro is the problem as the author sees it than the answer has to be to leave the Euro, not to increase the power of the thing that has made Europe so unstable. It is unstable now with little cohesion, when there is only one central planner like the ECB the system will become even more unstable. An obvious analogy is a table with 6 legs. The table being continental Europe and the legs being the individual countries. When each country has its own currency and laws etc one country can make catastrophic decision but the other 5 will still be there to hold up the table. The less legs you have the less stable the table becomes. Having closer integration of economic policy is exactly the same as reducing the number of legs holding up the table.
If the integrated economic policy turns out to be wrong all the legs fail at the same time. It is far better to have competing economic policies, not only does it make the system more stable it also allows different countries to learn the effects of different economic policies by observing the effects in other countries.
Having a single economic policy in Europe will lead to stagnation and instability. It is the only logical conclusion.
What is disturbing is that almost all media outlets are saying closer integration is a good thing when all real world example of centralised control have turned out to be utter failures. Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Albania, China, N.Korea etc etc, all centrally controlled economies have failed against free market economies. To ignore this reality is foolish in the extreme.
The Greeks are battling with unexpected waves in the formerly stagnant waters of their domestic politics and economy;
I’m not sure what is unexpected about the waves. The author, and I don’t mean to be insulting here, must be a complete idiot if he did not see this crisis coming.
Greece gave up the right to print its own currency when it joined the Euro and yet the trade deficit in Greece has remained more or less constant since 2001. http://www.tradingeconomics.com/greece/balance-of-trade
What exactly did the author of the article think was going to happen?
That Greece could continue to send 20 billion Euros a year out of the country and everything would be okay?
How exactly did he think this was a sustainable situation? With the economy of Greece shrinking by 20 billion Euros a year in hard cash, how exactly did the author of this article think this could carry on without the government/people getting into massive debt to replenish the money sent abroad but only to be left with unserviceable debt.
So I say again, how can the author say this crisis was unexpected. It was completely predictable and indeed anyone with a remote understanding of the economies would have said the current crisis was inevitable.
The management of Europe’s debt crisis started from the wrong position, with an exaggerated emphasis on Greece and its problems. This led to decisions that were both late and wrong – at huge cost to both Greece and the eurozone – as the markets were given reason to doubt Europe’s resolve to protect the euro.
I completely agree with this paragraph. There was an exaggerated emphasis placed on the Greek government, it should have been allowed to default as soon as the problems became apparent. The decisions to bail out the Greek government did come late and the decision was wrong at a huge cost to Greeks and the Eurozone.
By printing money to bailout the Greek government it looks like Eurozone politicians are losing the will to maintain the Euro as a sound currency.
Furthermore, in a very short span of time, relations of great friendship, cooperation and trust between Greece and Germany were shaken; national stereotypes and historical traumas flooded back to the forefront, encouraging the forces of populism on both sides and making even more difficult the effort to rescue Greece and the euro
I could not agree more and the Greek media are the ones leading this charge, the author seems to be absolving his industry of any responsibility when they are the main instigators.
We are living with the result: Greece’s participation in the common currency is continually questioned by the markets, but it is also undermined by the ambivalence of a shaken and weak political system and by the impatience and mistakes of foreign officials.
Again, the only parties questioning Greece’s participation in the Euro is the media and politicians, markets do not care what currency Greece uses, markets only care that Greece is a good place to invest money and that is a completely separate issue from in the Euro or out of the Euro.
Changing the currency does not alter the fundamental problems of the Greek government.
It is the media and the politicians that brought the Euro/Drachma question into the public domain, no-one else. Yet the author of the piece seems oblivious to this fact.
Greece symbolizes the EU’s inability to keep alive the vision of a united Europe and to provide leadership.
This is utterly wrong. Greece symbolises the Greek governments inability or lack of will to carry out the reforms required. The Greek government crisis also shows that meddling by the EU and foreign governments in politics they do not understand only exasperates the problem.
one has to wonder whether the member-states ever had the political will to place the common good above their short-term, national interest
Again, the author manages to completely understand the opposite of reality.
The actions that have caused Greece to enter the longest recession in modern history has been caused by member states acting in what they thought was the “common good”.
The author seems to be completely ignoring the hundreds of billions of Euros that EU countries have pumped into Greece to keep the Greek government afloat. It seems that is not enough evidence of working for the “common good”, perhaps if a trillion Euros was taken from taxpayers that would be sufficient evidence for the author of countries trying to act in the “common good”.
Greece will enter its 5th year of recession precisely because people are acting in what they believe is the common good.
Politicians and governments in Europe need to start doing less and allow the free market to function. Only with the profit motive can parties know what is good. Working without the profit motive gives the participants no feedback.
Forcibly taking money from one group of citizens and giving it to banks in another country is not a moral situation but it is apparently one which ekathimerini condones as it seems to believe countries working together to bail each other out is the way to go.
It is almost as if the Berlin Wall never came down in ekathimerini’s reality.
This is the full article
By Nikos Konstandaras
It is a basic precondition for every group that its members believe that it is in their greater interest to cooperate for future benefit rather than each put their short-term benefits above those of the group. The group’s cohesion depends on a vision of what can be attained, by leadership that inspires confidence in the cause, and by the fear of the unknown if the group falls apart. This happens in all groups – from two individuals to constellations of nation states, such as the European Union. As long as there is confidence in the project, as long as everyone expects more benefits, the members take part without much friction or questioning of their course; when the difficulties start, when trust is shaken and the fear of losses worms its way into the debate, we face the risk of panic and disintegration.
Today, even as the EU’s members recall their common vision and declare that they want to preserve their monetary union and move toward deeper union, the economic crisis is creating such political and social tensions that it is shaking them apart. They all understand that the only way to save the euro is to hasten economic and political union, yet each country wants to look after only its own interests: fearing that it will lose something – either money or sovereignty – it undermines confidence in the common cause. This was first revealed last October in the “fear” of Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy that a referendum on reform in Greece could lead to our country leaving the euro. That was the first, very forced mention of the fear of disintegration; we have now reached the point where rich countries themselves are threatening to pull out of the common currency, undermining it further.
The Greeks are battling with unexpected waves in the formerly stagnant waters of their domestic politics and economy; the Germans, Finns and Dutch are angered by the fear that they may have to pay others’ debts; the British government, which is battling scandals in the news media and banking, and keeps printing money to shore up its economy, is ready to close its borders if it faces a flood of Greek migrants. The fear of discontent at home encourages politicians and news media to look for scapegoats abroad, so they stoke up populism in an effort to deflect passions from themselves.
As long as the crisis continues, the differences and suspicion between member-states will worsen, as will tensions between citizens of each country. Because everyone believes that he will be deprived so that others may gain, the need for scapegoats grows. Issues are oversimplified, to the point that they become a clash between “us” and “them”; consequently, decisions are taken solely on the basis of national interests. The management of Europe’s debt crisis started from the wrong position, with an exaggerated emphasis on Greece and its problems. This led to decisions that were both late and wrong – at huge cost to both Greece and the eurozone – as the markets were given reason to doubt Europe’s resolve to protect the euro. Furthermore, in a very short span of time, relations of great friendship, cooperation and trust between Greece and Germany were shaken; national stereotypes and historical traumas flooded back to the forefront, encouraging the forces of populism on both sides and making even more difficult the effort to rescue Greece and the euro.
We are living with the result: Greece’s participation in the common currency is continually questioned by the markets, but it is also undermined by the ambivalence of a shaken and weak political system and by the impatience and mistakes of foreign officials. The collapse of the two main center parties has released political and social forces which provide voters with many new options but also encourage populists and make the future completely unpredictable. So far, the vast majority of Greeks wants to remain in the euro. But if the tension with our partners continues, if our politicians do not provide a vision and do not deliver change, discontent with the present will overcome fear of the unknown future and may lead us to pull out of the euro.
Greece symbolizes the EU’s inability to keep alive the vision of a united Europe and to provide leadership. It is a commonplace that it was a mistake to put monetary union ahead of economic and political union – but looking at today’s picture of disarray, one has to wonder whether the member-states ever had the political will to place the common good above their short-term, national interest.