All Sorts of Things

Random posts on all sorts of things designed to inform and provoke.

Greece: The Eurozone is Better Off Without

Greece continues to test the patience of the eurozone and I cannot find any objective reason why it should remain a part of the European Union (EU).

It’s never a good idea to look back and conduct “what if” tests but does anyone honestly believe that Greece should have ever become a part of the EU or that Europe is better off with having Greece as a member?

It’s a terribly run country with a populace that believes working for a living is a fate worse than loan defaults. Its government continues to stoke these ridiculous ideas because telling people that free money is their right and anyone who says otherwise is their enemy is the best way to garner votes.

Now, let’s be completely honest. In general, the European work ethic does leave something to be desired – especially when compared to the American life style. However, the Greek system makes a mockery out of the European system.

For example, facing bankruptcy and no steady revenue stream, on February 8, 2015, Prime Minister Tsipras said that his government would “comply with the rules of fiscal balance and a balanced budget but at the same time deal with social destruction, putting an end to austerity and a humanitarian crisis” by reinstating all public sector workers, introducing collective wage bargaining, implementing “rules to protect workers from mass lay-offs, not continue the ‘crime’ of selling off state property, [and provide] free energy, housing and health care to ‘victims of the cruelty of the bailout’.”

Listening to the cheers of the relatively ignorant masses, the finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, rode in to tell the creditors that it was either his way or the highway. When the creditors did not budge, the government held a referendum in which the country’s citizens voted to not accept the creditors demands, even though there were no demands on the table and no one knew what those demands would be in the future.

As the country slipped further downhill, Varoufakis resigned and the new minister, Euclid Tsakalotos (I love these names), showed up to an emergency funding meeting with EU leaders without any proposal(s).

If Greece were a horse, it would be on a dinner table by now. This country has literally no idea what credibility means and dismissal from the EU would be akin to a person cutting off their rotting arm.

Plus, its dismissal would do no major harm to the EU. Firstly, the financial markets have already accounted for a Greek-free eurozone. Secondly, Greece’s departure will send a signal to other on-the-verge nations (Italy, Spain) that they better get their houses in shape. Finally, it will show the world the EU-leaders aren’t a bunch of pansies.

Obviously, there are risks: refugees streaming from Greece into other nations, economic contagion, etc. However, given how badly the Greeks have handled their economy and their absolute lack of belief in doing anything to improve their situation, the downside is worth the risk.

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6 comments on “Greece: The Eurozone is Better Off Without

  1. dimaelcharifma
    July 7, 2015

    You had me until you went on a tangent about American vs. European work ethic. I’m not buying the whole stereotype, and I don’t believe that Greece is in deep shit because its people don’t work hard enough…Starting the argument with a sense of superiority leaves it wanting. (regardless of whether or not greece should have been part of the EU to begin with, or whether the EU from the start should have been a thing).

    • AHB
      July 7, 2015

      It’s not a stereotype, I know it to be true. Now, you could make the argument that it’s not about the amount of work but the efficiency of that work, and that is something we can discuss. However, on an absolute basis, it’s a fact that Americans work more than Europeans.

      Let’s follow through on the second point re. Greeks not working hard enough. The fundamental point isn’t that Greeks don’t work hard (although it’s true) but that they are encouraged to not do so by their government. Let’s be honest, that kind of encouragement would make anyone not work hard.

      Thanks for the comment.

      • Dima
        July 9, 2015

        There’s no absolute basis to a statement as broad as “Greeks don’t work hard enough” or “Greeks work less than Americans”. It’s not a fact, it’s a perception based on some kind of bias. While I agree with the overall argument (Greeks should be kicked out of the EU), I seriously disagree with the tone. First, it weakens the argument. Second, it honestly makes you sound at best arrogant, at worst slightly racist. You dismissed the Greeks and their democratic process to choose what would be right for their country by calling them ignorant and lazy! Economics is not yet an accurate science. When Greece first joined the EU, everybody miscalculated because economics is also largely still based on perception. What’s worst is that there is no real unity in the European Union to stop Greece from drowning and achieve its original plan of unity. While there are problems of accountability in Greece (absolutely), it doesn’t necessarily mean that their perception of how their country should be operated is ignorant. You and I may disagree with the conclusion they reached, but really it’s not our place to dismiss them as ignorant.

      • AHB
        July 9, 2015

        The racist point is at best arrogant and at worst, ignorant. But, let’s set that aside and focus on perception. Look at the most recent referendum and tell me that the general Greek populace isn’t ignorant.

      • Dima
        July 10, 2015

        Ok I’m going to play devil’s advocate and put myself in the place of a Greek citizen. Now picture this, when Greece first joined the EU investors rushed to invest in a previously non-investable country which led to a whole bunch of debt that shouldn’t have been there to begin with. We can easily say here that this was the Greek government’s fault, but we can also say that it was the investors, the EU and the lack of planning/thinking that led to that point. Meanwhile, *and this is the point that most people don’t get* while the country’s economic situation has been deteriorating, people’s lives have been going to complete shit. Unemployment is spiking. A supposedly western European country suddenly started looking like a third-world country. People are getting poorer and more frustrated. And then another crisis happens…and the other European countries who pretty much acknowledged that they don’t really care about what’s going on in Greece decided that they will give them 2 choices: either a- you put your destinies in our hands (even though it was the same hands that led to this mess to begin with) or b- you keep your democracy and you figure it out on your own. If I was a Greek citizen, and I knew that nobody was REALLY looking after my own interests and this kind of deal is like a hostage situation where I’m going to lose complete control abiding by the same countries that are not looking after my interest, how ignorant can I be for choosing the 2nd option? In both cases I’m screwed. But at least in one, I can decide how I’m going to recover.

      • AHB
        July 11, 2015

        All fair points and, as the recent proposal presented by the Greek government shows, Athens doesn’t really care about it’s people. So, while your points about the misery of the Greek people and the influence of external forces are fair (the former more so than the latter), I have a problem with feeling sympathy for a people that support an untenable system. As you mentioned, Greece was a “non-investable country” to begin with. The investors exacerbated, and probably accelerated, the inevitable decline but the system that the people supported was going to take the country down regardless of the investors.

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This entry was posted on July 7, 2015 by in International Affairs and tagged , , , .
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