Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Greece to Ireland: You Paid, We Shouldn't

The Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, wrote an editorial for the Irish Times on Sunday, where he said:
Irish readers need no reminder of the indignity that befalls a people forced to forfeit their sovereignty in the midst of an economic depression. They may, however, be justified to look at the never-ending Greek crisis and allow themselves a feeling of mild superiority, on the basis that the Irish suffered quietly, swallowed the bitter pill of austerity and are now getting out of the woods.

The Greeks, in contrast, protested loudly for years, resisted the troika fiercely, elected my radical left-wing party last January and remain in the doldrums of recession.

While such a feeling is understandable, permit me, dear reader, to argue that it is unhelpful in at least three ways. First, it does not promote understanding of the current Greek drama. Second, it fails to inform properly the debate on how the euro zone, and the EU more generally, should evolve. Third, it sows unnecessary discord between peoples that have in common more than they appreciate.

This is just so money. He doesn't deny that Greece has fucked around for 5+ years and refused to implement reforms that they promised they would make*. Instead he says, "hey, we could've made these reforms when we got the money, like Ireland did. But we didn't, because that would've been hard, like it was for Ireland. So if we make the reforms now, that's really a threat to democracy. It wasn't a problem for democracy when Ireland did it, because, you know, you're not Greece. But now? Europe's democracy is at stake."

I actually agree with the reforms he suggests, as do most European leaders. So did the various Greek governments over the last 5 years (incl a least one stint with the current idiots in charge) , when they were proposed and Greece ignored them or passed them (with a late 2015 implementation date). After the February 2015 bailout talks, Greece gave a summary, and 17 of the first 23 reforms were due by... June 2015 (or Q2 2015, same thing). Are these done? Fuck, no. And the rest? Almost uniformly, these were scheduled to start in... June 2015 -- when the next tranche of bailout funds were due. Greece has been stringing Europe along for years, constantly promising, then passing reforms, but never actually implementing the majority. If they get this bailout, those June 2015 dates? Expect them in August, December or whenever the next tranche comes.

Maybe Greece gets the money and maybe they don't. What's certain, based on their recent behavior, is that they won't make the necessary reforms and they will be back begging for more money.

* Instead they passed the reforms with an implementation date after future bailout payment were due.

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