Governments are paying off their debts with our liberal democracy
Watching the political gymnastics taking place in Paris today, it was hard not to reach the conclusion that we are doing the wrong thing for a dizzying variety of wrong reasons.
Consider: Berlin is going helter skelter to push 17 largely unwilling nations into an even more exit-free zone than the one one which has just pushed us all to the edge of fiscal oblivion. A eurozone trapping antithetical cultures inside one currency is now to be roped even more tightly into a grouping whose differing economic dictates will be ignored in favour of targets set by people not of those cultures. Who cares if the overseer is a Belgian or a German? The simmering resentment of the yoked nation would be obvious to a five year-old.
And why? Because – it really is this simple – reckless lenders want to be reassured that, in future, a Sugar Daddy will be always available to ensure that loans will be repaid on the nose. Today’s surreal Franco-German agreement to guarantee Sovereign lenders repayment in perpetuity – no matter how usurious or callous the loan agreement had been – seems to be on offer without any guaranteed commitment by the pawnbroker to abide by a strict set of rules in return. We are assured that this will be forthcoming; but then, we have been told again and again that haircuts will be taken and allowances made. It’s just that we still haven’t seen any.
Is this the correct ground upon which to base increased European integration? Is this what the Grand Project was about? Even in their framing, these questions invite the negative response of all those with a sense of justice.
In truth, what’s happening in Europe now is the logical end result of 35 years of deregulating maniacs, dumbing down voters, and promoting nonentity plonkers to positions of serious power. The barbarians have been given full citizenship, the real citizens their bread and circuses, and the useful idiots in power are busy at the process of facilitation. It is all too easy to stick within the confines of a dysfunctional eurozone, but the reality remains that this same procession of risible ideas is present in every Western democracy.
One could do a lot worse than start here in Britain, where dotty economics started soon after Reagan began to expound them in the US.
A good place to kick off the story of British insanity might be 1982, when the bizarre neocon ideas of Levitt & Friedman began drivelling about trickle down wealth, globalism, and decisive markets. They continued in vogue after 1997, when the grinning Bambi and his Scottish Drood voted to carry on regardless. Pick up again in 2002, when Gordoom went for fiscal incontinence. Fast forward now to 2004 when Greenspan knew the credit madness was out of control, but did (along with Brown) nothing about it. Until we arrived at 2008, when the banks imploded up themselves, got bailed out….and then continued as before.
Now here we are in 2011, and the banks have just been absolved by Merkozy of ANY future haircuts in the eurozone. So whatever sense of responsibility they had just got removed.
I contend that our leaders are exchanging their incompetently accrued and unrepayable debts for our liberal democratic rights.
The evidence for that assertion is far from arcane: it is clearly visible in every news release, proposal and decision made over the last few months by the people at the top of the European Union.
In the EU, a group of five (the GdF) led by a duo of two Laurel & Hardy oddities is telling 27 nations what to do and by when. In Rome and Athens, two unelected bankers are telling whole nations what to do. In London, maybe 70 0r 80 tax wizards are ensuring that multinationals and banks pay a fraction of the tax loaded onto 55 million British citizens.
The entire western world has fallen for a ludicrous idea suggesting that 1% must be billionaires if the other 99% are to stand any chance of being happy. That banks must create notional wealth 30 times greater than global gdp in order for the economy to function. And that big, faceless, unwieldy companies and countries are better than small, mutually-run outfits serving the community.
Did I ever imagine – as a student in the late 1960s – that such piffle would be given the time of day? Perhaps I should’ve done, because the Maoist and pro-Ho Chi Minh bollocks was equally prevalent. But back then, only a tiny minority of we spoiled bourgeois kids clung to such daft ideas….and only for a short time, before reality intervened. Today, it seems that almost the entire Caucasian species has bought into a mad belief in production volume, shopping, restaurant cuisine, a 15-hour working day, loft conversions, leveraged bazookas, default swaps, multicultural Superstates, and the never-never-never-never nature of debt.
SciFi novels of my youth tended to depict a future in which huge wealth, endless drugs and total protection would be used to persuade citizens that they did not need their rights to free expression, and votes against tyrants. But in the here and now, ours is a Faustian generation that somehow made the worst bargain of all time. Without noticing – without even being asked – we have signed a deal with the Devil to guarantee going backwards, in return for something which is never made entirely clear.
As Lou Reed wrote in The Boulevard, ‘Somewhere a landlord’s laughin’ til he wets his pants’.