Sunday, July 5, 2015

The last throes of the Greek tragedy

As I type this, it's a little before midday on Sunday in Greece, which means the Greek poll on acceptance of austerity to enable a further handout has about 7 hours to go, and we should have a fairly realistic idea of the outcome by the time Australia gets up to go to work on Monday morning.

What's funny about this is that had Greece collectively gotten off it's arse and gone to work decades ago, it wouldn't be agonising over needing a further handout now, but that's the socialist mentality for you - there's never supposed to be a shortage of someone else's money to spend.

In the meantime, in the usual display of lack of understanding and total irrelevance, the local Greek community has held a protest rally in Melbourne, because obviously that's vital to determining whether Greece is willing to admit reality and that it will have to pay its debts in order to justify another handover from Germany.  Who, perhaps unsurprisingly, have a reasonable expectation of seeing their cash back again, and who are a little dubious when the current "solution" is apparently to just write the old debt off so new debt can be incurred.

“Everyone is innocent,” said Christine Dallas. “They want to transfer loans onto the taxpayer of Greece and they come in, they take out assets and the Greeks have got nothing left."

I must e-mail the article that was taken from to the current Governor of California.  They're currently in a drought due in no small part to historical wastage of water, no doubt he'd be very interested to hear that you can just pretend the past doesn't exist because you don't want to be responsible for it now.

One man in the crowd, who gave his name as Arthur, said he had come back to Australia to escape the high unemployment in Greece and find “another job and be able to live.  A lot of people don’t have that option, they’re not Australian citizens and only have a Greek passport ... they’re doomed living in Greece.”

What are they putting in the water in Greece?  Arthur appears to have the same nonlinear view of time as Christine does.  How did Arthur get here, magic wand?  What's to stop Greeks emigrating now to somewhere where the locals haven't destroyed their national economy through systematic socialism?

What does stand out in this mess is that the current Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, is basically an idiot.  His looney left Syriza coalition was elected on the basis of rejecting austerity measures, an act which ejected the moderate conservative party from office and thus pretty much doomed Greece's economy going forward.

Since then he's engaged in a bizarre game of brinkmanship, and while high stakes poker is a game that can be won by someone brave enough to bluff a competitor, to try to do so when the game is being played cards face up on the table is ludicrous.  The dude has to choose between two impossible outcomes - accept the austerity terms of the creditors, and face the political backlash over his backflip, or determinedly drive Greece's economy right off a cliff, in which case Europe shrugs its shoulders, writes off the debt, and gets on with it.

Given that Greece basically wants the debt written off (as under Syriza it has no intention of doing anything necessary to actually repay it), it seems it would be easier and cheaper all around for Germany, the IMF and the rest of Europe to just scrub them as a basket case and stop throwing good money after bad.

Why they're having a referendum today really does boggle the mind.  They already had one a few months ago - it was their general election.  The only hope now is really that Greece decides that a week or two of real pain has shown them just how bad it can get, they vote to accept the austerity terms for another dole payment, and Tsipras and Co resign - presumably with a conservative and economically rational government elected.

We'll see tomorrow.

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