It would have made Byron's blood boil. Greece, which fought so long and hard for its independence in the nineteenth century and through a series of modern wars, having its democracy snatched away by a bunch of dogmatic, bungling eurocrats.
What a pathetic charade, Greeks going to the polls last week to elect a puppet government, whose orders come from the EU commissioners. Whoever you vote for, whatever party you choose, austerity wins. Hardly worth writing a cross on a piece of paper is it? Since the miscellaneous group elected last week cannot form a government with any agreed policies, the whole sham will be repeated again. A bit like the Irish referendum, really: Vote again, until you come back with the answer that pleases Brussels.
Billions and billions of pounds have been sent from Britain for so-called "bail-outs" and all they do is prolong the misery. The Greek economy is not going to recover on this austerity diet, and it is never going to pay off its £430 billion debts. All that Mrs Merkel and the commissioners are doing is throw good money after bad. They don't give a damn about the misery of the people in Greece. Soaring unemployment, soaring bills, electricity being cut off for millions of families, savage cuts in salaries, pensions and benefits, high charges for using their own health service, rocketing inflation, hardly anything in the shops ... no wonder this has led to riots, suicides and a mass exodus.
Of course there is a socialist party that is telling them they can avoid austerity and magic money out of nowhere, (just like our Labour party here). How long before they face up to the fact that they can't escape the economic strait-jacket without escaping from the euro-zone and the EU altogether? How long before Greece regains its pride and re-asserts that it is an independent nation, that can and will govern itself?
Greece fiddled its accounts to get into the EU, so that it would be lined up for new-member grants and subsidies. They then became masters of fiddling the CAP system so that they got rich on non-existent olive groves and imaginary tomatoes. Of course they borrowed too much, and spent too much - they were drunk on the new prosperity and seduced by low interest rates when they went into the single currency. They thought they were millionaires. They had a huge public sector with generous salaries, lots of fringe benefits and comfortable pensions. If you got bored with your job, the ministry would offer you a few years off on full salary to do a degree instead. The honeymoon was over when they were expected to become net contributors to the EU budget. A host of new countries entered and each one of them had to be bribed and subsidized lavishly. Where would Greece find the money? Being averse to paying any taxes they could not balance the books. And that suited the banks rather well, since they like nothing better than to charge interest on a loan that is never paid off.
My theory is that tax-avoidance is deeply ingrained in countries that were for centuries under foreign domination. Knowing that the taxes were going to the overlords made them regard it as a virtue not to pay, and much of that attitude lingers on.
As soon as Greece defaults, the others will be tempted to follow - Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain all heavily laden with debt and depressed economies, all feeling the sting of Mrs Merkel's whip as she imposes her austerity regime. If two or three of them default on their debts, the whole euro currency will come crashing down.
WE TOLD YOU SO. UKIP has been saying from the start that the single currency experiment was flawed. The dreams of a big, happy European family are based on economic fallacies, political fantasies and a lot of plain lies.
Lenten Meditations: Saturday 25 March
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