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Greece Is Getting It Right

As globalists begin to get over themselves and look more rationally (as rationally as globalists can, anyway) at what’s become known as the “Greece debt crisis,” they’re being forced to admit something: Maybe globalization isn’t the best idea.

That means it’s taken just 16 years (!) and a case totally disconnected from the U.S. economy for large numbers of believers in the “global village” to (perhaps) understand what WTO protesters were screaming about in Seattle, way back in 1999.

Namely: The world’s a better place when countries, quite literally, mind their own business.

It’s a lesson still lost on Barack Obama and the entire Republican caucuses of both houses of Congress, as they continue to push for the murky Trans-Pacific Partnership. Murky because it’s been negotiated in near-total secret. And a bad idea because whatever its terms, information already leaked about it suggests it is NAFTA on steroids – and we all know how NAFTA’s worked out.

Tempting (and fitting) as it is to blame Clintonites for the disappearance of America’s manufacturing sector, the United States had sown the seeds of its economic decline long before Robert Reich’s globalization push. We’re reaping that harvest now, as the few companies which remain here cut wages, abuse workers and destroy the environment. You can read a firsthand account of how the U.S. imposed its will abroad through economic blackmail, by a man (John Perkins) who did the deed for years and later came clean. It’s called Confessions of an Economic Hitman, and for anyone still convinced that the U.S. is a force for good in developing countries, it’s a real eye-opener.IMHO long

Growing international resistance to globalization initiatives and broader awareness of just how profoundly the system is gamed are the two chief factors now manifesting in Greece. While Angela Merkel railed last weekend against Greeks and rallied German resoluteness (and what’s more resolute than a German?) against further concessions to a nation that really doesn’t much care about European unity, Greeks resoundingly rejected the latest bailout the EU’s economic gamers had offered—and forced analysts around the world to say, “Hmmm, wait a minute.”

“But they’ll lose their currency! But their economy will tank! But, but, but…” German and, less insistently, French officials warned.

Yet life in Greece went on. Just as it will when Greece (1) exits, or (2) revolutionizes the EU later this week.

No man’s an island–but Greece, pretty much, is. Okay, okay, it’s two peninsulas and about a zillion islands. But it is absolutely an island in terms of its economy, which is comprised almost completely of small, privately owned businesses catering to fellow Greeks. It exports next to nothing, imports little (other than tourists) and while it may be wrong to generalize about any population (except Germans), Greeks are pretty lazy. And why not? They live in paradise.

In short, Greece needs the EU – to paraphrase Irina Dunn – like a fish needs a bicycle. And that scares the bejesus out of EU leaders, because it’s only a matter of time before other countries reach the same conclusion.

Another island, in both economic and literal terms, is Iceland. And among the Western economies shattered by the global financial crisis, it is different in one very important regard: it has come all the way back. Why? As this analysis explains, Iceland – unlike its similarly homogeneous neighbor (and yet another island), Ireland – let its banks fail. No bailouts in Iceland. And there’s another reason, the one many analysts think looms largest: Iceland has its own currency, the króna.

Will Greece depart the EU, start printing drachmas, and give its duly elected socialist government the chance to succeed–a chance Europe has thus far denied it? Or will it shame the EU into re-inventing itself by pointedly calling out the difference between “austerity” and economic blackmail?

The answer is less important than what will be confirmed, yet again, either way: Economic bullies are no different than every other kind. Stand up to them, and their power vanishes.

Responses (2)

  1. Anthony Noel says:

    Thanks for the comment and the link, John. I heard one of the co-signers (Sachs) interviewed Thursday afternoon. As I listened to him advocate for “a haircut” (a flat, profound reduction in the debt Greece owes) I wondered why it hasn’t happened already. As if on cue, Sachs answered: He said that throughout the negotiations, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble has been practically goading Greece into leaving the EU.

    Here’s hoping it does–and that it pays Germany not one euro of the debt that Greece’s previous, EU-crazed (and just plain crazy) government amassed with the Germans. Or better yet, that it sends them a boatload of drachmas.

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