In pictures: Today in Athens

Scenes from Athens today, as momentous discussions take place in Brussels. Scroll down to view. Hover your mouse or finger over the photo to read the caption, and/or double-click on the image to see it in context on Getty Images.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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45 Comments

  • Roger Billins 13th Jul '15 - 7:01am

    Nice photographs. What Germany has done to Greece makes me more likely than not to vote ‘no’ to Europe in the referendum.

  • Roger Billins;

    Apart from helping reduce Greece’s debt by 50% in 2011 by buying it up at the reduced amount, what is it that you think “Germany has done to Greece”?

  • Richard Underhill 13th Jul '15 - 10:48am

    The UK’s position is different from Greece.

  • Roger Billins 13th Jul '15 - 11:19am

    i have no sympathy with the corrupt parties of the centre left and centre right and the corrupt oligarchs that have run Greece in recent times. The obsession with the European dream lead to Greece being admitted to the Euro which should never have happened. The banks should never have lent huge sums to Greece which it could not repay -it is to the repayment of those debts to which bail out money has gone. What Germany has done is humiliated and impoverished Greece and humiliation is not good for any nation and the results are unpredictable with both Golden Dawn and the KKE waiting in the wings.

    I was committed to Europe but for the first time I am having doubts. Our foreign policy has for centuries been geared to preventing any power dominating Europe, in the way that Germany now does. If The UK is to stay in Europe it needs to take a much more active role in reducing that dominance.

  • Roger Billins:

    How has Germany “humiliated and impoverished Greece”? You do not explain how. The principle action Germany has taken was to make an agreement with the banks that they would buy the largest portion of debt if it were reduced by 50%. Other countries such as Latvia, Slovakia and Slovenia who are poorer than Greece also contributed significantly (as much in terms of GDP) This could be regarded as a humiliation but hardly an impoverishment.

    The so called ‘dominance’ you refer to is nothing more than many creditor states, certainly not only Germany, who are reluctant to provide further money without a reliable guarantee.

  • Roger Billins 13th Jul '15 - 1:12pm

    I call a 25% reduction in GDP and huge rates of unemployment impoverishment. The problem is that the first two bail outs sought to impose the wrong conditions and it is only now that there is some recognition that structural reform does not mean the imposition of austerity but a liberalisation of the economy and a removal of the rights vested in the ship owners, the civil service and the military. A little bit of humility on the part of the Germans in recognizing that their fathers devastated Greece and paid virtually nothing by way of reparation would not go amiss.

  • jedibeeftrix 13th Jul '15 - 1:14pm

    Still think describing greece as a Sanjak is hyperbole?

    First the ottomans, now the eu.

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 1:37pm

    I consider people succumbing to early deaths, lack of vital medicines, tens of thousands going hungry and people committing suicide to be humiliation. I’d go further and call it economic terrorism by the financial and political classes of the EU. Thing is, when one invests, there is always a risk. That’s the nature of the game. The problem is that financial institutions now wield more power than nation states and everything is done to make sure their risks are minimised (see the ISDS component of the horrible TTIP).

    Personally, I feel Greece’s debt should be written off, just like Germany had so much of its debt written off after WWII. Unfortunately, that won’t happen as investors getting their money back is far more important than peoples’ lives. And the way in which some Liberals have an almost religious and dogmatic attachment to the EU is frightening. The EU project (which I was once in favour of but now coming to the conclusion that it has failed and is turning quite nasty) is far more important in some quarters than the lives of human beings.

    Like German/Italian fascism and Soviet communism, ideology is now coming before actual people. And, personally, I find that highly illiberal and more than a little bit frightening.

  • Stephen
    Yet being in the EU is the only way how countries can be forced to overcome their ideological obsessions and work together for the benefit of ALL people. Only a permanent political union can get political leaders to compromise rather than put their own narrow interest first as every member has to give way at some decisions.
    Sadly the discussions about Greece have deteriorated to a sickening level (do read right-wing German papers today) dominated by nationalism for short-term political gain. But if Europe was only about self-interest we wouldn’t enjoy freedom of capital, goods and labour, would we?

  • Stephen Campbell:

    Are you advocating that Liberal Democrat policy should be to write off the 10.8 billion Euros that the UK has contributed to Greece by way of the IMF?

    Admittedly such a gesture would have saved Greece from default to the IMF and would have helped its financial position considerably. Nonetheless, I really doubt that writing off debt would be acceptable to the vast majority in the UK.

    If you are not advocating writing off the debt in this way, what are you advocating? (or is it a case of empty words?)

  • @Stephen Campbell ” investors getting their money back is far more important than peoples’ lives.”

    But the problem is that it’s not “investors” but other European taxpayers’ money that is being written off; money that they could have spent on preventing their own ” early deaths, lack of vital medicines, tens of thousands going hungry and people committing suicide” as you put it.

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 3:47pm

    @Martin: “Are you advocating that Liberal Democrat policy should be to write off the 10.8 billion Euros that the UK has contributed to Greece by way of the IMF?”

    Yes, I am. That 10.8 billion Euros is only a fraction of what we spend on foreign aid or subsidies to thuggish corporations such as G4S.

    Are you advocating the notion that already-rich investors getting their money back is more important than peoples’ lives which are being ruined or lost due to this financial terrorism?

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 3:57pm

    @Josef: “Only a permanent political union can get political leaders to compromise rather than put their own narrow interest first as every member has to give way at some decisions.”

    When were we last asked if we actually wanted a “permanent political union”?

    Additionally, this forced “permanent political union” which will force leaders to “compromise” (or be bullied, in the case of Greece) sounds eerily like the justification the Bolsheviks used to force the remnants of the Russian Empire to join their own “permanent political union” after they gained independence in the wake of the 1917 October Revolution. After all, that too was their justification for clamping down on nationalism and narrow self-interest. I’m not a fan of nationalism myself, personally, and was once a supporter of the EU. Though many of us on the left are finally waking up to the fact that the EU is acting in a dictatorial fashion and is run by and large for the benefit of multinational corporations and finance capital.

    “But if Europe was only about self-interest we wouldn’t enjoy freedom of capital, goods and labour, would we?”

    Would that be the freedom of capital which allows wealthy spivs and looters to stash their money in tax havens such as Luxembourg which is forcing people such as myself to endure austerity for their mistakes? That freedom for the rich to move their capital around at will is partly how Greece got into this mess, as it allowed wealthy Greeks to hide their money in foreign accounts while the working and middle-class Greeks get hammered.

  • The problem is that ‘already-rich investors’ have already lost a huge amount of their money in the 2012 haircut, so any future debt relief would hardly be effective.
    As far as the IMF loan is concerned it would have been very helpful if the IMF had followed the European example and delayed interest payments into the 2030s. Remember that Greece managed a decent primary surplus last year and could have sustained her economy if it wasn’t for debt interest.

  • Stephen:

    Fair enough for being consistent. The money owed is now held, like UK’s own contribution, by taxpayers throughout the EU and beyond, including the US. Incidentally Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia have contributed a significant % of their GDP, but are poorer in terms of standards of living than Greece. Following your point of view, you would appreciate that it is unfair for these countries to lose money to Greece.

    The recent budget included cuts that were less than 10.8 billion Euros, but nonetheless were a source of considerable anguish, particularly to poorer families. Writing off the debt would precipitate another round of cuts. I am guessing that you would like to see tax increases instead, but where? It would have to be a tax that actually delivered the revenue.

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 4:16pm

    @Josef: “The problem is that ‘already-rich investors’ have already lost a huge amount of their money in the 2012 haircut, so any future debt relief would hardly be effective.”

    Well, then the poor dears will just have to have an even larger haircut. They’ll be forced into having to buy £75 bottles of champagne rather than £100 bottles.

    Any chance of addressing my comments Re: “permanent political union”?

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 4:27pm

    @Martin: “The money owed is now held, like UK’s own contribution, by taxpayers throughout the EU and beyond, including the US. Incidentally Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia have contributed a significant % of their GDP, but are poorer in terms of standards of living than Greece. ”

    People in those nations are not, to my knowledge, going hungry on a massive scale, dying due to lack of vital medication or taking their own lives due to the demands being placed on them by the Holy God of Austerity. I am, however, happy to be proved wrong.

    “Writing off the debt would precipitate another round of cuts. I am guessing that you would like to see tax increases instead, but where? ”

    A good start would be closing down the tax havens that the rich Greeks secreted their money away into and repatriating that money back to its rightful place: the coffers of the Greek treasury. I know it’s probably considered naive in the modern age of corporate and financial dominance, but I believe in this crazy notion that those who caused this crisis (banks loaning money to countries it was known could not repay, rich Greeks dodging tax through the free movement of capital into tax havens) should be the ones who pay for it. But that’s a silly and idealist notion, isn’t it? Much better that poor and middle-class Greeks pay for the crimes of others, right?

    But I digress and must return to work so I can do my duty and pay my taxes to help us get out of this mess here in the UK which was caused by the financial sector and the political class and for which working-class people such as myself must suffer.

  • John Roffey 13th Jul '15 - 4:30pm

    Martin 13th Jul ’15 – 3:29pm

    “Are you advocating that Liberal Democrat policy should be to write off the 10.8 billion Euros that the UK has contributed to Greece by way of the IMF?

    Admittedly such a gesture would have saved Greece from default to the IMF and would have helped its financial position considerably. Nonetheless, I really doubt that writing off debt would be acceptable to the vast majority in the UK.”

    Irrespective of where the money comes from – it had always been understood that bankers who lend money to clients take a risk that their client may not be able to pay – in these circumstances – the bank makes a loss. Those whose money is lost, in such circumstances, complaints are against the bank, or the individual who made the poor decisions when assessing the clients ability to pay. How can this fundamental law of banking be altered because the bank is the ECB?

    As Stephen Campbell has mentioned above, the designers of TTIP have included the capacity for corporations to sue national governments when changes in policy causes them to loose money [some of these agreements already exist within EU nations and have caused major losses to the nations concerned]. Once again we have a ‘turning on its head’ of a fundamental understanding that commercial organisations make decisions which entail some degree of risk – and that it is the commercial organisation that bears the losses when things go wrong.

    During the coalition, the Party broadly supported this Corporate agenda followed by Osborne . Do those giving their support now recognise they were mistaken and that the Party must return to being a left of centre party – so that people are put before the profits of global corporations who are sucking dry nations of their wealth – there certainly is little or no ‘trickle down effect’ in the global free market.

    Having said that – the road ahead for any left of centre party is going to be extremely rocky in the foreseeable future -because of the legislation already in place.

  • Stephen
    Sadly never, though that is of course to change come 2017. Other members esspecially in the eurozone are quite happy with the permanent political union they’ve joined.
    Yet as far as your point about dictatorship is concerned the only non-elected body, the European commision is largely controlled by the nation states. I’d love to see power moved from commision to parliament.
    I agree with you that the links between big business and government in general are a frustration at some point. Strenghtening the role of parliament can be very helpful here.

  • Stephen
    What about freedom of labour and the social charter ?

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 5:14pm

    @Josef: “I’d love to see power moved from commision to parliament.”

    As would I. I’d like to see almost all power moved to the EU Parliament.

    “I agree with you that the links between big business and government in general are a frustration at some point. Strenghtening the role of parliament can be very helpful here.”

    Agreed, again. Though saying the links between big business and governments is “a frustration” is, in my humble opinion, a massive understatement 🙂

    “What about freedom of labour and the social charter ?”

    Those are the bits of the EU I still very strongly support. The freedom for the rich to move their money about to dodgy locations and the way Greece has been bullied…not so much. Though if we do have an in-out referendum in 2017, I’m still undecided as to how I would vote. A few years ago I would have 100% voted to stay in.

  • Martin asks Roger Billins (2nd comment) what he thinks “Germany has done to Greece”.

    For an answer read Varoufakis’ superb and very clear article in the Guardian of last Friday. He writes:

    “In 2010, the Greek state became insolvent. Two options consistent with continuing membership of the eurozone presented themselves: the sensible one, that any decent banker would recommend – restructuring the debt and reforming the economy; and the toxic option – extending new loans to a bankrupt entity while pretending that it remains solvent.

    Official Europe chose the second option, putting the bailing out of French and German banks exposed to Greek public debt above Greece’s socioeconomic viability. “

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/10/germany-greek-pain-debt-relief-grexit

    Get that. They knowingly chose to break the most basic rule of capitalism – that firms that make bad investments, in this case banks that made bad lending decisions, lose their money. Only around 11% of the bailout money has ever reached Greece; all the rest has round-tripped straight back to German banks. The Greek people have been thrown to the wolves and the nation is being asset stripped wholesale. There is zero chance this latest bailout will work and the next stage will almost certainly involve private and company bank accounts being plundered. At that point Greece becomes a failed state – courtesy of the EU.

    This also tells us who really calls the shots in Europe – the banks. All that stuff about democracy is just window dressing. Actions speak louder than words.

  • Who now can be so confident as to claim with assurance that a vote on the UK staying in Europe would be won by Yes?

    There are many people who want to be a part of Europe — but not part of a Europe which is wholly run in the interest of German bankers.

  • The plan, I think, is to deprive Greece of everything except the symbolism of a nation-state, while all of its social and economic policies are formulated for it by a clique who stand to make money off the ransacking of the national assets. The well-being of the Greek people will not even come in tenth place.

    The modus operandi should be familiar; it is how the British Empire seized control of many of its richest territories, from Bengal to Egypt. The question we should be asking is: “Who benefits?”

  • Stephen Campbell 13th Jul '15 - 5:31pm

    @Gordon: ” They knowingly chose to break the most basic rule of capitalism – that firms that make bad investments, in this case banks that made bad lending decisions, lose their money.”

    Exactly. The Big Capitalists (and by that I mean large financial institutions and multinational corporations, not small/middle businesses and individual entrepreneurs) want to rig the rules of the game in their favour and damn the consequences for the “little people” as they call us. They have access to elected politicians that we mere constituents could only dream of. They own most of the “free press” which coincidentally reflect their own views, telling us all that what is good for the banks and multinationals is good for us all when in reality it is quite the opposite. They are, quite simply, more powerful than nation states and anti-democratic by their very nature. To them, profit will always – always – come before human beings who are not part of their cabal. They will asset-strip whole nations and leave people to suffer to maintain their dominance.

    If this continues, we very well may be entering a period of capitalist totalitarianism.

  • The implications for the European project are dire as Wolfgang Münchau explains in todays FT.

    “Greece’s creditors … have destroyed the eurozone as we know it and demolished the idea of a monetary union as a step towards a democratic political union.

    In doing so they reverted to the nationalist European power struggles of the 19th and early 20th century. They demoted the eurozone into a toxic fixed exchange-rate system, with a shared single currency, run in the interests of Germany, held together by the threat of absolute destitution for those who challenge the prevailing order.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e38a452e-26f2-11e5-bd83-71cb60e8f08c.html?siteedition=uk#axzz3flhaV8dg

    I don’t expect the fallout will be limited to the eurozone; an EU that presides over reducing one of its members to destitution has no place in a decent world and I don’t expect it to survive except perhaps as a shrivelled remnant, probably a talking shop shorn of any power or real influence.

  • John Roffey 13th Jul '15 - 5:39pm

    The Greek agreement has been branded as harsher than the Treaty of Versailles, apparently Keynes thought that Treaty too harsh and described it as a “Carthaginian peace”.

    Wikipedia – Carthaginian Peace is the imposition of a very brutal ‘peace’ by completely crushing the enemy. It derives from the peace imposed on Carthage by Rome. After the Second Punic War, Carthage lost all its colonies, was forced to demilitarize, pay a constant tribute to Rome and could not enter war without Rome’s permission. At the end of the Third Punic War the Romans systematically burned Carthage to the ground and enslaved its population.

    I think there is little doubt that we are undergoing an epic change whereby Corporatism is replacing national government. Those who, not unsurprisingly, find this difficult to believe at present – will, certainly in the lifetime of this parliament – have no choice but to accept this is true.

    As far as Tsipras was concerned – any unbiased observer would reasonably conclude that he genuinely expected the EU to operate as a considerate partner within a family of nations – and was genuinely shocked to find this was not the case.

  • All faith in the European project is ebbing away. In recent days the EU has been exposed as a ruthless, vicious and Mafia style mobster extortion racket. It takes a few days for reality to settle into the public consciousness, and when it does, it will be clear that this anti-democratic, economic war against Athens is not finished by a long shot. The ruthless and very public humiliation of Greece, has rendered the scales to fall from the eyes of even the dimmest Euro-fantasist.

  • Stephen – “If this continues, we very well may be entering a period of capitalist totalitarianism.”

    Quite so. We are right on the brink already and it’s not just Greece. Only last week the sole remaining Lib Dem MEP, Catherine Bearder, voted FOR negotiations on TTIP to continue. For those not paying attention that is a proposal that will effectively revoke the Magna Carta by ending the foundational principle of 800 years of English law that all are equal under the law. Under TTIP a favoured few, that is large corporations, will no longer answer to the law of the land but only to ‘arbitration’ decisions handed down by their own retainers.

    Lib Dems planning to revoke Magna Carta for the greater convenience of plutocrats? The next election should be fun.

  • John Roffey 13th Jul '15 - 6:14pm

    Gordon 13th Jul ’15 – 5:53pm

    “Only last week the sole remaining Lib Dem MEP, Catherine Bearder, voted FOR negotiations on TTIP to continue”

    It was only because I accidentally turned on Andrew Neil’s ‘European Politics Show’ at the weekend that I realised that TTIP had been passed by the EU Parliament [CB MEP] was arguing strongly for the deal against UKIP’s Lord Dartmouth – UKIP have, so far, been the only Party strongly against the deal. As a result I Googled to find an article explaining what had happened.

    “You won’t know this, but a very important TTIP vote happened in Europe this week

    The corrupt heart of Europe will always put big business over citizens’ rights

    There was an important vote in Europe this week but it wasn’t about Greece so you probably won’t have heard about it. Its implications, however, could be more sinister and more damaging for democracy than a Grexit.

    The European Parliament voted by a majority of 436 to 241 to pass a resolution on the secret EU-US trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). By voting yes MEPs effectively gave their stamp of approval for the deal to go ahead, in spite of repeated and widespread protest from their own constituents. Protests which have repeatedly been ignored.

    A European Citizens’ Initiative against TTIP currently stands at over 2,300,000 signatures, a number which should have triggered a response from the European Commission, the unelected body negotiating the deal. Instead the EC dismissed it out of hand as illegitimate. The EC’s own public consultation on one of the most controversial parts of TTIP received a resounding no from a staggering 97 per cent of respondents – again, ignored” {more here]

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/you-wont-know-this-but-a-very-important-ttip-vote-happened-in-europe-this-week-10380530.html

  • Its the old theme. The British see intergovernmental Europe not working out, and leap to the solution of throwing the whole thing away rather than proposing to federalise.

    Obviously the status quo isn’t working. Clearly the recent crisis has been managed more for the interests of banks mainly in Germany rather than the citizens. But it is equally obvious that retreating back to a Europe of nationstates offers no refuge from these forces shredding democracy already.

    Perhaps the crisis will now recede. Or perhaps it’ll just flare up again in a few months or years. Either way, reforms must be made. Europe has been lecturing Greece on this, but it has much to do as well. As liberals, we should be fullsquare behind such reform ideas, not sniping from the sidelines making doom-laden declamations of despair.

  • Some from varying political perspectives think that the fundamental mistake was to offload the debt to the banks, albeit at a 50 to 70% discount. We heard similar arguments when RBS, Northern Rock and Lloyds had to be saved at public expense.

    What would have happened to Greece and the banks? The banks would or would not have gone bust; if some had the Greek debt would have been sold off to other banks, heavily discounted but still the same amount to Greece. Whichever way, the Euro nominated debt would have continued to rise according to the terms of the interest rates. Today Greece would have defaulted and have at least two to three times the present debt. Greece would not be able to borrow and with or without the Euro, Greece would be a completely collapsed economy and being in default the EU financial institutions would be unable to help. Presumably extensive humanitarian EU aid would be made available.

    The EU states led by Germany and France (whose banks were owed the most) really did come to Greece’s rescue, nasty as it has been, the alternative was many times more devastating.

    Of course, it was not only to save the Greeks; the financial collapse triggered by the fall of Lehmans and the US sub-prime market was threatening the general banking system, so a ‘free market’ approach to Greece and to the overall banking sector, was likely to have a massive impact across the world economy.

    I do wonder how the economies would have fared if Bush had ‘saved’ Lehmans, my guess is that it would have only staved off a financial collapse until another reckless bank went to the wall.

    Is it not better that we have the EU with its mechanisms for oversight of its member’s budgets and, since it is large enough, its ability to exert some control over the financial sector?

  • @Martin “Greece would be a completely collapsed economy”

    What do you think the Greek economy is?

    “we have the EU with. . . its ability to exert some control over the financial sector”

    Are you sure you have not got that the wrong way round?

  • Stephen
    Good to see we agree here. A pity that Dave’s renegotiation priorities won’t be the same as ours. Yet I can’t see how leaving the EU would be positive, in fact substantial change (good to see TTIP mentioned) can only be achieved together with Europe.

    Gordon
    The main point about the motion passed wasn’t that TTIP negotiations auld continue but that substantial changes like ring-fencing of health services etc. and retention of accountable public courts.
    Given that free trade as such is a very welcome goal for liberals whilst it’s the negotiation procesd and some details, which are still subject to further discussions and another vote are a mess, it was surely right that Catherine Bearder supported the motion.

  • David-1:

    1. An incompletely collapsed economy.

    2. Anything smaller than the EU would have correspondingly smaller ability to control the financial sector. Yes the financial sector exerts its own influence, but clearly the EU does “exert some control”.

  • T-J
    Very well said, fully agree

  • T-J – What do you mean by ‘federalise’? To Conservative friends it means formal centralisation and loss of any national autonomy and is hyper-toxic. Are they wrong?

    Some few of us have been trying for years to argue that the Lib Dems needed to develop a liberal plan for the development of the EU to set against the thoroughly illiberal path the EU was on. There were plenty of warning signs – democratic referendums ignored or denied for instance, the penchant for taxing poor people to pay large landowners and so on. When the proposed constitutional collapsed there was a window of opportunity as the powers that be bewailed its loss saying in effect, “but there’s no alternative”. Well, there should have been – a liberal one. Instead the Lib Dem establishment did all sorts of gymnastics to try and pretend the Lisbon Treaty wasn’t substantially the same thing reheated and represented on a new plate.

    I’m sorry, but the ship has sailed on a positive EU reform. A bit of belated hand-waving just doesn’t cut it.

  • Martin – The situation with Northern Rock and other UK bank was wholly different to what’s happened in Greece since the UK is a monetary sovereign and Greece isn’t. To put that another way in Britain it was the banks that needed resolving (either via bail out or bankruptcy), in Greece its the country. Moreover, as Varoufakis explains in the Guardian article linked above, it was known since 2010 that Greece was bankrupt meaning it couldn’t pay its debts under any reasonable scenario. How can anyone suppose that it is now solvent with a deeply depressed economy as result of years of austerity followed by the immensely damaging events of the last two weeks? It is now less able to pay its debts than it was even two weeks ago and everyone knows that.

    Also you are wrong to imagine as it appears you do that a debt write down would or could be only in the secondary market. The face value of the debt is what needs to be written down quite separately from whether the holders of that debt choose to sell it on to someone else at a loss or not.

    Some financial blogs are speculating that the ‘resolution’ of Greek banks in the near future is likely to involve a bail in of depositors. Translation: people and companies will wake up one morning to find that a large percentage of the money in their account has gone – confiscated to pay off the financiers. Since that is people’s savings and the nation’s working capital, I dread to think what the human and economic consequences might be.

    I recommend this post.

    http://jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/the-greek-deal-from-germany-reading.html

  • Gordon:
    You do not appear to have understood my comments. I was referring to those who looked for free market solutions. Earlie I was making the point that debt write down of 50 to 75% was precisely what did happen thanks to other EU states with Germany the largest contributor, but not the largest in terms of GDP. A free market solution would not achieve this as easily, if at all.

    Jed:
    Joining a club of states provides group protection together with group rules. Joe is of course free to leave the club if he does not want to play with the rules, but he cannot expect to retain the advantages. Apparently Joe wants to be in the club but cannot understand why cronyism and cheating on the rules is not allowed. Joe has to understand that he cannot behave as a benefit recipient who is upset that he is not getting a long service rise in benefit.

    Devaluation in the face of an increasing debt nominated in a hard currency (many countries have to borrow in other currencies) would only have limited short term value. The key to competition is efficiency. Nepotism has produce a Greek civil service that is larger than that of the UK, despite having only a fraction of the population. This is competitively unsustainalble.

  • David Blake 14th Jul '15 - 4:32pm

    I’ve always been pro-European, but I have to admit that the treatment of Greece by the EU bodies and by some countries has made me become much more Eurosceptic.

  • Richard Underhill 14th Jul '15 - 7:59pm

    David Blake
    This is about the eurozone. Some previous Greek governments have had a bad reputation for corruption.
    Part of the problem for the eurozone generally was that the conditions set up for entry were not enforced after entry.

  • David Blake 14th Jul '15 - 9:24pm

    Richard Underhill

    I agree that some New Democracy and Pasok governments have been corrupt and that Greece needs to reform many of its practices. Whether it’s the eurozone or the EU is irrelevant. The same people feel that they have a right to do whatever they like and to humiliate small countries. They propose that Greece’s assets should be sold off through a body based in the tax haven of Luxembourg which they themselves control. They don’t like Syriza so they think they have a right to do whatever they like to get rid of it. I’m sorry, but the way some of the northern European countries have been behaving is disgraceful.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jul '15 - 9:48pm

    Syriza is in coalition with a right wing party whose leader has the defence ministry.
    Lack of cash means that defence needs to be cut, so the coalition is in trouble.

    Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson was on TV saying that Greece shouls default as Germany did, only to be corrected because Germany did so twice.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jul '15 - 10:56pm

    If “All publicity is good publicity” lots of people will know about Greece.
    The USA is interested, but any money they put in went through the International Monetary Fund.

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