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2 January 2012
Do arsonists make good firefighters? Maybe, but I can’t see many fire brigades signing them up.
It is a different matter when it comes to politics.
Let us consider the crisis in the eurozone.
When the euro was launched around the turn of the century, it was sold to European electorates as the open sesame to economic prosperity, scientific innovation and social utopia. The siren voices of the europhiles drowned out common sense warnings that – in the absence of common taxation, spending and borrowing policies – the uniform one-size-fits-all interest rates applied throughout the eurozone would inevitably exacerbate lopsided levels of economic development in the 17 eurozone countries .
And so it came to pass.
Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, Jacques Delors, Helmut Kohl and Helmut Schmidt, who laid the foundations for monetary unity, have passed from the forefront of the stage, but one politician of the past who is still active is Guy Verhofstadt, Prime Minister of Belgium from 1999 until 2008. In an online report on 1 January 2012, Reuters reports Verhofstadt as saying: “One thing was evident to me from the beginning. A state can exist without a currency, but a currency cannot exist without a state.” Funnily enough, we have been unable to find any trace of Verhofstadt saying this at the launch of the euro in 1999. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
In fact, euro-electorates were sold a pup. In every country where the euro has been introduced, it has led to a massive increase in prices, particularly of basic commodities. A spate of temporary economic growth followed, fuelled, in the eurozone’s peripheral countries, by a frenzy of borrowing to take advantage of the eurozone’s low interest rates (deliberately set low to facilitate German exports). Since much of the credit borrowed went into real estate, property prices rocketed to unsustainable levels. The bubble has now burst and the result is depression and austerity. The euro has led participating countries not into the promised El Dorado but into economic catastrophe.
What is the solution? According to the Europhiles, the solution is “more Europe”. “We did not go far enough last time,” they now say. “This time we need to unify not only our economies, but also our taxation, spending and borrowing policies. We need a single economic government for the eurozone. Then all will be well. Then we shall have our cake and eat it.”
Given that they were wrong last time – with catastrophic consequences for the
peoples of Greece, Spain and Italy, to name just the victims to date – why should anyone believe that they will be right this time? The euro-bureaucracy in Brussels has not changed. The politicians around at the launch of the euro have given way to a new generation, the generation of Merkel and Sarkozy, but this new generation is as much a worshipper in the tabernacle of the markets as was its predecessor. Euroland does not permit consideration of any alternative to market economics, even when the markets have manifestly failed.
The question we ask is this: why should we trust those who pitch-forked the countries of Europe into this mess to be the ones that will get them out of it?
Moreover, what do the populations of eurozone countries now being railroaded into an “ever closer union” think of surrendering their national sovereignty? What do they think of their countries being consigned to the rubbish bin of history? Are they happy to be bit-players in a Europe directed by Germany with France as its sidekick?
Well, we are never likely to know. The plethora of events planned for 2012 with the aim of setting up a single economic directorate for the eurozone do not include any proposal to consult the people. This business is too important to be left to the vagaries of the ordinary citizen.
French and Dutch voters had the temerity to reject the proposed European Constitution, the forerunner of the Lisbon Treaty, in 2005. They were thanked for their pains by having the right to vote on the Lisbon Treaty taken away from them: it was railroaded through, instead, by pliant national parliaments.
The Irish electorate rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum in 2008. Because they had not voted correctly the first time round, they were compelled to vote a second time in 2009, when the Treaty was approved. “What is the point of voting No again, “ said one voter. “They are going to make us vote until we say Yes.”
The last thing the euro-elite want is the people sticking their noses into matters which are none of their business, such as economic prosperity and national well-being.