By: John C. Dyer, UK Correspondent
17 May 2012.
Darkness returns to Europe.
Greece and Germany play chicken with the future of the Euro. Greece rejects austerity. Germany threatens Greece’s membership in the club. But the estimated cost for such an exit approaches $1 Trillion. No one will escape being burned.
It appears Europe’s long delayed Kobayashi Maru can no longer be put off. The Greek electorate's rejection of austerity 6 May and Greece's subsequent inability to form a government in the face of fragmented power have forced the issue.
Pundits who claim it was inevitable are wrong. Europe chose it.
Europe tonight reaps the consequences of buying in to a “change the dial” public relations campaign to “rebrand” as “responsible finance” the extreme social order of social extremists. The disabled in the UK once again eat gruel for Tea. Once prosperous Greeks sift garbage dumps for food. The irresistable force of a people caught between the devil and the deep blue sea piles into the immovable object of Social Conservative will and mores.
Europe's leaders seem unable to grasp the necessity for a responsive change in strategy. They remain locked in a concrete of their own manufacture. Today Prime Minister David Cameron firmly reaffirmed his commitment to austerity. He "just knows better." Yesterday Chancellor Merkel, while making accommodating noises about Greek growth, reaffirmed her demand for austerity. Germany's new "Iron lady" isn't for turning.
Both positions have their partisans. Both positions are unable or unwilling to compromise.
There was a time when we understood that controlled default is preferable to sustained insolvency and human degradation. No more in Europe. Europe's leaders see repayment of inflated debt to an unregulated finance sector that gambled wildly and unscrupulously as of greater “moral” priority than the food, shelter and health care needs of its indebted citizens.
Europe's leaders see the prospect of penetrating Chinese and Indian markets as more vital than rebuilding the general prosperity at home. Europe's leaders scarcely seem to care any more whether the people believe their arguments that somehow they will rebuild the economy by reducing wages and benefits. Europe's leaders "just know better."
The greatest single growing employment category in the UK is “part time self- employed.” That frequently translates broke. Unpaid Internships “count” in the “employed” category. Nobody is fooled, but everyone calls the shift from full time well paid employment to part time occasionally paid employment or free internships as “good news.”
In Europe they call this “competitiveness.” Some of us call it betrayal.
Dialing down the rhetoric, it remains a Kobayashi Maru postponed but not defused by bailouts and engineering caretaker governments. Rejected by the voter, even in Angela Merkel's home district, the clash between popular will and leadership seems to have reached tipping point.
The US would do well to take note.
What happens in the US if the Euro collapses?
I don't have a calculation. But consider, 46.2 million already live in poverty. At least a quarter to as many as 40% (depending on whose estimate you believe) cannot afford to pay their medical bills.
To date. European leadership has engaged in a race to the bottom. They sacrifice the many in a futile effort to secure the advantages of the few. Now it appears the GOP wishes to replicate the European “solution” in the US. Chancellor George Osbourne reports to Parliament with glib confidence that the US wants to replicate his Coalition’s austerity programme in the US.
Is he telling the truth or is it a con? If it is the truth, will ordinary, working US citizens take it lying down? Look out, America, in the UK not even cops and defence have been safe. Coming soon to a street near you.
There was a time when we understood that controlled default was preferable to sustained insolvency and human degradation. There was a time America embraced its ordinary citizens. There was a time when repaying inflated debt to unscrupulous corporate gamblers was not the great moral imperative. The great moral imperative was the welfare of the Americans people. There was a time when politicians understood they worked for the people, not the people for the politicians and their corporate backers. There was a time no American government could stand if it ignored the general prosperity to grow the GDP for the few.
In an interconnected world, we may not all be E. Pluribus Unum politically, but we are all in it together economically.
If the West does not regain this understanding soon, the West will manufacture an incalculable disaster for ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren. If alarm bells have not yet rung, they should. That is a Sword of Damocles above your head. Sometimes fear and anxiety are not an irrational response to a perfectly normal situation. Sometimes it is a rational response to a thoroughly dangerous situation. It may be, as some seek to reassure, that this too will pass, but it will not pass by playing chicken with uncontrolled default or by ignoring the plight of the common people.