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Wasting Time, Wasting Money

At the end of March, the Greek government denied that Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis was going to resign. Then, the minister endured some invective at a meeting in Riga in April, but nothing changed. Varoufakis remains in office. The Eurocrats inveigh against the Greeks so that they will finally propose suitable reforms that please the Eurocrats. But the Greek government does nothing of the kind. It negotiates and finds a proxy to lead the negotiations. Der Spiegel magazine wrote that Varoufakis is being “subtly stripped of power” and that he will be assigned “a watchdog for negotiations.” How sad, and how improper.
Der Spiegel seems to have missed that a minister who questions the premise of all negotiations with the eurocrats, i.e. the eternal and useless austerity programmes, will be the target of all sorts of attacks. To allow such a man to continue negotiating would seem clumsy and pointless. But Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is not clumsy and negotiates purposefully. Moving one man back a few steps from the firing line means nothing.
If Varoufakis goes, he will likely be followed by the whole Greek government, which so ineloquently emerged from the last election. Brussels would like that, because then it would have two fewer opponents trying to bring down the euro and shelve the euro experiment once and for all. However, this would expose how badly the euro test case was prepared, how easily politicians of every stripe were convinced to try something that was bound to fail, and how highly indebted countries were secretly persuaded to change their currency and therefore betray their people.
With his opinions about the end of the euro, Varoufakis threatens this fictitious or, shall we say, theoretical world. After all, the eurocrats know that it is coming to an end, but do not know, and do not want to know, what comes next.
Perhaps the Greeks have a plan. Rather than make demands, they may want to change the code of the euro world, so it might be capable of admitting to a Greek negotiating partner that its proposals might make sense. Brussels constantly saying “no” to all Greek proposals alone cannot save the euro. “No” buys time for the countries providing (unauthorized) aid to Greece, countries who were jolly glad that Greece did not simply choose to leave the common currency.
The eurocrats knew what they were getting into with the bailout plans and austerity programmes. They wanted to save the euro, which is why they allowed the law and legal principles to be violated and agreements to go unfulfilled. Now, all euro countries are faced with the fact that all of this freely flowing aid cannot be paid back. Greece has so far received €380 billion. Germany provided €80 billion, or almost a quarter, of that. If Greece restructures its debts, this would initially lead to hyperinflation. If there were no plan to strengthen the economy, a plan that the euro countries could create with appropriate agreements, the Drachma, or Greece’s new currency, will be worthless. In the long run, Greece will be excluded as an economic partner. The country’s elite will invest in other countries, the educated class will emigrate. Unrest or war over the remaining resources in the country will follow.
The so-called domino effect, of which the German government has been warning for years, might follow if there is no funding of the bailout loans so willingly provided by Germany (not to mention the target claims, which are yet to come, and which alone would ensure Germany’s bankruptcy). Germany would go bankrupt, and so would Italy, for example (share of aid to Greece: €40 billion).
Mr. Schäuble’s fictional plan to supposedly “break even” has officially turned out to be a lie, since the aid has not even appeared in the national budgets in recent years. They were excluded so that the debt-brake requirements could be fulfilled. The same thing happened in the other euro countries. They all kept that quiet too.
When Varoufakis insists that Greece wants to follow another path, he is challenging this system. The fact that Greece even opens its mouth at this point is astounding, considering it did more than any other euro country to cover up the lies about its public debt. They did this, no doubt about it. But they kept quiet and are being forced to continue doing that now. Fresh aid for Greece would constitute hush money – to keep quiet about the fact that the crash, long overdue, will continue to be delayed, because the euro, and above all the reputation of the eurocrats, must be saved at any price, and at the expense of people’s savings, public benefits and pensions.
To clean up, to admit mistakes, try other ways – this should be the motto of all euro-zone countries. In this respect, Yanis Varoufakis and his comrades are on the right path if their intention is to save Europe.
It is therefore surprising that Der Spiegel , which supposedly has a lot of brainpower behind it, could miss the relationship between a failed idea and courageous warriors who want to try, and are willing to go down, another path.
The beaten path of the eurocrats has led to the end of the euro. The 54-year-old economist Varoufakis should be admired for trying this despite the unacceptable consequences for his people from the euro baggage, because the Greeks do not want to go bankrupt either, and the prime minister should be admired for defending his man. The conflict now is between euro proponents, who are still in charge, even though they are aware of how sick the euro is, of the law breaking, pressure and extortion necessary to maintain it, and euro opponents, who know that the ever weaker euro can only be maintained at the expense of all citizens without their knowledge and consent. Greece’s exit from the euro, like any other country’s – even Austria is considering it – is legal and even legitimate. They want out of the debt union. Impunity for those responsible for the current situation is not negotiable. All other matters, including the introduction of new currencies and funded budgets should at least be considered by all European countries. Otherwise, they will go down with the euro, even if this downfall may still take a few years while some names will be cleared in the mills of official historiography.
To take a problem that all euro countries have and blame it on one country and pretend that all euro countries are not in the same boat, is not the solution. Politicians do not have the solution, and neither does the press, which should stop presenting everything in black and white terms and tell the truth about what is happening, and finally draw the right conclusion without seeking scapegoats to attack, although that is a more sensational story and sells better. This helps to cover up political machinations, and people should know about them because these machinations have been used against them.
This does not refer to Yanis Varoufakis. He has recognized the problem and has tried to do what should be done: to discuss the end of the euro, the reconstruction of the economy, the restructuring of the country. All other proposals are fairy tales that will be kept alive in order to conceal political motives. But that is not what politicians and the press are supposed to do.
The discussion now is about the supposed, expected, feared, barely thwarted or imminent sacking of the Greek finance minister, a discussion which is completely pointless and a waste of time. Meanwhile, the euro is losing value. It is being tossed out of the European window – money that would be better used, in Brussels and elsewhere, to warm people’s feet. And Der Spiegel should be become a state-run press agency. Anyone who buys it is also throwing their money out the window.
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