Labor's Pains

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Greece and The EU



It was almost 25 years ago that I was in Greece. I was impressed by the country. It was poor country though most, at the time, seemed to have enough to eat. It seemed not to have the huge class divisions that I saw in the US.

Back In '88 this was all the guards had to do outside The Parliament Building. Not quite the marines. Today outside the building is scene of clashes between police and protesters with tear cash and Molotov cocktails


At the time it was roughly 30 dollars to stay at a hotel, nothing fancy but a clean bed and showers that were the size of whole bathroom with a drain. The Greeks seemed to be geniuses when it came to innovation. Even then there was a difference between the Greeks and the western tourists. At the time the Greek buses had no air conditioning on them while the tourist buses would whoosh up and down the broad Athens streets advertising their "air conditioning" as a gust of cool air seemed to follow them.

Greece: The Modern and The Old Fashioned


When the EU first came out I couldn't figure out how they were going to put together countries as wildly diverse as Germany and Greece. Today, I learned that they had no idea how they were going to do this either. The EU was sold to world as being something truly modern: A United States of Europe. Still not all of Europe appeared sold on the idea. Individual countries kept having votes on whether they wanted to join the EU or not until it eventually passed. Then, once they did, all elections stopped . Later the day after  Denmark joined the EU I saw a crowd of Danes on television celebrating by throwing rocks at their police.

Denmark Welcoming The EU


A few years ago my wife and I went to Ireland. We heard that the roads had gotten significantly better since Ireland had joined the  EU. Many other things changed as well. My mother-in-law's farm that had been a totally self-sufficient farm when she was a girl was now strictly controlled.. The Irish were allowed to raise beef as their contribution to the EU. They no longer grew their own potatoes. They instead imported them from Italy. If a cow died it became a bureaucratic hassle over how to get rid of the animal. There were waves of Europeans (i.e. when we were there they were Italian) which we were told were coming to visit Ireland for the first time.

The EU having some trouble as to who is suckling


The downside of the EU is coming to light twenty years after the fact. Greece is living on the knife's edge but they're not alone. They are believed to be followed closely behind by Italy and Spain. The country might have gotten some roads, but the bill has come due and they'll have to sacrifice their democracy to help pay for it. The EU is imposing an appointed manager to supervise the debt because these people can't be trusted with the task. The thing that always struck me about the the Post-World War II Europe is that many of the scars hadn't completely healed. Europeans, particularly among the old people, still held a grudge against the Germans. Now the German banks appear to be trying to accomplish what German arms couldn't in the 1940s. Just a guess this will be something that many in Europe will resent and will be an added weight on the EU.

It Seems Like The Greeks Have Some Question As To Who Really Runs The Bank

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