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Those Blameless Greeks

So… we’re still doing this, then? Okay…

The Mail on Sunday has a poll about the Greek crisis. Turns out 50% of Brits blame those evil bankers.

So the Greek government has spent money like it was going out of style for decades and now that the well has run dry, it’s the well’s fault? 11% of the Mail’s respondents blame the government, but hold on… you can’t wax lyrical about “the cradle of democracy” then turn round and blame someone else when the moussaka hits the fan. Who voted for successive profligate governments, year after year? Who told the Greek government to borrow more money than it could afford to pay back in order that they might have paid public holidays, Olympic Gameses, and Christ knows what all else?

4% of respondents blame the Greek people. Poor lambs. They never had any say in the matter at all. And it’s not as if they don’t pay those taxes they voted themselves.

Now, full disclosure: no, I don’t like “democracy”. That is to say, I don’t like calling electoral government “democracy”, because it ain’t. Electoral government is not the be-all and end-all of accountability, as I’ve said before. Plus, the bigger it gets the less accountable it is. And boy, is the Greek government ever big. But they could have voted for small-government, fiscally-responsible, liberals who would have tried to change that (reducing the tax evasion problem into the bargain, as per Laffer). They, in general, didn’t.

And still don’t. Νέα Δημοκρατία calls itself a “modern and progressive right-wing party” whose ideology is “the prevalence of free market rules with the decisive intervention of the state in favour of social justice”. EuroDave would be right at home. And even it couldn’t form a government. The Anticapitalist Left Co-operation for the Overthrow – seriously, that’s what they call themselves – got almost as many votes. The classical Liberal Alliance polled around 1%.

Counting Cats may have pulled through its recent crisis, more or less, but Greece is screwed. Screwed, I tells ya. As are we Brits if that’s our reaction to it all.

9 Comments

  1. Lysistrata says:

    “…they could have voted for small-government, fiscally-responsible, liberals..”

    Could they? Who exactly? Name exactly which Greek party or politician you have known who represents that view?

    I have lived in Greece for 8 years – mainland, but not Athens.

    I usually like this blog very much. But you are talking out of your arse this time. The Greeks voted AGAINST the two main parties who have dominated Greece for 50 years: run by corrupt dynasties who line their own pockets, taking instructions from America or Russia. Syriza is the only party that is untainted and has said NO to the current EU line. That’s why they got so many votes.

    I would say more but I’m too cross now. And no, Greece is not screwed. Most of the Greeks I know are bloody hardworking, pay their taxes, and are fed up. Not that different from the UK – but a lot poorer.

  2. Sam Duncan says:

    Well, as I said, the Liberal alliance seems to be one. I’ve read their website. In fact, I put more research into them than a lot of British parties I could mention. Now, they could be lying – they’re politicians after all, and the leader of Drasi looks like your typical opportunist, jumping from one party to the other and even running on the PASOK ticket at one point, God help us – but their stated platform looks like one I could get behind. Like UKIP over here, they may not be perfect, but they seem better than nothing. And almost nobody voted for them.

    But I’m not simply talking about the last election. The whole point is that the people allowed this to happen over a matter of years. Decades, even. And even now, they’re unrepentant. They may dislike the EU’s “solution” to the problem (who can blame them?) but almost nobody – including the Brits polled by the Mail – appears to accept that it was the tax-and-spend welfare state that they voted for, again and again, that caused it in the first place. Indeed, for a majority of those who voted – and the turnout was better than our recent local elections – their objections are rooted in a desire to retain the status quo ante, not to tear it down and live within their means.

    But hey, I’m not saying it’s easy; we’re lumbered with a crowd of no-hopers here ourselves. I sympathise with liberal Greeks who saw all this coming a mile off. I know how they feel. There was nobody in our local election a few weeks back that I felt able to put my vote behind, as I said at the time. And I blame the British public for that, too: back in ’97, when our government was running a surplus, paying off the national debt, when we had one of the best-organised pension systems in the world, when things were ticking along fairly well, despite a few allegedly corrupt government ministers (what’s new?) they heard Tony Blair tell them it Could Only Get Better, and they believed him. Not only that, the Tories bought into his garbage too, so now we have no choice.

    I imagine a similar story is true of Greece. Voting yourself rich is popular. And it’s ruinous. But it’s our fault, not the politicians who are only responding to what they perceive to be public demand, or the bankers who, like the publican refusing to sell the belligerent drunk any more booze, won’t lend to them. My point is that in a system that purports to be democracy, the people can’t escape the blame.

  3. Sam Duncan says:

    Come to think of it, I could have saved myself all that typing.

    “Name exactly which Greek party or politician you have known who represents that view?”

    You proved my point right there. There may be, as I said, the odd minority party that comes close, but that is the problem. And whose fault is it?

  4. Furor Teutonicus says:

    XX Sam Duncan
    May 21, 2012 at 7:51 am

    “Name exactly which Greek party or politician you have known who represents that view?”

    You proved my point right there. There may be, as I said, the odd minority party that comes close, but that is the problem. And whose fault is it? XX

    Carefull where you place the blame.

    Die Konservativen, here in Germany, want out of the E.U, in fact, all the things the main post here was talking about. What happened?

    The Media and other assorted commy arse bandits ran a campaign from day one warning of “the new nazis”.

    O.K, you could say that the public were at fault for believing them, but the label here, once attached, has the voters as nevous as a 16 year old nun who accidentaly ends up naked at a party in a Bronx crack house. And everything further right wing than Mother Theresa gets IMMEDIATELY labeled as “neo-nazi”.

    The discription in most of Europe does NOT mean the same, or have anywhere NEAR the same effect in Europe as it does in Britain.

  5. RAB says:

    The Euro has always been a political not and economic project. It was obvious from the start of the mere proposal of it, that it was never going to work to anyone with two brain cells and an ounce of common sense.

    But to include basket case countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy in the same fiscal staightjacket as productive ones like Germany, France Holland and the Scandinavians was sheer insanity.

    The basket case countries could borrow cheaply on the same terms as the productive ones and then spend lavishly on benefits and promises for their populations that they could never have afforded otherwise.

    The books were cooked and the finances fiddled, to allow entry to the basket cases, but the crazy thing is that all the Politicians, yes even in the productive countries knew they were being defrauded and lied to, but still they went ahead, and still go ahead with this massively destructive Vanity project they hoped to utopianly turn into the United States of Europe, and a paradise on earth for all its 600 million citizens.

    The irony is that their greatest fear a new European war, that their machiavellian plots, schemes and ploys by stealthily enslaving those 600 million people, by blatent lies and deception, may very likely end up starting the “European Civil War” part 3, they starily eyed sought to banish for ever.

    Utter evil moronic bastards! each and every one of them.

  6. Paul Marks says:

    Both the posts and the comments (including the critical comments) make good points.

  7. Lysistrata says:

    Sam Duncan made an excellent response to my post, and in doing so proved he had actually made some study of Greek politics – and of the current political parties – for which I freely give him respect and thank him.

    No-one – not in Greece nor anywhere – knows what the outcome will be.

    I suppose the broad point I was trying to make was that, when you actually live inside Greece as I do, it isn’t some stupid lazy welfare-benefit/high-spending government society. It’s mainly a lot of ordinary people, working hard on very moderate to low incomes ( and 75% of Greece’s businesses are small family-owned ones) , who are just as exasperated and angry with what’s happening as those outside Greece – and more so, because they are the ones who are suffering financially without ever having benefitted financially.

    Here, we do have a much greater level of government corruption than in the UK – I mean, MPs are immune from prosecution while they are serving, many of them have amassed fortunes of a million or so euro with no publically identifiable source for their incomes. (Paying for a duck house would be chicken feed here.) Some of this money has been from internal bribes (eg. planning permission for villas and industrial developments); some of it has been from foreign companies (eg. Siemens, and the German armament industry.)

    Given that backdrop, and the fact that there have been NO real alternatives to the existing two main parties for 40 years, it seemed harsh to me to blame the Greek electorate more than, say, the UK electorate who voted for Blair or Cameron. Votes have been bought and favours exchanged, and on a personal rather than a national level.

    Oh, and when I talked about political dynasties, I really did mean that parliamentary seats literally seem to be passed on from one generation to the next, like a family business. It’s as if all the UK party leaders, including UKIP, were still led by people called Disraeli and Pitt.

  8. TDK says:

    The significance of the poll is less what it says about Greece and more about which side won the narrative of the cause of the 2008 crash.

    Governments created and sustained a credit boom and enjoyed the popularity it brought them. Banks and borrowers responded to incentives. However, the public doesn’t see those three villains. It should hold the government of any country at least equally culpable to the banks but it doesn’t.

  9. Kaffeesachse says:

    Furor Teutonicus: Die Konservativen, here in Germany, want out of the E.U, in fact, all the things the main post here was talking about. What happened? The Media and other assorted commy arse bandits ran a campaign from day one warning of “the new nazis”.

    Which is why German conservatives should publicly reject all German governments since 1918… although it would probably be better if the King of Bavaria or Saxony (both very sound, moderate and ferociously anti-Nazi dynasties) gets to be Kaiser this time.

    I’m only joking in so far as I don’t see it happening in my lifetime, not that I don’t think it would be wonderful if it were to happen.

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