Editor, The Times:
Whenever the subject of Greece comes up the response goes something like this – the Greeks are lazy, under-worked and inefficient. Give them a dose of austerity and humiliation – it will be good for them.
A recent Globe and Mail article suggested that it was the volatility of the Greek nature that sent them into the streets. Could a wage cut of 25 per cent and three years of dreadful austerity have anything to do with it?
At the Vancouver bus train station I picked up a copy of the New York Review of Books. Within its pages was an article by George Soros on the state of the European Union and its ongoing problems.
George Soros, the capitalists’ capitalist, (he made his fortune betting against the English pound) is not (unlike most of his fellow billionaires) afraid to criticize the very system that has made him super rich (“capitalism has become a wrecking ball”).
Soros points out that many of Greece’s problems, not to mention those of other weaker EU members such as Italy and Spain, lies within the structure of the European Union itself.
Founded by visionaries who realized that European unity would remain a work in progress for a very long time (perhaps forever?) this imperfect organization has become moribund with its rules carved in stone. For instance, the European central bank, nominally one of the most powerful of organizations, can only concern itself with inflation and public debt. There was an invisible hand to take care of the private sector.
Now that the free market Easter Bunny has failed to hop out from the shadows to fix things there is nothing for it but cuts in public spending, etc.
And the Germans, the most powerful people in a united Europe, cannot shed their Prussian – Teutonic souls. At a time there is a need for an Otto Von Bismarck, one gets Angela Merkel.
This has not been lost on other EU members, especially Greece.
So when one hears about lazy Greeks, inefficient Italians and volatile Spaniards, just take it with a grain of salt.