Greece: Europe’s Defining Opportunity


All of the players are in place.
 

The European Union faces its best opportunity
since the Marshall Plan to cure its ills and thrive–or slowly fade into
disunion and permanent decline.
Let’s
consider those players:
·     
Greece, with no way out of a
form of permanent slavery.
·     
The Troika:
Germany, weary of carrying Europe on
its shoulders.
The International Monetary Fund
(IMF) admitting a bailout is unfair, unsustainable and a toss of good money
after bad.
The European Central Bank, with little
option but the choice between a bad decision and a disastrous one.
·     
The European Union
Member nations
,
terrified of where all this is going, who is next and what of those who are
paying their debts?
Without seizing
that opportunity, Europe is faced with the ‘or slowly fade’ option. It’s there to be seized and Greece is the catalyst.
Italy may be the next to fall and Spain and Portugal face decades of wearying
austerity before (and if) they recover.
Nine of the 29 EU members still maintain
their currency and (after witnessing Greece) will be reluctant ever to join. Thus the euro itself is at
stake and the euro is the only tool in
the box
to maintain the union.
The time is now and the tools are at hand.

The euro can bring Europe back. Consider
this:
The EU, like America,
has inherent weaker and stronger states. It will probably always have them, but
America has a nation-wide income tax
so that stronger states (California, New York, Illinois) contribute to the
weaker (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana). The EU has no such monetary umbilical
cord and likely never will.
What the EU does have is (for the most part) a
common currency and a central bank to control
that currency.
So now we need to take time-out for a moment
and discuss money itself—the euro in particular. The EU has been printing and
loaning its way out of its endemic troubles for a long time. But there are two
ways to print and distribute money: 
The first is print and
distribute to bail out bad bank debt and/or loan euros to weak debtors– both of
which weaken the euro and cause inflation. Mario Draghi (who heads the European
Central Bank) has done both. The banks he recently threw money at were weak
debtors (through horribly under-secured loans) as were the nations his own ECB
threw money at in collaboration with the IMF. Little or none of that money will
ever come back as things stand—a totally wasted effort—no useful product comes
of that. 
Thus Angela Merkel
has had enough and is unwilling to see Germany continue down that road.
Christine Lagarde (IMF) looks to Washington and Mario Draghi is still wondering
why his ‘quantitative easing’ program
in Europe was a bust.
The second is to invest
money in schools, technological research, much needed infrastructure,
industrial campuses, air and shipping ports, consumer-goods manufacture and
small business. A product emerges
from that investment, be it jobs, an educated workforce, toilets that flush or
a growing, tax paying middle class.
So my solution is very Marshall Plan oriented:
·     
No
nation
(including Greece) gets debt forgiveness, but they get barrelsful of
investment euros as outlined above.
·     
No
nation
gets to feed at that trough without downsizing and modernizing its
bureaucracy, tightening its tax codes and accepting very close scrutiny on how
the money is spent.
·     
All
nations
at risk get appropriate (to their circumstance) loan repayment extensions
at zero interest.
Yes, the investor class will have to go outside for an extended recess, but they will get paid over time and (most) of
the EU will recover some of its reputation—which is bound to go down the drain
by other measures.
Meanwhile, the bridge-loan to Greece allows
the time to get Europe’s house in order and governments to come in line. There’s
not likely to be another chance other than to rebuild Europe on the ashes of
failure. The history of the Marshall Plan has already set the template. 
Some interesting
things are happening in Europe to support such a solution. Both Italy (Matteo
Renzi) and Greece (Alexis Tsipras) have young, very popular prime ministers who
came to power to shake up the old corrupt and blindingly bureaucratic
governments. The citizens of both countries have been virtually beaten into
submission by the paperwork necessary to get a job, break into the ‘old-boy’s’ club or start a small business.
That must end.
Renzi and Tsipras have the political wind at
their backs and the support of those who count—the young, the ambitious and the
unemployed. If that hopeful and flickering candle is allowed to be blown out by
circumstances in Greece, the entire EU experiment is at risk.
Is there no one in
Europe old enough to remember the ashes of WWII? 
Europe’s current problems are
a cake-walk compared to those times. 
Given a disaster of
unknown proportion, Harry Truman and George Marshall turned defeat upside down into the thriving Europe that now seems
unable to find its ass with both hands.
C’mon Angela, Mario and Christine—take the
troika reins in hand and kick a tired Europe into a gallop.

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