Op-Ed: Blinded by its own visions of grandeur, Europe dropped the ball years ago and will make things worse by turning the keys to the empire over to Goldman Sachs-trained “experts” like Mario Monti and Lucas Papademos. Folks, we are witnessing a train wr
"Europe is our future. There is no alternative to Europe. We have every reason to be optimistic that Europe will emerge yet stronger from this crisis, so let's not be disconcerted," writes former Chancellor Helmut Kohl in the Bild newspaper.
When it comes to Europe, politicians have never been at a loss for words. Unfortunately, those words rarely have anything to do with reality. Let's be honest here. The Europe we actually have is not capable of feeding all its citizens. Thousands of well-educated Portuguese engineers and other professionals are fleeing the financial and economic crisis in their country and heading for Angola, a former colony. No joke – Angola! They can find work there, but not in Europe.
According to ARD-Weltspiegel, "Angola is a country of unlimited opportunity for jobless Portuguese." Portugal's prime minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, has personally encouraged emigration -- and please send plenty of money home so that it can be used to build Portugal up again. Imagine that! Backward Africa apparently has more to offer the Portuguese people than the Europe politicians are so busy praising. And that is the bitter truth.
Dictatorships by experts
In Portugal, Greece, Spain and Italy, half of the people under 25 don't have jobs. If young people do find a badly-paid, part-time position – well, they can forget about health insurance. Or retirement benefits. One often hears about a "lost generation." We haven't seen anything like it since the Second World War.
Is this really the Europe we want? A Europe that, on top of it all, doesn't even respect the democratic rights of its citizens? Italy's government is currently led by "experts," starting with Prime Minister Mario Monti, who, like his Greek counterpart, Lucas Papademos, and the president of the European Central Bank (ECB), Mario Draghi, is a former Goldman Sachs banker. They are thus representatives of the same financial industry that is earning a tidy packet on all the billions in aid that European tax payers are shelling out.
The Italian people did not choose Monti's government, which has no democratic legitimacy. But this kind of ‘dictatorship by experts' seems to have a future in Europe – at least if we listen to German Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble, who believes that governance by "experts' would be a good idea for Greece too.
Greece's former labor minister, Louka Katseli, explained to the New York Times recently that the country has lost control of its own gold reserves, to which lenders, including banks and hedge funds, do have direct access now. The Greek government had to agree to E.U. demands for a blocked account into which state income would flow so that debts could be worked down. German bureaucrats are supposed to take over management of the Greece's finances. Under conditions such as this, a Europe of "sovereign states' is already over.
Economic governance in this new Europe is becoming independent of all parliaments. It imposes drastic austerity measures on its people so that banks get their interest payments. There is little concern for how these measures are leading to poverty across broad sectors of society, or for the fact that long-term, they will leave societies irreparably damaged, especially since spending on education is also being cut.
"No more war!" was a catchphrase of early Europe, which was supposed to be democratic and peaceful. Now humiliated Greeks are burning the German flag, and Greek magazines show images of German politicians dressed in Nazi uniforms. A kind of hatred is in the air that – once again – has seen no equal since the last world war.
Europe was also supposed to be socially-minded, yet according to ECB boss Draghi, the old European social model is dead. And there's no replacement. It's just dead. Just like that.
Look who's laughing now
Is there a solution for the financial and economic disaster? No chance. Greece is already bankrupt. Unofficially, so is Portugal. Spain and Italy seem to be heading that way fast. There are no quick fixes to the continent's problems, says Draghi. What's more, it is unrealistic to think that China – with all its surplus money – is going to come rushing to the aid of the euro zone.
A few years ago, anybody who had claimed that Europe could one day be in a position of needing help from the Chinese Communist Party would have been laughed out of the room. And yet today, the head of the ECB publically laments the unwillingness of Beijing's state capitalists to help out.
No wonder the gloating comrades mock us. In a recent letter addressed to the "the indebted nations of Europe," Huang Xiangyang, a senior China Daily writer, urged us not to come begging. "To be frank," he writes, "some of us don't understand why the rich are holding out their hands to the poor and asking for money." Xiangyang points out that an average European worker earns 12 times what his Chinese counterpart does – and a Chinese workers has to work 12 or more hours a day, while the French get two months paid vacation.
Xiangyang goes on to say China has already suffered massive losses helping the United States. "We have already been snared in the dollar trap," he writes. "Surely you don't want to be seen as luring China into a ‘eurotrap?"" It's time, he adds, "to stop bickering and dragging your feet over the urgently needed austerity measures. It is time to roll up your sleeves and get the job done."
Fueled by superpower fantasies
No pity from the world, then. And why should the world take pity? It remembers all too well the proud appearances of European heads of state and government at international summit meetings, all that airing of superpower fantasies. Europe wanted more than to be a part of the conversation; it wanted to dominate. Its vision was so fogged over with the sense of its own importance and the heady growth of financial capitalism in London and Frankfurt that it was completely unaware that it was careening towards its own demise.
Who was worried about the "mistakes' in the Greek figures, the inexistent agriculture projects at which Brussels good-naturedly threw so much tax money? Nobody cared that big fancy highways were being built in Portugal when there were no counterbalancing industries and businesses setting up around the country to make them worthwhile. And the question of what the Spanish were supposed to live on once their building boom ended seems to have occurred to no one.
As if they had nothing to do with it, the politicians are still gassing on, full of bluster about their special responsibility to Europe. And not one of them has any solutions for the continent's economic and social woes. Not one of them has a clue about how to get the financial house in order, create jobs, and give young people some kind of future. Poor Europe!
Read the original story in German
Photo - Libertinus