Conservatives in Canada have been having a field day this past week [wouldn't that be a field week? -ed] with comments by several NDP MLAs and MPs about the Greek situation.
The "Ashton twins"† were the most prominent. Here's the Brandon Sun's Kerry Auriat on Steve Ashton, the Manitoba Minister of Infastructure:
While he may sympathize with his Greek friends and family who are facing destitution, hailing their decision not to accept their creditors’ conditions seems a tad disingenuous. It is certainly irresponsible.
Ashton is literally revealing his “spend first, pay later or hopefully never” philosophy by cheering on the Greek people. He appears to care not about the nations and institutions who lent Greece money and subsidized their government and lives. He appears to believe that it is perfectly appropriate and, in fact, smart to borrow money and then weasel out of one’s debts. I am very disappointed in his attitude.
Note that the reckless approach endorsed by Steve Ashton and his MP daughter Niki is indicative of the Greek left wing, not all the Greek people. These folks have painted themselves as victims and their creditors (who lent the money in good faith with an expectation it would be repaid) as victimizers.Meanwhile, here's Postmedia's Anthony Furey on Niki Ashton:
The Greek government borrowed the money and agreed to the terms. Now that the money has been spent, the Greek government demands still more loans with no assurance that any money will be repaid.
You’d have to be crazy to lend money to these folks. Sadly, when so-called responsible, thoughtful people like Steve Ashton encourage such behaviour, it’s hard to see how this situation will ever improve.
By the way, while Mr. Ashton applauds democracy in Greece, I wonder why he and his caucus mates denied us the promised right to vote on a PST increase here in Manitoba.
Niki Ashton, the MP for Manitoba, and a prominent voice in the NDP caucus tweeted "NO to austerity! YES to democracy!" in celebration of Greek voters' rejecting the latest bailout terms offered by the European troika on Sunday.
Ashton also retweeted more severe and more popular comments made by author and far-left celeb Naomi Klein: "Nobody should be forced to sign their own death warrant. So many Greeks voting no to blackmail and terror. Powerful day."
It's a powerful day indeed when we can kid ourselves that going above and beyond the call of duty to offer a loan to a neighbour in need is blackmail and even terror.
Greece ran deficits for years. Then, when it came time to join the European Union, they fudged the books to make their financial situation appear rosier.
Then they failed to clean up their books before the recession, so the latter hit them harder than it otherwise would have.
Greece behaved badly and is paying the consequences. After you've proven you're fiscally reckless, you can't expect to get multi-billion-dollar loans from your neighbours without them placing a few conditions on you.(incidently, you may recall the Queerbec students rallying about tuition from my April post on the subject)
It's no surprise that in Greece the young, students and public sector workers were most likely to indulge in this magical thinking.
Greek pollster Public Issue broke voting intention down by demographic and found 85% of 18- to 24-year-old voters wanted to reject the package.
Canadians got a glimpse of this in the 2012 Quebec protests when students took to the streets angry over modest increases to tuition frees, while Quebec benefited from equalization transfers. It's the height of entitlement culture.
We don't need more antics like this. We certainly don't need our own Canadian political figures calling for them.
† Steve Ashton is actually Niki's faja.
So obviously the Ashtons are completely loopy on the subject of Greek austerity, and as Furey notes in his article, Niki Ashton is actually respected and listened to within the Mulcair NDP caucus. Steve is a cabinet minister in Manitoba‡, for crying out loud. These aren't NDP fringe candidates, they're serious members of the party. It's a sick far-left fringe party, of course, and its recent rise to the top of the polls makes bad news for Canada's future. These same retards are the ones currently ruining Alberta, remember. However, sad to say a couple Ashtons aren't the only ones being silly about Greece. As you might expect, Bernie Sanders in the US took the "No" side in the referendum, as did the UK Green Party. But it wasn't just obscure opposition politicians saying silly things about Greece.
‡ In a pique of irony, Moody's downgraded the credit rating in Manitoba thanks to Ashton's party's mismanagement of the finances
The Pope waded into the issue, wondering why Greece couldn't just declare bankruptcy like a human being and move on with their life.
When asked by reporters about Greece's financial situation before a deal was announced Monday, Francis said "certainly it would be too simple to say that the fault is only on one side."I guess now we know why Pope Francis wasn't offended by the communist crucifix he was given last week. There are numerous problems with applying the personal bankruptcy concept to countries, as the Pope naively wants to do. Here are four of them:
Francis noted proposals at the United Nations to essentially let countries seek bankruptcy protection just like corporations. He asked "if a company can declare bankruptcy, why can't a country do so and we go to the aid of others?"
Bolivia, whose President Evo Morales hosted Francis during his three-nation South American tour, is reportedly pushing the proposal at the United Nations.
- Not all debts are included in a bankruptcy.
This is probably the biggest issue with "just declaring bankruptcy and starting over". When a human being does it, it only applies to unsecured debts. For humans, this excludes car loans, mortgage payments, child support payments (including arrears), alimony payments (including arrears), and court-ordered restitution payments. In a national sense, that will obviously include IMF loans, government-to-government debt, and promised social welfare payments. The problem is, that's pretty much entirely what Greece's debt it. Another major component, loans to major banks, are almost certainly secured debt as well. In other words, bankruptcy would at best free Greece from payingpaying €61.7B out of €360B total debt; a mere 17.1% of the total debt load. More likely, the €2.4B foreign banks have lent Greece are also secured, and let's estimate 10% of the remaining €59.3B is secured as well. This means that only 14.8% of Greece's debt is forgivable. Which leads us to...
- You're only allowed a cheap vehicle and a cheap house during bankruptcy
Here's another one that when applied from a personal to a national perspective can get pretty dicey. When declaring bankruptcy you're allowed to keep clothing and furniture up to a legal limit. You do get to keep medical equipment if it's necessary. However, again up to a legal limit, tools of the trade to earn a living, and a home and car...but again only up to a certain value. So if we're extending this to a national level, Greeks can keep their country...but only part of it, they may have to downsize. Who knew Turkey could get Cyprus back this easily?! Likewise, Greeks could keep a bargain-basement transportation network, but some of their inter-city trains would be sold off, and I'm guessing light posts on their highways would fetch a pretty price. Again, the Greek public healthcare system would be pretty much intact, so it's not a total loss: but bankruptcy definitely would come with a huge standard of living drop. Add in...
- Even after you've declared bankruptcy, you don't get to keep your income
After you've filed for bankruptcy a formula is used to determine how much of your income you get to keep: the rest of it is dispersed to your creditors. If you make too much money too fast, your bankruptcy is extended. Again this one has serious implications for Greece: even if the bankruptcy wipes their debts, a portion of national surpluses still have to go to the creditors. This isn't the "wipe it clean and kick out the evil Jews...er, I mean, "foreign bankers"!...that the Greek apologists hope it is. So it will be harder to rebuilt the country with half the national surpluses being siphoned off to the bankers. That's one of the things that got Naomi Klein all upset. The other thing, of course, is our final issue...
- When you declare bankruptcy all your assets you aren't living in are basically sold off
This is really the forgotten thing about "declaring bankruptcy". Not only do you owe a lot of money still, not only are you forced into a smaller apartment with a crappier car, and not only do you have to surrender your income, but everything of value you own gets sold out from under you to pay your creditors. What is that Jeff Nguyen over at Deconstructing Myths said about the Greek vote? Oh yeah...
The bailout package for Greece’s manufactured debt “crisis” consists of all the hallmarks of austerity…deregulation, privatization and massive cuts in social welfare spending. All eyes should be on Greece as it’s citizens are being crushed under the unrelenting, wing-tipped heels of the global bankers.If this pajamma-boy doesn't like the privatization under the original and updated bailout packages, he'd absolutely hate Greece declaring bankruptcy and having every government asset sold off until €360B -- or even €298B -- was raised.
All through the long and sorry crisis about Greece's place in the eurozone we thought it was about money — the money the Greeks owed, the debts they built up, the crushing austerity they were obliged to endure as their economy shrank. All in the quest to cling to the big money, the common currency, the euro. But no, it wasn't about that at all. Like a stern school mistress, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Brussels on Sunday to set the silly pupils straight. "The most important currency has gone missing, and that's trust," she said. "There can be no agreement at any cost." Keep that in mind, class. Trust, not the euro, is what we're talking about. And this from the woman who said, as the Greek crisis was in its early stages, "if the euro fails, Europe fails."It's almost as if, as the negotiations were still ongoing, and as Germany was trying -- justifiably or not -- to guilt its European partners into voting its way by implying that the outcome had to keep the Euro intact. In fact, "no agreement at any cost" and "we have to keep the euro afloat" isn't an either/or proposition, and it's ridiculous for Murray to imply that it was.
But German leaders this weekend were in no mood for forgiveness, and still less for lessons from a French economist. The demands, quickly leaked, piled up: a complete overhaul of Greece's tax and pension system, the ceding of $70 billion of Greek assets to eurozone authorities for privatization, and an agreement to allow Greece to become a ward in all but name of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. And all of this to be passed by the Greek parliament by Wednesday, according to Finland's finance minister.Hey here's that "ward of the IMF" that we talked about in the Pope section above. $70B is presumably the Canadian figure: that's a mere €50B (€63.6B if Murray was talking seventy billion US dollars). Greece has €360B in debt, so this "austerity" package is selling off assets to only pay off 13.8% (or 17.67%) of its debts. That's not much austerity, when you think about it. Again, as I mentioned last week, when you owe people money you're at their mercy. The European Banks, like Merkel, want the Euro's supremacy on the continent to be maintained. That involves assuring international investers that an investment with Europe is a good investment, and obviously it means that if retarded socialists in a socialist country (ie. Greece) vote themselves unsustainable entitlements that there's a price to pay, and that they will brutally pay it. In other words, Mr. Potential Investor With An Entire Planet To Choose From, (let's agree to not call him Mr. PIWAEPTCF), we're a good bet for you. Your investment will likely be repaid, because here's what happens to any national economy stupid enough to listen to the Naomi Kleins and Don Murrays of the world.
The Germans, with their East European allies, tired of paying the bills for a country richer than they were, along with Finland, with a coalition government beholden to a right-wing rump, were driving the show. The Greeks would stay in the euro only on German terms, and the terms were draconian, fittingly a word of Greek derivation, referring to an ancient Greek lawgiver who punished all offences severely. The Greeks, not surprisingly, said much of the deal was unacceptable. And so the stage was set for Euripidean drama, a family tearing itself apart, blood on the floor and the walls. They fought through the night. In the morning they were still wrangling. One major bone offered to the Greeks was the removal of the threat of a "temporary Grexit," but almost everything else the Greek parliament would have to swallow, and fast.I sure hope that Don Murray isn't paid very much by the CBC. $50/column, perhaps? Otherwise, he's unfairly given large compensation for his writing despite the fact that he apparently doesn't understand much about negotiations. Germany holds all the cards. They'll come out with their ideal proposal, Greece will have their ideal proposal, and they will come to their equilibrium point (the BATNA in the standard negotiation parlance) that is awfully close to giving Germany everything they want. Murray gets to the nuts and bolts later, but how did he think his agent's negotiation with CBC News went, exactly? His agent demanded $475,000/yr, CBC reminded him how many unemployed journalists there are, and suddenly a 15% improvement over the $58,000 originally offered looked damned good.
The gun could still go off. Only when the Greek parliament has accepted the entire bitter package will the German parliament begin to consider the bailout terms. Tsipras had little choice — without some sort of deal, Greece's banks and then the country's economy would implode. So much for the grand European vision of solidarity. So much for the Franco-German alliance that had led Europe for 50 years. Merkel had made her choice; Hollande, in this encounter, was little more than decoration in the room. In the words of the German chancellor, it was all about trust, a word that, when translated into Greek, sounds very much like humiliation.Say it with me, everybody: GREECE HASN'T SHOWN ANY INTEREST OR ABILITY TO PAY ITS BILLS. No matter what language you say that in, that's the final nail in the coffin in any way shape or form. Because Greece was so unreliable (lack of trust), they found themselves in a financial mess and begged to be let free from the shackles of their own incompetence (again). What vision of "solidarity" is that? Does Don Murray send a portion of his paycheque to Jian Ghomeshi out of "solidarity"? Or does he accept that his former coworker did something that deserves a little bit of humiliation? Or at least humility? Hell, Ghomeshi has shown more humility than Greece in this matter. And let's not skip over an issue that Murray devoted exactly half a line to: without some sort of deal, Greece's banks and then the country's economy would implode. Greece is looking at the net result of their failed socialist policies. These dolts cannot manage a national economy (even one that now looks more like a local economy). Privatization, that evil word in Don Murray's head, is simply handing over the administration of the national economy to private enterprise, which time and time again has been shown to do a better job of it. The lineups at ATMs as government workers try to cash their 13th and 14th monthly paycheques prove it.