Posted by: graemebird | February 16, 2010

How Ought Greece Handle Its Debts? What Is the REAL Meaning Of Those Old Europe Pledges Of Assistance?


Greece ought to handle its debts just like the rest of us ought to handle our debts:

From elsewhere:

Greece ought to freeze its outstanding bonds in their current ownership. Tell everyone who sells them that they will be worthless if they do. Then start paying them out in this order:

1. Individuals
2. Companies
3. Governments
4. Banks.

Except when they get to the governments and banks they ought to pay them out maybe five to fifteen cents in the dollar and freeze interest from day one. Also from day one they ought to have governments, local and national, and any type of government authority at all, never borrowing money. Always paying off money. Never using debt again.
The individuals have saved to buy those bonds. They deserve to be paid back.

But the banks and governments have not saved to buy those bonds. They do not deserve to be paid back 100 cents in the dollar. Because it wasn’t the Greek people that borrowed that money. It was Greek politicians buying votes, largely from the public sector. The bankers had no business lending the money. They could see that they were subsidising chronic ill discipline in the Greek budgets. And they weren’t subsidising them only with clients money. They weren’t subsidising them only with their own money. Some of this money was ponzied up through bank-cash-pyramiding.

When the other Governments are saying they will help Greece out they are not helping Greece. They are conspiring to hurt both Greece and their own people. It is yet more bank subsidies for incompetent bankers. The politicians steal money off their people, or produce more money out of nothing, and then pay off Greeces debts. But “pay off Greece’s debt” means one thing and one thing only. It means give the banks more money.

We have got to get angry about the constant subsidising of this rent-seeking banking industry. And we’ve got to be a bit wary of their influence. “How many divisions does the Pope have” said Stalin. But Stalin was underestimating one form of influence. And we may be underestimating the collective influence of bankers, across the world. Since for some matters, they really do act like they are all one giant corporation. “Satanic” corporation some would say.

If you think the banks surely don’t have that much influence, then how is it when we hear of Western Europe talking about helping the Greeks with their debts, we don’t see it for what it is? Its paying money out to the banks for no reason. Stealing resources off Joe Europe and giving those resources to bankers.

In general the idea is to 1. Get into universal surplus first. 2. Call a freeze on trading your bonds. 3. Quickly pay out individuals out of your strong surpluses. Or at least quickly pay everyone up to a level which means you haven’t put any individual in trouble.
4. Pay out companies but only slowly. 5. Pay the rest out later. And at zero interest and maybe 5-15c on the dollar. Any static means that months cheque doesn’t show up.

We’ve got to send a message. You cannot just ponzi up money out of thin air, tempt individuals to get their country in debt, and expect that the rest of us recognize that you now have the full value of the money you have ponzied up out of nothing.
Perkins has blown the lid on this behaviour in his confessions of an economic hitman. Those days have to be over. The people who borrow the money are not the ones who are expected to pay it back. This is unacceeptable and its never going to be acceptable.


  1. Utterly irrational and ignorant post by Sinclair Davidson, saying private debt doesn’t matter!

    Not “private debt doesn’t matter under my pure capitalism model” which would be fine. Quite correct.

    But rather “private debt doesn’t matter.” He then won’t say WHY private debt doesn’t matter. But instead hides behind, David Gruen, of all people.

    And who is this David Gruen? Why cite him as an authority for this idiocy and ignorance? If Sinclair wants to make this argument let him make it straight. On his own.

    You’ve got to learn your subject Sinclair. Its pays to have a fucking clue, about your field of study.

  2. God its a depressing thread. Idiots soft on public debt arguing with idiots soft on private debt, and the policies which produce it.

    In other words: the governmental parasite sycophants arguing with the banking parasite sycophants.

    Keynesians and Neoclassicals. The endless debate between the stupid and the blind.

  3. “I’m not such a small govt peson that I’d be ideologically opposed to public projects which you could call ‘opening up new frontiers for habitation and production’. Getting rid of that useless desert would be one potentially justifiable project.

    I’d say space exploration (not necessarily manned flight at this stage) is actually another but Australia isn’t in a position to do that, the US is, hence NASA is another favourite government project of mine.”

    Nasa are complete bastards and lunatics. Some of what they have done can be justified in terms of defense.

    But with this canal. The idea is just to go slow. Take your time. Don’t spend too much money too quickly. If the general cost of canal building isn’t falling then you are going to fast. Collapse a whole lot of departments, and then just 5000 dollars a day. And only increase that minor budget if you are going to get a lot more canal-building per dollar when you do so.

    The Garrett-Rudd approach. OH&S ought to have these people for breakfast. Every person above manager level at my place would be in jail if we acted like these people. Plus costs must increase and quality fall when you try on such a thing.

    Start off slow and plow most of the money into improving your ability at canal-making. This is a heritage thing. Its a posterity thing. You don’t have to hurt people to do it or get into heaps of debt.

  4. Birdlab says:

    “Shorter Bird:

    I’m in debt up to my neck and I’m not happy about it. I resent banks because they lent me money that I can’t pay back (after bullshitting enormously on my loan application).

    They then refused to lend me money that I can’t pay back (after dicovering that I am a chronic bullshitter).”

    I SEZ:

    Shorter Bird.

    “We have to stop subsidisiing the banks”

    Thats shorter than Birdlab’s shorter version. And closer to what I said. The European bailout is just more stealing for the banks and obviously so.

  5. “Sinclair

    The reason I ask is that while private corporate o/s borrowing might not matter, as it is for ‘investment’, the same might not be the case for consumer debt.

    Or is that wrong, in that it is the domestic banks who are actually borrowing o/s – to lend to local consumers (presumably for consumption rather than investment, though of course some would be for investment; investment properties, small business, etc.), and given the business of retail banks is the lending of money to consumers, small business, such o/s borrowings are of the same ‘investment’ type as a mining company or any other corporate borrowing o/s. If that makes sense!”

    You won’t get a straight answer from him Peter he’s a dummy. If you want to know something ask me. I’ll give you an answer that you can understand and be happy with.


    What needs to be understood here is a prosperity delusion would destroy any company, family, or nation, if it went on for long enough and was consistently applied. This is essentially what has happened to our country. Price signals work. They lead to good decisions. So long as they are not debauched by anti-market influences. We have a price mechanism that has been systematically corrupted both domestically and in our dealings with foreigners. That has lead to a prosperity-delusion which is ruining our nation and will destroy us if not stopped.)))))

    Not a bad post by Cambria for a change. But he’s only really 10% of the way there.

    This is one of these arguments I’d expect Fisk to intuitively understand. Since Fisk appears to be the only Catallaxian who really gets the shits with libertarian arguments that only work if the current situation is libertarian, which it is not.

    We will be destroyed if we don’t change our ways. Its really that bad. There is no faulty gold standard corrective mechanism. There is nothing to stop us from being hollowed out and ripped apart. Although the excellent bipartisan surpluses under Hawke-Keating and Howard-Costello have been very helpful. As has Keatings super scheme, and Costello’s further isolating of the old people from the general orgy of stealing, using that scheme.

    These have been helpful but the whole system is not a market system anymore than carbon trading is. There is not the corrective mechanisms we assumed there would be, when we read of this system in Free To Choose back in about 1979.

    Well yes there are some. But its such a highly debauched price mechanism that it doesn’t have a meaningful equilibrating mechanism that heads off disaster. Rather it lets disaster build.

    We are currently and for the last quarter of a century been in what we might call a currency-based PROSPERITY-DELUSION. The price signals that come to business and individuals in this country tell us we are more prosperous than we really are. And we act accordingly, which amounts to national suicide.

    However as I said this has been mitigated by the habit of the Feds running large surpluses.

  7. Frank Shostak has just written an article. Looks like it was written by me. You see when you know what you are talking about, in some subjects, you just come to the same conclusions.

  8. “oops Keynes said Fiscal policy only had to be used because the liquidity trap rendered monetary policy impotent.

    Without a liquidity trap there was NO need to use fiscal policy because monetary policy would suffice ”

    Proof that Keynes was an idiot and ignorant of economics. When can monetary policy EVER be impotent when it comes to inflating?

    People like Sinclair simply do not wish to comprehend that Keynes was an idiot and monetary crank.

    When can running a printing press and using new cash fail to inflate? The whole concept is completely fucking ridiculous.

    So you print all this money and pay of all your debts, and the claim is that you won’t get more spending because of what?

    A miracle?

    Consumer products falling from heaven?

    The end of the world?

    No because of a liquidity trap. Stupidest fucking idea ever. It would take a single night to produce enough cash to replace tha banks ponzi-money three times over a few weeks and there would be enough to pay off all debts, go into the debt factoring business, and finance the current budget.

    But oh no. Thats not going to be inflationary. Because of a fucking liquidity trap.

    This is what we have to put up with in this subject. The stupidity never ends oh lord how long?

  9. Sensational revelations of Roosevelts utter evil and criminality.

  10. Greece should be Greek and default on the bank debts. It’s the only honorable course of action.

    • Yes exactly. Or most of them.

  11. Theodorakis – Sto perigiali

  12. Graeme, I had occasion today to lie down and show a doctor my foot. He complimented me on my foot and for a moment I felt like Terpsichore the Muse of Dance.

    “Diana’s breast, and Flora’s cheeks,
    My friends, they’re truly good,
    But spot where is my sight’s fix
    Is Terpsichore’s foot.”


  13. Smooth bastard. See that Doctor no more.

  14. “Fisk:

    there’s plenty of oil at a price. The US is swimming in the shit. Some large players have figured out how to extract oil by sending low radiation rods or crap like down geological fissures that sends oil straight up.

    Energy extraction is just a function to tech ability that’s all.”

    Cambria probably not getting the peak oil concept again. Its hard to know. But he may be thinking of hydrocarbons and not just oil. Or he may be forgetting that peak oil is about daily output. And has nothing to do with what is still in the ground.

    Still the good news is that there is plenty of gas. And there is no indication that the ability to get more and more gas is going to level out like oil from traditional sources.

    Plus the theory of the expanding earth could mean we simply aren’t going to bottom out in our extraction of this gas.

    We may defeat peak oil if we can get at the deep ocean stuff. But this would have to be a non-traditional source and outside of the scope of the model. It will also require an whole new generation of capital goods.

  15. “Looks like the Mises Institute is endorsing Birdian monetary economics

    So what I’ve been trying to tell you for four years has essentially gotten the endorsement of Shostak, Buchanan, Riesman and who against?

    The position is that though we might differ on ultimate ends, we ought to phase to 100% fiat as a first step. There is simply no coherent argument against this. And we would have saved ourselves a whole lot of grief, debt, subsidising useless rentseekers, and missed opportunities if we had taken that unassailable position.

    There is some meat to debate after that point. Between 100% Gold. Multi-Metals, Some sort of free banking stupidity, and so one. There is stuff you can argue about to and fro.

    There can be no debate as to the proper intermediate phase-in, or to the merits of 100% fiat versus fractional fiat.

    And for fucksakes don’t be showing your ignorance and calling it a twetieth order issue.

  16. “Revisiting Peak oil again.

    I really don’t understand people’s concern here as extraction (as I said) is just a function of technology).

    However the other thing people don’t often discuss is the non-static nature of efficiencies.

    Giving an extreme example…. why should we give a shit if the price of oil heads to 200 bucks a barrel if our mileage efficiency heads to 60-70 miles a gallon (i really don’t know that liter crap).

    That’s why the concern with cheap oil/peak oil is over blown bullshit for the most part. It’s also the reason why the price signal is so important and that it’s allowed to do it’s work.”

    These are all fine points Cambria. But its just going to be another four years more bullshit from you unless you can understand, lock in, and sustain WHAT…. PEAK…. OIL… IS.

    Whether you make good or bad points, there is just no use to it, if you can go for years at a stretch and not be able to lock in a simple understanding of what is meant by the phrase.

  17. “I read a funny story somewhere about when he was a kid in Hawaii ( Okay Bird he was in Kenya).

    Anyways he was thrown off the basketball side and told to sit on bench. While there he turned to another kid and say the reason he was thrown off was that he was black and that it was a racist decision.

    The other kid, a black kid says, ” no it’s not. It’s because you’re not any at shooting hoops”.

    Hilarious Cambria. Now riddle me this? Where is Obama’s girlfriends in this story?

    Why has Obama NEVER had a girlfriend. Prior to Michelle.

  18. Excellent post as always, Mr B.

    Although I would revise your payout list as follows:

    1. Individuals
    2. Companies
    3. Governments
    4. Banks
    5. JEWS

  19. SOON. Either come out of the closet as Winchester, or let Winchester have exclusive rights to his tag.

  20. No good Ron. Members of Gods chosen race get ripped off by these rent-seekers and thieves just like everyone else.

  21. More exposes of that den of inquity Mr Bird,1518,676634,00.html

    • See? i told you it was all the fault of the Jews.

  22. You wouldn’t be trying to alibi the Italian and Anglo bankers in that firm would you Ron? We don’t want to let any of that crowd get away without paying back most of their salaries and all of their bonuses for some time back.

    Winchestor. They have repeated the exact same crime here. Ruining the National Broadband Scheme by attaching huge amounts of “private” debt to it, so as to take it off our books. The results totally undermine the public goods argument for the scheme and its really just throwing us into more debt.

    This is criminal behaviour. If they had been bankrupted as the market dictated, they would not be here ruining our policy. Why is their opinion being sort? They are proven failures these people.

    And plus how did any of them get past our character requirements to get in the country? They gave Snoop Dog static and they are letting these lunatics in. Fucking Kev is not just useless you know. He’s also corrupt. He cannot manage anything. He thinks you can get some initiative going from a standing start with a billion dollar budget and that there will be no consequences to that. In PNG because of this unworldliness, humble aid workers are getting paid more than him for doing a crap job, even as the body count from environmentalism continues to grow at home.

    The deaths conform to a variation of the model of price fixing. The price is fixed, and the supply curve cannot deliver this gold rush at that price. Even with the subsidy. So naturally quality falls. Its like long lines before the gas pump, and before price controls lead to the long lines they also lead to the toilet not being fixed, the gas station becoming unhygenic. The gasoline being degraded as to quality.

    Same deal. But a variant when the suppliers are super-motivated to get product out there. How did Kevvie and Peter, Mr Tanner et al think they could do this. When they knew nothing about the world and only hired advisors who were likewise bereft.

    The whole thing is very sad.

  23. Mr Bird I think the informed economic consensus is that Australia has been temporarily cushioned from the effects of the GFC because of China’s ongoing purchase of our mineral resources.

    “The whole thing is very sad.”

    Yes, but most people haven’t noticed and are just getting on with their lives. Most people pay no attention to, forget or underestimate hazards and risks or adverse events outside of their purview.

    German Jews who sent their children abroad after 1933 had no concept of what actually awaited them. And did any of the citizens of Pompeii listen to those who warned them of the dangers of living under an active volcano? Did they expect the total and definitive obliteration of their city?

  24. Re the most (intellectually) engaging Chinese doctor.

    He wasn’t being a smoothie, I think he just genuinely appreciated, perhaps more than you or I, a well-turned foot. Chinese, Russian and Arab men seem to have a thing about women’s feet.

    Guess they are a fair whack of the world’s population and among the oldest peoples historically so could be a universal erotic male fetish.

    But not one that is reciprocated by women, no not even Russian, Chinese or Arab women, Mr Bird.

  25. “Mr Bird I think the informed economic consensus is that Australia has been temporarily cushioned from the effects of the GFC because of China’s ongoing purchase of our mineral resources.”

    That sounds like an OK thesis. I agree. But there are other cushions. Like for example the long history of surpluses. And also Glenn Stevens outrageously punitive monetary policy in 2008, helped prepare everyone for the crunch. So we had a domestically produced crunch earlier than the foreign-produced crunch, and hence we were more adapted to recover more quickly.

    One source of our good fortune doesn’t preclude others.

    As to the other stuff:

    The labour guys seem to have gotten rid of their working class base, insofar as the Canberra leadership is concerned. They are a rarified bunch whithout much practical experience in anything much. Where are the former small business owners. Labour used to have former taxi-drivers and union reps in their ranks. They had the upper-class people too. So they had background.

    Tanner gets to power and hand-picks economists that support his lack of experience in the real world. Any of the old labour guys who had, in their experience supported injured workers, or who had experience in manufacturing, they would have halted the program and simply called a time-out after the first death.

    What is the hurry? What is wrong with a time out? But these guys are all from the Canberra latte wing of the party. Not from small business and industry. So they have no idea. If I was in Peter Garrets position I would now be paralyzed with guilt. Because my background in economics would never have allowed me to let a scheme like this get up in the first place. And my background in manufacturing would have forced me to call a halt the second there was an industrial accident.

    So if I’d have let four people get killed, unsafe practices to go on more generally, and 86 houses to burn down, I would just have to find some small place in North Queensland or the South Island, where I could hide.

    But Garret and Rudd are oblivious. Their background doesn’t allow them to see the immense damage they are doing. Well that may be the case for many people in many backgrounds. But the point is that these people have put together a rarified team. If they had put together a balanced team, this sort of stuff would not happen.

  26. “He wasn’t being a smoothie, I think he just genuinely appreciated, perhaps more than you or I, a well-turned foot.”

    “…. perhaps more than you….”

    I find that very hard to believe.

  27. We have a whole science of industrial safety. Its like an whole ideology. Its almost the opposite of the libertarian doctrine of individual responsibility.

    I’ve also been Chairman of the safety committee. I’ve been to training in confined spaces training. Confined Spaces are very dangerous from a production point of view. Its so easy to have people killed in confined spaces. So you learn all these general principles about workplace safety. Then you have to learn a whole new set for confined spaces which is a separate and special topic.

    I tell you I feel a shudder of guilt just imagining being in Garrets position. Referred guilt. I was talking about it with some of the supervisors at work. They find this all hard to believe. Garret and Rudd are oblivious. This though Garret wrote a song about CSR hurting people. Giving them lung diseases.

    Labour stand to loose some support from their industrial people over this. Because the fellas I talk to are just bewildered.

  28. Your comments about Rudd and Garrett are very insightful and true. And experiential. I share that perspective and understanding about them and where they are coming from and of the their deficiencies and those of their gang.

    And yet it does go beyond the personal too, for people in those positions do become to some extent involuntary proselytisers and advocates of more powerful forces and ideologies of which they are not even fully conscious.

    Unfortunately fact is even having a union or working class or small business background is no guarantee that you will see the wood for the trees or care about the unintended or unforseen and then unaddressed human consequences of unleashed policies.

  29. Right. I agree. And I’m not hassling anyone for not having the same visceral reaction is me. The point is you want a mixed bunch. You don’t want all Latte leftist ideologues, whose whole life has been politics.

    I would want of course a small business weighting. But even a government filled with only small businessmen would be unbalanced. Also, while the libertarian view is mostly about cutting back the public service, what about increasing the turnover? It strikes me it would be better if you had people doing a stint in the public sector and then have to rotate into the private sector before coming back.

    Because its pretty clear its not just the politicians who are rarified and too much from the same backgrounds (totally unlike the Hawke government for example). But these public service mandarins. Garret must be surrounded by these guys. None of them with a diversity of background. They have to mix people up a lot more.

    You could have a lot more people with public service experience. Even within the framework of having a much smaller public service.

  30. Oh I don’t know about hazards in confined spaces. Tell me about them.

  31. I don’t know that people are so easily grouped and categorised. In my admittedly short experience in the public service it is populated by a madly diverse range of people with all sorts of backgrounds and educational levels and ethnic, racial and national heritages, etc., etc.

    The dominant public service/government culture does tend to drown all that out and homogenise things but not entirely and but that is in any case a different matter entirely.

  32. Right I can see what you are saying. One wonders whether this is the same in Canberra though?

  33. Confined Spaces are very dangerous from a production point of view. Its so easy to have people killed in confined spaces.

    Yes I can imagine being squashed to death by your fat ass in a confined space is not the best way to go.

  34. Its a much more dangerous issue than you think SOON. You see its not just about looking at a confined space. Or crawling into a confined space and crawling out again.

    Its about industrial, or productive activity in a confined space. Here the hazards grow exponentially. People can drop like flies if they don’t have the knowledge of what it is about.

    Two kids can build underground rooms made of hay bails and maybe they will be ok. Or track down and muck about in stalignite caves. As soon as you put energy and work-goals into confined spaces, the likelihood of getting people killed just became a live issue.

  35. “this sent a chill down my spine”

    Dude. Don’t be silly man. The cutoff from where the accidents basically came down to zero dates from my tenure. I don’t usually put it that way since I regard the efforts of our national OHS manager as far more important, as well as the guy who runs our maintenance department.

    That fellow has progressively made the place way way safer working over a decade.

    But the fact is I knew what I was doing. Both as a Chairman and insofar as the idea of safety was concerned.

    Its a highly conceptual area. Its not like you’d think. Its not like “Use common sense” or “No rush”.

    I made a real difference. But as I said these other two people were a lot more important.

  36. Underground caves can collapse from adjacent mining operations. External above ground or nearby underground vibrations cause subsidence and may kill or trap people in such places. Another reason mining is so dangerous even for non-miners.

    Heat exhaustion and suffocation or asphixiation are the main hazards in confined spaces as are phobic reactions that cause to people to panic and hyperventilate leading some times to heart attacks. It’s is quite normal, instinctual even to have a phobic reaction to being in a confined space especially underground even in the otherwise magnificient caves of stalactites and stalagmites you mentioned.

  37. Right. All true. Good post.

    Actually I need a refresher course in the confined spaces side of OH&S. Its quite involved.

    But I saw Rudd on TV this morning. And truly he has no idea. He is truly unfit for the job he is holding. His imbecility in diplomacy for starters is hard to believe. But on this deaths issue, he repeats this spin about safety being the main consideration, as he adopts this ban which is throwing all the good businesses into mass-sackings and bankruptcy.

    Yet the idiot won’t suspend the dangerous, killer-program that he started.

    People ought not be promoted by Philip Adams on the basis of crypto-hard-left and Gramscian considerations. You have to be able to do the job.

  38. The ultimate human made confined spaces are prisons of solitary confinement esp the low-ceilinged windowless ones that are a staple of totalitarian leaning governments today. They’re designed to house-break their inmates.

  39. Right. Hateful for sure. The human is meant to have a lot of space I feel.

  40. From Elswhere:

    Graeme Bird :
    19 Feb 2010 8:00:33am
    There seems to be some confusion about fiscal policy. Which is why the smug set, who listen to authority, but never trouble to learn things, are giving our most promising Finance Minister in a long time, a lot of static.

    So lets get this straight for all time. There is no such thing as a “fiscal stimulus”. Only new cash creation can reliably and quickly increase nominal spending. There is no such thing as extra deficit spending creating jobs. This practice destroys jobs. The latest fiscal stimulus destroyed many thousands of jobs.

    This cannot be more obvious. Think of the income statement. Wages and salaries are a BUSINESS SPENDING EXPENSE. Deficit “stimulus” redirects resources away from business spending (to consumer and government spending) and therefore destroys employment directly.

  41. From Elsewhere. Although it would be good to have a factchecker here:

    Graeme Bird :
    19 Feb 2010 7:49:09am
    The diplomatic ineptitude of Kevin Rudd is so extreme its almost impossible to believe. Indonesia is the last place we want to be arm-twisting, bribing, nagging, blaming, and getting to act as our servant.

    And why would you want to pack more people into Java? I remember once reading in the Guinness book of records that this was the most densely packed island in the world.

    He left them there to go to Copenhagen under the conditions that there weren’t enough toilets to go around. For practical purposes then, most of the time, we had women and children without toilet facilities. Think of the indignity of this? I’m never going to forgive Kevin Rudd for this. He needs to stay home. He needs to sleep. He needs to stop being irrational and inept. No-ones minding the store.

  42. Look at this fuckwit Cambria:

    “Plane Crash Suspect’s Online Diatribe
    Posting rages at IRS, claims, “I have had all I can stand”

    Umm where have I see rages like this before especially against Goldman Sachs?”

    Acting like people are unreasonable perverts for not being accepting of organized crime.

    Typical stupid wop cunt. Like its the greatest theft in human history. And people aren’t supposed to be angry about it. Its thrown millions out of work. Stealing from the poor and ruining their lives in order to stop economic development and enrich known thieves.

    And the stupid cunt Cambria acts like people are not supposed to be angry about it. What a complete moron Cambria is. What a belligerent parasite this fellow is.

  43. hey graeme

    what do you think about the guy who flew his plane into the IRS building?

  44. How many people did he kill?

  45. Look where is the cutoff Jason? When do you take this sort of action.

    Our government is onerous, inept, and dishonest. They just bribed the media 250 million dollars worth. Cash for favourable comments. Its not going to work. But this was clearly their intention.

    But the American government is running amok in illegality. Funneling money to bankers in the most brazen, transparent and HUGE theft in all of history. The bank will of course be expected to fund their further power grabs.

    So thats the context. An illegitimate government with a usurper President. Throwing people out of work and enriching parasites.

    If thats the context at what time do you protest in this way? How much further do you let things go?

    If you don’t have any legitmacy, and your looting agent has just ruined this mans life, what do you expect to happen to you?

    Because without legitimacy, then its not possible to differentiate the IRS from a mugger.

    What is the difference. If the Feds and the treasury will bail out Cambria and Merril Lynch. And this fellow has to pay back that debt, with the IRS as the agent for this crime. If some people are allowed to steal, and others are victimised. Well what are you supposed to do?

    There will be a lot more killing like this. Few can get any jobs now. This is what happens when you don’t let the economy develop and cull the dead wood from its ranks. The dead wood like Merril Lynch. And if you use all the resources up in subsidising Merril Lynch, then what resources are left for employment?

    People have to live. If the IRS is ruining your life in this context, it may be time to act.

  46. Neither of us would want to fall into the trap of mixing up our own situation with that of the Americans. American politicians have run amok and are operating ruthlessly outside the law. Our guys mainly just have a Keynesian problem. Andrew and Nick in Canberra. Amongst other handicaps. But they are not going in for ruthless illegality yet. So naturally there is no excuse nor any reason for political violence in this country.

    Whereas you don’t seem to know how desperate the situation is in America. You ought to think of it as being around 20% unemployment overall, and maybe as high as 50% if you are not part of the rigged labour market. The pressure on people who are not privileged in some way must be utterly deplorable. And then to watch Washington and Wall Street in a ruthless explosion of illegal activity just stealing as much as they want and more than almost anyone else would dare…..

    What are you going to do?

  47. “thanks SRL

    so it’s not an open and shut case since no one knows what Mises would have thought of fractional reserve in the absence of free banking and a gold standard”

    Yes we do know. He understood monetary economics. He developed this subject more than anyone. So of course he hated fractional reserve. He knew it was what caused the boom bust. He was the fellow who developed the theory of the way fractional reserve causes the boom bust.

    He simply stopped short of calling for it to be made illegal. He thought that the unhampered market would basically wipe it out or mitigate it.

    Thats the only main difference between him and Rothbard here. Its simply that he stopped short of calling for it to be banned.

  48. Look at this stupid fucking wop. Thinks that 100% backing means “less lending.”

    What a dope. Completely unable to learn a damn thing.

    “I can’t recall but I think it was the Economist that mentioned studies suggesting 20 to 25% would be safe. Governments of course won’t go there as it would mean less lending so they’re still trying to allow banks to run with small capital requirements but a lot more regulation. Of course they’ll fail.”

    Four years and he is simply unable to grasp first concepts of monetary economics.

  49. “The 100% reserve crackpots bring up a mythical support of Freidman of the MRA. They should read Free to Choose. Freidman clearly backs austerity with an open mind to free banking – but not 100% reserve requirements which he saw as a snake oil panacea.”

    Completely wrong. Where is semi-libertarian reader getting this bullshit from? Totally full of shit. Sounds like Mark at it again.

  50. So naturally there is no excuse nor any reason for political violence in this country

    I agree. The American government is on a whole new level of illegitimacy. Violence against that government should be considered, within reason.

  51. The suicide bomber is a Timothy McVeigh type figure isn’t he well understood by Gore Vidal et al even if the media tried to portray him as a criminal monster when he was perfectly sane and had excellent motives if his tactics were not to be applauded. Of course the real terrorists are in organisations like the IRS as Vidal aptly notes in this piece from 1998:

    “The I.R.S. has been under some scrutiny lately for violations not only of the Fourth but of the Fifth Amendment. The Fifth requires a grand-jury indictment in prosecutions for major crimes. It also provides that no person shall be compelled to testify against himself, forbids the taking of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or the taking of private property for public use without compensation.

    Over the years, however, the ever secretive I.R.S. has been seizing property right and left without so much as a postcard to the nearest grand jury, while due process of law is not even a concept in their single-minded pursuit of loot. Bovard notes:

    Since 1980, the number of levies — I.R.S. seizures of bank accounts and pay checks — has increased four-fold, reaching 3,253,000 in 1992. The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimated in 1990 that the I.R.S. imposes over 50,000 incorrect or unjustified levies on citizens and businesses per year. The GAO estimated that almost 6% of I.R.S. Ievies on business were incorrect. . . . The I.R.S. also imposes almost one and a half million liens each year, an increase of over 200% since 1980. Money magazine conducted a survey in 1990 of 156 taxpayers who had I.R.S. Iiens imposed on their property and found that 35% of the taxpayers had never received a thirty-day warning notice from the I.R.S. of an intent to impose a lien and that some first learned of the liens when the magazine contacted them.

    The current Supreme Court has shown little interest in curbing so powerful and clandestine a federal agency as it routinely disobeys the 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments. Of course, this particular court is essentially authoritarian and revels in the state’s exercise of power while its livelier members show great wit when it comes to consulting Ouija boards in order to discern exactly what the founders originally had in mind, ignoring just how clearly Mason, Madison, and company spelled out such absolutes as you can’t grab someone’s property without first going to a grand jury and finding him guilty of a crime as law requires. In these matters, sacred original intent is so dear that the Court prefers to look elsewhere for its amusement. Lonely voices in Congress are sometimes heard on the subject. In 1993, Senator David Pryor thought it would be nice if the I.R.S. were to notify credit agencies once proof was established that the agency wrongfully attached a lien on a taxpayer’s property, destroying his future credit. The I.R.S. got whiny. Such an onerous requirement would be too much work for its exhausted employees.

    Since the U.S. statutes that deal with tax regulations comprise some 9,000 pages, even tax experts tend to foul up, and it is possible for any Inspector Javert at the I.R.S. to find flawed just about any conclusion as to what Family X owes. But, in the end, it is not so much a rogue bureau that is at fault as it is the system of taxation as imposed by key members of Congress in order to exempt their friends and financial donors from taxation. Certainly, the I.R.S. itself has legitimate cause for complaint against its nominal masters in Congress. The I.R.S.’s director of taxpayer services, Robert LeBaube, spoke out in 1989: “Since 1976 there have been 138 public laws modifying the Internal Revenue Code. Since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 there have been 13 public laws changing the code, and in 1988 alone there were seven public laws affecting the code.” As Bovard notes but does not explain, “Tax law is simply the latest creative interpretation by government officials of the mire of tax legislation Congress has enacted. I.R.S. officials can take five, seven, or more years to write the regulations to implement a new tax law — yet Congress routinely changes the law before new regulations are promulgated. Almost all tax law is provisional — either waiting to be revised according to the last tax bill passed, or already proposed for change in the next tax bill.”

    What is this great busyness and confusion all about? Well, corporations send their lawyers to Congress to make special laws that will exempt their corporate profits from unseemly taxation: this is done by ever more complex — even impenetrable — tax laws which must always be provisional as there is always bound to be a new corporation requiring a special exemption in the form of a private bill tacked on to the Arbor Day Tribute. Senators who save corporations millions in tax money will not need to spend too much time on the telephone begging for contributions when it is time for him — or, yes, her — to run again. Unless — the impossible dream — the cost of elections is reduced by 90 percent, with no election lasting longer than eight weeks. Until national TV is provided free for national candidates and local TV for local candidates (the way civilized countries do it), there will never be tax reform. Meanwhile, the moles at the I.R.S., quite aware of the great untouchable corruption of their congressional masters, pursue helpless citizens and so demoralize the state.

    It is nicely apt that the word “terrorist” (according to the O.E.D.) should have been coined during the French Revolution to describe “an adherent or supporter of the Jacobins, who advocated and practiced methods of partisan repression and bloodshed in the propagation of the principles of democracy and equality.” Although our rulers have revived the word to describe violent enemies of the United States, most of today’s actual terrorists can be found within our own governments, federal, state, municipal. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (known as A.T.F.), the Drug Enforcement Agency, F.B.I., I.R.S., etc., are so many Jacobins at war against the lives, freedom, and property of our citizens. The F.B.I. slaughter of the innocents at Waco was a model Jacobin enterprise. ”

  52. Cambria has said I endorse this fellow’s actions. I don’t think I did quite go that far. But surely we can see that this is going to happen? Washington and Wall Street have gone mad. This place has to be compared to an airbrushed Pakistan.

    Parasites like Cambria think that they can do anything, advocate anything, side with any abuse and any level of stealing, no matter how repulsive or unjustified and he will deride people for SO MUCH AS COMPLAINING.

    So in Cambria’s view, his crowd have a right to be incompetent, bet up large, reap the winnings and pass the losing bets off onto American taxpayers. And if you complain you are some sort of malcontent.

    The guys just a fuckwit. Michael you ought give him a harder time than you do. You let him off easy. I’m stopping short of endorsing this fellow’s actions. But surely even a stupid wop moron like Cambria can see that this sort of thing is just going to get worse and worse. How could it be otherwise? Since when have people meekly sat still for unlawful stealing, and the systematic ruination of their lives?

  53. It would have been nice if he could have remote-control flown his plane into the building at night so no-one got killed. But then again it would be people like him having to pay for repairs while even more money was stolen for Cambria and his homeboys.

  54. The US excels at creating rage-filled isolated individuals who see no way to strike out at their oppressors other than by acts of individual (and therefore largely futile) violence against their school mates, families, employers or government representatives.

    Of course the long, tortuous and largely successful emasculation if not destruction of what had once been a powerful and vibrant US labour movement in the 19th and early 20th century means that for many people there are literally no mass organised means of challenging the rotten economic and political status quo other than by voting (which most decline to do for very good reasons) joining religious or political cults or literally turning themselves into a guided missile, the latest example of this being Mr Joe Stack.

  55. Joe Cambria is a sociopathic fool and the stupidest man I’ve seen commenting on a blog. Thank the goddesses I don’t have to read his gibberish any more or encourage his pig-ignorant, illogical, uncouth, demented rants. The novelty of that wore off after the millionth win. I’m a woman who likes an real ongoing intellectual challenge, such as you provide Mr Bird.

    Great you’ve made this a ‘BirdLab’ (aka Joe Cambria) free space. Well done.

  56. You are very kind.

    No matter how persistently abusive these guys were I would always give people another chance. Cambria/Birdlab was the first entity that has ever been blocked here.

  57. Yes, you have an enormous heart, Mr Bird, that much is obvious. And strong, genuinely libertarian leanings (from the socialist or left tradition rather than from liberalism IMHO), despite protestations to the contrary.

    But BirdLab/JC’s stalking and abuse of you was very creepy, sadistic, ethically objectionable and had a malicious personal agenda. No point in allowing that on your blog or putting up with it.

    Besides, his schtick was dull as… No imagination or wit. That was the most intolerable thing of all for readers of his vomitous prose and wacky notions filtered through his bilious liver.

  58. Carambo’s point about underground caves is a good one.

    Some archaeologists draw on ethnographic and neuropsychological perspectives to argue that Paleolithic and Native American art (e.g.) was shamanistic and crucially was helped in that direction by the caves themselves. That is, the caves were natural topographic models of trance experience. The sensory deprivation attendant on isolation in the deep caves lead to altered states of consciousness in the artists and so helps explain both the content and form of cave art itself.

  59. I’ve seen a presentation wherein there are common patterns around the world in a lot of these cave paintings. This is very odd. And the case is made that the patterns are referring to goings-on in the sky. Being as that would be the only way that you could have that sort of global commonality.

  60. Posts from elsewhere:

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    A guy on an entry level job can still do it – if he is prepared to live the same way we did in the 1970s.”

    No he cannot. And even if that were the case where is the improvement? There ought to have been a large improvement. And would have been but for various problems, the main one being your industry. There were big problems with that link to gold. Big problems. But at least you bankers could not delude yourselves that you didn’t need depositers to be lending, except as an afterthought to do with liquidity. At least everyone in the 60’s knew that a real estate boom had to be busted sooner or later. So all of our investment resources didn’t go into negative cash flow idiocy and private sector indebtedness for no good economic reason.

    There were two or three step-changes. One after that last link with gold. It was incredible. I remember we sold a house with five acres and bought a farm. Within a very short time we learnt that the people who had bought our house had resold it for a massive gain.
    By about 1975, young couples couldn’t by their dream house and build it up into something glorious, but that someone else had jumped in for purely the capital gains purpose. We can see that our resources have been misallocated since then. Putting in place our loss of relative standing in manufacturing. And we aren’t seeing the innovation in new small business lending that we ought to have seen.

    Then the next step was the alleged “deregulation” of the banks. For starters there was no deregulation. It was rather a re-regulation with the enrichment of the incumbent bankers in mind. Skewing notions of free-enterprise in an out-of-context way. The former regulations were for the most part unnecessary. But at least in intention they had been made with the community and not the banks in mind. What really happened is the cartelisation regulations stayed. And they got rid of the reserve asset ratio.

    Getting rid of the reserve asset ratio totally alters the relationship of the banks with the public. With a substantial reserve asset ratio, the bankers business does not even begin until he has a term deposit. Which means the bankers, at least in the small town where I grew up, had the best interests of the kids at heart. They were paternalistic in a way. They would be down at the school handing out piggy banks. And telling the kids the importance of savings. Because without savings these guys didn’t have a job. As soon as that was over their business focus shifted to purveying debt-addiction, and being the biggest pyramid-artist in town. They started calling themselves rocket scientists. They started recruiting people with masters degrees and double-honours and the like. And making these guys work extremely long hours. All designed to give them that sense of entitlement.

    If there was a 50% reserve asset ratio, so that the government picked up nearly all the benefit of new money creation….. If that was the case there is just no way these guys would be encouraging debt addiction. Because if they don’t have long-term depositers, then they aren’t even in business. Simple as that. And no-one with a credit card habit is a term depositer.

    The other thing is if the money supply is based mostly on cash, and not on debt, and the savings rates are high, the debts lower, then we can ease to lower monetary growth without crippling the economy. Thats half the reason why a burst of monetary growth is such a panacea in the mid-term. Because we have been all arm-twisted into debt, rather than encouraged to save from primary school age as in the past.

    With less debt, slower monetary growth is not crippling. And this means better investment allocation and fewer bubbles. That means resources can flow to small business on the basis of improving their cash flow. Not to people to flip houses.
    All this new technology around and your amoral industry has managed to hollow our productive capacity out. We barely hold our standard of living together. And even our current standard of living is just delusional. It is based on getting more and more in debt every day.

    Graeme Bird
    February 20th, 2010 at 07:24 | #22 Reply | Quote
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I said:

    “In 1970 a fellow on an entry-level job could support a wife, a growing family and be paying off a house.”

    Jarrah who was not born in 1970 said:

    “Not true.”
    No it is true. Lets get that right for starters. You know back then only a small proportion of wives used to work outside the home. And family sizes were much larger, debt levels were much lower. Even if the wives did work, when they had new babies, they would stay home with their new babies much longer. How was this possible if you are right?
    So I was right. You are wrong. Simple as that.

    Graeme Bird
    February 20th, 2010 at 07:29 | #23 Reply | Quote
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Further to that. Average working hours were much lower. If these people were so poor and financially stressed how is it that they didn’t do as much overtime as we do now? Notice the three-way correlation. The growth in average working hours in those countries that have no reserve asset ratio. The Anglo-countries for the most part. We’ve got in more debt. We work longer hours. And then hand in hand with the sleep deprivation comes the increase in weight.

    In debt, overworked, and getting fatter.

    All countries that adopted this no-reserve asset ration bank-enrichment model.

    Back in 1970 we used to be astounded at the work week of the Japanese. By the 90’s we were beginning to emulate these people in work-week but not in savings rates. Jarrah don’t make stuff up.

    Graeme Bird
    February 20th, 2010 at 07:41 | #25 Reply | Quote
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I have no issue with your first three paragraphs – you are right. It is cheaper for the State to supply the necessary infrastructure through high density. I just do not think that monkeying around with prudential ratios is likely to achieve that.”

    Who turned out to be right and who turned out to be wrong Andrew? I said that our banking system was an elephant balancing on its trunk? Did you say that? No it was all prudential ratio this and capitalization ration that. All ratios other than the reserve asset ratio are cartelization ratios. Meant to enrich the already rich banks, at the expense of potential innovation.

    I said that it could not be claimed that fractional reserve had passed any free market test. Was I right or not? Every banker in the world, including yourself, would now be out of a job, but for being bailed out by the public. Surely honor would triumph over greed in this case, and you would be recommending a reserve asset ratio at least high enough to be quits with all other “prudential” (what an utterly risible phrase) ratios, all bank subsidies, and all government guarantees, implied or otherwise.

    I can talk to you Andrew. But if you cannot do that I can never respect you or take you seriously. Here you are. Essentially a welfare recipient. And you are more than accepting of every page of regulation on the books now but you object to one and only one regulation and for the most obvious and venal reasons imaginable.
    Now why don’t you give me a reserve asset ratio that you think would mean we can be quits with the discount rate, with bank licenses, or alternatively every adult in Australia is given a bank license. How high would that ratio have to be to allow all of that plus the ditching of every last other ratio requirement?

    I put this to you as a test of honesty. To see if you are able to think about policy, independent of craven greed and tribal loyalty.

    I say 50% at least. I say 50%. No other ratio requirements. Everyone in effect gets a bank license on his 21st birthday. No government lending to the banks. New cash creation their only monetary tool.
    What say you? 50% not high enough? Or too high?

    Graeme Bird
    February 20th, 2010 at 07:54 | #26 Reply | Quote
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    “Graeme – I agree we bought at a good time and this was mostly down to luck. However I still think if people live within their means and borrow modestly it isn’t hard to have a good live. Big TVs are nice but far from essential.”
    Look. Rich people tend to have certain virtues that make their success somewhat understandable. Poor people have often have certain problems, or vices, that can lead outsiders to say “Well you know. He had it coming.” A functioning and free society does not eliminate these advantages to the disciplined and the thrifty. But giving a 90% free ride to worthies who have reached a certain threshold, and holding back and further demoralising those who perhaps have a few issues… that fair? Is that balanced? Is that what we have become here in Australia? You say don’t borrow too much. You are supposing that we all save to have a 20% deposit. Well I do suppose if that young aboriginal boy who shows up in town on the bus is super-disciplined, makes all the right choices, and is sort of perfect in every way, gets on well with people so much he can flat cheaply with half a dozen other strangers in the house, is so well organized and virtuous that under these crowded conditions he can keep his act moving ahead….. Well yes it can be done. I’m not saying its impossible. Neither is climbing Mount Everest impossible.

    But supposing he’s only half-virtuous. Supposing he is not perfect. Supposing he gets demoralized because the price of houses is going up faster than he can accumulate that 20% deposit? Might not some of these less disciplined poor people lose heart entirely?

    I think they probably will. I think if you grow up putting off ice blocks, and never playing video games, on the grounds that the 50c coin you lose down the back of the couch is more valuable when you finally find it, I think you can build those savings levels without losing heart. But this ugly financial system that we have, means that people carry lower cash balances and more debt than otherwise. And it is the case that when poor people carry low cash balances and more debt then sooner or later their luck or their morale will give out.

  61. David Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowson developed a neuropsychological model for the mental imagery that is generated during altered states of consciousness. They said that the lines and squiggles and recurring patterns associated with cave art all over the world are entoptic, “within the eye” and refer to mental imagery dominated by geometric light patterns generated within our optical and neural systems. The entoptic pattern can be induced by a number of means and is interpreted by artists or shamans as a culturally meaningful or figurative image. People then tend to become they thing they are hallucinating which is why so much of the cave art depicts creatures that are half human and half some other species.

  62. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    To even imply that there is nothing grossly dysfunctional about this highly artificial financial situation, is to engage in mindless happy-talk. Like that fat guy in the beginning of the movie 1984, who believed all the government headlines he was reading. Its a terrible terrible tragedy, the growing dead weight loss of the financial sector. Its gobbling more and more resources as it performs a progressively more inept job of resource allocation.
    For one thing its hardly the free market. For another thing the happy-talk is not some sort of understanding of, and support for, them market. Rather this is coming from a reification of the market. Reification and the advocates reaffirmation for his tribal loyalties. But our financial system is in no way market-based. Its cartelised, subsidised, wrapped in cotton wool and has special privileges.
    The state of our capital markets is an embarrassment. Its a highly destructive setup. In fact it will be the ruination of us. We are subjected to an endless prosperity delusion and we act accordingly. By making dysfunctional decisions on every level, that will end with the destruction of this nation.

  63. Entoptic hey?

    “…Entoptic phenomena are visual effects whose source is within the eye itself. (Occasionally, these are called entopic phenomena, which is probably a typographical mistake; see entopic.) In Helmholtz’s words..”

    Interesting theory.


  65. “And it is completely wrong to sum-up the “New Deal” as Keynesianism. The “New Deal” was announced in 1933, and even then after Roosevelt had campaigned on a ‘balanced budget.’ Keynes’ General Theory wasn’t even published until 1936, by which time the fiscal pump-priming aspects of the “New Deal” were well ensconced.”

    Doesn’t matter Peter. The New Deal was Keynesian regardless. That was part of that stupid books success. It justified the absolute idiocy that was already going on.

  66. “As for your other comment, I never said it doesn’t matter if it is wasteful, what I said is it can be wasteful and still boost short-term demand. This is bot an endorsment of wasteful spending but a fact. However I know you prefer ranting to facts.”

    Its not a fact sdfc, you pea-brained idiot. Its a childish fallacy and obviously so. Where is the money coming from?

    Where is the money coming from?

    Where is the money coming from?

    Its incredible that people cannot get the tiniest thing right.

  67. ” Contrary to popular libertarian opinion US states have no right to secede either.”

    Where is Sinclair pulling this story from? An entirely untenable idea. They always had the legal right to secede.

  68. “Me even maybe tomorrow…you’re providing more fodder by the hour.

    “I never said it doesn’t matter if it is wasteful, what I said is it can be wasteful and still boost short-term demand”

    It is still wasteful though. It matters.”

    Semi-Libertarian dumbass. WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM??????

    Fucking dummy.

    If you have evidence that fiscal policy increases spending by some sort of fucking voodoo spit it out you dumb cunt.

    Or retract.

    Fucking hell. Is everyone on Catallaxy just a really stupid cunt?

    It seems so.

    Sinclair went so far as to imply that the Keynesian Multiplier was a real thing in front of the Senate.

    Very embarrassing.

  69. Hot blondes with submachine guns lol

    {from Crikey]

    Bombs explode, the economy implodes
    by Guy Rundle

    There was smoke in the air, and a police van pulled up at the curb. Blue-suited cops were everywhere, with sub-machine guns. It was nine in the evening, and someone had just bombed J.P.Morgan’s Athens office.

    Luckily the kiosk was still open. The cops were all buying Fanta.

    “Where did the bomb go off?” I asked.

    They chattered among themselves — “bo? Boerhh ahhh bombba! It was up there, about 250 metres”.

    The smoke was dust from an asphalt cutter.

    Up the road, near Kolonaki Square, a plush, Parisienesque area full of embassies and upmarket shops along Patriarch Joaquim st, Caritas Street had been roped off, and the entrance was surrounded by vans.

    The bomb had gone off around 8.30 in the evening, a warning called into the papers about half an hour before.

    The device was small but perfectly formed. One hundred metres up the street, the baristas at Costa hadn’t even heard it go off.

    In the nearby Embassy Cinema they’d heard it.

    “It go boom … I feel a slight ummmm …” the ticket chicks conferred, “vibration.”

    “Did they stop the film?” I asked. They looked at me as if I was crazy.

    “Thetth. No of course not.”

    If the locals were relaxed about it, the cops weren’t. As your correspondent lined up to take a shot, a chubby officer stood in front of me. “No here,” he barks. “You go.” I went.

    Bombing banks is an ancient and venerable tradition in Greece. Though property attacks aren’t as common as they were in the ’70s and ’80s when there could be literally hundreds of car torchings and small explosions a year.

    Since the days of rage in December 2008, following the police shooting of a 15-year-old, there’s been a non-lethal bomb every few months, most recently against the Ethniki Insurance Building at Christmas, by the group “Conspiracy of Fire Nuclei”, who were protesting — and I quote from their manifesto — “the Christmas consumer spirit”. It was the Ethniki — i.e. National — insurance office that was festooned by cops, south of Kolonaki.

    Across the city, cops with sub-machine guns were posted in the doorway of prominent targets. Some of them were blonde girls. So hot.

    Whether the JP Morgan Chase bombing heralds a more concerted campaign against financial institutions, or is simply part of the “eternal flame” of low-level European unrest, remains to be seen.

    One indication that it may be part of a well-planned campaign was that the blast came almost the moment that the EU finance ministers announced the results of their two-day meeting, most of which was about Greece. Effectively they required the country to present its homework by March 16, demonstrating that it was well on the way to financial rectitude.

    Prime Minister George Papandreou has already committed the country to reducing its 13% deficit by 4% this year, and back to 3% by 2012. That means a steady squeeze on the public sector, at a time when unemployment has started to rise into double figures.

    Half-a-dozen other countries inside the eurozone have to make deficit reductions as well — the upshot is a steady deflation of the less developed part of the Eurozone, at a time when the northern sector benefits from a stronger euro.

    The question for Papandreou is whether he can hold public support through the process, or whether he will eventually come to look like Brussels’ bitch, for relentlessly enforcing the EU’s will. Should Greece fail to get its house in order, it will lose its vote on the EU finance ministers committee, making it to some degree an EU dependent territory.

    Euro-sceptics have been making all sorts of noises about how proud Greeks won’t bend to the EU jackboot, etc, etc — when they aren’t caricaturing the country as a bunch of excitable waiters. That’s entirely overstated — PASOK was partly voted in to sort out the long-standing mess of Greek finances.

    Nevertheless, there must be a point at which getting lectured by Germans,,of all people, starts to stick in the craw. The country has not had a happy experience with previous examples of European integration. The Nazis destroyed more than 2000 villages, imposing a 50:1 ration of civilian executions for every German soldier killed.

    When the war was over, Churchill and Stalin’s back of the napkin Yalta deal gave the West 90% control of Greece — and the round-up of Communists who had formed the backbone of the Resistance sparked the civil war, which devastated the country and, among other things, gave the West a chance to experiment with the use of napalm in buttressing a regime.

    Such history undergirds the militant tradition —  the organised Communist dimension, and the wilder shores of violent anarchism and red urban guerrilla movements. The Greek Left is not Lord Monckton or similar goggle-eyed, thyroid crazed loonies — they know that the EU is not the fourth reich.

    But in Patriach Joachim Street of the aptly named Kolonaki, it is hard to find a shop with a sign in Greek lettering. And Caritas is now a bomb site.

    And the head of the EU finance ministers committee supervising the Greek package is named Junckers.

    There’s a limit …

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