The disease is called statist corruption, and every country in Europe is an acute sufferer.
Germany pretends to be a doctor, but in fact she’s one of the patients. Admittedly, she is an experienced patient, one who had an attack in the past and got over it. But recurrence is upon her, and this time the same cure isn’t available.
The post-war Germany inherited by Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Erhard was a far worse shambles than Greece is today. Moreover, the occupying powers pushed for the Keynesian way out of trouble – state activism funded by the printing press.
Yet Adenauer and Erhard explained to the Germans that no deficit spending was on the cards. Until the economy got up on its feet, the Germans were told to tighten their belts, work hard and count their pfennigs. The ploy worked, and within a few years the country climbed up to the economic summit.That was the nature of Germany’s economic miracle (Wirtschaftswunder for short), spearheaded by two sage men.
Glancing around, one has to acknowledge mournfully that no Western government is blessed with such leaders at this troubled time. To be sure, Angela Merkel, the genetic memory of Wirtschaftswunder coursing through her veins, keeps insisting, in rather imperative tones, on pan-European austerity. Little does she understand that even Adenauer and Erhard, should they miraculously resurrect, would be unable to impose anything of the sort on the EU in general or any member in particular, Germany included. The lady simply refuses to accept that the post-war West has suffered a genetic mutation, and it’s nothing short of catastrophic.
To put it bluntly, today’s governments can’t eliminate promiscuous spending because their survival depends on it. They haven’t just created a dependent class; they’ve created a dependent mentality, and for this disease there is no cure.
Merkel can scream all she wants about austerity, and others may even listen – only then to go their own way. So it’s no surprise that on the same day Angela reaffirmed her commitment to Ludwig Erhard’s memory, the EU announced a proposed 6.8-percent increase in its budget.
Each EU member is obligated to cut public spending and cap its annual deficit at three percent. And yet the same organisation that has imposed the obligation is raising its own spending by almost seven percent. The message is do as I say, not as I do, but it won’t be heeded. Public overspending, both national and supranational, will continue because without it every European government will be swept away. For yesterday’s aspirations have become today’s entitlements all over Europe – corrupt governments have succeeded in creating corrupt populations.
Witness all those politicians whose actions belie their supposed ‘rightwing’ or ‘leftwing’ tags. Holland’s Geert Wilders, for example, is supposed to be conservative because he likes neither EU power writ large nor Islamic immigration run riot. Suddenly, as if to prove that this condition isn’t sufficient even if it’s necessary, he threw his toys out of the pram when the Dutch government tried to reduce public spending, or rather to slow down its growth. As a result, the Netherlands is about to get a government just barely to the right of Castro’s – and the same may well happen in Germany.
Further south, all principal players in the French election, divergent as they may be on this or that issue, are roughly in agreement on the state’s role in the economy. Just compare the next president, Hollande, with his supposed opposite, Marine Le Pen.
Now that money markets have treated France so shabbily, Hollande has declared war on them, claiming he’ll keep his borrowing internal. However, there won’t be much to borrow from people’s savings if he acts on his promise to increase public spending from stupid to deranged levels, while taxing wealth producers out of France. He’s also committed to ‘growth’ at the expense of ‘austerity’, meaning inflating the public sector until the real economy blows up.
Meanwhile, Marine le Pen yesterday told her supporters not to vote for Sarkozy in the run-off. Granted, she hasn’t yet told them to vote for Hollande, but there’s no need: they know that le Pen’s economics are a blueprint of Hollande’s. Marine too hates money markets and loves internal borrowing, she too believes in high spending. The difference between red and brown socialism is purely chromatic.
Admittedly, François likes the EU more than Marine does, but it’s useful to remember that most animosity towards eurofederalism in France comes from the left. There are as many opponents to it among Mélenchon’s neo-communists as among Le Pen’s nationalists. Since Hollande will need all their votes on 6 May, he’ll have to accommodate their idiosyncrasies in his rhetoric, if not necessarily his actions. And once he’s elected his economic actions will be even more insane than Sarkozy’s have been.
Introducing real austerity anywhere in Europe will lead to social collapse; not introducing it will lead to economic collapse. Either way the EU is moribund, and we’ll go the same way unless we prepare ourselves in advance.
So far, by way of preparation, George Osborne has committed yet another £10 billion of our money to the IMF, which has assumed the laundering function for the EU. That sum is considerably higher than the cosmetic cuts resulting from the Coalition’s mythical austerity. But real austerity is no more possible in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. We’ll never accept it – until it comes down upon us as red-hot shards from an imploding world.