The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Eurocrats On Greek Referendum:
‘Are You Serious? Are You Serious?’

Posted on | November 2, 2011 | 37 Comments

by Smitty

Daniel Hannan in The Telegraph with an insider view of the Brussels reaction to the Greek referendum on the latest bailout farce:

I wish I could convey the sheer horror that his proposal provoked in Brussels. The first rule of the Eurocracy is “no referendums”. Brussels functionaries believe that their work is too important to be subject to the prejudices of hoi polloi (for once, the Greek phrase seems apposite). Referendums are always seen as irresponsible; but, at a time when the euro is teetering on the brink, Papandreou’s proposal was seen as an act of ingratitude bordering on treason.
Across the palaces and chanceries of the continent, Euro-elites closed ranks. Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokesman described Papandreou’s announcement as “irrational and dangerous”, Angela Merkel’s called it “irritating”, Silvio Berlusconi’s “negative”. Such phrases, in the mouths of government officials, suggest purple, choking rage.

Read the whole thing. This sounds about right for the pack of clowns that excreted the Treaty of Lisbon. The worldwide choice before us liberty or social democracy. You can fret some media-driven nonsense about Herman Cain’s ‘uncomfortable gestures’, or you can focus on what matters, Americans.

My title, of course, refers to the Worst Speaker of the House in American History, whose disgusting, farcical tenure was the closest American analogue to the EUrocrats.

via The Corner

Update: Zander, in the comments, is a good friend of mine. If I may request people edit themselves a bit, please disagree agreeably with the fellow. Thanks, Chris.

Update II: Linked at The Rio Norte Line.

Update III:Monty over at Ace of Spades

A note about this Greek “referendum”: it doesn’t matter whether it takes place or not. The damage is already done, the demons already set loose. The Greeks have already voted “no”, whether they know it or not.

Ow, ow, ow, a thousands ows, and again, I say: ouch!

Update IV:Oh, and from the comments on Monty’s post, a blast from Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

The fact that it is impossible for Greece to regain competitiveness while clinging to the euro is becoming increasingly evident. Prominent economists such as Nouriel Roubini, as well as investor George Soros have said as much and influential voices in Greece are now questioning the wisdom of clinging to the euro.

Well, if King George has made the call, time to roll out Rosie O’Donnell in the steel bikini.

Update V: linked at The Camp of the Saints.


37 Responses to “Eurocrats On Greek Referendum:
‘Are You Serious? Are You Serious?’”

  1. Joakim Zander
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 8:49 am

    Aah, finally a title that rouses my attention! Mainly because I am, well, a Eurocrat (although exiled to the outer borroughs of the empire). And also becaue I am, well, not in favour of referenda in general. Why not? Because I am a member of  a well-fed and gravy-trained European Elite that firmly believes that I and my fellow Ivory tower dwellers are in a supreme position to take decisions on behalf of the people? Well, sometimes yes. And in this particular case? Certainly. As any student of direct democracy will corroborate, referenda are never about the issues that are on the ballot. Instead they are invariably about the people’s trust in the entity that is in favour of whatever is on the ballot. Thus, referenda are confidence votes concerning the governments that propose them. I cannot think of one single referendum in recent years in Europe where this was not the case. Since the current Greek government is about as popular as Louis XVI on 14 July 1789, the fears of Greece’s fellow Euro buddies are nothing if not well-founded. And this is not even touching upon the issue of how to formulate a question for the ballot… Thus, what I want to say is that there is nothing romantic or particularly democratic about a referendum. Especially not now. Hannon and his fellow populists are nothing but irresponsible for suggesting that there is any other potential outcome to this than Greece accepting the bail-out package as is.

  2. smitty
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 9:19 am

      As far as I can tell, there are deep structural economic issues afoot. The last couple of years of financial crisis are not some kind of populist joke. This referendum is symptomatic of a far wider problem. A problem that crosses the Atlantic through the highly transparent, eminently accountable Federal Reserve we have currently demolishing our currency.
      I’m keenly interested in hearing your wider analysis of the problem. I’ve been reading Gustave LeBon of late. It sounds as though you’re making a ‘people are sheep’ argument here, which could be a slippery slope leading to authoritarian ends.
      Great to hear from you, though!

  3. Civil War in the Age of Obama « The Rio Norte Line
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 9:20 am

    […] Seems that Smitty and I have something more in common than just a last name. 55.957870 -3.199357 Share this:FacebookEmailPrintRedditTwitterStumbleUponDiggLinkedInLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in: 2012 Election, Culture, Liberty, Obama, Politics, Propaganda, Taxes ← A Bieber Baby? Be the first to start a conversation […]

  4. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 9:49 am

    Yes, a referendum is a tricky thing, and direct democracy can be deeply problematic.

    Perhaps this sort of thing could have been avoided if the Eurozone hadn’t been thrust upon the people in so undemocratic a fashion.  I don’t know enough about Greek politics and how they handled joining the Eurozone, etc, but it seems like the approval of the Eurozone has always been centered among the political class.

    Either way, all this stuff is so explosively unpopular in Greece that I can see why the PM would want to do this.  He needs the support of Brussels, but would probably like to avoid domestic lynch mobs.

    I can only think that a guy like Victor Davis Hanson is having massive deja vu.

  5. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:10 am

    I think your levity is inappropriate for this subject. Frivolity is ill-used in a situation of this nature.

  6. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:19 am

    I was going to make a Nazi comparison here, but I’ll save that for my own blog. I do however think its noteworthy that the country that gave us democracy and set the stage for the growth of western civilization may be on the verge of destroying western civilization with the very concept they invented. So is this a case of things coming full circle.

    And look what year it is next year. Maybe those damn Mayans were on to something after all.

  7. DaveO
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:30 am


      You’re 1 ‘thus’ too many in this meander. I understand you to mean that you are against referenda, as those dependent on others’ money will vote to maintain that cash-flow.

      As for myself, I prefer the option behind Door #3: let Greece fail, watch the dominoes fall, and rebuild with whomever is left. Papandreou is rightly concerned in trying to keep his head from being mounted on a stake, but his efforts and those of the EU just prolong the descent into madness, and make getting out of it exponentially more difficult. 

  8. Joe
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    Greece, in and of itself is not really that important except to the Greeks.  The Germans are willing to fund a bailout because it is in their interests to fund a bailout.  The Germans benefit greatly from the Euro, it helps them export to the entire EU.   The same is true to a lesser extent for France, Netherlands, Belguium, even countries outside the Euro like the UK. 

    But what these leaders fear is Spain, Portugal, Ireland and especially Italy trying similar crap.  Italy has more debt than Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece combined.  That will not work and will wreck the EU and the European banking system.  They are trying to kick this mess away and Greece is acting like Lucy snatching the ball away. 

  9. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    On the contrary, sometimes you have to laugh in order to avoid screaming.

  10. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    Would you like ermine trimming with that purple rage?

    If honest referendum had been allowed in every European Nation before they joined the EU and then later joined the euro-zone Y’all wouldn’t have arrived at this pass. An even better idea than just the Greek people voting on whether or not to become a mere appendage of Brussels would be for the German people to have the opportunity to vote on whether or not they want to pay for the rest of Europe’s profligacy.

    “This ROOT-WORD is POP which comes from populi Latin for PEOPLE. The word People did not mean to the ancient Romans what it means for us today. Today we hold the word in the greatest respect and every single party and every single government in the world seeks the approval of the people. In those days the word was held in comtempt. Even when Julius Caesar made merely a show of wanting POPular approval, to him POPuli meant the illiterate, the vulgar, the common people.”

    That word “populism” I don’t think it means today, what you think it means.
    Brussels ain’t Rome, the EU’s leadership ain’t Charlemagne or Napoleon to cite two of it’s predecessors.

  11. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:41 pm

    Greece was allowed to join the eurozone because it’s leaders pretended that they would collect the taxes required to be fiscally competent and everyone else pretended to believe it.

  12. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:44 pm

    In this case I suspect it’s merely a matter of sequencing.

  13. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

    I’m having a hard time blaming the Greek people for their attitudes, to tell you the truth. All I see is a bunch of Euro elites trying to double and even triple down on the same stupid policies that brought them so much turmoil to begin with. They’re wanting to reform their entitlements, and fine, they should. They want to reign in the public sector unions, fine, they should do that as well.

    But then they throw in this poison pill about raising taxes. Yeah, right, Europeans don’t pay enough taxes do they? Taxes on individual income is high in most European countries based largely on entitlements, now they’re wanting to raise taxes and slash entitlements, and they’re amazed people are rioting in the streets? Bullshit, bore me later.

    And what are they doing about their regulatory climate? Can we assume we’re going to see an end to this green energy bullshit and this Global Climate Change scam? Do I even have to answer that question?

    And what do you think the chances are of them doing away with their socialized medicine fiasco?

    Are there any regulations that are going to be reformed? How about dropping some of them all together, like half at least? Don’t make me laugh, I bet if you brought up just tweaking them a little the elitist assholes and bureaucrats that make their living off of them would throw the biggest hissy fit since Caligula decided to wage war against Neptune. Only it wouldn’t have nearly the entertainment value.

  14. Charles
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

    If the U.S. had to put its debt payments up to public referendum, that might do more to inhibit deficit spending and runaway debt than any balanced budget amendment yet introduced in Congress.

    It would be even better if the vote were held before the debt could be incurred. Let the politicians explain to the public why they want to borrow the money in advance.

  15. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Yes, but I was really wondering about how involved the populace was. For instance, I know there was a lot of controversy in the UK, and ultimately they never had the referendum on the EU Constitution.

    Basically, if the Greek people were in favor of joining, then they are as complicit as their leaders and the Eurocrats.  If not, then I have some slight sympathy for them, even if the real underlying problem is their tax-evading public-sector-parasite selves.

  16. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:25 pm

    Yeah, right, Europeans don’t pay enough taxes do they?

    I understand that tax evasion is the Greek national pastime.

  17. Bob Belvedere
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 1:56 pm

    I, too, am not in favor of referenda because it is Direct Democracy – mob rule – and the masses are too easily swayed by emotion and irrational self-interest. 

    Indirect methods of making certain decisions [such as ratifying The US Constitution] are the most effective.  Of course, for Americans the best system of governance in the system put in place by The Founders.  Figuring out what is best for Europe [excluding Britain] is a lot tougher [although I tend to think constitutional monarchies under systems with non-proportional voting are most likely best].

    The whole idea of a European Union was a foolish one.  It tried to pretend that the nation-state and the hold it has on people’s imaginations did not exist.  It was born of a Soft Totalitarian mindset that thought the only thing wrong with National Socialism and Soviet Communism and Italian Fascism were that they went too far.  So, the nations of Europe, taking a big cue from Bismark, created what they saw as a series of model socialist democracies and joined them under a federation of illuminated elites.  To paraphrase Mencken: they wanted Democracy and they’re getting it good and hard.  Referenda are one of the essential cogs in the Democratic wheel.  If you want a Democracy, well then, the people en masse have a right to vote on things.  Deal with the consequences of your actions.

    Europe made it’s bed by deciding to go with the EU, which is a Soft Totalitarian organization, and ignoring reality, and now they face a bleak future and will be much easier for the Mohammedins to overrun.

    As the great Jean Raspail has said many times: Could This Be One Explanation?

  18. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

    Throwing good borrowed money after bad borrowed money is never in any body’s interest.

  19. I Can Feel The Fear In The EU World « The Camp Of The Saints
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

    […] Earlier today, Smitty published a very interesting post, over at The Other McCain, on the decision of the Greek Government to hold a referendum on, as Smitty puts it, ‘the latest bailout farce’. He quotes from a piece British EU member Daniel Hannon on the horrified reaction of his fellow members and the EU Pooh-Bahs to the decision. Please do take the time to click here and read it. […]

  20. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    Well, as to the Greeks “attitudes”, somebody needs to own up to that whole 2004 Olympics debacle.

    The Eurozone admitted Greece in 2000.  Looks like some element of the Greek officials decided to use their new Eurozone partners to get a Home Equity line and spend it all on a big party.

  21. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

    The Orca in steel mesh, eh?

    Now I need mind bleach.

  22. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

    The populace was probably minimally consulted in most of the EU countries after all as our friend at the top of these comments assures us, the people can’t be trusted to reach the “proper” conclusions. This entire charade has never been about the Greek people it’s about maintaining the hegemony of the EU elite. In the few countries where the people were allowed to vote no to joining the Euro and they voted no that vote was ignored. When Ireland’s government was negotiating with the EU for their bailout and determined that elections should be held to get it’s citizens input on this, the EU demanded that Ireland accept the bailout terms before they could be allowed to hold a general election. As Nigel Farage so eloquently phrased it ” Who the hell do you people think you are”.

  23. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

    The Parliamentary system is the fundamental flaw of “European Democracy” as the way it’s practiced isn’t really “representative democracy” at all. While every one gets to vote they don’t really elect representatives they cede power proportionally to political parties. If one party manages to get a majority that party essentially assumes control of a “one party state”. The difference between this system and “conventional one party state” is that the party in power can be overthrown at the ballot box and street actions need only trigger that election without going to the trouble of an actual revolution. There IS a reason our founders chose not to go this route

  24. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

    To be sure the Greeks have earned the right to reap what they’ve sown. The eurocrats in their hubris and arrogance are merely guilty of selecting ever larger hammers to pound the Greek square peg into the euro round hole. The arrogance of the European elites in their belief that by their will and their superior intellects allow them to flout the laws of simple arithmetic will not just destroy the EU but also Europe it self.

  25. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

    You’ve got it backwards. The EU is the one square peg being hammered simultaneously into the multiple round holes we, the US, helped to forge out of the ashes of WWII. Granted, they all had their inherent flaws, and Greece certainly had more than its fair share, but the EU is a hideous beast that would turn the best of countries into a basket case. 

  26. Joakim Zander
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 5:01 pm

    So it appears that comments fields and referenda have that in common that they mix the message and the messenger. Most of the reactions on my original post here are aimed at the (admittedly, at present) relative merits of the EU, rather than the relative merits of referenda. What I originally wanted to say was basically that call a referendum, by all means. If you think that you can stomach abiding by its results. Because nothing says “I suck at democracy” like realizing afterward that there was no other way of doing things than the way the people didn’t like (see recent referenda concerning various EU treaties, par example).  The issue of if the EU is an elite, pseudo-fascist machine, run by self important and overpaid civil servants and built to oppress the innocent and hard working European peoples, tantalizing as it may be, is food for a different blog post. At present I think it suffices to say that Greece needs the 158 billion. With or without the consent of its, rightly, outraged people. 

  27. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

    While your assessment of the EU is correct, the particular round hole square peg I was referring to was was attempting to wedge Greece into the euro. This in effect asserted by fiat that the risks of lending to Greece and to Germany was equal. Apparently not.

  28. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 6:38 pm

    Yeah that’s a good point. Actually, while Greece might be one of the weakest links, the whole damn chain is pretty flimsy. The only one that might emerge from this mess with some dignity intact is the Brits.

  29. ThePaganTemple
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

    All of these factors are interrelated. The Europeans are going crazy over the idea of the referendum due to its probably results, but they are chiefly responsible for the problem to begin with. I guess what mainly bothers them is if the Greek populace rejects the measure, it won’t be practical to have a do-over, like that Portugal thing. That’s their answer, keep holding votes until they get the results they like. Some democracy.

    The next time the Europeans decide they want to adopt a federalist system they might want to consider that federalism by its nature doesn’t work well under a top-down centralized bureaucratic monstrosity like the EU quickly became. I’m surprised it lasted as long as it did.

  30. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

    But there were better other ways to do things other than subsuming national and those nations citizens sovereignty to unelected elites. The subject of referendum in question will be written by the Greek government, as opposed to the how California’s sometimes are placed on the ballot by petition. That you neither trust the voters wishes on nor the governments competence to write them is revealing. Correct me if I misconstrue, but it appears to me that you are asserting that Europeans lack of faith in EU governance is proof of the need for EU governance.

    Brussels doesn’t care a fig for Greece or it’s people, the euro is another means to the end of EU statism.

  31. DaveO
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

    No, because people love the free money, which is why they vote for the politicians who guarantee that free money. Left to public referendum, the US debt ceiling would many times what it is today, with the Mint printing money by the truck-load to keep up welfare payments, and we would default on all our debts while blaming Bush.

    Oh – the 2008 election did all of the above…

  32. ThomasD
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 9:01 pm

    Populusque was not a vulgar term in republican Rome, it is the P in SPQR and referred to everyone of Roman citizenship.  Populares was also not a term beneath Caesar – they were a political faction within the Senatorial class prior to the rise of JC.

    You may be confusing those terms with with pleb (from where we get plebiscite) which indeed was the little people.

  33. Anonymous
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

    While I’m far from being literate in Latin the word I found when looking for the root of populism was populi meaning people. I imagine it’s also the root for populusque (the people) and populares (favoring the people) in any case it is not plebeian (‘common people) which was the “lower class”. However the word pleb would be the root for “plebiscite” which is another word for referendum bringing us back to the subject of this post. Thank You that was fun.

    PS: One would expect prudent politicians such as Caesar would express great admiration for “The People” regardless of what they felt or expressed within their people.

  34. smitty
    November 2nd, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

    So it appears that comments fields and referenda have that in common that they mix the message and the messenger.
    Was there any message other than that of Dame Maggie? “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” 
    Because if there was, I must have missed it.

    At present I think it suffices to say that Greece needs the 158 billion. With or without the consent of its, rightly, outraged people.Sure. If you’re going to take the present tense only, and just gaff off the context, then you can always view the Greek people as ‘rightly outraged’.
    As far as I can tell, precious little of the the Economic policy in use is based upon sound economic principles. Markets, like gravity, can be ignored until the far end of the parabola, when the *splat* happens.

  35. ThePaganTemple
    November 3rd, 2011 @ 12:23 am

    You hit it squarely Adobe. The fact that the people of Europe don’t trust their lords and masters is proof those rabble need to be kept under control. And I don’t say this out of any malicious desire to see Europe crumble. I do unfortunately believe the analysts when they say this will hurt the US big time, mainly our exports. If that’s true, that might mean unemployment is due to go up another notch or two. So hopefully, they’ll work this out. It would just be helpful if the Euro-weenies in charge of the EU would go about things the right way. But as I said in an earlier comment they aren’t about to dismantle the bureaucracy that gives them their bread and butter. They won’t even tweak it a tad.

    On the up side, when it all falls down and goes to hell, it will provide an object lesson for us all. Or for all of us that can turn our attention away from Dancing With The Stars long enough to see what’s going on.

    It is going to fall, make no mistake, regardless of the result of the referendum. Voting for the referendum would just delay the inevitable maybe by a year or so.

  36. Anonymous
    November 3rd, 2011 @ 4:51 am

    Just another brief headwind in our Glorious Immanentization of the Eschaton.

  37. A few random quotes… « The TrogloPundit
    November 3rd, 2011 @ 7:49 am

    […] …time to roll out Rosie O’Donnell in the steel bikini. Smitty […]