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David Lilley
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Today's Euro-group meeting, first delayed and then pointless as the Greek finance minister brought no new proposals with him. The Greeks responded by saying their previous 47 pages of proposals were still live. But these were laughed out of the room on their initial presentation.
As with every Euro-group meeting 19 finance ministers have to give up their day job and catch a plane to Brussels. Then the 19 PMs must do the same.
The big economic argument of the times is big state v smaller state. Capitalism was truncated by state interventionism even before Marx wrote about it. It was replaced by the mixed economy, part state and part private. The left want a big state and the centre want a smaller state. The right no longer exist. The basic reference point of the bigger/smaller argument is that it is only the private sector that is wealth creating and therefore if its size is reduced the money available for health, education, state pensions, defence etc. is reduced.
Despite five years of attempting to reform Greece they still have a large state with 50% of workers employed by the state, 50% of young people going to university (entering the workplace at 22 years old only to leave 33 years later when they reach retirement age) and 22% of the economy hidden from the tax-man via the black-market.
The latest 47 page Greek proposals were about taxing the private sector, the wealth creating sector.
Since the news that the new Greek finance minister turned up with only his begging bowl and no new proposals there has been a big change in news reporting. Instead of towing the line that referendums are democracy in action and the financiers should pay attention to the democratic call for less austerity we are now hearing for the first time what the other members of the EZ think. German MEP Elmar Brok gave an excellent presentation of the place we are in at the moment on Sky news. Some of the other 18 have had similar debt, received troika bailouts, reformed and now have healthy growth. Some have much lower wealth than Greece and some have smaller pensions than Greece. Why should they contribute yet more money to Greece?
With this about turn change in reporting the "NO" voters and their supporters abroad may realise that the money lenders are in fact the 300m citizens of the other 18 members of the EZ and that if they were given a referendum tomorrow they might vote 100% to refuse any further charity to Greece.
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