Jim Sillars: Bolt the door on house EU built

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Imagine living opposite a row of sound houses. Along comes an architect who demolishes and replaces them with one big building. Astonishingly, he fails to put in foundations. You suggest that the building will be unsafe.

He tells you to get lost. As the tenants go in, you warn them about the lack of foundations. They tell you the architect knows better than you.

All is well at first. The tenants scoff at you: “This place is solid as a rock, you ought to come and join us.”

Then, when an unusual storm sweeps through your street, you see cracks appear on the building across the road, while your house is untouched. You watch as the cracks get wider and wider. You tell the tenants to get out to save themselves from a disaster but, again, they tell you they have confidence in the people who designed and built the thing.

The building starts to crumble, the architect tries to shore it up, and you tell the tenants, again, that it needs to be demolished because it is now causing fatalities. The architect intervenes, says he will do everything needed to fix it, and you should get lost. The tenants stay put. The building continues to fall apart. Fatalities among the tenants continues.

That describes the Euro “house” that Brussels built. The design is without foundations. Firstly, nobody asked the peoples of the member states if this was what they wanted. The German people didn’t want it, but the big parties in their parliament did, and so Germany gave up the stable d-mark for a euro linked to Greece – which every-
one knew did not qualify – and Italy, whose claim to membership was, to put it mildly, doubtful.

Secondly, and crucially, this euro house lacks the foundation for a single currency covering so many countries, all with different economic strength, and all with different levels of honesty in their politics and tax collection systems. To be successful a currency union needs a single government in control of taxation and major spending, and it needs to have the rich parts transfer wealth to the poorer ones.

The eurozone doesn’t have a single government, and the Germans, Finns and Netherlanders are not happy about seeing their taxes used to maintain the living standards in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal. So what we have as this “house” continues to collapse is more and more demands for austerity, and human misery and fatalities. The southern states of the eurozone are not being bailed out. They are being put through a special kind of hell on earth – all to save the euro. A bail-out is where A gives a sum of money to B, who doesn’t need to pay it back. What is being done to the debtor countries is more debt shoved down their throats, demands for cuts that are driving their economies into a slump, making it impossible to repay debt, and meanwhile impoverishing the people.

While the elite in Brussels hold their summits – every one of them proclaiming to have a solution, only to be followed by further crisis – there are real fatalities because of their insistence of saving the euro at any cost.

In Spain, and elsewhere, a whole generation of young people are being condemned to the poverty and hopelessness that comes with permanent high unemployment. Over 25 million are unemployed in the EU. In Greece and Portugal, workers are being stripped of every right they have ever won. Trade unions are rendered impotent. People are being paid off, owed wages they will never get.

The whole concentration of eurozone policy is on banks. Whatever it takes to save the banks will be done. “Who will save the people?” is a question that never seems to be asked. The people can starve, as many do, scavenge in bins for food, watch hospitals close, see their children’s education threatened, and face death while the banks and bankers are the priority for concern. Face death? Isn’t that going a bit far? No. In Italy there are the White Widows, women whose businessmen husbands, facing the collapse of a lifetime’s work, have committed suicide. The old man who shot himself in Greece on the eve of the elections, is not the only one to take his own life in that country. Last week, in Portugal, a man hanged himself when his business, geared to supplying quality produce to restaurants, went under as a result of 9000 restaurants closing since January (there are 40,000 closures expected by December). He couldn’t stand the shame of sacking twenty workers. An architect who build an actual house without foundations, causing deaths, would be held on criminal charges. The shameless elite in Brussels simply walk away, rich, and with big pensions.

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