Monday, 6 July 2015
Got your number
Well, well, well, who could have predicted Greece’s response to the bail out referendum? Actually plenty secretly did but were jinxed by the previously indefatigable persistence of the EU commissars, pushing their message of ruin outside the tender choke-hold of ever closer union. I was willing it all along, as may have been apparent, but still pessimistic as to whether or not the ordinary Greek people, most of whom never had much informed say in the whole EU debacle, would detach themselves from the EU teat.
Today, Greece’s economic troubles begin anew; nothing has changed. Nothing except for one little thing – they dared to say no. Now everybody is watching to see if they hold their nerve; to see how and when the EU make their move to terrorise the population into backing down. Even the most hard-euro-hearted must hope they do because this is really about so much more than money, trade or international reputation; it’s about national pride and personal dignity. Like his politics or not – and I’m naturally averse to left-wing experiments – Alex Tsipras has gained a mandate to stand up for the people who elected him. It was a big, bold, maybe reckless move but one that seems, at least for now, to have paid off.
During the day I got into a lengthy discussion about fairness and advantage and the usual guff about how if we were all so much nicer to each other we could live in a happy world; if only rich people stopped ‘exploiting’ poor people and healthy people looked after sick people and governments redistributed wealth so that we were all so much closer to income parity. Yeah, right, like what we need, is a great big melting pot… the only problem with all that is that we neither have such a pot nor the means to stir it. What we’ve got, all we’ve got is the simple reality of human nature.
We are clever and cooperative, but also opportunistic and competitive. Wealth is relative after all and one of the fundamental ways in which humans measure achievement. Oh but, what about those selfless individuals who volunteer for charity work, you say, to which I reply, “Camila Batmanghelidjh”. You see power corrupts and even the intentionally benign stewardship of freely given charitable donations can become a thing of ugly venality without restraint and proper controls.
Of course we have to look after the sick and genuinely disadvantaged and yes, we do have to do that on a national, even sometimes an international scale, but when you hear the cry “Gas, gas, gas!” you must immediately pull on your own respirator first. When the overhead compartments open and the oxygen masks descend, the in-flight safety presentation you didn’t bother to watch instructed you to don your own mask before assisting others. You are no use to anybody if you need help yourself. And if more of us were capable and inclined to look after our own needs the truly helpless could be granted an easier passage through life’s travails.
Greek Pride March
Looking after number one is simple, it’s honest and if we all did a bit more of it, rather than expecting somebody else to come to our imagined aid, we’d all be better off. Because it’s only when you let those who can create the wealth do so that there is any surplus to go around. In Greece those who had the wealth have already expatriated it; there is no point in going after them. Greece has voted to start over, possibly from scratch. I hope they all pull their weight and gain some self-reliance; it’s dog eat dog until the new alphas emerge and start to take on slaves again. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some plates to smash.