When I heard that news yesterday that Greek President George Papandreou had announced that there would be a nationwide referendum on the austerity measures required by the European bailout plan I was instantly pissed off at him. What right does the Greek government have to sink the European economy? Then I got to thinking a bit more about it and realized I had mixed opinions; I’m of two—maybe even three—minds about this.
Mind Number 1, “The Initial Reaction”:
What the hell right does the President Papandreou have to cause this sort of havoc? The European Union is bending over backward to keep Greece afloat despite the enormous and (apparently) unsustainable public debt that it has amassed. The pensions and payments that are going through (according to American news reports) to the average lazy Greek citizen are mind boggling. Get a job, people!
Mind Number 2, “The Second Thought”:
Now wait a minute. Greece is a democracy, just like us. Don’t they have the right, nay the requirement to chime in on something that will have such a serious effect on their nation for the foreseeable future? Of course, that’s why there are elected officials, brought to the head of their governments and legislative bodies to lead, rather than have the country run by popular fiat.
Mind Number 3, “My Considered Opinion”:
I think this is not an entirely bad idea, depending on how the referendum is worded. I think it’s a terrible idea if the vote is for, “Do you approve the austerity measures?” Rather, it should be something along the lines of, “Do you approve the continued membership of Greece within the European Union, tied to the Euro.” If the government can sell the idea that it’s a good thing to remain part of the Euro zone, rather than reverting to a solo, debt-wracked country, then this referendum might actually pass.
I think that if it does not pass, we’re in for a wild financial worldwide ride. If Greece removes itself, or is booted from, the European Union, it will be bad for everyone, and worse for Greece. From the news reports, I’m not sure how successful the current government will be in convincing Greek citizens to vote for the bailout.
It’s probably not a good idea to try and sell them that it’s good for the rest of the world.