It’s hardly surprising, but I thought it was worth mentioning. November 23, 2011, is the day that Fraser Institute director Michael Walker officially and publicly announced that he opposes democracy. In Greece, only. Not here, so far. I was pleasantly surprised to hear both Bank of Canada chair Mark Carney and Reformer-turned-libertarian-activist Preston Manning say that they supported Greek democracy, in the face of a successful campaign by European elites to force the Greeks to back down on their public promise to put the question of cruel austerity policies to referendum. Walker takes a different tack. It’s too late for democracy, he says. Abandon ship.
It’s worth noting how vague everything in this incredibly disturbing column is. Democracy has failed because people are too greedy and too prone to vote for deficit-heavy governments, he says. Therefore, people can no longer be allowed to vote on what their government will do. Exactly who can be trusted to institute a proper regime, over the wishes of the citizenry and presumably without their consent? Walker doesn’t say. He doesn’t have to. It’s written between every smug line in this piece of traitorous shit.
We reached democracy by fighting along a long and blood-soaked path. The Greeks, more than many of us. It’s too important, too precious, and too hard to get back to give away simply because some arrogant, technocratic wonks like Walker don’t like it. And anyways, Michael, if you’re really so concerned that the public purse is in trouble, you could always give up your damned charitable status. The fact that public money indirectly subsidizes a supposedly free-market think tank like the Fraser Institute is obscene and hypocritical. Why can’t you live on the avails of the free market you claim to love, the tender mercies of which you apparently also want to throw the Greeks to?
There are several facts about Greece that don’t get mentioned often enough. First, according to the OECD, pre-crisis tax rates in Greece topped out at 40%, lower than Canada’s or America’s. Second, its public debt per capita is about $48,000, the same as America’s. Third, like other Eurozone countries, Greece rather foolishly traded away sovereignty over the currency in which it carries its debt. There is one reason why Greece can default but why Canada and the United States never, ever will: we could pay off every penny of our debt tomorrow, if we wanted to, without breaking a sweat.
In the meantime, the Greeks are pretty much screwed. The European Union says it’s more interested in a stable money supply than in democracy, and instead of getting condemned by supposedly pro-democratic think tanks (ones subsidized by democratic governments no less), it gets cheered on. It isn’t the first time, even here in Canada; not quite beyond living memory now, Newfoundland traded democracy for solvency. That was a bad idea at the time, and it’s a worse idea now. We never needed better proof of the fact that democracy is a sham that is tolerated by the financial elites, rather than a political force with real power and sovereignty, than the shameful death of Greek democracy.Tweet