There is a question I would really like to put to those fine Brussels leaders of ours, the Best and the Brightest to whom we owe the Divine Euro and all the benefits it has brought. Of course, I will never be allowed to ask it. Brussels Beurocrats aren’t there to be questioned; they are there to be obeyed. Yet I cannot resist voicing it. Just for the record. Just for the fun of it. Just so that you, dear reader, may contemplate the matter and answer it for yourself.
Here it is. Dear Founding Fathers of the Euro: did you or did you not know, when you decided to introduce the single currency, that a monetary union without a fiscal union was impossible? Or, in terms that a normal mortal may understand: were you aware that having one single coin and one single monetary policy for so many dissimilar countries would ultimately lead to chaos?
It would be fascinating to hear the answer of such people like Prodi, Solbes, Sarkozy and Merkel, Zalm and Trichet, Monti and Papademos. But don’t you ever expect to get one, for there is no Right Answer that they may hide behind. What, after all, are their options?
Conceivably, they could answer: No, wir haben es nicht gewusst. In which case any honest taxpayer will protest: but if you were so ignorant, why have we put you in power and why have we paid you your extravagant salary for so long? You are most dangerous dorks. You should immediately be fired from whatever position you hold now, and be forced to return your ill-gotten gains!
Alternatively, they might answer: Yes, we knew. That, of course, is even more sinister. If they were aware of this tremendous risk, they wilfully and knowingly endangered the lives and well-being of the European population, so as to pursue their own pipe dream of monetary union and political hegemony. One might say they were playing Monopoly with the European continent for a board, and you, dear citizens, were but the pawns in their game. Criminal negligence is a phrase that then begins to whirl through Alfred B. Mittington’s brain…
As said: we will never get an answer from these folks. They are far too important to be called to account. The best we will get is their evasion. How, you may ask, do they manage to wriggle out of their responsibility? In two ways, both equally infantile. The first is to blame someone else for the disaster by innuendo and slander, as children do. It is the banks who did it, or the PIGS, or the speculators, or working people unrealistically nostalgic to the fat years of old… The second is to heap scorn on their critics. Which leads to even more preposterous performances.
Last summer, dear reader, I spent some time in Holland to visit my old friend Adri who had just undergone surgery. While there, I witnessed a television interview with one of the Euro’s oracles, the former president of the Dutch National Bank, called Nout Wellink. The journalist was not too critical, but – given the fact that the Dutch were getting a little upset with having to pay billions towards the saving of Greece - he could not get around asking the venerable gentleman what had gone wrong with the promised blessings that the single currency would bring. Well, Mr Wellink explained calmly: it was really not possible to foresee the Lehmann’s Brothers default and the financial crisis that would come in its wake, or the way in which it would undermine the financial stability of the Euro-zone. Then he added: ‘Only a few Prophets of Doom predicted such a thing.’ He smiled affably into the camera, to express his contempt for these people. We were to understand that as a responsible civil servant, you could not take such lamebrains seriously. They were like vegetarians, or pacifists, or UFO freaks…
He was serious, and that goes to show, dear reader, that the arrogance of these Beurocrats knows no bounds. Here was a man who had been instrumental in plunging our continent into economic disaster, who had helped take the wrong decision at every step along the way, who had created a wasteland in which Northern Europeans haemorrhage their hard-earned money so as to lock Southern Europeans in a Dickensian 19th century… Here was that man deriding and mocking people much wiser than himself, who had been completely right from the very beginning! They were only Prophets of Doom…
Did he know what he was doing, back in – say – November 2003? Did he not? Ultimately, the answer does not matter. What matters is that he should have known. And decided not to. Because caution might have endangered his pipe dream.
These same people are still in power and they are still running things today. It gives me great confidence in the future. Anybody interested in an interesting prophecy by a lamebrain?