hms iron duke

hms iron duke

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Beware Julians Bearing Gifts

Alphen, the Netherlands,

24 September, 2011

Dear Greeks,

I have just been listening to more Euro-twaddle from one of your ministers on the BBC. I suppose it is my warped sense of humour but I just love the twisted metaphors those responsible for this disaster employ to avoid the simple truth. To bail you out of the mess you created I will have to spend much of my hard-earned money with absolutely no guarantee that a) you will be grateful; or b) you will change. And, I will have to do it for a very long time.   So, what do you want?  Do we get the pain over with quickly and kick you out of the Euro, do I suffer the pain of your financial toothache for years to come, or are you really prepared to make the sacrifices that will justify my funding you?

To help you clear your thinking let me as a Dutch taxpayer explain to those of you in Greece about to take to the streets to demand more of my money to fund your lifestyle something you may wish to know about my lifestyle. I am not a rich man so the money you take from me matters. I earn most of my money as a freelancer and as I have no generous safety net I just have to get up early in the morning and work hard. Much of my day is spent writing reports, advising, writing papers and looking for new ways to earn money. The blogs you read are often written in the dead of night when I have the time. I am 53 years of age and will be working until the day I drop. Now, as I understand it you want me to fund a lot of you so you can retire at 55. I rather think not.

Sadly, the market in which I must today operate is becoming progressively worse and my income is falling as a result. This is partly because the bankers who got us into the 2008 disaster refuse to lend to each other let alone to little people like me who are trying to make a go of it. No problems, the bankers know how to look after themselves.

But let us be clear. It is also because the government I fund has to cut its budget hard and raise my taxes to pay for the consequences of a life-style that too many of you seem to regard as your right. Not all of you. I have too great a respect for Greece to blame you all for this mess. Nor do I view all southern Europeans as one.  Each case is different.  Spain, for example, is relatively sound to my mind and Italy a big enough economy with sufficiently strong fundamentals to pull through.

Moreover, I am even prepared to accept another dose of the one-way ‘solidarity’ beloved of the European Onion and its Euro-Aristocrats if I could be sure that once and for all you would get your financial house in order. But that’s the point, I cannot. How can I be sure that a couple of years downstream you will not come back to me and demand more of my hard-earned money? Give me some hope here.

Nor do I wholly blame your government for putting all that I have worked for at risk, even though they are a pretty rum lot. Our own Dear Leaders should have stopped you from running away with my money a long time ago. Sadly, at the time the Euro-Aristocracy of which they are a part were too busy slapping each other on the back for their ‘vision’ whilst of course quaffing another glass of that very good Dom Perignon 53, which had been paid for by my hard work.

Of course, the greater the disaster the more opaque the metaphors leaders retreat into to avoid the hard facts of failure. The European Central Bank is moving to calm the markets, we are told. The European Central Bank needs the ‘support’ of the Onion’s richer member-states, we are told. Governments are working hard to agree the terms of the latest bail out, we are told. What they really mean is that they are all working hard to deprive me of more of my hard-earned money so they can spend it on you.

So, my dear Greek friends remember when you are protesting for the protection of your living standards what you really want is more of my money so I can lose my living standards. Ask yourselves just what it is you are going to give me in return. At the very least a few of you could carry placards saying “We demand more of Julian’s money”. At least it would be honest. Above all, remember that old Greek saying – Beware Julians bearing gifts! If you have my money there will be a price to pay.

Pass the Ouzo, I need it!

All best,

Julian Lindley-French

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