Greece crisis: Shameless double standards of the IMF and ECB bully boys

The bankers understand it's time people faced up to reality and accepted that the people who did more than anyone to ruin the world economy were old women in rural Crete

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The Independent Online

It’s very generous of the International Monetary Fund and the banks to tell the Greeks that the government they elected isn’t allowed to do any of the things they were elected to do.

Hopefully, they’ll save us a lot of fuss and expense in the future, by always telling us who we’re allowed to vote for before an election. At the end of each episode of Britain’s Got Talent, Ant and Dec will inform us we can vote for whoever we like, but there’s no point because an executive from the European Central Bank doesn’t agree with the fiscal policy of any of the singers. So the winner is the parrot that whistles the theme tune to Match of the Day, as she has a realistic approach to debt management and tax reform.

One German politician has revealed that one aim of the current negotiations is “we must get rid of Tsipras”, the elected Greek Prime Minister. If they manage that, the German leaders should remove anyone else they don’t think should have won. They can take away Sweden’s Eurovision Song Contest triumph, for not agreeing to privatise their auto-tune machine.

The Wimbledon Men’s Singles championship can be awarded to a consortium of property developers, the only people taking part who understand the necessity of turning Centre Court into luxury flats. Then the Great British Bake Off title can go to British Aerospace and the Turner Prize to Donald Trump and we’ll soon have Europe back on its feet.

The ECB and IMF insist that the Greeks must, to start with, raise VAT in rural areas, lower pensions and sell off ports owned by the government. In the old days these were the sort of policies decided by governments, but these things are too important to be decided by anyone who was elected. So from now on decisions such as whether to sell off the Post Office to investment bankers will be taken by more accountable bodies, such as a group of investment bankers.

Elections will still play a vital role, because members of parliament will be free to vote on whether to have Pringles or cheesy Wotsits at the party to celebrate raising VAT in rural areas.

It’s lucky that the IMF is taking this tough line, because unlike the elected Greek leaders, the bankers understand it’s time people faced up to reality and accepted they can’t just go on racking up debts; and that the people who did more than anyone to ruin the world economy were old women in rural areas of Crete. For years these widows have been bankrupting the rest of us, by getting Kanye West to pick their olives at 50 grand an hour, and insisting their black shrouds were made from panda fur, and now at last they’ve got to cough up.

The accepted view seems to be that the crisis is a “tragedy” for Greek people, many of whom are “already starving”, but at the same time they “can’t carry on not paying their dues”. In other words, even the Greeks who have no food have got too much. The IMF would be marvellously efficient in a famine, wandering through villages riddled with malnutrition saying, “no wonder you’re all crying, you’re ashamed of how much you’ve stuffed your faces, you greedy pigs”.

As they have a keen eye for business, the bankers should market this idea as the “extreme IMF diet”, in which you have to consume a minus amount of food, and as an incentive, if you don’t manage it your VAT goes up.

Luckily not everyone has to be as realistic as this, because some people have been sensible all along, not expecting the rest of us to bail them out all day. For example, Goldman Sachs arranged the original loan that the Greeks got behind with, and restricted themselves to only taking $600m profit, because they understand the virtues of restraint.

And the  President of the European Commission is Jean-Claude Juncker, who as prime minister of Luxembourg was always tough on people who expected to get something for nothing. This must be why a recent report said of Luxembourg under Juncker: “A cache of almost 28,000 pages of leaked tax agreements paints a damning picture of an EU state which is quietly rubber-stamping tax avoidance on an industrial scale.”

But Juncker never allows a country’s tax avoidance on an industrial scale to get beyond 28,000 pages to 29,000, because he’s careful with money.

So the outcome of this common sense is that the Greek government must be humiliated and dismantled. Prime Minister Tsipras appears to have offered a virtual surrender on Tuesday, but even that wasn’t enough for the IMF which refused to accept his offer. He could pay back every penny to every bank by arranging a loan from Wonga with the Parthenon as collateral and selling Mount Olympus to a crack dealer; he could rename the country Goldman Sachstan, nip out between negotiations to earn a fiver as a rent boy to give the money in a jar to Angela Merkel, and they still wouldn’t accept.   

The Council of Europe said it may not even recognise the result of the referendum in Greece, “as it was held at too short notice”. Because obviously the sensible course of action would be to hold the referendum on whether to accept the demands of the IMF a couple of years after the deadline for accepting the demands of the IMF. If they wanted a referendum this week they should have had it on whether to surrender to Sparta in 404BC.

The view of the IMF is taxpayers from the rest of Europe won’t tolerate subsidising the poor of Greece anymore, because if we did we’d have nothing left to subsidise the truly needy, who fill up 28,000 pages of leaked tax avoidance on an industrial scale.

Those taxpayers could also decide that the ruling party Syriza would be within its rights not to pay the interest on dodgy loans, and feed people instead, then call upon taxpayers elsewhere in Europe to do the same. But for some reason the IMF doesn’t seem too keen on that.

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