Above is the Nottaway Mansion outside Baton Rouge in Louisiana. With 53, 000 square feet and an American interpretation of Greek revival architecture this mansion overlooks the Mississippi. Built in the early 1800s, Nottoway, is the South’s largest remaining antebellum mansion and is a stunning historic plantation that lies between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana.
One of the great benefits possessed by those whose mother tongue is English is the wonderful and ever expanding nature of it. Of course, the internet now lists two main English languages – British English and American English. This of course is a huge asset to the UK – although it can sometimes be seen as a liability!
One of the things our American friends “bring to the table” of our common mother tongue are some apt and wonderfully descriptive phrases which managed to encapsulate in a sharp few words what other less accomplished wordsmiths attempt to achieve in a longwinded tome.
A phrase that comes to mind so far as the proffer solutions to the Eurozone crisis are concerned is: “This dog just ain’t gonna hunt!”
Following the latest meeting of our leaders in Brussels in what is becoming an extended vigil as the Euro lies on its deathbed where they were arguing over the nature, size and extent of their votive offerings – funded of course by their hard pressed taxpayers – we how discover that Frau Doktor Merkel is of the same opinion as the British Gazette in our article, “Europe – the future: Riding the beast” of the 18th May so far as the reforms needed to keep the Euro in existence are concerned.
Of course where we differ is that we regard the solution as undesirable and unworkable. This solution that Doktor Merkel and ourselves suggest is to have joint and several liability of all Eurozone sovereign debt and to transfer to the EU sole competence of the treasury functions of the member states – the raising of taxes and the setting of the levels of public expenditure. The other Eurozone members are suggesting joint and several liability without ceded the last vestiges of the national economic sovereignty! The prospect of allowing the Greeks authority to write cheques on the German taxpayer account is not something that Doktor Merkel is going to agree to!
The problem for Doktor Merkel is this: our joint suggestion will not work! The practical effect “on the ground” would be that the harsh austerity programme for Greece would be imposed upon the Greek people without the consent of the elected government. That Greeks would have the levels of their taxes and the levels of public expenditure dictated to them from the European Commission in Brussels!
This is why the phrase, “this dog just ain’t gonna hunt” is so apt. What Frau Doktor Merkel is proposing is to return Greece to that time before her independence when she was an Eyalet of the Ottoman Empire! Paradoxically, it is the after effects of Ottoman rule that have led to the Eurozone crisis in the first place!
Following the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and Athens in 1458, the Greeks accustomed themselves to rule under a foreign power until 1821. During that period the Greeks kept their culture and religion alive. Their resistance was one of passive disobedience. Like all Imperial rulers before them, the Ottoman state levied taxes. Like all suppressed peoples before them, the Greeks grudgingly complied and (understandably) sought to evade paying taxes whenever and wherever they could get away wit it. The problem for Greece and now the European Union – is that this culture of passive disobedience has now become absolutely ingrained in the Greek character. With disastrous results!
This is how and why the Greeks fabricated their national accounts to join the Eurozone in the first place. This however is not the most pressing problem. The problem is that the Greeks just do not pay their taxes. Now at this point many readers may exclaim – but tax dodging is Europewide! It is, but nothing like on the scale of Greece.
Readers will doubtless have had the occasional tradesman calling from door to door offering to attend to such minor tasks as clearing guttering or gardening. They may even have employed such tradesmen.
When you have Dear Reader, how many times have you paid with a cheque?
It has always been cash hasn’t it?
This of course is what is called the “black economy” – the economic activity that goes untaxed.
In countries such as Germany and the UK tax evasion is around 9% (In the UK, 9p in every pound due in tax went unpaid in 2008-09). Whilst undesirable, this level of evasion is manageable. In Greece it is far, far worse. For instance Greek doctors are said to declare only one third of their earnings! What this means is that instead of tax evasion being 9% it is 66%! That is unsustainable! That is why in or out of the Eurozone, Greece will remain a basket case.
Whether Greece is expelled from the Eurozone or not, Frau Doktor Merkel’s solution will be just as unappealing to France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain!
If by some miracle, Frau Doktor Merkel actually succeeds in getting her fellow Eurozone leaders to agree to her proposal, this must surely bring us (those of us living in the geographic British Isles) to the question of the continued existence of Irish Republic. Should the government of the Irish Republic agree to Frau Doktor Mekel’s proposal they would be surrendering without a shot being fired, Ireland’s long wished for independence.
The British Gazette – whose grandmother was born in County Cork – puts this suggestion to the Irish People:
- that the proposal called “Devo-Max” that the SNP leader Alex Salmond is putting forward for Scotland is put forward to a united Kingdom of Ireland with what would henceforth be part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
- that Northern Ireland shall be an integral part of the 32 county Kingdom of Ireland and that the government of these 32 counties shall be in Dublin.
- that Ireland’s sovereign debt is taken over by the United Kingdom and that Ireland readopts Sterling.
- that Irish MPs would return to sit in the Westminster Parliament alongside their counterparts from Scotland but with their voting rights curtailed along the lines of the devolved competences.
- that such an offer would be conditional on Scotland not becoming independent but on adopting “Devo-Max” or the status quo.
Should this occur the British Gazette would suggest that Viceroy of Ireland which office would replace the Irish President be elected by the people of Ireland – just as they elect their President.
Whilst the British Gazette’s suggestion will arouse the ire of many Irish nationalists, they should contemplate the alternative.
They should also remember that the present British government is to propose to the Queen’s other governments that the Act of Settlement that bars a Roman Catholic from sitting on the throne is repealed!