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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

A horse called ‘Greece’ states: ‘we don’t want to drink from the European water well… yet’. A parable on the situation in The Euro-zone.

You can bring a horse to a water well
But you can’t force it to drink…

This beautiful proverb, that was initially not known to me in The Netherlands (and believe me, I know my share of proverbs), tells exactly how the situation in Euro-land is today. This proverb is so beautiful that it makes me want to tell the story of Greece as a parable.

Once there was a horse called ‘Greece’. The animal had a glorious past behind it in which it won all the races, but that was a long, long time ago. Over a long period, its life had been one of misery, exploitation and slavery to evil bosses, called the Colonel’s. With its neighbour horse, called ‘Turkey’, the horse had an enduring fight on their foal, called ‘Cyprus’. It was depressing.

But 15 years ago, the life of the horse changed drastically. Although it still didn’t trust its new bosses, called Simitis, Karamanlis and Papandréou, the bosses left it to wander in freedom and let it after a couple of years into a new terrain, called Euro-land.

The horse suddenly felt totally free and happy and started to eat from a special plant at the grassy pastures of Euro-land, called ‘low-interest grass’. The grass made the horse feel stronger than ever and it worked very hard to make its new bosses rich. The animal didn’t realize that its bosses profited the most from this miracle grass.

The grass had one disadvantage: it made the animal extremely thirsty for this special water called ‘debt booze’ and every day it drank and drank and drank to remain as forceful and free as it had felt in the years before. Life went on for six years and the horse, although getting fatter and fatter from low interest grass and debt booze, felt on top of the world.

But suddenly, in 2008, a forest fire broke out in the world and burnt away all low-interest grass, until there was nothing left. The only grass now available was another kind, called ‘high interest-grass’. This kind didn’t taste just as good and it made the horse even more thirsty for debt booze.

At one time, a few years ago, the horse couldn’t get up anymore: it ate so much high-interest grass and it drank so much debt booze that its legs didn’t want to walk anymore. Its boss Papandréou, who was alarmed by the other horses, brought it to the water well and then Greece drank its share of debt booze again and it was fed with portions of low and high-interest grass. But the animal felt sicker and sicker with every drink of debt booze and its legs and intestines started to protest against this food and drink. And this went on for a couple of years.

The other horses, together called ‘European Union’ and two very special horses, called ‘IMF’ and ‘ECB’ warned Greece’s boss Papandréou. ‘If Greece doesn’t start to drink its debt booze again, but in much smaller portions and starts to eat smaller portions of low-interest grass, with some high-interest grass mixed through it, the horse can’t work anymore for you and will eventually drop dead.

And even if it doesn’t drop dead, it has to disappear out of Euro-land and has to find new pastures for itself somewhere else.  Otherwise the other horses might also become sick, as they must work even harder now for their bosses, to compensate the workload of boss Papandréou’.

Especially the strongest horses called ‘Germany’ and ‘The Netherlands’ complained about this. ‘That stupid, lazy horse Greece didn’t tell us that it can’t handle low-interest grass and debt booze and we don’t want to keep on rescuing it every time. But if we do nothing, it might die immediately’.

So the horses argued and almost fought on the horse called Greece, but decided to give it one last chance. They brought Greece to the water well where the debt booze poured. They said that they wanted to help Greece to get rid of its overweight in low and high-interest grass. But before they did it, the horses said to boss Papandréou: ‘only if Greece drinks from the well, we can help it and bring it to the pastures with low-interest grass again, where it soon will feel better’.

Boss Papandréou was initially enthousiastic: ‘it will be hard for my horse to drink the debt booze and to be led to greener pastures with more low-interest grass, but when it’s finally there, it will work again hard for me’.

But suddenly, on October 31, boss Papandréou realized that his horse Greece was too sick to drink from the well again and that the horse could even kill him in a last outburst of energy, when he forced it to drink from the well.

And boss Papandréou, who still wasn’t trusted by its horse Greece, gave it a long thought and said: ‘I will ask my horse two questions:

·    Do you want to drink your debt-booze again and let the other horses help you lose your weight, before leading you to greener pastures with lots of low-interest grass?

·    Or do you want to stay here and don’t eat and drink at all for a certain time, hoping to feel better after a radical weight loss?’

The other horses were shocked when they heard this plan from boss Papandréou. Especially the horse, called France, a small and short-tempered, but normally very powerful horse, was outraged:

‘How could boss Papandréou do this to Greece and to us. We wanted to save Greece desperately, but now we almost have no other choice than to leave Greece to its own and kick it out of Euro-land’.

And that’s the situation that we’re in right now: in Euro-land with one very sick horse that doesn’t want to drink from the well anymore. Will the horse start to drink again? Or will it refuse, making the other horses to drop dead too?!

To be continued…

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