National Security & Defense

Tsipras Throws Greece off a Cliff

Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras (Milos Bicanski/Getty)

Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee.

That line, from Shakespeare’s play, Macbeth, refers to the protagonist’s subconscious thoughts of murdering a king and usurping his throne. Shakespeare’s quote is analogous to what’s happening in Greece.

Because today, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras of the far-Left Syriza party is chasing the dagger. And he’s targeting his own country. Thanks to Tsipras’s “leadership,” Greece is now under capital controls, and its banks are shuttered. Rather than compromise to save Greece from immense hardship, Tsipras has instead chosen deepening crisis. He’s holding a July 5th referendum on the creditors’ bailout terms.

But that choice isn’t born of tough leadership, it’s a consequence of Tspiras’s political gamesmanship. He hopes that by stoking nationalist pride, he’ll force EU creditors to surrender. Yet the EU is far more likely to let Greece collapse. This was always a strong possibility. From the moment Greek voters made their choice and put Tsipras in office, he’s embraced a “dumb and dumber” strategy. But since then, Tsipras has transitioned from stupidity to absurdity to vaudevillian extremism.

RELATED: A Greek Default Would be a Valuable Lesson in Basic Economics

Consider the facts: $356 billion in debt, Greece obviously needs massive structural reform. But even now — at the crunch moment — Tsipras offers no serious reforms. Instead, he proposes increasing taxes on large companies and increasing employee pension contributions. In essence, Tsipras is doubling down on what has ruined Greece: its decaying, inefficient economy and its repellant investment environment. Most indicative, Tsipras has refused pension cuts or increases to pension-eligibility ages. Facing the 75 percent of Greece’s pensioners who retire before 61 years of age, and other vested interests — read this Reuters article from 2011 (few reforms have occurred since) — Tsipras yields. Still, with an elderly population and no population growth, Greece cannot ignore facts forever. Its pension crisis will only worsen.

Some say that Tsipras has been forced into this position by German chancellor Angela Merkel’s refusal to offer more concessions. But consider the European Commission’s final bailout offer. It was hardly extreme. In return for long-term support, the commission would have required Greece to reform its dysfunctional tax system, force competition in closed industries, and cut patronage-based economic subsidies. In short, the plan offered structural reforms to give Greece a new start. Sadly, in response, Syriza offered clown-like suggestions such as demanding war reparations from Germany.

RELATED: In Greece’s Equality-of-Outcome Mentality, a Default Is Morally Justified

But like Macbeth, Greece’s sinking future is undeniable: Interest rates on ten-year government bonds are 10.6 percent; its March unemployment rate was over 25 percent. Indeed, in February, Greece’s unemployment was over 50 percent for those under the age of 25.

There’s a broader issue at stake here. Whatever Syriza might claim, these statistics aren’t ultimately born of economic austerity (the U.K.’s austerity example proves otherwise). Rather, they are testimony to an abiding economic truth: Unreformed socialism stagnates economies, kills opportunity, and catalyzes human suffering.

RELATED: The Greek Crisis: Too Little Democracy, Too Much Bureaucracy

Yes, to be sure, the European Union’s incessant idiocy — attempting to blend many cultures, languages, and political philosophies into one centralized, largely unaccountable bureaucracy — has denied Greece the flexibility to solve its own problems. Nevertheless, Syriza’s socialism offers no answers. The opposite is true: Unchecked, Syriza will bury Greece, and Greeks must face this reality. Tsipras certainly won’t. Like Macbeth, Tsipras seeks glory from his country’s loss. But unlike Macbeth, Tsipras’s stupidity won’t just ruin him; it will ruin Greece.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

The Worst Cover-Up of All Time

President Donald Trump may be guilty of many things, but a cover-up in the Mueller probe isn’t one of them. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, attempting to appease forces in the Democratic party eager for impeachment, is accusing him of one, with all the familiar Watergate connotations. The charge is strange, ... Read More
World

Theresa May: A Political Obituary

On Friday, Theresa May, perhaps the worst Conservative prime minister in recent history, announced her resignation outside of number 10 Downing Street. She will step down effective June 7. “I have done my best,” she insisted. “I have done everything I can. . . . I believe it was right to persevere even ... Read More
PC Culture

TV Before PC

Affixing one’s glance to the rear-view mirror is usually as ill-advised as staring at one’s own reflection. Still, what a delight it was on Wednesday to see a fresh rendition of “Those Were the Days,” from All in the Family, a show I haven’t watched for nearly 40 years. This time it was Woody Harrelson ... Read More
White House

For Democrats, the Party’s Over

If the Democrats are really tempted by impeachment, bring it on. Since the day after the 2016 election they have been threatening this, placing their chips on the Russian-collusion fantasy and then on the phantasmagoric charade of obstruction of justice. The attorney general accurately gave the ingredients of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Democrats’ Other Class War

There is a class war going on inside the Democratic party. Consider these two cris de couer: Writing in the New York Times under the headline “America’s Cities Are Unlivable — Blame Wealthy Liberals,” Farhad Manjoo argues that rich progressives have, through their political domination of cities such as ... Read More