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

Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Last Trusted Prosecutor in Washington

John Durham may be the most consequential and least known figure in Washington right now. In May, U.S. attorney general William Barr selected Durham, a longtime prosecutor with a résumé so sterling it nearly glows, to investigate the origins of the special counsel’s probe into Russian interference in the ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More
World

WHO Failed

Since its inception 72 years ago almost to the day, the World Health Organization (WHO)  has been credited with the eradication of smallpox and the near eradication of other devastating illnesses, including leprosy and river blindness. This record of success makes the current corruption of the organization ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More
Health Care

The Experts Lied to Us about Masks

When the stakes are highest, the truth counts the most. Or maybe when things get really serious, that’s when the people really can’t be trusted with the truth. It’s pretty clear which of these two ideas is the one that has been guiding elite medical, political, and journalistic institutions, isn’t it? ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More

The Trail Leading Back to the Wuhan Labs

It is understandable that many would be wary of the notion that the origin of the coronavirus could be discovered by some documentary filmmaker who used to live in China. Matthew Tye, who creates YouTube videos, contends he has identified the source of the coronavirus — and a great deal of the information that ... Read More
World

A Curious Report from ABC News

Josh Margolin and James Gordon Meek of ABC News reported earlier today that the Trump Administration was warned in November 2019 about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan: As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing ... Read More
World

A Curious Report from ABC News

Josh Margolin and James Gordon Meek of ABC News reported earlier today that the Trump Administration was warned in November 2019 about the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan: As far back as late November, U.S. intelligence officials were warning that a contagion was sweeping through China’s Wuhan region, changing ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More

The Eeyore Syndrome

In A. A. Milne's classic Winne-the-Pooh children’s tales, Eeyore, the old gray donkey, is perennially pessimistic and gloomy. He always expects the worst to happen. Milne understood that Eeyore’s outbursts of depression could at first be salutatory but then become monotonous. The outlook of the pessimist ... Read More