One of the best things that Britain has to offer the world is the BBC. Amongst its many gems is Radio 4 which I have loved since a surprisingly-young child. I mean, who can deny a love of the poetry of the shipping forecast, or of the passionate discussions in Gardener’s Question Time? For me, for the past few years my favourite has been A Point Of View. I urge everyone to give it a go by looking at their past archives.
One of the episodes that has stayed with me since I listened to it (almost 2 years ago) is one of John Gray’s on the subject of the Euro entitled “Greece and the meaning of folly”. You can read a transcript of it here.
In a nutshell, he argues that throughout history human nature meant that we tend to ignore the blindingly obvious if it goes against what we ‘want’ to be true. In other words, we metaphorically stick our fingers in our ears and try to remain oblivious of the evidence that is all around us that what we believe in is incorrect – instead we make decisions based on what we prefer to be true (not what actually is correct in reality).
- We all make mistakes – don’t make things worse by denying things afterwards.
In this specific case, a number of politicians got together and thought that it would be a good idea to have a common currency despite the facts that (a) the idea has been tried several times before and it has never worked (b) the many member countries were hugely diverse and could never possibly need exactly the same fiscal policy as each other. Instead if admitting that they are wrong (and making the tough-but-necessary step of leaving the Euro) they carry on down the same path (bailout after bailout) to prop up something that clearly is going to fail sooner or later.
All they are doing is repeating the mistake that got us into the debt crisis in the first place – only caring about the short term. They need to face the truth and move on.
- The pain that the politicians would feel if they had the courage to say “I was wrong, we should never have started The Euro, so let us now dismantle it” is nothing compared to the pain that millions of people (especially an entire generation of youngsters) in many European countries are currently going through.
I feel so incredibly sorry for much of Europe’s youth, especially in Spain and Greece. They face a future where the ‘best years of their lives’ are going to be spent in near-poverty and terrible uncertainty. Their future has been ruined by the short-term views of the generation before them – or (to be more precise) the adults (mainly politicians, but also to a lesser degree the voters) of the last 20 years (during the time they were growing up as children).