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Hearing What They Want to Hear
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“For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 

When the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to Timothy, and the verse above, he was writing to tell of a time in the future when people would follow leaders who said things about religious doctrine (or no doctrine at all) that they, the people, wanted to hear.  Not the truth mind you, but just want their own preconceived desires were.  And we see that in the world today.  There are all types of “religious” leaders who espouse false doctrine because it is what the people want to hear. 

Compare that with the financial markets today.  In the face of a global financial meltdown, markets still react irrationally to what European and American leaders say.  Consider one single article from The Washington Post in late September.  The article’s opening paragraphs began with the opening lines: 

“With global investors showing some optimism that debt problems in Greece and elsewhere in Europe could be resolved…” 

“Contributing to the burst of confidence were comments from…” 

“Also encouraging was the news that…” 

“The sense of progress toward resolving Europe’s crisis…” 

Is it me, or can I see what the markets cannot? Generally the markets – the electronic herd as some call them – are pretty savvy about what is going on.  They will punish those, like Greece, who do not have their fiscal house in order.  But in this case, it seems that the markets are hearing what they want to hear, facts be damned.   

The plain and simple truth is that, first, Greece will default.  It is just a question of when and how it will – orderly, chaotic, whatever.  In this case, many European leaders keep issuing generally positive statements based on hope alone – not the facts – and the markets, as evidenced above, react positively only to be brought back down to earth the next day when bad news comes out from other European leaders who seem to know that the situation in Greece will not turn out well.  As I’ve often said, hope alone will not buy you a beer.  Hope and 80 denars will. 

The next truth is that the problems facing that rest of the PIIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain – will only get worse unless Europe does the unthinkable – creates a fiscal union.  That means ceding even more power to Brussels so that an EU Treasury is created with an EU Finance Minister.  It means that faceless, unelected European bureaucrats can dictate to each EU member things like tax policy. It means they can create a shared debt pool and issue Eurobonds.  Former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt writing in the Financial Times last week wrote “Whatever the outcome from the current Greek difficulties, it is clear that the future of the euro, if not the European Union itself, is at stake. For an exit from the crisis there is no alternative but to move closer and quickly towards fiscal union.” And Jacques Delors, the 86-year-old founding father of the modern-day European Union and European Commission president from 1985 to 1994 was quoted in the Australian in August: “Open your eyes: the euro and Europe are on the edge of the abyss. But to prevent the fall the choice seems simple: either member states accept increased economic co-operation or they transfer additional powers to the (European) Union.”  

But this is unlikely to happen.  Bavaria, the wealthiest state in Germany “will not take one step further towards an EMU fiscal union or debt pool” according to an article in the UK’s Telegraph last week.  The Germans have had it with paying for the poorer, lying and cheating states to the south (read: Greece).  In any case greater fiscal union would require EU treaty changes which would take years and a lot of convincing.  While the EU über nannies desperately want this and couldn’t care less about democracy and what the people of Europe really want, they will have a much more difficult time getting around the voters than they did with the Lisbon Treaty.  You might recall that the Irish, for instance, rejected the Lisbon Treaty the first time.  This horrified the EU fathers in Brussels who declared the Irish stupid and demanded that they vote again and correctly.  With much arm-twisting, the Irish did vote a second time and approved it. This reminds me of the time with the UK’s Denis MacShane came to Macedonia and told people to stay home and not vote in the referendum on decentralization and then went over to Kosovo and told people to vote in the local elections.   

The hypocrisy of many leaders in the EU, it seems, knows no bounds.

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Jason Miko
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