“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline – it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but in the very least you need a beer.”
― Frank Zappa
In less than a week the Dutch go to the polls in the first of a number of important elections for 2017. The Dutch are a pragmatic lot; I know, because I’m married to one. They also have a great deal of patience but I feel that their patience with progressive doctrine and soft dictatorship masquerading as bureaucracy is coming to an end, and when the Dutch reach that tipping point they tend to perform a complete inversion.
Frank Zappa once famously remarked that a real country has an airline and a beer, and The Dutch certainly possess both of these. But when Zappa uttered those words the abomination that is the euro currency was unknown. Perhaps he didn’t mention currency because he assumed that every country had their own. Certainly when I lived in Africa there were a myriad of national currencies but the denomination of choice was the greenback. In that sense those African countries had proxy currencies.
But the euro was a new idea, and it was sold to the public under the guise of making their lives easier and saving them money. With the euro you wouldn’t have to change currencies when you traveled from Italy to France and as a result you wouldn’t be stung by exchange rate fees. Thus you would save both time and money. The European populations lapped it up.
I was living in Italy when the euro was introduced. It quickly became somewhat of a rude shock as overnight my purchasing power was halved. At the time the Italian lira was valued at just under half a euro. In that regard everyone had their salary ruthlessly calculated to the tenth decimal point so as to accurately make the conversion over to the new currency.
But someone forget to tell the shopkeepers. With the Italian currency, a beer down at our local bar cost 2 lira. But with the introduction of the euro the bar owner merely scrubbed out the lira symbol and substituted the euro in its place. A beer now cost 2 euro. This was effectively a doubling of the price overnight and it happened everywhere. From supermarkets to car yards all across the country the average Italian in 2001 got rammed up the backside so hard that he had trouble sitting down for months.
But the long term ramifications of a nation relinquishing its currency has turned out to be much more serious. Without a currency a nation cannot manage its own economy. By accepting the common currency the governments of these European nations ceded economic control of their economies to international bankers backed by bureaucrats in Brussels.
We only have to look at a glaring example such as modern Greece to see the disastrous result of those decisions. Many people like to blame the Greeks for the mess that they’re in but one must consider the psychological ramifications of ceding control in this manner. Because what follows the loss of control is the abdication of responsibility. The Greek economists and politicians do not feel they are to blame for the Greek disaster precisely because they vested control of their economy to outside interests. This is part of why the euro itself is so damaging. Its effects are widespread and insidious.
If Geert Wilders manages to win next week’s Dutch election I hope that he makes good on his promise to leave the EU. But if it happens it will be the first country to voluntarily leave the common currency, and it will signal to the world that the Dutch have decided that they are responsible enough to look after their own economy and economic interests, thank you very much.
So let us amend Frank Zappa’s quote. After all, a bit of rhetoric to get the masses all fired up is sometimes more effective than thousands of words of logic and reasoning.
“You can’t be a real country unless you have a beer, an airline, and your own currency. So make the guilder great again.”