Cyprus has just asked for a bailout from the EU's ATM, joining Greece, Ireland, Portugal and, most recently, Spain. So what's the excuse this time? Apparently Cyprus' intimate exposure to the Greek economy was more than enough economic Ebola.
So another beggar's cup starts rattling just in time for yet another summit of European leaders. Are they still actually hoping to find a solution to this fiasco? Are we to presume that it's going to come from someone who has been living in outer space for the past several years? Because that's about the only being who might actually have a solution that hasn't yet been tried.
Despite Europe's woes, the European climate is favoring an increased entitlement culture, if you can believe it. For example, the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg has ruled that employers -- often meaning the taxpayer, since we're talking about civil-service-heavy Europe here -- need to give workers another vacation in the event that they happen to fall sick during their annual four-to-six-week paid vacation. Apparently sick time and vacation time are two separate things and ought to be kept that way at all costs, even if the European economy is on the verge of keeling over completely. That's because all of Europe is now officially just a life-support system for some civil servant's entitlement package.
Two countries, Canada and China, have responded to this unfettered culture of fatal entitlement by refusing to play along.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is refusing to donate Canadian taxpayer money to the International Monetary Fund, given how much the IMF is doling out in European bailouts. Why would Canadians, who have just had their retirement age raised from 65 to 67, want to fund early retirement for Europeans? Moreover, Canada is facing a potential block and a "dirty oil" label in its attempt to offer Europeans the opportunity to lower their cost of living by purchasing Alberta oil sands crude. One could conclude that Europe is only interested in Canada's "dirty oil" money if it's laundered through the IMF.
Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty spelled it out: "The European countries, including Germany, did not support the United States financially when it had its crisis in 2008. What we've been encouraging the eurozone countries to do is to deal with this issue of a firewall and recapitalizing their banks themselves. These are not poor countries. ... So I would respectfully suggest that they first step up to the plate themselves before they pass the plate to others."
Like their citizens, these nations will quickly grab whatever welfare handout is offered to them by a foolish provider. Germany, the only truly healthy crew member aboard Starship Broketastic, alone and surrounded by the cash-eating undead, continues to sigh its disappointment.
Europe had another con up its sleeve to scam some cash. It was going to play the environmental card yet again and charge carbon taxes on any flights that get close enough to a European airport to make use of the washroom facilities. Europe wanted a self-declaration on carbon spewing from each of the airlines by March 31. Not only did China watch the deadline sail by, but it sugarcoated its position so that it oozed with diplomatic tact: "Chinese airlines are unanimous on this. We won't provide the data," said Wei Zhenzhong, secretary general of the China Air Transport Association. "We would not like to see a situation of 'you hold up my planes and I hold yours.'"
I'm not sure that I'd like to find out what China means by "holding up" European planes, but Reuters reports that China already has delayed $14 billion worth of European Airbus orders because of the carbon tax.
It's unclear why European leaders figured China would suddenly be on board with the environmental movement when it's been exempt all along, precisely so the First World could outsource its manufacturing there and play the role of holier-than-thou environmental moralist.
Europe is finally being forced to lie down in the bed it made for itself, and probably isn't feeling very well. Hopefully it isn't taking any vacation time to do it, or the IMF will be getting double-billed.
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