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Varoufakis to Publish Notorious Eurogroup Recordings from 2015 Meetings (greekreporter.com)
154 points by znpy 35 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 225 comments



That's a really shitty move.

>a USB of the conversations he had secretly recorded while attending a Eurogroup discussion in Brussels

People in private converse completely differently (more freely) than in public. Judging people on what they said there by a public standard (it's impossible that this will not happen) is extremely unfair. Especially since Varoufakis knew that he will be recorded, he has probably chosen his wordings accordingly.


While what you say is true, the contents of these meetings should be public knowledge. A lot of citizens of a few countries had their lives almost destroyed by the decisions of these politicians, so is only fair they know what was discussed, who defended them, etc.

Let us not forget the pressure the ECB (and other european institutions) put on some countries that have come to light after the fact. (Like only allowing emergency liquidity assistance to be used based on bailout conditions, thus interfering and blackmailing supposed sovereign governments)

edit: And to be fair, while I don't like Varoufakis, the fact his party wants these recordings to come to light, means there is probably something there are is damning to someone


> While what you say is true, the contents of these meetings should be public knowledge.

I honestly don't think it's that simple.

While decisions should always be public, in order to come to reasonable compromises on issues, it can be valuable for leaders to be able to have closed-door conversations outside of the spotlight, where they don't have to engage in political grandstanding; after all, it's that kind of compromise that allows democratic systems to function.

In fact, I would make the claim that at least one reason why the US democratic system has become so utterly paralyzed by polarization is because so much of political debate is now happening in the spotlight of social media, instead of behind closed doors where politicians can have the more nuanced conversations that might displease an electorate that is too busy cheering for their team to worry about actually getting anything done.

That's not to say this isn't without peril. Behind closed doors, corruption might happen as easily as compromise. I'm just not convinced the risks outweighs the benefits.


When these discussions impact so many people (various countries affected) I don't believe they should be kept secret.

Lets (just for example, I am not saying it happened), during that meeting, the German/French Finance minister said: 'I don't care about the Greek people, we can't let German/French banks fall, so do what you must if you ever want the ECB to lend you money'. Wouldn't the greek people deserve to know and make up their mind about their part in the EU project?

(again, I am not saying this happened, but I can see similar backdoor deals being put forward)

Lets not forget that any opposition to the EU project by the citizens is seen as misinformed or misleded people. It is never the EU's fault [1]

[1] - https://torrentfreak.com/eu-commission-portrays-article-13-o... (Sorry, no time to search for other source, but the comments were also published in my local newspapers)


I understand your point and the importance of the issues you're raising, but ultimately I still think it's important for leaders to be able to have confidential discussions. While transparency is important, I think that if people know that their meetings will be public then the real decisions will be made in private, and the meetings will just be an opportunity for political messaging. You don't get the same outcome plus transparency, you probably get a worse outcome and fake transparency.

EG, imagine a hypothetical scenario where Greece gets into debt trouble again, but now the other finance ministers don't trust that their meetings will be kept private. The German and French finance ministers meet privately, and decide to screw over Greece and come up with a cover story about how they can't do anything else. A better outcome would be if they had private meetings with Greece and at least had the opportunity to reach a compromise. The best possible outcome might be having the same meeting with full transparency so that the public is fully informed, but that's not what would happen.


See, but you even say, the best possible outcome would be full transparency, but you know that wouldn't happen. And that is the problem. Ohhh Germany/France/Portugal/Greece or Lithuania (doesn't matter) doesn't want their voters to know what they are fighting for, so they will never be open about it. How is that democracy? How is it possible to vote for any party anywhere when they just tell the average joe 'yes, your pension will be cut 15%, and your kids pay more in taxes, but trust me, I did the best I could, you should be thankful'. Is this democracy?????


I regularly listen to RFI. What the pro EU press tries to spin after brexit is that some questions should not be asked in a referendum, some decisions should not be left to the citizens. I am frequently asking myself the same question. How is this democracy? I'm quite certain that the next thing we'll hear from them is that democracy is not always good or something in that line of thinking.


Think of it in a future context. If discussions weren't kept secret, then the German/French Finance minister would not have said that... unless he wanted the world to hear it.


And even if it was the case... Maybe the logical reasoning is something like: EU need some worldclass banks to be independant, so we can't let a single country trash everything for all other EU countries.

I can understand that Greek people would be angry to be "sacrified"... and that's why that kind of meeting is secret! Because to govern is not only to be elected but sometimes to have to take bad choices, when only other choices are worst


I am not even againts french/german politicians to do that, they represent their population, but Greek people have the right to know they are being sacrificed for the 'greater good'. And what their representatives did, and to vote accordingly. And if it is a Grexit, so be it, but don't hide things from the population because they are unpopular, specially when they mess with their lives so much.


If that were the case, the politician would have to be able to explain that to the electorate and convince them of it. If they can't, then that decision should not be taken.

That's what democracy should mean - we don't elect representatives so that they can take decisions we don't want but that they think are good for us. We elect representatives because direct democracy doesn't scale.


Actually, that's 2 different points of view on democracy: do we elect people to to do what we want now or to do what is best for us in the long run ? And who is "the people" ? The majority of the numbers (without any though for all minorities) ? The loudest minorities ?

At best, both would be same: elected people would explain to the people what is best for them and convince them, then people would want what is best for them in the long run.

But sadly, nobody like to be sacrified now for the long term better good of all. And politicians need to be reelected. So politicians have to hide and manipulate to some extend (for what they think is the greater good of most of the population)...

"Crowd wisdom" is nice for really specific matters... but not really for managing a population with diversities in the long run.


And yet in 2020, with a little bit of tech know-how, why exactly should it not scale?


If you choose to make discussion public, at least in a timely fashion, then you will lower the effectiveness of these discussions and the quality of the decisions.

Quite often, especially with difficult issues, people have to take risks or make painful compromises or at least suggest them, even if the final result is nothing like them. Sometime people bluff, lie and distort in order to improve their position. There is give and take.

If everything is made public then you will essentially get discussions that are no better than discussions amongst the public, which everyone would agree is suboptimal.


> in a timely fashion

This is the crux of it: All involved (except Varoufakis) apparently thought their words would remain secret forever. This is bad for democracy, because it nurtures conspiracy theories. Prompt publication is likewise bad, because it hardens negotiating positions at a distance far apart, and makes participants fearful of speaking uncomfortable truths.

The US Federal Reserve publishes its minutes, but only some time well after the participants go home. Live-tweets on their hourly progress -- say, from Mar-a-Lago -- are not a concern.


Painful compromise should be taken only with the assent of those who will feel the pain. Otherwise, it is sadism or carelessness, not painful compromise.


It's been 5 years, and the Eurogroup destroyed the Greek economy. I don't think it's unfair to now reveal the contents of these discussions. It's high time to see if it was corruption, or compromise, which happened.


And that makes a lot of sense.

The idea that closed door deliberations must be made public after some moratorium period strikes me as a good compromise, as in the moment it allows politicians to have those private discussions that might allow compromise to occur, while not totally sacrificing transparency in the long-term.

And this isn't without precedent. The US declassification system essentially works this way (though it functions over the course of decades, which is probably too long).


> The idea that closed door deliberations must be made public after some moratorium period strikes me as a good compromise

The eurogroup president is already tasked with the responsibility of address the press and report on the group's deliberation.


> It's been 5 years, and the Eurogroup destroyed the Greek economy

That's not true. Greed which benefited Greeks at the time destroyed the Greek economy.


Many commenters here are missing the point. All the measures that were taken against Greece (for its own good, of course), were, theoretically, about improving the competitive of Greece and solve the problem of the public debt.

Nothing of that have happened. The public debt problem has not being solved and the Greek economy is a disaster. So who is responsible for those mistakes? They failed in their predictions and their failed in their goal (if what they say in public about their goal is the truth, of course).

It seems to me that if we leave all those politicians that decide to be "hard" on the Greeks without punishment we will have a clear case of moral hazard.


> Many commenters here are missing the point. All the measures that were taken against Greece

Your assertion is absurd. No measure was ever taken to "keep the Greek man down". Greek governments spent years running up a monstrous debt and cooking their books to try to falsify the actual state of the country's economy and the state's finances, going to the extent of hiring private consultancy firms to help them commit accounting fraud, and once that time bombs blew in their faces there was no other alternative than to pick up the pieces and sort out the mess. The ECB/IMF/EC gang's role was to simply provide emergency financing to buy Greek government's some time to actually sort their state's mess. It might be politically convenient to fabricate an evil foreign boogieman to distract people from the true causes but the facts speak for themselves, and there is no way around it.


The problem was that the Greeks had got themselves deeply, calamitously into debt. That the "solution" was awful or ineffective really is not relevant, since it's entirely a consequence of the former. At any time the Greeks could have said no to the proposed solution, but they didn't because they feared an even worse fate.

The responsibility for Greece's situation must stay with Greece, unless they forgo the freedom to make their own decisions (about lending money). Nothing else works or makes sense logically. Freedom and taking responsibility are two sides of the same coin.


> The problem was that the Greeks had got themselves deeply, calamitously into debt.

To be clear then, any 'bailout' of Greece is truly a bailout not of Greece, but their creditors.


Not at all, that's a side effect. If what you say were strictly true, then why would Greece bother? Let the creditors burn.

Of course the reason Greece agreed is that the attendant inability to borrow after the default would be much worse for Greece than the lenders. That really goes to the heart of the situation Greece had got itself into: default would not save them.


> It's been 5 years, and the Eurogroup destroyed the Greek economy.

Reality and the facts contrast heavily with this rhetoric. The eurogroup/IMF/european commission only stepped into the picture way after Greece bankrupted itself and digged a deep economic and social hole. Complaining about the organizations that mitigated Greece's pending collapse is like complaining about the cast and crutches you had to use after breaking your leg just because your leg hurts.


The 'austerity' prescription that the Eurogroup and the ECB enforced on sovereign nations has been ample proven to be counter productive and flat out damaging.

Much like the 'quantitive easing' ideas, they all had a theoretical basis that were vastly proven wrong. These countries only recovered when stimulous measures were applied.

Lagard herself admited that austerity was a mistake but never apologised for the suffering and deaths that it precipitated.

I remind you that elderly unable to afford medication and hospitals struggling to keep stock was a reality in Greece during this period.


> The 'austerity' prescription that the Eurogroup and the ECB enforced on sovereign nations has been ample proven to be counter productive and flat out damaging.

Your personal assertion is flat out wrong. Although hindsight shows that the outcome was not optimal, the overall outcome of all bailout processes were highly successful. Although all states that requested bailouts were bankrupt by 2011, it took only a few years to get them back to eco omic growth and reducing their sovereign debt. Look for example at Portugal, who was arguably in the same situation as Greece but for about half a dozen years now it got back to economic growth,residual unemployment, a deficit close to zero, and lowering its sovereign debt. This turn of events coincides exactly with the last year of it's bailout process.

Who in their right mind speaks of failures when all states who underwent bailout processes and actually tried to follow the program ended up recovering from bankruptcies in record time?


> Your personal assertion is flat out wrong.

The assertion of the former IMF chief (now ECB) Lagarde:

"Ms Lagarde said eurozone countries should not blindly stick to tough budget deficit targets if growth weakens more than expected. She argued that they should allow "automatic stabilisers" - higher welfare spending and lower tax revenues- to kick in if the economy deteriorated.

https://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/11/business/imf-lagarde-scha...

> the outcome was not optimal

"The report says that as part of the bailout conditions, Greece’s total healthcare expenditure (public and private) fell from 9·8% of GDP in 2008 to 8·1% in 2014. An article published by the Lancet concurrently with the paper notes that, under pressure from the Troika, the Greek government cut public healthcare expenditure to 6% of GDP."

...

"Greek mortality has worsened significantly since the beginning of the century. In 2000, the death rate per 100,000 people was 944.5. By 2016, it had risen to 1174.9, with most of the increase taking place from 2010 onwards."

"…adverse effects of medical treatment, self-harm, and several types of cancer stood out as consistently increasing in Greece across all ages… Within specific age groups, other causes are apparent, with rapid increases in deaths due to neonatal haemolytic disease and neonatal sepsis in children younger than 5 years, and prominent increases in self-harm among adolescents and young adults. Greek adults aged 15–49 years had increased mortality due to HIV, several treatable neoplasms, all types of cirrhosis, neurological disorders (eg, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease), chronic kidney disease, and most types of cardiovascular disease"

Newborns actually died of preventable conditions so that German Bank lenders would get there money back. Let that sink in for a second.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2018/08/31/the-t...

"The International Monetary Fund admitted it had failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece as the Washington-based organisation catalogued mistakes made during the bailout of the stricken eurozone country."

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/05/imf-underes...

> Look for example at Portugal, who was arguably in the same situation as Greece

I am Portuguese and I am part of the diaspora of young people who emmigrated after the 2008 crisis.

> it got back to economic growth

Mostly due to tourism and foreign real-estate investment (not austerity)

> residual unemployment

Due to government spending on sponsored coop/internships and "retraining" programmes that all help to dillute the unemployment stats (But again not because of austerity)

> deficit close to zero

Due to injection of extra revenue from the 'golden visa' programmes for Chinese citizens. Tourism boom revenue. Tax incentives and tax domicialiation of retirees from all across northern and central Europe. And austerity

> and lowering its sovereign debt. Due mostly to paying off their old debt with newer debt at a much lower interest rate now with central negative interest rates (Not because of Austerity)

> This turn of events coincides exactly with the last year of it's bailout process.

No comment.

> Who in their right mind speaks of failures when all states who underwent bailout processes and actually tried to follow the program ended up recovering from bankruptcies in record time?

Who in their right mind does not see that these bailouts are not Sovereign bailouts but German and French Bank lender bailout?

Who in their right mind can be allowed to believe that it is ok to create a healthcare calamity with real, physical, measurable deaths, by holding a sovereign nation hostage so that, space forbid, Banks don't have to face a loss?


Given the power that these people wield, and the frequency with which they misuse it, while I agree there could be downsides, I absolutely think the benefits outweigh the risks. I don't even think it's a particularly close call.


The US and the UK are both polarized because of the two party system. In Europe even opinion from the outer fringe are heard and compromises have to be made to govern. People need to be heard. I sometimes also think that the European model of government offering a lot more local influence is a stabilizing factor. Yes it is not that efficient but all people are able to participate in the democracy and this prevents the need to take over control.


I think the Dutch Parliament election process is a step in a right direction. Anyone capable in securing 1/seats percentage of votes gets at least a seat.

The trouble with the EU model of governance is that it's quite a bit too overreaching. Germany has 80M citizens and Greece has 11M. The ods against Greece are 8 to 1. If N. Macedonia would join the EU those ods would be more like 40 to 1. Greece along with Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria should at least make a group like the Visegrad V4 and stick tougether, but sadly it's hard to imagine Greece and N. Macedonia in the same group.


If only political grandstanding wasn’t necessary and we could have nuanced discussions in public.


> While decisions should always be public, in order to come to reasonable compromises on issues, it can be valuable for leaders to be able to have closed-door conversations outside of the spotlight, where they don't have to engage in political grandstanding; after all, it's that kind of compromise that allows democratic systems to function.

You described an authoritarian system, not a democratic one. The public has the right to know what our elected servants are doing or saying. That's what dictatorships do, they tell the public the decisions without any insight into the process.

> That's not to say this isn't without peril. Behind closed doors, corruption might happen as easily as compromise. I'm just not convinced the risks outweighs the benefits.

Well if you aren't sure, then it's usually safe to err on the side of principles rather than justifications.


Is there any difference between "secret compromises" and corruption if the compromises are against citizens' interests and will?

A black box might work IF it can be ensured that all data considered will be bundled with the decision. But how can such a thing ever be ensured?

We'll soon have source-included but secret-compiler software as a technical possibility, by means of zero-knowledge computational proofs.

It seems a bit much to ask politics to follow that state-of-the-art, which means that closed-doors talks* should be outlawed if the EU wants to have leg to stand on v. rising anti-EU sentiments.

*. indefinitely-closed-doors talks. A mandatory post-mortem including release of the talks themselves after a set period of time would go a long way.


The difference is that citizens aren’t trained statesmen, diplomats, or political scientists.

That’s the whole premise of representative democracy: that direct democracy (through e.g. having referendums on everything) doesn’t work, because people don’t have time to be good at whatever personally makes them a living and also politics; and so we pay some people to do politics for a living, so that they will have the time and invested practice to make nuanced decisions.

Anything that subjects political representatives to constraints under which they have to vote according to exactly the public’s will, forfeits the benefits of representative democracy and replaces them with an implicit direct democracy.


What your are describing is technocracy, not representative democracy. In representative democracy, the will of the people is still supposed to be the most important factor in the representative's decision making. Sure, the rep is expected to have better context on the implications of any decisions taken. But they should still use that context not to govern how they think is best by their own rationality, but to govern in the way they believe is most likely to achieve the will of the people.

To give an extreme example, a personally peace-loving representative is supposed to declare war on another country if their constituency wants war to happen. However, if their constituency wants an end to hunger and some are noting that the neighbours have more food, the representative should do whatever they can to end hunger, avoiding war if they know that is unlikely to help.


> In representative democracy, the will of the people is still supposed to be the most important factor in the representative's decision making.

To be clear, we agree on this.

My point was that, in a direct democracy, it's not just the public's ends that are paramount, but also the public's preferences on means.

One good example of what I'm talking about is Ancient Greece, which was a direct democracy, despite having so-called representatives. In the Ancient Greek system, people were chosen for the civic duty of governing the country like they continue to be chosen today for jury duty: they were drafted by lottery. They weren't afraid of politicians betraying the public will, because any politician that did anything the public didn't like, would be killed.

And to be clear, "anything the public didn't like" included, for example, being friendly to foreign diplomats, or accepting gifts, even if these things would have had no later bearing on their political decision-making, i.e., on their practice of their profession.

In such a context, a politician is forced to not only act toward the will of the people, but also to "perform politics" in a way that avoids upsetting their citizen-base, and so to avoid using some of the most effective political tools because the public finds them uncouth. Also, such performances often require the use of ineffective or downright counterproductive political tools, simply to satisfy the public.

A clear modern example of the effect of direct democracy is when a municipal elected official, e.g. a county sherriff, feels pressure to put a suspect behind bars for a crime there's not yet sufficient evidence they committed, simply because the public demands that someone be punished for the crime.

The entire point of representative democracy, is that the public is often irrational in ways that makes their proximate demands an ineffective way of achieving their own stated will. In this example, the public nominally wants to see justice done—but in the implementation of it, directly demands injustice. A representative is supposed to listen to the will of the public, certainly, but to ignore the direct demands; or translate the direct demands into the will they stand for.

Patients know their symptoms but not the causes. Users know when there's a bug but not the correct fix. Well, voters know when there's a problem, too; but they're not any better at figuring out what to do about it than patients or users are.

People don't have enough money to get by? Fixing that is certainly "the will of the people", and a politician that hears that complaint but doesn't do anything about it is certainly not being a representative. But the decision between fixing it via welfare, jobs programs, minimum wage, UBI, etc? That's statesmanship. And letting the public decide which of those policies is better is just abdicating the responsibility to practice the job of politics; just like a doctor just giving someone pills for whatever disease they think they have would be an abdication of responsibility for the practice of the job of medicine.


> We'll soon have source-included but secret-compiler software as a technical possibility, by means of zero-knowledge computational proofs.

could you elaborate on this?


Zero-knowledge proofs can prove that binary code conforms to a specification (e.g. source code) without revealing the process used to turn specification into binary code.

In the analogy, the specification is the information provided to government officials and binary code is planned governmental actions.

If both are known and the specification process for governmental action is proven it doesn't matter what biases the officials exhibit in the decision process - then the governmental action is proven-good according to the specs (e.g. system of laws) and the information provided (in which it would be relatively easy for citizens to have a say, e.g. "you MAY NOT ignore facts X, Y and Z").


I think that was true once upon a time, but the politicians seem as caught up in the partisanship as the voters these days. I also think an awful lot of confidentiality is abused or, in less extreme cases, simply reduces public engagement. I'd like to see the sausage-making being a lot more open, and the public becoming more tolerant of imperfections in our elected officials. Naive as that may seem, it actually seems more achievable to me than that the political class becomes less dysfunctional in the absence of any consistent oversight.


> the politicians seem as caught up in the partisanship as the voters these days.

In public, yes. That's the point.

One could hope that in private, there's more sanity and less theater. I fear that it's just the same in private as in public, but one can hope.


I could see two possible positive outcomes to making a private conversation of that nature public. One, we find some impure but pragmatic horse trading, and the voters breath a sigh of relief at the revelation that the politicians aren't as caught up in partisanship as we'd feared. Two, we find out the reason they aren't caught up in partisanship is that the partisanship is less a disagreement over how to serve voters' interests and more distraction from how they serve their own interests.

Making a private conversation public is an extreme measure, but it also seems very appropriate in extreme circumstances.


If the discussion isn't public, the decision may be inscrutable. Did leader 1 and leader 2 agree on X because they decided it worked out best for their constituents, or did they both agree to scratch each other's back with some discretionary funds relating to X?


>While what you say is true, the contents of these meetings should be public knowledge.

The decisions, yes. But not recordings of every brainfart of every participant.

>means there is probably something there are is damning to someone

Probably. At least something that can be spun to be damning. However, I do not subscribe to the view that the end justifies the means. We live in times where every bad joke by a member of the elites is twisted into an outrage, and not too much good comes off this.


Greece loaned too much, collected too little taxes (or rather, scamming the tax man was and is an integral part of daily life there) and had extremely generous pension plans and ages. They hired Goldman Sachs to hide all this by cooking the books so they could join the EU. I have zero sympathy for the Greek and 'destroying a country for the decisions made by the elite doesn't count when you vote for those castle-in-the-sky promising elite year after year. Greece it's bill was simply due, and the myth of 'poor little Greece bullied by stringent North Europe' needs to die.


You might do well reading up on the last couple of centuries of Greek history...


> While what you say is true, the contents of these meetings should be public knowledge.

I completely disagree. We should expect these meetings to be held in a manner where participants should not be pressured away from doing the right thing due to concerns on how what they might say behind closed doors could be used as a political weapon to attack them. This asshole move from Varoufakis is a clear example, because this leak is designed to attack any political opponent that didn't simply rolled over to meet his personal demands.

This whole stunt is even more egregious if we consider that this boils down to a self-promotion stunt from someone desperately grabbing at their spotlight to manage to get some attention.


Other interpretations are possible, though. As Varoufakis has laid out clearly in his book, he believed at the time to have a better alternative at hand (better for the people of Greek, and better for the people of Europe; worse for some banks and creditors).


> As Varoufakis has laid out clearly in his book

His personal account of what he decides to claim and express, particularly the part where he chose to portray himself as both the Savior and the sole victim of everything, including his political party, is not exactly an accurate view of historical events.

His own account of his role on Greece's referendum is enough to understand his personal motivation to come up with his personal story.


It gets tricky. If people always have this right, then closed doors are basically not allowed. That's just not really workable.


People in this thread seem to mostly not even consider the value that the ability to (sometimes) speak privately has.

As an analogy: would you want your spouse (and vice versa) to hear recording of every conversation you have, including those with close friends/therapists/rabbis etc?

It's not completely absurd to say yes to that question. But it's notable that such a relationship would be a departure from established norms, and that most people feel even healthy and strong relationships profit from the ability to occasionally seek advice or blow of steam in confidentiality.


First, we can't really compare that to elected officials.

But even so, yeah, I would like to know if my spouse is talking with her friends/therapists/whatever about stealing all my money and screwing my best friend while they hire an hitman to off me. Exaggeration? Yes, but Greece got royally fucked with the Troika 'medicine', so yes, the people should know what led them to that place, and who fought for and against them.


Well, I kinda do not like Varoufakis, because he came off as an entitled know-it-all prick (a not so rare trait in academia).

He made lots of bold claims but in the end, nothing really got accomplished.

EDIT: Regarding the fact that the public deserves to know, I disagree. The public can act completely irrationally against its own interests under FUD (I guess we have some recent examples from the UK and the US), and in a lot of cases, they are better off not knowing. That's why you elect representatives (that will get into all the details of the problem) and place your trust in them. If you do not trust you representatives - do not elect them.

[1] https://www.cityam.com/greece-s-golden-boy-and-his-tragic-fa...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U4U7M4WOPU


> The public can act completely irrationally against its own interests under FUD (I guess we have some recent examples from the UK and the US), and in a lot of cases, they are better off not knowing.

FUD comes exactly out of not knowing. The more obscure the workings and negotiation of power are, the more mystique they hold and the more chances for spin they have.

Democracy is not and must not be limited to choosing your representative once every four years - it should be a living system of dialogue, where you constantly offer feedback and hear back from your representative (not saying it has to be personal). This is the only way to build trust and have a responsive system.


> Regarding the fact that the public deserves to know, I disagree. The public can act completely irrationally against its own interests under FUD (I guess we have some recent examples from the UK and the US), and in a lot of cases, they are better off not knowing

Can you please clarify if I misunderstood you: You argue that people shouldn't know the truth, because when someone lies to them they act against their own interests?


> He made lots of bold claims but in the end, nothing really got accomplished.

Depends on the perspective I guess. I believe he accomplished a lot, as he raised the awareness on how the EU is run indirectly by an unaccountable group of politicians serving specific interests. It's no small feat.


> People in private converse completely differently (more freely) than in public.

They are deciding about life and death of people of a country (or many). They're not discussing about what's your favourite food and which sex position you like the most.

Those conversation MUST be open and public, so people can judge the work of their delegates and decide to vote them again or not.

If you don't want to be heard, don't present yourself as a candidate. There are plenty of roles in companies that are private enough to speak privately.

Eurogroup, Ecofin, European Commission, European Central Bank, ESM are secrets just to subtract power from citizens, so to reduce democracy.


On the other hand, organizations that are able to keep their internal deliberations private have a strong advantage over ones who must ‘think’ openly.

Imagine negotiating with an employer, except your inner monologue is always spoken aloud.

One unintended (?) consequence of extreme transparency for governments, is that it makes government ineffective and easily subverted or outmaneuvered by opaque organizations, like corporations and less liberal state actors.


Except that in the case of politics, the "out group" who that information is kept from are the people being governed. And do you want politics to have a "strong advantage" over it's citizens?

By the way, this goes hand in hand with the encroachment on ordinary citizens' rights (often with exceptions being carved out specifically for parliamentarians).


> Except that in the case of politics, the "out group" who that information is kept from are the people being governed. And do you want politics to have a "strong advantage" over it's citizens?

Obviously you want your elected representatives to do what's best, not what gets you trending in the polls. In this particular case we should expect the EU to step up and help out member-states in need in spite of the political abuse and exploitation by populist parties of problems such as the sovereign debt crisis.


> On the other hand, organizations that are able to keep their internal deliberations private have a strong advantage over ones who must ‘think’ openly.

I agree, but an advantage over whom exactly? In this case it's simply an advantage of the ruling political and economic elite over European citizens (Greeks especially).

There are few instances when things really should be kept secret e.g. during wars, but this was not one of them.


But this is a story of European government bodies versus Greek government bodies. You identify SYRIZA with The People too easily.

What, Varoufakis is a world-renown professor of game theory. You don’t think he has an agenda? Is it impossible that this agenda clashes against the Good of Greek People?


> I agree, but an advantage over whom exactly? In this case it's simply an advantage of the ruling political and economic elite over European citizens (Greeks especially).

Not quite, the problem are extremist and populist political parties who abuse any crisis to force their way into relevance without playing any constructive role in any part of the problem. There's a long list of examples in European history of how extremistm exploits economic and financial crisis for their own self-interest and in the process causing a long steam of suffering and misery. It happened often enough to enable us to learn from that mistake.


Democratic institutions must be transparent. But of course, the eurogroup is NOT a democratic organization. It makes you wonder why an unaccountable organization like the ECB was allowed so much power.


>On the other hand, organizations that are able to keep their internal deliberations private have a strong advantage over ones who must ‘think’ openly.

Not necessarily. If there is secrecy within the organization, any leader of a subbranch can abuse his power along the line of the movie Dr. Strangelove.


States and Organizations/Corporations are NOT at the same level.

States create and enforce the laws, they can do whatever they want. Their only limit is the people willingness expressed via elections.

Corporations can never be above a State if they play in a game where the State decides the rules.


Completely unrealistic. If Eurogroup meetings were to become open, they would simply become like any other kind of parliamentary "debate", with politicians holding speeches directed at their voters rather than genuinely intended to reach a consensus. The real negotiations would then move elsewhere.


It's the Greek politicians who put the country in a life or death situation. Greece has had +100% of debt to GDP for decades, spending that debt on god knows what.

It's 2012-2015, Greece is about to default on that very debt, and asks responsible countries to guarantee Greek debt... and they want the Eurogroup to guarantee it because they want to issue more debt! Issue more debt! A country that is unable to repay it's current debt!

Varoufakis, playing with people's lives and futures...


His position as finance minister of Greece in 2015 was that Greece should not be forced take on more debt, as it is unable to repay the debt it already holds. The position of the Eurogroup was that Greece should take on more debt.

https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/greece-debt-res...


> People in private converse completely differently (more freely) than in public.

We're not talking about private individuals discussing private matters informally here.

These are people with great power arguing over the fate of millions.

They shouldn't be saying things that they wouldn't want exposed and there is no reason to keep this secret.


Tel that to German and Dutch politicians who were pressured to reject any aid to Greece because of reasons.


very good points.


I think same standards should be used when police records criminals, judging criminals on what they said in private by a public standard is extremely unfair to them.

What about watergate was that unfair too?

Sure if he was leaking offhand sexual preferences of people recorded he would be crossing a line, but somehow I doubt that's what will be leaked.


This is why the whole idea of "in the public interest" exists.

If a reporter received these same recordings in the mail, they would quite likely publish them. If they received a recording of a random person discussing their medical concerns, publishing that would be an outrageous breach of ethics.

(Hence the Gawker/Thiel debacle also. When Ted Haggard was caught having gay extramarital affairs, it was considered fit for publication because he was an evangelical preacher fighting against gay marriage. When a random private individual is outed, its not a public interest matter and can be libelous even when accurate. Thiel fell somewhere in between under both legal and journalistic rules, so we got a debate.)

I'm pretty baffled to see the parent comment imply that private discussions between politicians should inherently be kept secret. We could discuss specific news stories, reporters who violate attribution rules, and whether Varoufakis was bound by privacy laws or Eurogroup confidentiality rules. We could even argue the publication is in the public interest, and yet makes Varoufakis unfit to serve by destroying his ability to function with trust.

But just as you say, treating "that's a private discussion" as the end of matter would excuse Watergate also.


1) There are almost certainly other recordings of the same meeting. People who regularly attend meetings like this should be well versed in the reality of what goes on.

2) If pols do not fear things like this, they absolutely will abuse the public trust. It always happens. You cannot have meaningful representative government without meaningful information on their actions.

3) In general, support for smokey-back-room politics tends to be related to support for the outcomes of those decisions. It suddenly becomes a collusive outrage when the "wrong" ox is gored.


What if people are presenting a public image that is at odds which what actually happened?

Is it then legitimate to call them out?

Remember these weren't 'at the bar talking rubbish' kind of conversations, these were extremely serious negotiations in a professional capacity where you would expect people to weigh words carefully.


In Harold Nicholson's lectures on diplomacy, he mentions Woodrow Wilson's advocacy of open diplomacy. At Versailles, Nicholson was amused to find that the Wilson's discussions took place in a room that had a U.S. Marine with fixed bayonet patrolling outside the windows.

Nicholson makes the point that the text of agreements should be known when they are made. The discussions that arrive at them, not necessarily.


what happened afterwards to Greece is also pretty shitty


[flagged]


My understanding of the situation is that German and French banks flooded Greece with easy credit. And as it always happens under such circumstances people/corporations/governments borrowed heavily and when the crisis hit in 2009 they couldn’t repay. All of the so called bailouts have been aimed at making sure French and German banks didn’t suffer and the ones who did suffer have been the Greek people with the exception of the ruling class.

Loans are a two party relationship and people tend to view the borrower more harshly than the lender. Lenders tend to get bailed out and somehow aren’t viewed negatively for their profligate lending. Why is it only the borrowers that suffer?


Varoufakis also mentions in his books that German reparation payments to Greece after WW2 were conveniently cancelled by the Western allies when they needed (West) Germany onside to face the Soviets.

https://www.euronews.com/2018/10/10/greece-to-renew-call-for...


Pretty much any and all reparations were cancelled for Western Germany and today's Germany by continuation. It was a mix of "we need Germany now" and the less than stellar experiences with reparations after WW I.


Outside the reparations question, Germany forced Greece to provide loans during the '40s occupation.

Those loans are not reparations, were never cancelled and, due to continuity of government, are still owed by Germany to Greece.

Debts must be paid after all.


That's an extremely one-sided point-of-view.

The net effect of the whole saga was Greece getting to spend a lot of money in the 90s and 2000s, and the stronger countries of the Eurogroup ending up paying for (at least part) of that.

Focussing on these countries' motivation is somewhat useless speculation, and arguably unfair if you manage to twist it so far around the people paying end up as the bad guys, and the people spending as the victims.

In any case: French and German banks could have absorbed a Greek default, although it would have been painful. Because these banks held only part of the debt[0], it would have always been cheaper to make them whole again and tell Greece to take a hike.

Considering a decade has passed and some things happen, one might also want to reevaluate the motivations ascribed to, for example, Angela Merkel. Does she still strike people as incapable of aiming higher than just immediate parochial needs?

[0]: around 30% IIRC, can't be bothered to look this stuff up again ten years later)


My intention was to point out that lending is a two party relationship and both parties have responsibilities. The tendency in my experience in these discussions is to put too much blame on the borrower and too often put very little blame on the lender.

The motivation of the German and French governments was that German and French banks not suffer. And of course the leaders of those countries cared more about their people than the people of Greece. This is natural and part of the psychology of being part of a nation. We ended up with things like:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-eurozone-greece-warships-...

At any rate, both parties are at fault and both parties ought to have suffered. From my perspective only one party suffered.


> My intention was to point out that lending is a two party relationship and both parties have responsibilities.

Greek lenders were forced to pardon half it's debt, which ultimately caused some banks to bankrupt. Enough with this tale of how Greek governments are victims for repeatedly requesting loans, and then falsify their accounting to keep requesting loans, and then hiring professional accounting teams to optimize their accounting forgery to keep receiving loans.


Yes, Greek lenders were so forced but not German and French lenders. German and French banks were knowledgeable about the deplorable state of Greek accounting and the stupidity/corruption of the Greek government. They had responsibilities. It's a two party interaction and both the lender and borrower need to be held responsible.

Enough with this tale of how German and French banks are victims for repeatedly giving loans and looking the other way at the bad accounting!


> Yes, Greek lenders were so forced but not German and French lenders.

Somehow you misread what I said. "Greek lenders" means those who lent money to the Greek state. Those were European private banks, including French and German. Those banks were forced to bear the loss of half of Greece's sovereign debt in Greece's famous 2011 debt hair cut.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-europe-banks/europes-bank...

> Enough with this tale of how German and French banks are victims for repeatedly giving loans and looking the other way at the bad accounting!

It's too late to act that ignorant, sykick. The truth is out for almost a decade, and you simply cannot turn a blind eye to the facts. Go browse Wikipedia's article on the subject to get an idea of how Greek governments created their whole mess and how Europe's economy and the EU were forced to bear the brunt of the economic and financial and political problem Greece's ruling regime created for their country.


I think you have misread what I’ve written. I keep mentioning that lending is a two party relationship and that both parties are responsible and should both suffer. I’ve agreed that the Greek government was corrupt and had shady accounting practices. But the lenders knew this and still lent money. The so called bailouts of Greece were nothing more than a means of propping up the German and French banking sector [1]. The only people that genuinely suffered were the Greek people. The bankers didn’t suffer. The taxpayers in Germany and France suffered a small amount since some of their taxes went to pay to prop up their banking sectors. However, given the nature of the single currency market and how it greatly benefits Germany this should be considered a minor cost of business and doing this occasionally is worthwhile for Germany.

Why do you ignore the fact that lenders knew the sorry state of standards in Greece and still lent massive amounts of money to Greece? Why did they continue to lend money? Isn’t the most likely reason being that the people involved in making the loans do so for short term gain knowing they won’t go to jail and they personally won’t go bankrupt? You keep neglecting to hold the lender accountable. I’ve repeatedly mentioned that borrower should suffer and is responsible. All I’ve done is mention that the lender should be held responsible too. Isn’t it obvious that the lender should be held responsible? And by lender I mean the people making the decisions not just the corporate entity.

I think clearly we won’t agree. As I mentioned before in these discussions too often people neglect to realize that lending is a two party relationship and both parties have responsibilities. My sole aim has been to point out that the lender ought to have suffered too.

[1] https://shadowproof.com/2012/05/30/greek-bailout-is-a-bank-b...


What success story. The structural effects of the austerity which everyone including IMF admits was much too hard on GDP will be felt, and Greece will be screwed for many years to come. See for example wiki article, e.g. section "Effects of applied programmes on the severity of the debt crisis and the IMF's apology": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_government-debt_crisis#E...


Retirement age in Greece is today and was in 2011 higher than in Germany. Using some anecdotes and guess for aggregate data is bad induction.

"privatize" means that today all the Greek airports are owned by German companies. Is it legit to suppose there was a slight conflict of interest between the "doctor" and the "patient"?

I mean, would you trust your doctor if he gains on your death?


Really?

"Like many EU countries, the general retirement age in Greece is 65, although the actual average is about 61. However, the deeply fragmented system also provides for early retirement – as early as 55 for men and 50 for women – in many professions classified as unhealthy."

55 and 50!

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/greece-to-ca...


Average in 2011 was 61,9 yo for Greece and 61,5 yo for Germany. This is an average between all the jobs, classified unhealthy and not.

But although it was less than Germany, let's say 60 or 59 or even 55:

1) lenders knew it, so it's also their fault on not weighting the risk well or not asking for an higher interest rate or avoiding giving them money at all. To check is their responsibility.

2) IMF decisions brought an increase in suicide rate and children mortality rate. Are the lenders allowed to bring death to the borrowers? Is this illegal for the mafia but allowed for IMF/ECB/EC?


> 2) IMF decisions brought an increase in suicide rate and children mortality rate. Are the lenders allowed to bring death to the borrowers? Is this illegal for the mafia but allowed for IMF/ECB/EC?

How does one make this claim? What would the alternative have looked like? It's not like the IMF just decided to tank a healthy economy.


Conveniently, Greece is just below Germany in the table, making for easy comparison: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Retirement_age#Retirement_age_...

Regarding early retirement, I'm sure this is the case in many "industrious" countries too. You probably don't want 65 year olds running around in combat boots with a machine gun and 20kg of supplies on their back.


But Germany would afford a low retirement age, while Greece could not. It is an unfair comparison, as not all other facts are equal.


A low retirement age is a good thing; it is a symbol that society does not prize labour just as much as it appears to. It is an affirmation that we work to live, not live to work.


Greek GDP is still 40% below 2008. Almost no serious reforms were passed. Greece did the largest default in history and somehow still ended up with 181% dept/gdp with absolutely nothing to show for it, the Troika just continued funding the kleptocracy.


do you live in greece by chance? I don't, but the friends I have there don't consider it a success story. Maybe it is nice they got a surplus now (after 10 years!) but during those 10 years a lot of suffering and pain to their population. Even the IMF has admitted it was a bad prescription (1)

[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/business-22791248


> It's a success story.

Haha! That was a good one.


Hey man, it was a success story. For Germany. First their banks are salvaged. Then they get infusion of cheap Greek labor.

It's a win-win.

jnmandal 35 days ago [flagged]

Na malaka


That's very mature of you.


Like your positive characterization of millions of peoples' economic misfortune wasnt cheap and childish? Reading your insensitive comment probably ruined a few Greeks' day. I think you can handle a little Hellenic criticism.


Or a dog who doesn't understand why the vet tortures him!


So now we are implying the the population of a country are less than human, because of economics. Cool!


That's just an insult.


No, that's Hanlon's Razor. Either the population was ignorant of living beyond their means and adopting bad economic policies -- or they are deadbeats who willfully took out credit they had no intention of repaying.


The population is not the one who adopts the economic policies. The government is.


Governments are elected by the population. Are they then not responsible for their choices?


The elected party in Greece only got 40% of the votes and they can pass any law and take any decision at will. In addition to that pretty much every party that was elected in the past had been caught lying regarding most things that they said regarding the economy (and not only). People should certainly be responsible for their choices, but this was not one of them.


No it's an analogy for a population who didn't see fit to pay their taxes, have a functioning state, who thought it was a good idea to adopt a foreign currency when it didn't make sense economically, and doesn't understand why they are forced to make economic sacrifices to correct the situation.

I think the accusation of ignorance is kinder than the alternative ("let's not pay our taxes, the germans will pay for us").


> who didn't see fit to pay their taxes

With all the corruption going around I would not blame them. (even without it I would not blame them regardless. There are many people all over the world -including me- who consider taxes thievery)

Anyway, please do correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it only the rich/rich companies that did that? Similarly to how Amazon, Google, or Apple for example pay almost no tax.

> who thought it was a good idea to adopt a foreign currency when it didn't make sense economically

Do you have a citation for this? As far as I know the Greek population was not asked about it.


As far as I am aware, tax fraud was (and probably still is) endemic in Greece. If you like to think it is just Amazon not paying its taxes, believe what you want. If you go see a doctor in Greece he will ask for cash.

What do you mean the population wasn't asked? It's a democracy. The population elects polititians that vote laws and make decisions. Like in almost every country and for almost every topic. If the greeks didn't care about what their polititians did, good for them. But they aren't children. They are a sovereign democracy. They own the consequences.


> If you go see a doctor in Greece he will ask for cash.

Yes? Cash is the standard method of payment, what is the issue exactly? Regardless of that, employees (who are the majority of the workforce in pretty much every country) can't tax-evade.

> What do you mean the population wasn't asked?

See https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22385367

And at the end of the day, even if there was true democracy it would still not make sense to blame all the population for the choice of the majority. In the same way that you can't blame every American for the killer drones, or every German for the election of the NSDAP.


Amputating a limb or surviving chemotherapy is hardly a success story, especially when the operation is hardly over yet.

What happened to greece was a disaster. Of course it required to be handled by adults, and they did what was necessary. But the whole thing is hardly "a success story".


Why is it a shitty move exactly? Transparency is a good thing.


While I think you're right, that heavily depends on the content of those recordings.

On the low end of the scale someone could have used undiplomatic language that with the right media framing could anger a lot of people, without beeing that damning from an objective angle.

On the other end however you get things that we might want to know about, e.g. when someone in a high office defends a genocide, or says something so clearly evil that the potential damage of not publishing the recording outweighs every individual right.

I am not a fan of Varoufakis, but I could imagine him not taking this decision lightly (otherwise he would have published it way earlier). This points to something closer to the latter category.


You know what's a shitty move? What the euogroup did to greece and other countries.


I grew up in a country that joined the EU and boomed afterwards. We had the same crisis and probably even worse austerity measures than Greece after the 2008 crisis and some politicians are still in a tough spot until this day.

In all aspects, Greece was in much better shape before the 2008 crisis than Lithuania. Now Lithuania has a higher GDP per capita than Greece. How did that happen?

But never once, anyone in public considered on "asking on forgiving on our debts". It really makes me wonder the audacity of the people that claim it's the Eurogroups fault that they have lent money to Greece.

It really makes a difference, when people own up to their future.


Counterexample. After WW2 Germany asked US and other creditors to forgive it's debts because otherwise they won't be able to grow their economy and were at risk of further becoming under the influence of the USSR.

You know what the creditors did? They forgave Germany's debts.

So the question is, when Greece made the same argument to Germany, that it can't grow their economy under austerity, why did the Germans refuse to forgive its debts?

You blame the Greek people but it was the German and French banks that lent Greece the money. Why didn't the banks do their du-diligence and refuse to give the loans?

So when Greece got the bailout money, that money went straight back into the German and French banks and left the Greek people holding the bag.


> Greece was in much better shape before the 2008 crisis than Lithuania. Now Lithuania has a higher GDP per capita than Greece

Shouldn't this actually make you wonder whether the Greek austerity was a good idea?

> It really makes a difference, when people own up to their future.

Why do you think it makes sense to hold millions accountable directly for the corrupt dealings of a few members of a country's elite (and of a few foreign bankers, politicians etc.)?


>Why do you think it makes sense to hold millions accountable directly for the corrupt dealings of a few members of a country's elite (and of a few foreign bankers, politicians etc.)?

That's how democracy works. If you are not happy with your current government, elect the one you are happy with.

Over time, I've found that the elected government really does represent the general population.


In representative democracies people don't really have much control over the day to day operations of the government.

They are also often deliberately kept in the dark about the decisions being made. Even if they had the necessary information available, it would be almost impossible to keep up with everything since people have other more important things to do to e.g. work.

> Over time, I've found that the elected government really does represent the general population.

I don't know where this happens, but if/when it does it's more of a fortunate accident than the default outcome.


Should the population of other countries be held accountable for Greeks disinterest in their own democracy?


It's not like other countries are not affected, all over Europe alt-right is thriving because of austerity. The EU is disintegrating. Greece is the weakest link. So, what you call "Greeks disinterest in their own democracy" I call "canary".


No, but the banks that had no problem lending the money and collecting the interest, yes. That is the whole purpose of interest. Or you are telling me that the banks that lent billions, knew even less than the greek citizens?


No doubt, both lenders and borrowers must share blame.

This is a sovereign nation though, it should be expected to operate with sound fiscal policies and banks shouldn't base lending on political programs. Lest we let banks regulate policy through their willingness to lend money. That's the situation we did get in the end though, with austerity through blackmail. Greeks are now furious at the German government for protecting their financial institutions from collapse. While it might be more apt to be furious at those whom voted for policies not fiscally sound.

So what is the way forward? Certainly not what the IMF suggested at the time, as they as much have admitted to. But is Varoufakis pointlessly relegislating that decision or is he trying to sell a book?


Varoufakis, as far as I remember, was not asking for debt forgiveness.


The fact that only he knew is really the crucial point here. That gives him incredible opportunity to sway the conversation. He also has the ability to cherry-pick which recordings to choose.

If you want open talks, they need to be done so with everyone on board.


To the people who think Greece deserved that:

lender is responsible for checking how much the borrower can take. My bank reasonably doesn't give me a billion. Default likelihood exists because there is an interest that prices it. When default happens, shame on the borrower and shame on the lender for having been a bad checker or just shame on no one if that default was one of the "expected" and covered by all the debt+interest already cashed in.

An any case increasing suicide-rate and child mortality-rate is not the right answer, unless you are called "mafia" or "IMF".


If (corporate) borrower defaults on its obligations, it often leads to bankrupcy, forced asset sale and liquidation / dissolution.

Considering that laws probably does not assume possibility of bankrupcy or other way of dealing with insolvency for sovereign, that does not mean defaulted debt disappears. It may or may not be reclaimable in local courts (based on local laws), but it likely could be reclaimable in foreign courts. That would cause long-term legal clusterfuck for Greece and that would likely be much worse than the current state.


In as much as this analogy is useful: when you lie to the lender about your income, spending and ability to repay the loan, you have committed fraud.

But the EU is supposed to be an a collective of allies and partners, not a network of purely financial transactions. In that context surely the shame belongs to the partner that betrays the trust and confidence of its friends?

Not that I'd argue that Greece "deserved" everything that happened. But this line of argument seems to justify a complete refusal of responsibility on Greece's part.


So you argue that it is O.K. to game the bank and live a lavish life destroying your own way of living and if the bank catches up and wants you to take measures so you can pay back, the right thing to do would be to jail the people who were gamed or conspired with the people who gamed the bank and simply continue the lavish life and let the people who dod not manage to game the bank(some richer and some poorer than you) keep writing checks to you so you can sustain the lifestyle you achieved by gaming the bank?

Do I get this correct?


No. The point you are missing is that it is also not ok for the lender to lend everyone a billion dollars, wait for people to default, and then go ask the government to give them a billion dollars back because otherwise they will go bankrupt.

If the supply of money has essentially been exhausted, then both borrowers and lenders have been doing something wrong, and it should be BOTH that suffer, so that both are incentivized not to resch this point again. What happened in Greece instead was that only the borrowers suffered, the lenders got all their money back.


> What happened in Greece instead was that only the borrowers suffered, the lenders got all their money back.

Even worse, it'll be the borrower's children who will suffer the consequences.


No, I don't miss that point. Some people should definitely go to jail.

But what is the solution here? Be really angry to the lenders and make them keep writing checks to the fraudulent borrowers?


The lenders actually suffered approximately a 30% haircut on long-term Greek bonds.


I think you do get this correct. It is the bank's responsibility to assign its loans properly. That's the risk they take and why they get to collect an interest. Maybe watch this video of David Graeber from start until 5:20, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZIINXhGDcs He makes the point more clearly.

I mean, do I get this correct? Would you say that when people need to pay their debts, the bank gets to enforce measures despite it causing the debtor's children dying (i.e. increased child mortality)?

I might have gotten you wrong here. It is not easy to parse a 100+ word sentence.


There are numerous studies about the positive effects of being rich and have the easy life, including studies showing that the richer you are the lesser child mortality you get.

You can argue that if that money was not given in first place is just as bad as asking it back.

I am sure the poorer EU countries would also lower their mortality rates if they were given the free check. What's special about Greece, why Romanians can't lower their mortality rates by living a good life on credit? Why the UK can't do that?

They both have higher child mortality rates than Greece: https://www.ined.fr/en/everything_about_population/data/euro...

Are they not clever enough? Not important enough? What's going on here?


Your argument is that those children in Greece deserved to die because children in Romania are dying too? I am not convinced by that argument.

What is going on here is that debt in the current financial system is at conflict with current moral standards. Debt is being transferred from parents to children (mostly in the form of state debt), while defaults are being pushed almost exclusively on the the debtor from the debtee. The consequence is that there are a lot of people being punished for events outside of their control.

Yeah, when a debt cannot be filled, debtor and debtee need to share the consequences proportionally. And in the case of Greece, the 30% haircut is not remotely proportional.


No they don’t deserve to die but let’s have a system where children all over the world are taken care of, not only those whose parents can game the creditors.

also “Think of the children” argument should stop being abused.


The lender is responsible to get its money back and pay its shareholders and that's it. Now the government is responsible to protect its people.

It looks like the Greek gov(which represents the Greek people) was not very responsible when it took the loans and arguably neither when it nearly got bankrupted.


I want you to explain to me in what situation such a lender could ever have a loss.

I want you to explain to me why it's reasonable that the lender makes profits when things go right, but the public has to take the loss when things go wrong.

Isn't in the nature of a free market that lending is an inherently risky business ?


This is about "elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy" It reflects the anti democratic perspective of the Eurogroup and is one of the most fundamental political issues of our times.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/markcarrigan.net/2017/05/08/ele...


> This is about "elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy" It reflects the anti democratic perspective of the Eurogroup

It just reflects the general european position on separation of powers. That central bank and its monetary policy should be independent of executive branch of government in a similar manner like supreme court or whole judiciary branch.

It is a position of authoritarian leaders who promote that everything should be under the control of the people (i.e. under their control as people representatives).


If economic policy is not in the scope of government then you certainly have a very narrow concept of government power. Even the judiciary's only power is to discover inconsistantancy in law. However given that you described elected officials as Authoritarian I would imagine you are simply a libertarian.


> If economic policy

OP stated monetary policy, not economic.

Furthermore, Greece's problems were primarily caused by the way Greek governments systematically mismanaged the Greek state, having resorted to a perverse and continuous push for a combination of massive accounting fraud and overspending fueled by collosal levels of sovereign debt.


The original quote is economic policy not simply monetary policy. This is because Greece was facing an austerity crisis as a result of directives from the euro group.


Greece voluntarily joined a larger currency zone and reaped the benefits for a decade.

Should state elections in Mississippi drive US Fed policy?


Reaped the benefits? Greece's GDP dropped 30% since 2008 it and was forced into austerity by the Troika to move debts from the left pockets of Deutsche Bank to the right pockets, with the interests paid for by Greek tax payers.


> Reaped the benefits? Greece's GDP dropped 30% since 2008

Most of it was due to the fact that Greece had forged their nation accounting to falsify their actual state and hide sovereign debt, and once they faced bankruptcy they had no alternative than to come clean and straighten their accounting.

Another important fact that is oddly left out by proponents of the "austerity is a conspiracy" rhetoric is the fact that EU's national accounting reform kicked into effect in 2014, and included anti-accounting engineering measures which were highly abused to artificially inflate GDP and mask sovereign debt.

> it and was forced into austerity by the Troika

This conspiracy theory is absurd, as it weirdly imits the fact that member-states that underwent bailout processes had already exhausted their own access to sovereign debt markets resulted from their own financial and economic colapse, and the ECB/EU/IMF trio were quite literally the last people in the whole world willing to lend emergency funds that helped them soften the blow of the problem these countries' governments created to themselves over the years.


Look, I'm no Greek, and you're entitled to your opinion. The problem is this is exactly the same kind of finger pointing and the Greeks (the Spaniards, the Italians, etc) are the spoiled brats rhetorics that are creating toxic politics in Europe and causing the rise of far right populists. I wouldn't imagine a rhetoric where evicted homeowners are blamed for causing 2008 crisis with irresponsible borrowing instead of the Wall St.


> The problem is this is exactly the same kind of finger pointing and the Greeks (the Spaniards, the Italians, etc) are the spoiled brats

You're getting emotional and in the process trying to out words into others people's mouths for no good reason. Greece's problems were a political and institutional problem, and it's not possible to hide this fact and its consequences. You cannot have a string of governments patently and systematically committing state-wide accounting fraud, and even resorting to paying consultants to optimize their fraud, and still try to spin it as emotional pettiness. Eventhough the actual Greek people had to bear the blunt of the problem, that changes nothing with regards to the problem, what caused it, andwho were responsible for it.


He was merely stating facts and your analogy is wrong.


It would have been impossible for Greece's GDP to drop by that amount (in absolute terms) before it joined the EU. Because it quadrupled after joining.

Here, check out this graph, which rather obviously shows the benefit of joining the EU in 1981: https://www.google.com/search?q=greece+gdp&oq=greece+gdp&aqs...


It quadrupled after joining because it borrowed money from Germany and other countries to buy German cars and other goods, not unlike the early stage of Bretton Woods. It had the lowest debt level before joining, like a fat cat to be squeezed by EU bankers, which was also why it was fast-tracked in joining the EU when it clearly didn't meet many clauses of the Copenhagen Criteria.

But when push came to shove in 2008, the debts were exploding not in Germany, but in Greece.


GDP stands for gross domestic product. As its name indicates, GDP measures the production of final goods and services. Borrowing foreign money to buy foreign goods has no effect whatever on a country's level of production and therefore it cannot have any effect on the country's GDP either.


> Borrowing foreign money to buy foreign goods has no effect whatever on a country's level of production

And this is where you're wrong. Borrowing money has a direct and deep impact on ta country's level of production, mainly because that cash is dumped on the economy by spending it on buying goods and services.


Thing is, it's GDP exploded for now underlying economic reasons in the previous decade... and they all consumed the absolutely unearned wealth produced by nothing but cooking the books.

The real "fair" solution would be: to auction off their sovereign territory to the highest bidder, and paying off debt with that cash. If they try to object, confiscate their merchant fleet and block ports with aerial minelaying.


Assuming that you don't care about the Greek people (and obviously you don't) and assuming that the narrative of "we the European people" is false (that obviously it's), what about the public debt?

Because all the actions that took place "to fix" Greece was in order to fix the problem of the public debt. So, I suppose that now, after all the "hard medicine" the problem is solved. Well, it's not and it's not predicted to be in the future.

So, what was all this about?

None of the predictions made at the time by all those hardliners in Germany and company have become a reality. Of course, the guilt is going to be again on the Greeks. Then they will complain when the people turn anti-European and rationalistic.


> Because all the actions that took place "to fix" Greece was in order to fix the problem of the public debt.

That assertion is quite wrong and fly in the face of facts and history.

For example, Greece received a massive debt pardon which whiped out about half the state's debt toward private banks. This alone triggered the bankruptcy of a bunch of private banks, including from other countries also undergoing bailout processes of their own.

Additionally, the bailout process was focused on controlling structural deficit, and not debt. Debt is not the problem, but depending on loans just to keep the state operating is a collosal problem. After Greece's accounting fraud was blown, Greel governments were forced to face the problem of the Greek state enduring double digits deficits. "Austerity" is just a fancy word for "we need to reign in all this overspending", and it boggles the mind how the fact that Greece was routinely spending over 10% of it's fiscal revenue, resorting of loans after loans to cover the difference, is simply omitted or glanced over.


This is exactly why i think the approach taken has been wrong. Austerity was an obvious mistake, it didn't work. What could work was just immediate debt repayment with whatever assets available. Either voluntary like: cutting them off with naval and aerial blockade and making pay for anything including critical imports, only after the debt is repayed, and only in cash, or involuntary say by taking some Mediterranean islands with airborne or sea invasion and selling the land off, deporting the population (obviously compensating the said population at market prices, meaning private entities or persons shouldn't suffer, point is taking sovereign i.e. government land).

I think this isn't going to get fixed until the debt between nations will not be given against some specific collaterial with understood and universally accepted means of taking it regardless of sovereignty. I.e. don't give money to those stronger than you, and be ready to take it back at gunpoint.


Benefits? Which benefits? Eurozone is the lowest-growing area of the world. It destroyed more GDP than the II World War comparing with trends before Euro and with other countries at the same time.

> Should state elections in Mississippi drive US Fed policy?

EU is not a Federal Country, not a State and most of all not a Nation. It's just a common table where each country fights for their interests and the biggest state try to eat all the others not caring about its level of export.


> It destroyed more GDP than the II World War comparing with trends before Euro and with other countries at the same time.

What??


https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-rBugkBzP4j4/U_cZG1HB04I/AAAAAAAAB...

This is a comparison of Italian GDP between 1929 crisis, IIWW and 2007 crisis.

Definitely they didn't go down like IIWW but they didn't bounce either, so in the long term far more growth has been destroyed.


NY private banks lend money to Mississippi banks. At some later point, the global market crashes and NY ""suddenly discovers"" that Mississippi officials lied about the state's finances. NY now wants their money back in the middle of a world-wide crisis. Mississippi banks can't pay.

Should we force the (next generation of) citizens of Mississippi (who didn't personally lie about anything) to pay all this debt for the next 50 years?


US states are forbidden (with some exceptions and loopholes) from issuing debt. I would guess that one of the main reasons why this limitation has never been lifted is exactly to avoid a situation like the one you describe. The Puerto Rico debt crisis has shown that this is not a purely theoretical concern.


Actually curious on this, my knowledge of financial theory is sorely lacking. To my understanding, states can (and do) issue debt through municipal bonds. Is this one of those “exceptions and loopholes”? My understanding of the Puerto Rican debt crisis is that their bonds were made more attractive because income from their bonds is tax exempt by federal law from most US income taxes. By (artificially) increasing the attractiveness of those bonds PR was able to borrow more money than they would otherwise.


Well, to me the answer is "yes of course" at least as long as these Mississippi officials were elected on a state level, or appointed by those elected on state level - not by Washington.


They shouldn't and that's exactly why states are allowed to declare bankruptcy and why Puerto Rico should be allowed to declare bankruptcy. States in the EU probably should be able to also.


Greece could default, but it was not clear what would have happened to their central bank, and if a default would have pushed Greece out of the Eurozone.

Due to these uncertainties, and undoubtedly also to pressure from the rest of the EU, Greece decided instead to renegotiate their debt with the Trojka.


Not really. Greece was never allowed to default properly. The referendum George Papandreou alluded to at the time, is a prime example of what I'm saying: Greece defaulting might drive Italian bond prices through the roof at that point the monetary union would be destroyed overnight.

Now that the debt has been turned from public to private, it might be easier to handle as a situation, but I doubt the EU is able to handle such a crisis gracefully.

Greece is stuck to a never-ending extend and pretend program which will effectively kill the Greek economy in the 21st century.


Greece is a sovereign country. It could have defaulted if it really wanted to. Maybe it would have required an exit from the Euro, but that would have been its choice. That they considered this worse than the alternative was also their choice.


"Well it's their choice to be uninsured, if they wanted medical insurance there's a lot of options in the market" guyputtingonclownmakeup.jpg


> Greece is a sovereign country.

:-)


I think an orderly bankruptcy process would have been preferable to either of those options. If I was in charge of Greece at the time I would have left the EU over it. I'm amazed Britain left and Greece stayed.


Britain is not part of the European Monetary Union. Leaving the monetary union is easier said than done, especially by governments who cannot handle much easier problems.

Make no mistake, such a process would present a challenge for any government.


Schäuble was only 1/17 of the Eurogroup.


He was hardly alone in thinking and supporting that line. Jeroen Dijsselbloem in particular behaved quite disgracefully at the time.


Oh, that old chestnut. The believe that other countries are bound by what you promised local voters.

I'd quip that politicians making that argument could just as well legislate for good weather. But considering Greece, I'm now wondering if they may have already done that. In which case I owe them an apology.


This article does a poor job of explaining what could be controversial about the 2015 Eurogroup Meeting. Who cares? This just sounds like Euro-Politico Soap Opera.

After some digging, I found this:

> The Eurogroup on the 11 July 2015 discussed the request by the Greek authorities for financial assistance from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and their new proposals for a reform agenda.

https://www.europeansources.info/record/extraordinary-eurogr...

So presumably, the recordings provide evidence of some kind of back-door deal between the EU and Greece as terms for refinancing its debt.


As far as I remember, Varoufakis was personally offended that the eurocrats did not take him seriously and did not engage in a discussion of his ideas. He wrote about it several times, he sounded extremely disappointed that you can't have an academic discussion on that table.

I had a really hard time to sympathise with him as I got the impression that he didn't pay attention to the reality of the situation and kept complaining that it's not like the way he likes it.

He seems like a nice guy to drink with but not a person you would like to do business. My guess is that the recordings will prove how cool and smart is he and it wasn't his fault.


> he didn't pay attention to the reality of the situation

Or he paid too much attention to the reality of the situation.

According to him, as a professional economist, the Euro is structurally unsustainable and is going to implode in the next 2008 because of the way the EU is set up politically creating a situation of a central bank without a country and countries without central banks.

What angered him is the way Eurogroup bureaucrats pretend this situation does not exist, even when they themselves admit they understand the same thing, which, to an academic like him, is a crime against logic.


See, here is the problem: This was not the topic of the meetings.

They did not convene there to fix the grand issue that was well known since the inception of the Euro. Not really a scientific discovery he made, a hot topic since ever.

Some professional economists argue that the current capitalist economy is not sustainable, how well do you think it will go if an economist brings this up in his meeting with his bank about the restructuring of his debt he/she racked up?

It's simply ridiculous. It's like those tech people over-obsessed with the technical aspect of an issue who get a managerial job and screwing up royally, get fired and keep bugging people about how company X is doomed because they did not implement his tech idea.

He simply did not understand what job he got and where he is. He thought that he had all the answers for all the problems of the world and he can fix them in those meetings with the eurocrats but they did not listen to him.

It's cringie.


I'm not talking about the meetings either.

The meetings were even simpler: he went there for debt negotiation with an election mandate to not capitulate and with the most open mind for compromise, and was immediately handed an ultimatum to capitulate, with quote verbatim "elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy."

The crime against logic was what he discovered afterwards.


Okay, he could have not capitulated and let the electorate face the music of their decision.

It was a referendum among the Greek people about what their government should do.

You can't hold a referendum about what other people should give them.

The UK got a Brexit referendum and they got out. Nobody would have cared if they held "EU gives as market access but we do not allow Europeans coming over and work referendum" which is what the UK essentially wants.


He could. He was committed to a Grexit, which he calculated to be substantially better for Greece than what it has now. Then he got immense political pressure and death threats to his family.


> He was committed to a Grexit,

That was his personal political goal but not Greece's collective goal or will, and he did nothing more than to run political manoevers to try to manipulate Greeks to assume there was a ridiculous conspiracy by the whole world against them.


Right, the eurocrats threatened his family and political pressure is something that no politician should ever go through.


> Or he paid too much attention to the reality of the situation.

That assumption doesn't hold to scrutiny. If he was half as attentive as you portray him or if he actually cared about reality of the situation or how to fix Greece's economic problem, Varoufakis wouldn't have repeatedly pinned Nazi comparisons on Germany's government has he did, not to mention the Russia stunts.

In fact, Varoufakis' erratic political behavior and systematic diplomatic and political screwups are more in line with a political plan to render a solution within he scope of EU and the euro completely impossible, and in the meanwhile create conditions to force Greece out of the euro, EU and even NATO, which incidentally line up with his ideals and contrast with the will of the Greek people.


> Varoufakis wouldn't have repeatedly pinned Nazi comparisons on Germany's government

Citation please? A quick search finds that he did exactly the opposite:

"Germany must be proud of the fact that Nazism has been eradicated here," he said in a press conference with his German counterpart.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-31170591


Sunlight is the best disinfectant. All citizens deserve to know what their politicians are saying behind closed doors.


That type of blanket statement is a great example of theory vs. practice.

In theory you’d want everything to be public in the interest of informing your populace.

In practice that’s nonsense. There’s genuine national security concerns, forthright debate of alternatives by advisors, and discussions of limits on negotiating positions.

Earring on the side of transparency is a good idea but there’s a whole lot in government that should never, and will never, be public.


How can the public take informed decisions if the reasoned debate is always assumed to be held in secret?

OK, national security and foreign negotiation is a special topic where secrecy can be warranted. But if the government of a country or union of countries is considering, say, pay cuts, why on earth would the population not be entitled to hearing all sides of the argument?


How can politicians take responsible measures if they can be called out on any nonsensical thing?

Not that I'm against transparency, but there really are two sides to this. In the best case, politicians act in the interest of the people, which makes publication of their private dealings unwanted. In the worst case, they act against the interest of the people, which can only be dealt with by complete openness and independent justice. In practice, there's a balance between the two.

And it's worse if the decision makers are judged by people that are only partially affected, such as in EU decisions.


I disagree completely.

If there were real transparency, the public can also, in time, grow together with their politicians, and understand why certain decisions must be taken, and can help the public take a more active and measured role in their own government.

Controlling the actions of politicians who explicitly act against the public interest is at best a minor win. Open and honest dialog is the much more important aspect of this.

And the best case of this is - a politician working for the public interest convinces people to be mindful of their long term goals even when it contradicts their short term goals.


> But if the government of a country or union of countries is considering, say, pay cuts, why on earth would the population not be entitled to hearing all sides of the argument?

Deliberations are not arguments. Arguments are delivered after deliberation is complete.

If you consider a group of advisors acting as an extension of the chief executive, it’s no different than asking for the chief executives private thoughts which is ludicrous.


Per your argument, parliament discussions should also be secret, because otherwise it would be like asking for the private thoughts of the head of parliament.

But being more serious, deliberation is normally done between friendly parties before a negotiation, and perhaps it is usually fair to keep it private, especially before the actual negotiation has taken place.

But the actual negotiation is an excersie in arguments and offers and counter offers, it is no longer a private affair. If the negotiation is over, you can no longer trust the parties to accurately tell a story of the real arguments that took place, since the arguments they tell everyone may well have been a result of the negotiation.


> but there’s a whole lot in government that should never, and will never, be public.

Such governments should be destroyed. Everything in government should be made public sooner or later. Everything in government is public property and belongs to the public.

There may be short term national security issues that may warrant secrecy, but even those in the long term needs to be released to the public.

It's so strange that people actually believe " there’s a whole lot in government that should never, and will never, be public." And this is why so many people distrust the EU and its supporters.


I really don't think in this case there would be any national security issues.


People deserve to hear this. Varoufakis has tried to go through the proper channels to make this public. Now DiEM 2025 (his party) has every right to self-publish these recordings. I for one welcome the transparency.


Not directly related to the article, but here's a bit of context regarding the industriousness of different populations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_average_annual_labor_h...

As can be seen, Greece is towards the top and Germany close to the bottom of the ranking.

This should not be taken as saying that the Greeks are better than the Germans. It's just that individuals in Greece, like those in many other places, spend their lives working hard and they don't deserve to suffer for the corrupt dealings, incompetence and prejudice of their or other countries ruling elite.


That list speaks nothing of industriousness. It's about how many hours are spent at work. Most people who have experienced working in different cultures could tell you that that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how productive people are at work or how much actually gets done.


Productivity is not the same as hard work.

A guy with a pickax can work very hard and still be a lot less productive than a guy with an excavator.


If we wanted to release them, he would have already. Clearly he won’t, cause this could backfire at him. Most probably it will be evident that he was not really participating in the negotiations about the future of his own country and he was literally just a listener (and eves dropper) responding with politically correct generalities. I really want him to publish them, in order to bust the image he is trying to build (that of some type of savior). He never will, unfortunately. He “threatened” to do it to get attention, such as the one he gets in this thread, because he can sense that he has become irrelevant. Please people, stop taking him so seriously.


Might be worth taking a look at And the Weak Suffer What They Must?. While I still think Varoufakis is a bit too much of a calculated politician, the book is compelling in showing that the treatment imposed on Greece stemmed to an important degree from the creditor state's desire to save their own banks and from cultural animus.


This is a really good chance for EU to become more open and organized.

I know of MEPs that have pushed for more open decision making in the past, and not making a lot of progress.


Whatever is in these recordings, is probably meaningless. We know EU is a bureaucratic organization, we deal with it all the time in business, in research funding, in financial filing, etc etc. We also know that people argue a lot, thats why there isn't a central government, and the rules are based on consensus, not majorities. At best he should give them to an interested journalist, who could report on whatever is interesting to be reported. Publishing them wholesale just reeks of egomania.

As a greek, this kind of thing being "news" is insulting to me. This guy is a veritable idiot: a rich boy academic with little-to-show, who became popular for talking in economic gibberish to the most foolish part of the readers of The Guardian(1). After he was summarily dismissed at a cost of at least 100B, which caused needless pain and the first capital controls in my life, he proceeded to write a novel, make a movie, and write another novel for his personal vendetta. He now leads a tiny party of the worst champaigne socialists of europe[2] (who thankfully are on their way out of life). Yes, we have scumbags of this kind in this country, but this is not a representative specimen, or at least it shouldn't be the model of greek citizend who are struggling to catch up with the rest of europe.

1) I 've been tricked to watch a lot of his speeches. I couldn't find a single damn coherent actionable proposal there.

2) https://diem25.org/ap


I agree with you. He likes to give long speeches, but doesn't have anything to say.


My first thought was: "Did he write a new book?"

And indeed, "Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present" will be published soon.


Varoufakis only cares about himself, always promoting himself and is just seeking attention. What a joke of a person! He wanted to replace Euros with a crypto-currency as IoU at some point rather than going back to Drachma. The man is an academic, not a very good at that either and a clown of a Politician. His "negotiations" cost the Greek tax payer about 100Bn Euros, and enabled DB to shift their debt to the German taxpayer, passing it as a "financial rescue".


> He wanted to replace Euros with a crypto-currency as IoU

I don't know where you get this piece of information, but in all his books he argues against Bitcoin and crypto-currency as a reserve currency, making a point of the impossibility of apolitical money.


I think the essence of those conversation have already published by Varoufakis in a book he wrote.


That's true, but until now it's basically been "he said / she said". Having a recording that shows the outright callousness of certain elements of those meetings, is another thing. At the very least, it would set the historical record straight.


I for one, would be interested to read the primary source, when it comes out.

If no one else does, will try posting a link in reply to this comment when it does,


I think that in 2020, everyone outside of a specifically secured facility should assume that are being recorded at all times.


My intellect may be too small but I never understood anything Varoufakis said. I understand how shallow and hypocritical governments can be, but I never got the point of his interviews or actions, beside ranting about how imperfect things are (kinda like Snowden).


This would be quite spicy to hear.


It's as though Farage was right, and there's a lot of unsavory undemocratic backroom dealing going on, cigar smoke and all.


> there's a lot of unsavory undemocratic backroom dealing

That's an extremely loaded word for negotiating consensus. It's as if populist parties are manned by opportunists who have no qualms to throw everyone under the bus if that gives them any advantage.


Well, if it's all above board, they shouldn't be worried about transparency then, so what Varoufakis is doing is totally OK, am I right? Except I think there will be unsavory stuff in it, or there wouldn't be any reason for him to disclose this.


> Well, if it's all above board, they shouldn't be worried about transparency then

That's either extremely naive or disingenuous. It's quite frequent in negotiations that you have to concede parts that might be spinned as collosal political losses even if they are completely inoquous or even in line with the greater good or your political mid to long-term interests. The sovereign debt crisis is an excellent example, as even though it was in no one's best interests to let states go bankrupt, a hand full of member states were forced to navigate populist and extremist political parties and movements who were fundamentally opposed to both the EU, euro, and bailout processes who were spinning this issue to further their personal agenda. It's absurd to even assume that needlessly exposing your nation to this sort of manipulation is in anyone's best interests.


Who decides what is "greater good" though? Some unelected bureaucrat in the Brussels? A globalist cabal? Frau Merkel? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Why do you have so much trust in these "negotiations" that you don't even want to see what transpired in them?


> Who decides what is "greater good" though?

The people you voted and elected for that exact role of course. That's what being a democratic republic is all about.




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