By Eric Margolis
THIS WEEK, the European Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, actually scolded Germany for producing too efficiently and exporting too much.
Were the amiable Barroso not EU Commission president, he would likely be sitting under an olive tree in his native bankrupt Portugal, strumming melancholy fado songs on his guitar.
What a lot of nerve. The Germans can never win. Maybe Germany needs industrial inefficiency advisors from France, Italy or Greece to learn how to work less efficiently.
Now, the French have also joined the anti-German chorus, claiming that the overly-industrious, thrifty Teutons are depriving other EU members of jobs and growth. Once again, “les Boches” are menacing the republic.
Note to French President Francois Hollande: “Monsieur le president, it’s not the Boches who endanger France, it’s your own spoiled, lazy, truculent workers and armies of bureaucrats.”
Blame belligerent farmers and fishermen fighting for their outrageous subsidies and bloated quotes. Blame industrial workers who refuse to move to new jobs or retrain. Blame sky-high taxes and social welfare benefits for pricing French products out of world markets.
France’s government consumes 56 per cent of gross national product. That’s the place to start slashing spending. In France, government is like a giant papa who gives to his children, when they don’t get enough, they pout, sulk and riot demanding more money for less work.
Poor Hollande. He’s now the least respected French president ever. Last week, he was booed on the Champs Elysee. All of Brittany is up in arms over a new truck tax. Angry Bretons are rioting and burning, decked out in red bonnets worn by the original French revolutionaries.
Then there was Hollande’s ludicrous imbroglio over an illegal gypsy family from Kosovo. The daughter was hauled out of school and deported with her family, causing an uproar on France’s left that was unaware that Kosovo’s gypsies had been unleashed by Serb occupiers to loot and seize homes of Albanians.
Hollande tried to divert his people’s anger by a jolly little neo-colonial military expedition in the wastes of Mali. And then, he tried to play to France’s 600,000 Jewish citizens, by sabotaging an almost nuclear deal with Iran. But he’s still on the hot seat.
Off across the Channel, where in the late 1800’s the Brits were building new forts against a feared French invasion, politics were in turmoil over immigration and demands to quit the EU. This time, the feared invaders are East Europeans, namely Bulgarians and Romanians. Whatever officials permitted these two East European delinquent states into the EU should have their heads examined.
There are 19,000 more Bulgarians and Romanians working in Britain than last year. Original estimates said between 5,000 and 13,000 East European workers would come to the UK. In reality, over 100,000 had flooded in by 2007. One of the architects of this fiasco, former Labor bigwig Jack Straw, admitted it was a “spectacular mistake.”
Add in a huge wave of Polish workers who are now everywhere in southern Britain. At least the girls are pretty and the men old-school polite. Poles are of Europe and work hard. The Bulgars and Romanians are still mentally in the dark end of Europe. Worse are the waves of gypsies (or Roma) who have come to Western Europe looking for green pastures for petty crimes and living on welfare.
Enough, cry many Brits, as a movement to quit the European Union has not reached parity with those who want to stay in the union. The average lower and middle class Britain – xenophobic, often racist, and narrow-minded – hates being part of Europe, with its rules and regulations and distant bureaucrats in that one horse-town, Brussels. Rule Britannia!
But Britain’s big business is clinging to the EU. There are already threats by major auto-makers to pull their plants out of Britain if it decamps from the EU. If this happened, Britain’s only good option would be to face reality and become an American state. Britain is already pretty-much an American theme park. But the queen, that tourist magnet, would of course have to rule on.
Poor Francois Holland, recently called a “short, little fat man” by the pint-sized, pushy Sarkozy, could at least take refuge in England if the red-hatted mobs got to his Elysee Palace.
*Eric Margolis is a veteran US born journalist who has covered the Middle East and Afghanistan-Pakistan for more than 3 decades. For 27 years, ending in 2010, he was a contributing editor to the Toronto Sun chain of newspapers, writing mainly about the Middle East, South Asia and Islam. He is the author of American Raj and War at the Top of the World