Like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The prime minister was right to point out that Greece has become a guinea pig. What Premier George Papandreou failed to mention is the type of experiment that is being carried out and his own part in it. To be sure, Papandreou is not to blame for the fiscal crisis that his administration inherited from the conservative government but he is still responsible for the way he has handled it. Naturally, the crisis should act as a catalyst for scrapping Greece’s dysfunctional and wasteful growth model while replacing it with a healthier and more productive system. Instead, the crisis is being used as an excuse for injecting neoliberal ideas and policies into the country’s economy and society. The memorandum for the rescue package does contain some necessary measures but overall it has a Procrustean effect that is bound to result in recession. Even if accepting the memorandum was the only way Greece could keep its head above water does not mean that it has all the right recipes. Brutal measures are not purgatory. The real dilemma should be productive versus counterproductive measures and not tough vs mild ones. Reviving the economy requires reforms to streamline the economy and make it more productive. Greece is in an emergency situation. Breaking the deadlock mandates new political tools, imaginative approaches and effective strategies. The crisis has provided an opportunity to finally implement smart and pragmatic solutions that have long been left unexploited. After all, the crisis works as a catalyst that can transform social attitudes and mentalities. The problem is that the Papandreou administration is on autopilot, closely following the dictates of the memorandum. That is because the recipes of the IMF and the EU serve the government’s political objectives while also disguising its inability to drastically tackle the crisis. The Greek problem is above all a political problem, not an economic one. As long as the government continues to look like Mickey Mouse in Walt Disney’s «Sorcerer’s Apprentice,» the chances of steering clear of disaster will continue to diminish.