I was listening to a pundit yesterday rail against the EU for not being enthused about letting Ireland default on her debts, a la Greece. What was interesting was that the pundit did not see a distinction between Greece and Ireland, and seemed to be convinced that things in Ireland were just as bad as in Greece. Not only is that just not economically true, because, to give one example, the Irish people do actually pay taxes, and Ireland does actually manufacture products for export, but I found the “Bird O’Donnell” from “The Field” approach to the issue to be pretty odious.
There are good reasons for any country wanting to reduce its debt, but to actually demean ourselves in front of the rest of the world, trying to convince them that we are as s**t a country as one that lied to the rest of Europe and demands a parasite’s free passage, that’s pretty low. I’m paying more taxes like everyone else. My pay has been cut like (nearly) everyone else. I have less public services like everyone else. But I don’t want to have my government debase our national honour. Not only is it damaging to our ability to restore national sovereignty by returning to the bond markets, it’s just plain sleazy. Surely we are actually a better country than Greece? Surely our word means something?
Funnily enough, when I was thinking about this post, I mentioned it to a few (non-political) people, and I deliberately pushed the “honour” line, because I was curious as to how that argument played. Not surprisingly, it was met, for the most part, with a mixture of puzzlement and sneering. I was left with the impression that “honour” is only of use to us if we can use it to trick another nationality into thinking we are morally better than we are, in another to help us steal something from them. I’m often surprised at the amount of people who boast about things they stole, or debts they left unpaid, when they lived in Australia or the US. They’re not bad people, yet it is interesting that if you stole similar amounts of money from their bank accounts, they’d be outraged. That’s the thing about honour: it’s for other people.