by Peter Tompa
Europeans (and Americans) are looking to Germany to "save Europe" by doing more to prop up the bankrupt Greek economy and the ever more shaky Italian one. See http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d29da7fc-19ee-11e1-b9d7-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1f6othzXp
However, throwing more money at the Greeks and the Italians will only delay the inevitable. What is really needed is to break down the internal barriers in each country that have led to special interests strangling any chance for much needed economic reforms.
But this is a blog about cultural property issues. On that score, isn't it funny that self-righteous archaeologists hold up Italy and Greece as models for all to emulate? Meanwhile, rational systems like those in Germany and the United Kingdom that recognize the importance of collectors and the trade in cultural goods to the appreciation of ancient culture and its ultimate preservation, get little but scorn heaped on them, largely because they don't allow archaeologists to monopolize policy toward cultural property issues.
Archaeologists assume that government control over all cultural artifacts is the answer-- but how can this be, particularly in the current environment where these governments and their economic and cultural systems that favor the connected few are facing default?
At the present rate it won't be long before the laws of economics pass an inexorable and drastic judgment upon the irresponsible financial policies of European debtor nations -- a judgment that will shake the EEU to its core.
Alarmed at the prospect of a forced return to fiscal reality with incalculable political consequences, the leadership of the EEU is turning to Germany as the only economic power with the potential financial muscle to take on the role of Atlas, and support for a while longer their tottering EEU world. It however seems as though the final result was decades ago predicted by Ayn Rand in what was perhaps her most famous politico-economic novel.
The German people and their political leaders have very little enthusiasm for bearing such a cosmic burden and being prudent and thrifty themselves, are inclined to think that those who got themselves into such a mess by their own improvidence and stupidity should now get themselves out of it. Germany could probably survive almost unscathed an enforced shrinkage of the EEU to its economically sound core and the departure of marginal economies such as Greece, Italy, Spain and Ireland, to return to their previous national currencies which would then be devalued to absorb their unfundable sovereign debt.
While such a course of events would soon return Europe to economic sanity, it would also impose hardships upon the inhabitants of these debtor nations that could have serious consequences. The cost of imported goods and raw materials would skyrocket, and they would become unable to buy nearly as much from abroad as they do now, which could very well mean that economic essentials such as oil would get priority while consumer goods and food from abroad would be almost unobtainable.
Tompa rightly questions how European leaders can possibly justify continuing to pay for the now clearly failed policy of State confiscation and subsequent ownership of all archaeological artifacts, countless millions of which -- insignificant, utterly redundant to science and useless to society -- are now amassed in museum storerooms and warehouses. It seems to me that we are also moving toward a judgment here, in which the laws of economics will in the end inexorably bring about great weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth in the halls of academia, cultural ministries and other lairs of unrealistic cultural ideologues who unthinkingly expect society to forever pay the bill for their social delusions.