My post earlier this week coincided with a furore in Slovakia over approval of the European Financial Stability Facility. The EFSF is yet another mechanism for ill-transparently transferring taxpayer funds via governments and central banks to bankers, bondholders and bank shareholders.
An obscure leader, Richard Sulik, of an obscure minority party, SaS, objected to impoverishing his already poor countrymen to enrich foreign bankers. Under the terms of EFSF financing, taxpayers in Slovakia - the second poorest nation in the EU - would bear a disproportionate share of the EFSF burden relative to the size of the economy.
When the prime minister made support for the EFSF a vote of confidence, Sulik and his party brought down the government. The EFSF is likely to pass following a reorganisation of the coalition government, but in the meanwhile we have a teaching moment of real value.
I respect any politician who acts out of principle rather than self interest. Since the occurence is relatively rare, I was prompted to take a closer look at Mr Richard Sulik and his views on the EFSF. Fortunately he has documented his objections fully in a paper available online:
European Financial Stability Facility: A Road to Socialism
Just like it is impossible to extinguish fire with a fan, it is equally impossible to solve the debt crisis with new debts. The only thing that will help is to face the truth. Greece must declare bankruptcy, Italy must start saving and the rules set up by the eurozone upon its establishment must finally start being observed. It will hurt, but it is the only solution. . .
I would like to point out that this is not the same eurozone we entered in 2009. There are rules that should have been observed but all of them have been violated. Temporary EFSF and permanent EFSF will cost us 1 to 1.5 the amount of our annual state budget! Moreover, there is no guarantee that the attempts for the EFSF increase are over. . . .
EFSF ratification by the National Council will be a decision that will harm the citizens of Slovakia in the long run and to a great extent.
SaS will simply not sign up for something like this.
Whether you are for or against the EU, for or against the Eurozone, for or against bailouts, this is an important document to read. It catalogues the lawlessness and lack of accountability that made a bad financial crisis into a bad banking crisis then worse sovereign debt crisis and an even worse currency crisis.
I wish Mr Sulik had a career ahead of him in central banking or EU public policy. I fear after this week, he may once again be relegated to obscurity. His fellow Slovakians should be grateful for his principled stance and his foresight, and perhaps return him and his party to government when the costs of the betrayal of other parties become all too clear.
UPDATE: This just in! Berlusconi must face a vote of confidence tomorrow in the Italian parliament after defeat in a routine vote on government budget and accounts yesterday. Perhaps the Slovakian teaching moment will last longer than one day?
UPDATE (2): The three outgoing coalition parties have agreed with the opposition SMER party to pass the EFSF in a further vote to be scheduled before the end of the week. An election will be held on 10 March 2012. I hope the Slovakian voters remember then that the party that did not betray them to Brussels and the banksters was SaS.