“You Can Lose Freedom Only Once”

Poor Angela Merkel. The beleaguered German Chancellor just can’t catch a break. She has already committed hundreds of billions of German taxpayer euros to bailing out collapsing Eurozone countries, or at least their bondholders, which would be the ECB, various German and French banks, and the other usual suspects. In return, she wants these countries to live within their means and restructure their economies so that the bailouts would not have to continue ad inifinitum. While the ECB’s printing press—though it’s not supposed to have one—could solve the debt crisis in one fell swoop after the model of the US, Japan, the UK, and Zimbabwe, it would create a host of problems that Germans would rather avoid. Hence bailouts in return for structural reforms and efforts to whittle budget deficits down to some “sustainable level.”

Sounds reasonable. And yet, these laudable efforts have landed her in the company of Axis-of-Evil perpetrators and other maligned characters, according to the British magazine New Statesman, and it doesn’t appear to be, though it reads like, British humor:

Which world leader poses the biggest threat to global order and prosperity? The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Wrong. Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu? Nope. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un? Wrong again. The answer is a mild-mannered opera fan and former chemist who has been in office for seven years. Yes, step forward, Chancellor Angela Merkel….

And it came with this awesome Terminator-inspired cover art, which does, however, have certain humorous aspects:


So, in this crazy world of ours, preaching the importance of living within one’s means, rather than consuming wildly and blowing borrowed money that can never be paid back, has been equated with state terrorism. And that within the harmonious community of nations of Europe!

No wonder that the Swiss are anxiously watching from their tiny enclave amid this mayhem. And people in power have started to speak up. There was Thomas Jordan, President of the Swiss National Bank, who admitted that “it’s conceivable that the entire European banking system gets into trouble.”.

Now there is Ueli Maurer, Defense Minister, member of the Swiss Federal Council, and major figure in the right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), the largest party in the Federal Council. He warned in an interview that Switzerland was surrounded by many heavily wounded nations that might be “looking for success in foreign countries. And Switzerland is a sitting duck.”

Maurer lived the Swiss Dream: boy of a farmer, he served in the Swiss Army where he rose to the rank of major and commanded a bicycle infantry battalion (don’t laugh, war by bicycle was serious business). And so he has become an advocate of Swiss independence, even in a tightly interwoven world.

“Independence is the highest good we have,” he said. “We have to defend it everywhere we can.” Switzerland should not join any kind of union. Least of all the European Union, despite the government’s policy of rapprochement between Switzerland and the EU, which he dismissed: “Today, no one who isn’t completely crazy wants to join the EU.”

And he is worried. “We have to watch out that they don’t take away our wealth and our freedom.” If push came to shove, he’d choose freedom, of course. “You can lose wealth, and you can regain it,” he said, “but you can lose freedom only once.”

It wasn’t up to Switzerland to help these “tumbling giants,” he said; the country was too small and didn’t have a lot of options. “It’s a matter of monetary policy,” he said dryly. Instead, Switzerland would have to look for new allies. “We’re enjoying, for example, many sympathies in Asia. We have to profit from that,” he said. “Europe has crossed its peak.”

He raved about Switzerland’s economic and democratic model. “Handing responsibility to the people, that’s the future. Europe is in bad shape because it assumed that responsibility could be relinquished to a higher level. But in the end, no one is responsible.”

Which sums up the Eurozone bailout strategy.

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  6 comments for ““You Can Lose Freedom Only Once”

  1. KLARE says:


  2. lucas says:

    its a funny story about the swiss and any other nation that greatly bennefited from a high Euro, but ofcourse when he going gets tough, peg's its currency to the euro ,, so in other words prosperatiy in switserland did not get created by the swiss but because of the euro countrys around it.
    Ofcourse the swiss did not created the euro mess , but a word from the wise ,silence is golden.
    do not piss on your neighbor countrys in public , because what goes around may come around.

    and looking at new alies in azia , well you swiss dude contact the company in your country that makes "swiss made speed sensors" Jaquet, and ask how azia is working out for them, like anything being copyed lately??? baidu billing you for a million click hits a day ??????
    azia a great place to make money if you are selling western grown and made food (not copyable). anything else will not be yours over time.

  3. lucas says:

    But great respect for Angela Merkel, i am not sure what the end game will be but clearly she has to understand that the germans need to come first in this game.
    for many who may not understand history and as painfull as it may be , Adolf Hitler did not come to power because of his leadership skills but because of the totaly loser government before him , that partied with taxpayers money and did nothing for the germans , even more painfull but true , germans financers then, before hitler came to power are the same that run wallstreet today and are the same gang that was part of the bolshevik revolution. what would russia be today if these bankster would not have started that revolution and killed of a very well capatalist russia.

  4. Wolf Richter says:

    Lucas – The funny, and sad, thing is that every country in the Eurozone wanted to, and did, benefit from the euro in their own ways, and none of them now want to pay to retain those benefits. Everybody wants the free lunch — though it doesn't exist.

    Greece benefitted tremendously; their standard of living jumped, wages skyrocketed, and cheap euro loans made everything possible, even the gigantic Olympic boondoggle that is now being taken over by weeds.

    In Germany, real wages declined since Reunification, and German workers went from one of the best paid in the world to also rans. Even doctors and psychologists took on cuts, and everything got trimmed down, but German industrialist, especially those focused on exports, benefitted tremendously, and so new jobs were created, though lower-paid jobs that the unemployed eagerly took up… that's how Germany benefitted. So industrialist want the euro, the German people are much less enthusiastic about it. But it's the German people, not the industrialists, who are now paying to maintain it. And I wonder how much longer that will go on.

  5. lucas says:

    Hey Wolf, its the same game played in the usa and all over the world, sucker in the commen people and then yank the food bowl away and make them work for little to non. but before that made them live like kings in their paper castles, , it makes one truely wonder what the end game will be.

    try to google wallstreet and the bolshevik revolution , by Antony C Sutton and Jewish role in the bolshevik revolution, then start connecting the dots to WW2 , the Jewish role in the german government before hitler came to power. and all financial dealing over the years by then ,, Jews seem to be very interested in the financial world and make great profits ,, and all of that is ok , as long as the commen people don't get hurt, however that is not the case, personaly i have no problem with anyone but with only 14 million jews world wide 0.20% of the population , it makes one wonder , are they digging a hole for them selfs.

    it makes you wonder what made Adolf Hitler start this mass murder, and what history did he base his jugement on.
    now i have to read your China story , i live here so i see the inner working of a country.

  6. Rishi says:

    It's so naive and stupid on part of English to comment such low on a politician who is really working hard not only for her people but for them hippies as well who does not want to work and just want to enjoy the freebies, same for them English who wants to extravaganza without some hard work and then blaming Indians and Chinese for job loss. France should take the lead and accept Ms Merkel's offer albeit with some concessions, this might make other disgraceful nations to follow suit, else Europe might lead to another World problem. I remember an incident that happened in Japanese POW camp in WW-2, when a Jap soldier was beheading a POW accusing him of lazy and inefficient maming him deserving to die, sadly i seem to concur with that Jap soldier (ofcourse i would never do that meself).

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