Wednesday, 21 November 2012

08:33 – The EU finance ministers met all night, but couldn’t agree on giving any more money to Greece. It might help if they stopped referring to these disbursements as “loans” and started referring to them as what they really are. Gifts. Meanwhile, there’s another EU summit starting, this one concerning the EU budget. As you might expect, this one is also divided along the norther-tier/southern-tier line, with the northern tier wanting to economize and the southern tier, lead by France, chanting gimme, gimme, gimme.

The euro is already toast, of course, but what we’re seeing here is the EU itself beginning to fracture. Cameron is trying desperately to keep the UK in the EU while appeasing the euroskeptics among his own Tories and in the rapidly-growing UKIP. But a majority of Brits already favor leaving the EU, and a referendum on continued EU membership can’t be far in the future. Cameron’s efforts are misguided anyway. The only part of the EU that benefits the UK is the common market, and the UK needn’t be in the EU to remain in the common market. And even if the EU were foolish enough to refuse Britain membership in the common market without membership in the EU, the economic impact on the UK would be minimal. Reduced trade with the EU might be a percentage point or two, but no more. And without the taxes associated with EU membership, nor the ridiculous level of regulation that goes with EU membership, nor the social welfare costs incurred because of EU-mandated open borders, the UK would actually be much better off. And the UK is by no means the only northern-tier EU nation that is beginning to realize that the math for EU membership doesn’t add up.

It’s about time. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has formally recommended that birth control pills be made available over-the-counter, something that should have been done 20 years ago, if not 30. Now they need to get to work on approving other drugs for OTC availability, including marijuana, oxycodone, heroin, and cocaine. Everything, in fact, except antibiotics. And while they’re at it, they should consider placing acetaminophen on Schedule I in recognition of the fact that it’s the most dangerous drug in common usage.

Work continues on building chemistry kits and biology kits for inventory. I’m also putting together a small initial run of two new kits, maybe half a dozen or so of each. I’d build more of the new kits now, but one of the components common to both is on backorder. I’m supposed to be getting a case of a hundred of those in a couple weeks.

13:10 – I just got email from WSU saying that Colin is homozygous normal with respect to the MDR1 gene. That means we don’t have to worry about giving him ivermectin-based heartworm medications, as well as a slew of other medications. We’re very relieved.

14:46 – Greece is pissed. It says it’s met all the requirements for the next aid tranche. (It hasn’t, of course; it hasn’t even come close to meeting all the requirements it agreed to before the first bailout a couple of years ago. In fact, it hasn’t even tried to do what it agreed to do.) The EU knows that Greece hasn’t met all of the requirements. Greece will promise anything to get more money and then simply not do what it promised. But EU spokesmen have had very nice things to say about how hard Greece is trying. Not that that’s bought Greece anything. Even if the tranche is approved, none of it will actually benefit Greece. It won’t even be under Greek control. The Troika controls disbursements from the bail-out funds, and all of those disbursements go to pay off creditors, mostly other eurozone governments and banks.

What I don’t understand is why Greece continues to participate in this charade. If I were the Greek government, I’d tell the eurocrats to get stuffed. I’d default on all outstanding debts and return to the drachma. Yes, that means that no one will lend any money to Greece in the forseeable future. So what? No one is lending them any money now. And, yes, it means that Greece will be doomed to at least a decade of absolute poverty and suffering, and probably two decades. Again, so what? They’re doomed now no matter what they do. And continuing as they are will simply make that suffering last longer. At least if they were free of the euro they’d be able to recover, albeit very slowly. Greece will never be a wealthy country. In fact, it will never be even a middle-class country. But this single-minded focus on staying in the EU and euro is foolish and against Greece’s own interests.

So if I were Greece, my goal would be not just a complete default, but a disorderly complete default. If I were going down, I’d want to take the entire EU with me, most particularly Germany. And, even more particularly, Angela Merkel, whom the Greeks almost universally hate. Hate with a passion. Their comparing her to Hitler was not exaggerating how they feel. And defaulting would doom Merkel politically.