I think it was inevitable, from a number of points of view, that the euro would sooner or later burst apart at the seams. The Greek crisis isn’t the first straw in the wind by any means, but it’s a major, unmistakable sign that the EU currency union is going to break up and the euro is on its way out. And the EU itself will meet its inevitable doom not too long after that.
When you stop to think about it, the EU was really a stupid idea to begin with. It started out as a coal and steel free-trade zone, which made a lot of sense. But as time went on, as people in general and Europeans in particular seem to love to do, they bureaucratized the thing and made it into a pseudo-government. They wrote a constitution hundreds of times longer than the one that served the United States so well until it was abandoned. They took on micromanaging everything, down to producing huge, phonebook-sized regulations on the composition of French cheeses, and so on. There’s a burgeoning bureaucracy in Belgium trying to consolidate the 27 member states into one giant country, and it’s absolutely not going to work.
The people in question don’t just come from differ- ent countries that speak different languages — they come from different cultures. That’s far more profound a difference and one that, historically, takes centuries to harmonize — if even then. From an economic perspective, it’s important to understand that these different cultures have different economic patterns. They just don’t do things the same way. People in some cultures don’t save, for example; they’d rather borrow and spend. Other cultures don’t get the concept of sustaining capital at all, and the things they build start running down immediately. Swedes think, act, work, play, and live quite differently from Sicilians.