Political Honesty

The German poet Matthias Claudius commented some years ago,

Say not all that you know, but know all that you say.

Spiegel Online International thinks that’s good advice in a particular circumstance today:

That would be a good lesson for those politicians who are handling the euro crisis.  Absolute honesty, which many are now demanding of the German government after its most recent comments on Greece, is simply not wise.

SOI justifies their position this way:

…the EU approaches the euro crisis through negotiations between member states.  And a fundamental principle of these negotiations is that not all cards are laid on the table at once.  It’s a classic way in diplomacy of avoiding bursts of outrage.

And, citing an aspect of Robert Putnam’s Two-Level Games Theory,

Politicians have to sell their policy goals both at home and abroad.

Which is true enough in winning games, but it overlooks one essential secular fact, and one fundamental moral fact: the only place the sale has to go through is at home—those are the folks who will be forced to pay for the politician’s…decision.  The fundamental moral fact is this: the folks at home are the ones who will have to give up a significant portion of the security and prosperity they’ve hard-won for their families in order to pay for the politician’s…decision.

Such a policy might have been defensible early, in the run-up—even the after math—of the EU’s first Greek bailout.  But now, after the debacle of two failed Greek bailouts and amid talk of yet a third, the policy has outlived its usefulness.  It’s time to lay it all out.  Let the people who will be required to pay for yet another bailout with their hard-earned money taken as tax know what the politicians know and think they know about the situation.  Let the people whose money it is decide for themselves whether a third bailout is warranted.

Else, what are the politicians covering up?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *