From the Mailbag:
Thank you for being awesome. I’ve noticed that every morning there is a new development in the unfolding Euro crisis but it seems that you and other commentators have gotten lazy about actually explaining what these new wrinkles mean. Just an observation, thanks for blogging each day.
– RW in the Deep South
Well, RW…You’re in luck. The deal is this:
Right now the reason there are so many new wrinkles in the Euro story is that apparently the countries making up the Euro Zone must agree to expanding the bailout fund (EFSF or whatever) in order to save the fiscal union and the currency. What most people haven’t taken the time to explain is the process by which the EU nations come to this agreement. Because there are so many individual nations and cultures involved, the procedure is a bit complicated, so let’s take a look at what’s involved in an orderly fashion below:
1. The first step is that all the countries must agree that an agreement is necessary. This is traditionally an 18-month process that involves many conference calls and lots of cross-border intrigue. Communiques are sent by pigeon only (although owl-bound messages have gained some level of acceptance recently).
2. Once the EU countries have decided to decide something, the ceremonial regatta can commence that decides who speaks first. This is a boat race that begins off the coast of Portugal and wends its way around Iberia, up the coast of France, through the English Channel, eventually concluding in the North Sea on the shores of Jutland.
3. The finance ministers of each Euro Zone country await their nation’s vessel on the docks, each holding a truffle-sniffing hog on a leash. When the ships’ captains make it to shore, they pass the batons to the finance ministers who then continue the event in the Danish Forests. The hogs are set loose to sniff around and turn up a series of hidden treaty amendments that were strategically buried in 1998 by officials from Credit Lyonaisse, Dresdner Bank and Banco Popular. The finance minister’s swine who turn up the most amendments get to stitch them together and read them at the opening press conference live on television.
4. Upon the press conference’s conclusion, the pigs are slaughtered and dressed for the ancient Germanic blood rite that precedes all intercontinental parliamentary votes. For 6 days and 7 nights EU officials bathe in blood and copulate wildly, with only Orangina to quench their thirst. When it is determined that each participant has enjoyed the company of each other participant, the first ballot can proceed.
5. Traditionally, the voting members of the blood rite delegation will ride donkeys into Slovenia and be greeted by the townsfolk who will garland them with sausage links around their necks and sheets of air-dried pork draped across their shoulders. The mayor of each town along the donkey trail will drive up to the procession in his late-model compact car and smear lipstick across his face maniacally as if to indicate to the ministers “I am an insane person incapable of making financial decisions for my countrymen, thank you o ministers for sorting this stuff out for us all.” The ministers will reciprocate this humble demonstration by making small gifts of butter tarts.
6. Upon their arrival in Bratislava, a new vote is taken, but this time the parliaments across the continent are able to watch via closed-circuit television and send in comments via pigeon. While awaiting the comments to come in from the four corners of Europe, parliament is expected to issue as many vague and misleading statements about the voting to Reuters reporters as possible.
7. At 8pm on the first night, the Gondola-rowers union of Venice is invited to address the members of the body. Their grievances are now recorded in a scroll that will be entombed in the National Portuguese Archives in Lisbon. The messenger who brings this scroll to Lisbon must open up his stomach with the ceremonial sword that was first used to be-knight Robbie Magne, Charlamagne’s step-brother from his father’s third marriage.
8. In the meantime, the voting in Bratislava is now concluded. One of the donkeys is selected to walk the envelope containing the results westward toward Paris. There is a 2 week bicycle race to determine who gets to open the envelope, which must remain sealed until three full moons after Bastille Day. If the person opening the envelope was born within the first three months of the year but not on a Tuesday, then the results of the vote must be read to all in Spanish. However, if that person was born in the first three months but on a Tuesday, the entire process is expected to begin all over again – regatta, truffle-sniffing hogs, donkey-rising and everything.
9. Assuming an acceptable official has earned the right to read the results, we can at last except some type of resolution. Unless of course this event falls during one of the four months of the year when most of Europe is “on holiday”. In that case the process will begin again after a nation-by-nation election to name new officials to the process to represent each of the nations whose names end in a consonant and/or contain the color green in their flag.
10. It is important to understand that while this process can take time, the key is that no one will actually abide by the result since most of the nations sending representatives don’t actually have any money to begin with. The process of securing parliamentary support is mainly undergone to distract us from the fact that, for the third time in 100 years, Germany has actually assumed de facto control of the entire continent and is calling the shots once again.
So you see, it’s actually all quite simple when you understand the steps involved. I hope this answered your question and was helpful, RW.
– J to the B, October 12th 2011