French Lifestyles, German Money

All debts come due. Ultimately, nations and individuals reap what they sow…this is the law of reality (Galatians 6:7). It applies in our personal financial lives and it applies to entire countries.

The financial union of the Euro zone has just received their “notice of delinquency” letter from reality. The turmoil we see currently playing out at both the political and financial levels is a stark reminder that credit is a tool of growth not a crutch for greed. The bottom line of this turmoil in the Euro zone is a war of competing philosophies. The “Southern” European view of a life consisting of an all inclusive resort of enjoyment, free of the grip of worry or toil versus the “Northern” European view of practicality, frugality and moderation.

Headlines are filled with reports of the financial struggles of countries such as Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy yet the true battle lies in the political and philosophical battle between France and Germany for control of Europe. France wants the credit card in the name of Paris with a billing address of Berlin.

Germany yearns for rules to govern the currency of the Euro; France desires rules also but rules without consequences for breaking those rules. I would proffer that there exists absolutely no agreement in Germany of letting decision-making regarding the Euro currency fall into the hands of France and its wayward cousins in Southern Europe. The crux of the question is who will lead Europe? Will France use history to shame Germany (WW I & WW II) or leverage Germany’s export driven economy of which France is the largest buyer of German goods to continue to live beyond its means by way of Germany’s purse strings. Or will Germany accomplish its historical aims without ever firing a shot?

A common currency without a common culture and world view is a temporary papering over of truths in the name of purposeful ignorance in order to live a material lifestyle a people desires yet can ill afford. A mere look at the mottos of each nation is quite instructive as France defines its motto as “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” while Germany lives under the auspice of “Unity, Justice and Freedom”. The timeless idiom of the Golden Rule applies here one would believe, though with a slightly different spin. He who has the gold makes the rules.

Germany possesses “gold,” unity and a cultural desire for justice, France has debt, fraternity, and a cultural nostalgia for equality. A philosophical battle looms.

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