By George Rupert
A little over ten years ago the famed Dutch Libertarian, Toine Manders, offered me a one-year contract to work in his office in Cyprus. For me, Cyprus was just what the doctor ordered, sun, sea, mountains, low taxes, offshore businesses, offshore banking, and lax enforcement of minor laws. The island was awash with money, unemployment was less than 1%, and the government ran a surplus. I was introduced to a lot of locals, and a Cypriot family even took me under their wing. I was cemented in, and ten years later I am still here.
In 2004, the EU came with their pockets full of money, and much to my chagrin Cyprus joined. The country was now subject to a number of ridiculous regulations against things such as ‘producing too much milk’ or ‘hoarding sugar’. There were also EU produce laws mandating picture perfect produce, where cucumbers had to be straight and of a certain length. It was a complete shock to the system.
Then in 2008—as economies around the world began to falter—Cypriots elected the communist Dimitris Christoflas. A man whose picture proudly displayed the image of Che Guevara in the background. I suddenly found myself under a Communist government with a bloated administration, 31 poorly performing state owned companies, and a financial mess on the horizon.
Flash forward to 2012, the country is in real trouble, unemployment is around 10%, and the government is out of money. First they asked for and got a five year 2.5 billion euro loan from Russia, of which Cyprus could not even make its first payment. Then, hat in hand they asked the EU for 10.2 billion euros of support. At the start, the EU said that it would take 13 billion to clean the country up. The required amount then grew to 15 billion, then 17 billion and now stands at 23 billion euros.