NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When it comes to keeping the Eurozone together and leading it out of its current economic morass, don't blame the messenger.
As the strongest economy in the Eurozone, it has fallen to Germany to lead the way in setting and enforcing policies that keep the economic union on solid competitive footing.
For some countries, like Italy, France and Greece, this can mean painful reforms. Billed as austerity programs, these reforms are often extremely unpopular where they are implemented. Take Greece, which is basically in open revolt against the Eurozone right now over basically how much in entitlements citizens will receive and how much tax will be collected to pay for it all.
When one considers the debate that is going on within the Eurozone these days, especially the concern about Greece and whether or not it is gong to be able to stay in the currency union, the discussion seems to center on Germany as the "bad guy." It's an unfair characterization.
The leaders in Germany have the goal of making German business an efficient, productive and competitive force in the world economy to rival China and the U.S. It knows it can only do this as a part of a larger economic force, the Eurozone. Herein lies the conflict.
For the Eurozone to become a stable economic powerhouse like the U.S., it needs to have the member economies aligned in the way they do business. Today, they are not.
As Financial Times Columnist Wolfgang Münchau writes, "The eurozone is out of whack."
The misalignments have to do with prices and labor costs. They have to do with the way government works, with payoffs, bribes, and fraud. They have to do with social class, the availability of education, of what jobs are available to whom, and who can live where.
Turning Greece, for instance, into an economy that more closely resembles Germany's, requires reforms. Such reforms change the way a country and its people live. A good example in this case would be turning around the pervasive and long-standing culture of tax evasion in Greece.
As a consequence, Germany and its supporters within the Eurozone are putting the pressure on other nations to live up to these standards. The Eurozone cannot be competitive within the global economy if the whole eurozone is not competitive. Thus, discipline must be enforced.
If this is true, however, one should be unsentimental regarding the adjustments that are needed. Münchau disagrees, writing, "Ideally the adjustment should be symmetric, which means that the surplus and deficit countries should meet somewhere in the middle."
But, if everyone were in the middle, would the Eurozone be the efficient, productive, and competitive trading area that can hold its own against other nations that are striving to be the most efficient, productive and competitive countries in the world?
Here we get into a debate between governmental policies that are focused on the short-run and those that are focused on the longer-run.
Shorter-run policies primarily achieve the status quo, keep workers employed in the jobs they have always had, result in less productive physical capital and maintain the status quo in terms of how business is conducted.
Longer-run programs realize that the changes will mean unwanted and painful programs into the economy, try and make the adjustments are smooth as possible, and plan for the future.
Anyone that has been to China sees a country focused on the longer-run. China will be one of the major competitor nations of the future.
The dilemma then: Does Europe want to be competitive within world markets in the future?
If it does, then the Eurozone needs to follow Germany's lead focus on the longer-run.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.