The ebb and flow of events regarding the Eurozone and the Greek debt crisis makes it hard to determine whether we are watching a Greek tragedy or comedy. Their theatrical accomplishments have endured for millenia because of their connection to the human condition. They might have lost the ability to produce great theater but they still now how to stage great political theater. The machinations of the Greek technocrats and politicians for the past almost two years now makes the Keystone Kops and the Three Stooges look like the Marine Corps precision drill team. Maybe there are some lessons to be seen in their predicament but the issue is, will we learn from them. Like the Good Book says, they hear but they do not listen.
As we go to press it appears that the Greeks have said they will agree to the debt re-work terms with the IMF, ECB and the major European players (Germany and France). But the latest is that the unions leaders have threatened new strikes and some have foretold of blood in the streets to protect the government payments to all and sundry of the population. The wonder is that the few who actually work in Greece can possibly support what they have for as long as they have. Of course they haven’t, they have been living on borrowed money for years, not the product of the labors and capital. They haven’t been producing enough income collectively and through their corrupt tax system to meet the expenditures to pay for those 50 year-old retirees and bloated government payroll. You do realize that one in four citizens of Greece are on the public payroll. The Greeks have made promises over and over for decades about their system and the reform of same. But they renege on the promise every time. That is their only consistency–never doing as they promise, including the promise to pay their debts.
Some Greeks are vocally assailing the Germans and asserting that they are trying to dominate them again just as they did during the War. They can’t even keep their history straight. It was the Italians that attacked the Greeks during the War, not the Germans. The Germans only got involved when Mussolini couldn’t finish the deal. Hitler was building up for his big set-to with the Soviets and was most peeved to have to divert resources to bail out the Italians. But we humans of a liberal/welfare state mindset only take personal responsiblity as a last resort. Those welfare staters are always going to look for a bogeyman that caused all their problems.
Again they Greeks have promised big cuts. You may recall that last year they were going to reduce the public payroll by 30,000 but as of last fall only about one tenth that amount had actually, really been cut. They have bought into the idea that there is a free lunch. That the government can provide everything for everyone and keep their taxes low. Their taxes are pretty high but collections are spotty because everyone cheats. It is a national pastime just as it is with the Italians to dodge and elude the taxman. It’s ok for government to pay for everything as long as the money comes from the “bourgeoisie” or “capitalists”. The problem they have is the same as ours: even if you took all the money of the “rich”, it would only last a couple of years and then the money machine would be busted again except then who are you going to tax? Everyone would be broke.
Their organizational skills remind of the Anarchists of Spain during the Spanish revolution of the 1930’s. The Republican Front of Heminways fame and the dream state darling of the Left was a real hodge-podge of groups–Communists, Socialists, Basques and Anarachists who in many areas were the dominant force. In Barcelona the Republican Front controlled the city and went on a rampage of looting and killing. The Anarchists took over many industrial plants and utility production facilities. Great joy! The bourgeoisie and monied interest and church had been defeated and the workers were no longer subject to any control or exploitation by those hated classes. Within days though everyone realized that the plants and industrial capacity had to be restored if they were going to eat, have water, prevent street crime and something to sell to the world for the lucre–money to buy necessities. Of course all agreed that there would be no “bosses” or owners. The common working man had prevailed and were no longer subject to the dictates of the money and ownership class and the professionals. Indeed the emotions and rampage was so high that for a short period many men were killed on the spot on the street merely because they were wearing a tie. The tie was taken as a symbol of belonging the dreaded ruling class. I am not making this up. So the workers ruled but guess what? Everything ground to a halt quickly. Nothing was working and no one was working. The C0mmies as always were very tightly organized and disciplined and willing to kill quickly so they eventually gained controlled of the industrial capacity in Barcelona. The workers were rid on one boss, but that vaccuum was quickly filled with another not necessarily to their liking.
The Greek mob may well win the day and take control of some new government of a sort. Yes, they no doubt will stiff their hated creditors and all those globalists and capitalists at some point down the road. What is their in their recent, or ancient, history to indicate otherwise? They can be in control of their own destiny without those evil German creditors calling the shots. No one will loan to that group after just watching creditors in front of them get cheated big time. They can either grow up and earn what they receive or become the beggar nation of Europe. There is no Alexander the Great on call. Mayhap they should read their Plato afresh. Truth was the centerpiece of his discourse. They should start by being true to their word if they want to participate in the global community of commerce. We don’t have an interstellar commercial system yet so their alternatives are pretty limited.
US debt 16 trillion by fall 2012; US deficits of over 1 trillion a year for the last three years and projected as far as they dare to predict; US debt to GDP 100%; liabilities for Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security of tens of trillions with no plan to have funds on hand to pay them when due; and now one in seven Americans on the government payroll and many more dependent of government expenditures of one sort or another. Worse, a Greek-like view among many that we can have the free lunch and that there are always “others” who can pay for everything. With those cheery thoughts, have a nice day.
“I wish men to be free, as much from mobs as Kings–from you as me” Lord Byron, English poet and Greek freedom fighter against the Muslim Turks. www.olcranky.wordpress.com