Greece. What a country!
The work ethic in Greece is legendary: breaks, siestas. Far be it for anyone to suggest increasing the retirement age.
Pay no attention that those asking for common-sense reforms.
Because of runaway spending and immense entitlements bestowed upon Greek civil service workers, the government had a problem. The piper finally came, but there was no more money.
So the European Union (EU) braintrust decided to bail out Greece, a combination of increasing the money supply (contributing to inflation) and using OPM (other people’s money).
And in return for the sacrifice others made for the “greater good” (such as the request to forgive 50 percent of Greece’s debt), what was asked of that nation?
Reforms that would, in theory, get Greece back on solid financial footing, if that is possible for a nation whose debt exceeds an unfathomable 180 percent of its GDP.
The bailout was made, with self-congratulating, albeit clueless, Euro-technocrats preaching that all would be well.
And things were great, at least in Greece, as the message of austerity was received loud and clear, with a wink. Translation: “we’ll just continue with business as usual.”
However, as any fifth grader could have deduced, the Greeks ran out of money — again and again. Not willing to cut their losses, the EU did exactly what Greece knew it would: open up its coffers, again and again.
We are on the sixth installment of the bailout, still predicated on austerity measures that simply aren’t happening.
And are the Greek politicians enacting unpopular but necessary reforms to avoid default?
The latest development was the decision to pass the buck by calling for a referendum on austerity measures.
So the Greeks, who have been rioting because they don’t want the party to end, would be asked to voluntarily turn off the free-money spigot. Sure they would.
However, due to intense international pressure, the referendum appears to be scrapped and the bailout package will be ratified by the government. Given that nothing is ever easy in Greece, though, don’t hold your breath. And does it really matter anyway?
After all, the European Financial Stability Facility (a great oxymoron) and Central Bank continue their insane polices of bailouts and bond-buying initiatives. Portugal and Ireland have also received bailouts that haven’t worked, so expect more money heading their way soon.
The teetering economies of Italy and Spain are next, and since they are some of Europe’s big boys, their bailout packages will be exponentially larger.
The most significant, yet least discussed, issue in this debacle is that no one is offering solutions. Instead, they are merely buying time so that the can is kicked down the road again, praying the implosion occurs on someone else’s watch. Throw more imaginary money at the problem, say the right things to keep sheep-like investors duped, and don’t get caught holding the bag.
That has worked for decades, but too many fundamental economic principles have been violated to keep the piper at bay much longer.
The Ponzi scheme of socialist-leaning Western economies is quickly approaching implosion status, and when it blows, the Great Depression will look like a walk in the park. That’s what happens when socialism and laziness trump free markets and personal initiative.
The referendum was labeled a high-stakes gamble, with Prime Minister George Papandreou betting the Europeans were in so deep that even if austerity is rejected, bailouts would continue. Default, we were told, is far worse.
But the truth, which no one seems willing to admit, is what transpires in Greece doesn’t matter. Given the complete lack of will in America and Europe (and the absence of an even basic understanding of economic principles), an unprecedented crash and massive social unrest is inevitable.
That is the reality grounded in cold, hard facts.
Ultimately, even Bernie Madoff was forced to confess to a Ponzi scheme. When will reality force our leaders to do the same?
The writing is on the wall, and it is anything but Greek.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television/radio commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, www.FreindlyFireZone.com His self-syndicated model has earned him the largest cumulative media voice in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com
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