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A Greek Socialist Tragedy: Who's the Selfish One Now?

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March 04, 2010 – Comments (9)

Here's an interesting article I came across at the Washington Times. It's not just President Obama sending us on this course.  They all are.  Vote them all out now or pay later, especially the Senate.  Disgusting animals, all of them. 

As for the Greeks, well, does anyone know about the welfare state that Otto von Bismarck created?  The Germans had one heck of warfare/welfare state going on in the late 1800s and early 1900s, that is until they were carved up during WWI.  Then the Germans were forced to subsidize the welfare of the conquering nations.  Their economy collapsed under hyperinflation as they tried to monetize their debts.  Conditions deteriorate slowly at first, then rapidly, then the crack-up boom.  Then along comes a guy with a plan.  I'm wondering out loud what the Greeks are going to do?  It's not like they have a population young enough to go out and take what they think is theirs.

That's all. Enjoy the read. 

David in Qatar

Our Own Greek Tragedy by Mark Steyn

9 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On March 04, 2010 at 7:32 PM, Option1307 (29.80) wrote:

Great article, thanks for sharing.

Mark Steyn is the author of the New York Times best-seller "America Alone"

Btw have you ever read his book? It's a truly fascinating read, check it out if you haven't already when you have time.

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#2) On March 04, 2010 at 7:46 PM, whereaminow (24.47) wrote:

Option1307,

I have not, but on your advice I am adding it to my Amazon shopping cart.

Thanks!

David in Qatar 

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#3) On March 04, 2010 at 8:12 PM, whereaminow (24.47) wrote:

Meanwhile in America, kids seduced with cheap public education protest cuts to their entitlement.

BERKELEY, Calif. – Students carried out raucous rallies on college campuses nationwide Thursday in protests against deep education cuts that turned violent as demonstrators threw punches and ice chunks in Wisconsin and blocked university gates and smashed car windows in California.

How many car windows did the Tea Party protestors smash on Tax Day last year?  How many threw punches and threatened police?

But those of us who with to see a reduction in the size of government are the selfish ones, right?  Please.  Enough with the crap.

David in Qatar

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#4) On March 05, 2010 at 7:54 AM, saunafool (98.80) wrote:

David,

I respect your views, but this article from Steyn is pretty weak.

Greece has problems unique to Greece. First, the nature of their debt crisis. They were using derivatives to hide the true value of their debts for a decade, and used the faked budget numbers to gain access to the Euro zone. It worked during the credit expansion, when you could sell anthing to any stupid dupe. When the bubble popped, the true level of debt was revealed and the creditors are hacked off because they feel like they were being lied to, because...they were being lied to.

Second, is the Euro itself. Greece cannot devalue its currency and impoverish its people like they did in the past. Now, they actually have to make the adult decisions and cut benefits and raise taxes to close the budget gap. For some reason, people don't see currency devaluation as something that robs them, but try to cut their pay and they go to the streets with pitchforks.

Third, Greece does have a demographic problem; however, Steyn implies that this is a result of the social welfare state. The evidence for this does not hold up. Sweden, Norway, and France all have relatively healthy birth rates. In France, the native French actually have a birth rate as high as immigrants (sorry, no link, saw it on the French news).

So, the U.S. has problems, but they aren't the same problems as Greece has. Our debts are not hidden in complex financial instruments. We control our currency (and our debts are denominated in the currency we control). We have healthier demographics. Also do not undervalue the English language. The U.S. has a relatively well educated workforce all fluent in English--the official language of global commerce.

But those of us who with to see a reduction in the size of government are the selfish ones, right?  Please.  Enough with the crap.

No. However, there are a lot of very wealthy self-interested parties like Tom Delay who are enabling and exploiting the Tea Party movement. They were happy to stuff their snouts in the government trough whenever they could, now they use "small government" as a rallying cry to protect their corporate overlords from having to pay taxes to bring the budget back in line. They are the selfish ones.

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#5) On March 05, 2010 at 9:29 AM, whereaminow (24.47) wrote:

saunafool,

Thanks for taking the time to post your comments.  I will try to address your major points. 

Using faked budget numbers is not a "Greek" thing, that's a government thing, including the U.S.S.A.  The bigger the government, the more they fudge the numbers.  Academic Keynesian, and mentor of Paul Krugman, Dr. Paul Samuelson looked at the USSR's GDP numbers in the 1950's and declared that one day the USSR would outproduce America.  After the collapse he complained "how could we know the numbers were faked?"  Well Dr. Samuelson, because that's what governments do, retard.

Greece's government traded in its national sovereignity when it joined the EU. All the European governments did.  And for what?  What propserity has the Euro brought Europe?  Hmm?  It was a power grab by the ruling elite cloaked in populism and backed up with socialist give-aways.  Nothing new.

All industrial nations have seen their fertility rates decline since they instituted Social Security schemes.  Of course, correlation is not causation.  I'm sure there is more to the story, but it is a striking link.  Common sense dictates that among the population that would have children to support the family income (a large number of people throughout history have behaved this way), that number is going to decrease with forced State directed retirement benefits.

I agree that Tom Delay is a stooge.  As are all warmongering chicken hawk Republicans.  They are no different from the Democrats.  They are scum.  Vote them all out.

David in Qatar 

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#6) On March 05, 2010 at 11:48 AM, saunafool (98.80) wrote:

Greece's government traded in its national sovereignity when it joined the EU. All the European governments did.  And for what?  What propserity has the Euro brought Europe? 

True on the first part. On the second part, the Euro is a great thing for Europe. My personal business would be impossible without it. I can't even imagine trying to do business across the whole continent with 17 different currencies.

As for the prosperity, the Greeks, Spanish, Italians, and Portuguese gained a lot of international purchasing power. Prior to the Euro, every crisis was met by devaluations of their currencies and make their societies centers for cheap labor or cheap agricultural products. They now actually have to respond to the crisis with fiscal discipline. In the long run, their people should be wealthier. 

All industrial nations have seen their fertility rates decline since they instituted Social Security schemes.  Of course, correlation is not causation.  I'm sure there is more to the story, but it is a striking link.  Common sense dictates that among the population that would have children to support the family income (a large number of people throughout history have behaved this way), that number is going to decrease with forced State directed retirement benefits.

As you said, correlation is not causation. I think the correlation is that Social Security schemes were introduced around WWII and the birth control pill arrived about a generation later. Funny how when women could control their reproductive destiny that family size went down...

The other factor I'm convinced of is that the easy money of the past 30 years has driven real estate prices up way beyond the point where a typical family can live on one income. This is particularly true in Southern Europe where foreigners buying of vacation homes drives prices far above what local wages can support.

We no longer live in an agrarian society where children were viewed as extra free labor for the farm. In urban life, children are pure expense. When life is so expensive that it requires 2 incomes, having children becomes much less attractive.

I don't think it has much to do with having someone taking care of you in retirement. Personally, I'm glad we no longer live in the world where your only hope of comfort in old age is from your children. How would you take care of your parents living in Qatar? How would I take care of mine from Luxembourg? Sure, in the modern world we lost the extended family, but we gained a lot of freedom and so will our children.

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#7) On March 05, 2010 at 12:15 PM, whereaminow (24.47) wrote:

saunafool,

First off, it is cool that we both share the common bond of having to live overseas.  I can say that my decision to move to Qatar was 100% related to 0% taxation (well almost... for some reason the U.S.S.A. still thinks it can tax a part of my income over here.  Assholes.) 

The Euro was only a great thing in the short run.  In the long run it was always destined to fail.  (As is the story for all paper currencies, actually.) 

But before I get into that, if currency standards are your thing, did you know that the entire world was moving towards a gold standard before the rise of the Bismarckian welfare state? You can't extract wealth from one class of people and give it to another on a gold standard, however. (In America, FDR's New Deal was just a carbon copy of Bimarck's Social Poltick, and his NRA was a copy of Mussilini.  Strange that most Americans don't know this, but I am digressing)

Back to the topic at hand.

The Euro was always destined to fail.  There is nothing to keep these social democracies (read: voting to give yourself what belongs to the next generation) from destroying their own economies.  

When Greece is bailed out, the Euro will stabilize until the next round of bailouts, be it Spain or Portugal, and the Euro will plummet again as economic reality comes back.  In the long run, the Euro will prove to be even more worthless than the worthless dollar.  I think it's delusional to believe that Greece will hold firm with its "austerity measures" as time goes by.  Expect some cooking of the books, more bailouts, etc, and the other PIGS lining up to get what's theirs from the more productive countries in Europe.  Oh boy, is this going to be fun or what?  Do you own gold?  You should consider it.

And that's all we are talking about here.  Some people believe that scarcity and opportunity cost exist.  Others believe it can be wished away (Communists), inflated away (Keynesians), welfared away (Market Socialists/Fabians), or legislated away (Politicians).  It can't.

Paper currencies only have the value of the taxpaying ability of future generations of laborers.  That's it.  

As for the impacts of certain incentives or disincentives on child rearing, I don't know the answer to that.  Logic tells me that all of these items have had an impact, but I don't have the faculties to determine which one is the worst.

David in Qatar 

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#8) On March 05, 2010 at 12:29 PM, AvianFlu (41.55) wrote:

David:

Can you give us some background about Qatar? How much does it cost to live there? Is it possible to find a job? Do people speak English? I really don't know anything at all about the place, including where it is located.

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#9) On March 05, 2010 at 12:46 PM, whereaminow (24.47) wrote:

AvianFlu,

Qatar is here.  It extremely expensive to live in. It is also very elegant and beautiful.  I would say that unless you are making well over six figures, then you will be struggling to make ends meet  (Many Europeans and Americans live here on less, but for the life of me I have no idea why.  You can struggle to make ends meet back home.)  The biggest problem is housing.  The company I work for pays for my house and car, so that's huge for me.  If they took that away, I'd have to consider leaving.  Foreigners can now own property, but only in certain areas, which happen to be some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the Middle East. So unless you're a multi millionaire, there is no point in that.

Everyone speaks English.  Finding a job is difficult now.  It was easy 3 years ago when I first came out here, and really easy about 10 years ago.  The labor market has become much more competitive.  If I was looking to move overseas, Qatar probably would not be at the top of my list anymore as I couldn't expect to land the job I have now and the cost of living has risen dramatically.  There's just too much competition.

So basically, Qatar has changed a lot over the last decade.  The population has exploded (all immigration), the labor pool is very competitive, inflation has driven the cost of living through the roof.  On the flip side, there are no income taxes :)

David in Qatar

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