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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Germany and Greece.

In a field one summer's day a Grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart's content. An Ant passed by, bearing along with great toil an ear of corn he was taking to the nest.
"Why not come and chat with me," said the Grasshopper, "instead of toiling and moiling in that way?"

"I am helping to lay up food for the winter," said the Ant, "and recommend you to do the same."
"Why bother about winter?" said the Grasshopper; we have got plenty of food at present." But the Ant went on its way and continued its toil. When the winter came the Grasshopper had no food and found itself dying of hunger, while it saw the ants distributing every day corn and grain from the stores they had collected in the summer. Then the Grasshopper knew:  It is best to prepare for the days of necessity. 

Yet the Germans have a soft spot for the Greeks. An affection that is not returned, of course, since jealousy rules those who have to accept a helping hand.

What I find odd is that all the Greek families I know here in Obscurityville, MA are extremely hard working people. They own apartment buildings, pizza shops, dog walking businesses etc and work ungodly hours in the pursuit of success .

So how did Greece get to be the welfare state of the European Union? Did all the hard working people of the country pick up and go elsewhere? Were the public union people and telephone sanitizers the only people left like in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy?" 

How did such a country, universally known as the cradle of democracy, forget the whole thing? Perhaps the road to democracy ends with a  government job and a hefty pension? The mind boggles.

But here we have Germany, the EU's most robust economy, leading the way to bale out the country with a massive, and yes it is massive, cut to the Greek debt . And ok, maybe it isn't all about the love with Greece because if they default the whole world just may fall into a thousand years of darkness, but all the crap Germany is taking from the Grecian hoards has got to be hard to take.

That's the tough thing about having a thankless job...nobody thanks you.

The statistics of the Hellenic hijacking of the private sector is right out of the "truth is stranger than fiction" literary tradition: Public employees could retire at age 58 from their "jobs for life" and receive up to 92% of their salary in pension benefits. Greeks have also avoided many a tax burden due to the public sector basically just voting themselves raises and perks that their economy could never possibly grow into like taxes on real estate. And since governments do not actually MAKE anything, rising wages in the public sector has no correlation to actual production. Government is just an expense and in the case of Greece, government is a huge expense.

And here we are, a world economy betting Greece won't figure out it would be cheaper for them to bail on the debt and start printing their own money again.

Not a comfortable feeling is it?

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