Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Greece on the Skids

At this point, Greece – the “G” in “PIGS” -- is in the process of selling itself into slavery, mostly to French and German banks, in order to stay out of the EU version of debtor's prison. I'm not sure it's much of a choice, but under the new order (remember that term from the old days – by which I mean the Nazi era?) that's what happens when you borrow and spend yourself into oblivion. Of course, one could well ask, how was all that borrowing possible, and who was the money borrowed from? -- and the answer would of course be, why those very same French and German banks who now have the fate of Greece firmly in their hands. The EU giveth, and the EU taketh away. We think of the EU as a bit of a joke over here, but over there it's no laughing matter.

But then the question arises, do those banks work for the EU or does the EU work for those banks? In other words, who is a subsidiary of whom? And I think the answer is becoming more clear every day – namely that the banks are in charge, and that anything the French, German, or other governments do by way of rule-setting and enforcement is done in their role as a surrogate for the banks.

So far so good. But then we have to ask if the situation really and truly developed on its own – spontaneously – or if it was, in fact, planned... and I think the answer is again clear. The “PIGS” (or “PIIGS” if you include Italy) are being rounded up and brought into the fold one by one. First they're allowed to get hooked on borrowing and spending, just like the most abject junkie, and then the day of reckoning comes and they're left with no resources (other than slave labor) and no defenders. It is then that the creditor nations/banks move in and take over, in the modern version of empire building. The interesting thing about it is that what is now developing is a Franco-German empire, which is, truly, a new thing under the sun, since those two entities have been on-and-off enemies for centuries now.

But that's just part of the story, as we all already know. Another part is that the Greek government is having to consider “severe austerity measures” -- AKA living within a (balanced, I assume) budget, in order to meet the conditions for their sale of their country into slavery. Oh yeah... the big boys aren't just going to welcome them into the sheepfold with open arms; they have to pay the price of modifying their behavior as well. Then consider what the Greek government is facing: They are in charge of a nation of, basically junkies – people who have lived beyond their proper means for as long as most of them can remember. And socialism does that to you – it completely beclouds any sort of realistic picture of what your proper standing of living is, and instead dazzles you with images of a perfect life. And so, when that perfect life turns out to be a cruel hoax, people react the way one would expect – they take to the streets and start burning and smashing things. We've seen it in our own “inner cities”, on and off, for decades now, and psychologically the causes are quite similar.

Now, one could say, but wouldn't “rational” people know better than to adjust their expectations to a stratospheric (nice Greek word, there) level? After all, isn't Greece the birthplace of “reason”? Well, yes – if we're talking about toga-clad philosophers. But overall, people are people anywhere you go, and once they are hooked on a certain idea it is nigh unto impossible to unhook them. (It may take only one generation to produce a socialist, but it takes a hundred years to produce a libertarian.) And it's the ordinary people – not the philosophers – who are taking to the streets. And admittedly, all they are concerned with is their handouts and entitlements... their “piece of the pie”. They couldn't care less if their country is self-ruled or confined to a penitentiary-like subdivision of the EU. In fact, I doubt if those running the government of Greece care either – as long as they get their cut. They will sell their own country down the river if need be, as long as they continue to receive their “perks”. (What ever happened to national pride? The answer is “the EU”.)

Ah, but! Maybe things aren't so bad after all. Now the French banks are offering Greece “rollovers” -- which are the equivalent of refinancing a home mortgage (even when “under water”)... or using one credit card to pay off another. They're the equivalent, in other words, of methadone for a junkie – not a cure but, basically, just a legal version of the thing they got addicted to in the first place.

So this is the reward Greece gets for joining the EU! But, lest we forget, one of the main motivators for insolvent socialist governments to join was precisely this – the availability of a safety net, courtesy of the EU, i.e. of the _solvent_ socialist governments. Yes, you can be socialistic and still stay in the black – but it takes a people of discipline and a certain sort of character to pull this off... people like the Germans, say. They can – as can the Scandinavians – head for the cliff's edge at full speed, but then pull up short while their less-sophisticated, more impulsive fellows go careening off into the pit. And that is precisely what has happened over the years in the EU – with full intent, I might add. Like teenagers in a 1950s hot-rod movie, the smart ones know when to make that last-instant turn and the dumb ones don't. So we're left with the final scene in the cemetery with everyone in mourning for “Johnny”, while some doughy old police chief stands off to the side muttering “Why don't they listen? Why?” And it's a good question – but the answer is that socialistic governments do listen – to the irrational demands of the citizens, who have been taught that they have nothing but “rights”, and no obligations or responsibilities.

And as Greece goes, so goes Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy too, I guess – all strangely confined to the Mediterranean or the Celtic sphere. And what is the significance of this? Is it because people from those places tend to be weak minded... gullible... foolish? Well, not weak-minded so much as invincibly ignorant when it comes to even the most basic economics. They literally don't understand where money, or wealth, or prosperity come from; their thinking is non-linear and, basically, magical. So they become fair game for those who do not labor under those sorts of illusions. And I suppose there is a certain kind of Darwinian justice to it all – but it's still depressing and sad. I mean, we throw junkies in jail in this country even though many people would say it's not their fault – go after the pushers instead. Well, OK – but the Puritan mind set is ever focused on individual responsibility, and mainly on everyone getting their “just deserts”, according to those who fancy that they stand on the moral high ground. In other words, it's a very non-compassionate world view that is operating here... and if you consider that the doctors, let's say, and the pushers are the same people – as is the case in the EU – it goes way beyond simple lack of compassion to outright exploitation and sadism.

Ah well, at least the trouble is confined to Europe; it's nothing we have to worry about, right? Or... well, we're constantly being told that Greece's troubles are going to create a fearsome domino effect, and will “shake confidence”, and “roil the financial markets”, etc. Well... this is partly just old-fashioned fear mongering, designed to get everyone else to go along with the scam. And, it also provides cover for those who fully intend to extract the maximum profits from the situation – the way the anarchy resulting from a natural disaster provides cover for looters. How can the average person tell when things are bad just because they're bad, and when they're bad on purpose? They can't – and that's just the situation that those in charge want. What they want is bad times, to lower people's expectations, but not times that are sufficiently bad to create real anarchy. I mean, they don't want to have to drive their limo to work every day through a gauntlet of bonfires and people throwing bricks. But even that can have its uses, as witness the events in Greece right now. You loose the dogs of economic war, let people express themselves with a bit of violence... that scares the bourgeoisie, who give the politicians carte blanche, which really means giving the financial powers carte blanche... and the noose is tightened around everyone's neck. We have seen this cycle in this country time and time again, and it's not always about money either – at least not directly. It can be about social unrest, “rights”, jobs, housing – any number of things. But the outlines are always the same, which leads one to believe that there is a template being applied, in a cyclic way, by those in power.

But hold on; I'm not finished. Even though we fancy ourselves aloof, and much more stable and secure than those hapless Greeks, we really aren't. The conditions being protested in the “Greek street” are no different from those we will have here, eventually – but our day of reckoning has not yet come, because whoever's in charge has decided to put it off for a while more. But think about it – insane levels of borrowing, insane levels of debt – all for the sake of entitlements and handouts? And in our case we are also acting as the world's policeman, which at least one cannot say of anyone in the EU – except for the occasional Sunday afternoon jaunt across the Mediterranean to bomb Tripoli. And as I said, it's not as if we have no experience with what happens when people's economic world, and world view, are threatened. The Greeks will riot about just about everything, it's true – as will the Italians, the Arabs, the Argentines, all those hot-blooded types. But we have our career rioters as well, confined so far to the inner cities and large university campuses. But who is to say that can't change? You try to impose the same “austerity measures” on American citizens that Greece is imposing on its citizens, and you might just wind up with working-class _white_ riots... or Hispanic riots... or even bigger black riots... or all three combined! And what happens when it starts cutting into the middle class? Well, they won't go so far as to riot; they are too used to being treated like lambs to the slaughter. But might there not be mirror images to the tea parties – middle class people demonstrating _for_ entitlements, rather than against them? It has happened, in a low-key way. And who knows, it might even get to the point where our middle class starts demonstrating against war; now that would shake up the powers that be!

So – I say that as Greece goes, so go we; eventually. The die is cast. And it might take years for things to come to a head, but when they do it will be for the same reasons – borrowing, spending, entitlement addiction, followed by disappointment and frustration... and all watched over from the high vantage point of the powers of this world – the bankers, the pushers, the manipulators. They look on with evil grins as places like Greece are clamped in irons... and will look on likewise as any other country in the EU sphere that is tried and found wanting is dealt with the same way. And then their sights will turn toward the U.S. -- and in fact, they already have. We are being fattened for the kill; make no mistake. Our fate is already firmly in hands not our own, but this will become more obvious over time, and less possible for our leaders to deny. The day that the papers are signed committing us to enslavement, those doing the signing will be the same ones we elected to office.

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