What’s Going on with Greece? Allow Me to Explain…
For anyone who spends 3 minutes a day looking at social media, it is very likely that you have seen headlines referencing the Greek debt crisis. Images of protestors and voters and politicians suggest that this has something to do with the Greek government. If you concluded this, you would be correct. So if you have made it that far, you now may be wondering, “why should I care?” or “this isn’t worth 3 minutes of my time to understand”…and you would be incorrect. What is happening to Greece is a merely a type and shadow for similar economic eventualities that may include countries like Spain, Portugal, Ireland…and dare I say, the United States?
So give me just a few minutes of your time to explain to you in plain and solemn English what on earth is going on over in Greece.
Let’s rewind time…Since WWII the European states have sought to become better friends because they spent time decimating each other for hundreds of years. WWII, being the straw that broke the camel’s back, made everyone sit down and re-think their strategy. Over time, the European states enacted a series of treaties that created what is effectively known as today as the European Union. The EU is today a political-economic union of 28 different member states who share a common currency (for the most part) known as the Euro and have enacted policies to ensure the “free movement of people, goods, services, and capital.” The EU has a parliament that each member country elects representatives to and sends to represent their country in the EU governing body.
Based on the above, the EU makes complete sense. It has helped bring relevance to European economies and stability to a region which has so often been the problem with regional and world peace since the Stone Age. Problem is, Europe is the richest lingual, religious, ethnic and historical region in the world. Think about the various idiosyncrasies that exist in that small piece of landmass. How great are the unmentionable histories of the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain etc? Each one of those countries located within a few hundred miles of each other and each speaks a completely different language! In summary, the EU is a knit together political/economic hope filled with strong willed and proud countries who are as different to one another as a yak is from a platypus.
But getting back to the point at hand…Greece. So when Greece decided (like all EU member states) to join the EU, they also signed off a bit of their own national sovereignty to a foreign governing board that likely didn’t then and certainly doesn’t now, have all of Greece’s individual needs in mind. As it has stood now for a decade and beyond, the EU has been able to make policy decisions for the Greek people that may not coincide with it’s varied and unique interests. In the meantime, true to form in the modern Socialist norms that run rampant through the EU, Greece (like many of the other EU members), elected officials that promised all the wonderful government goodies imaginable such as free education, healthcare, income, jobs and any and every other set of government handouts created in the 20th and 21st centuries. And voila! Greece finds itself completely broke, unable to make up the gaps in it’s economy because of irresponsible and rampant government spending and unable to hold to the promises it signed up for when it became a member of the EU. So what happens? The bigger economies in the EU, like the German economy, is left holding the bag on Greece’s defaults! Sounds like an excellent bargain for the German people!
SO…when Greece runs out of money (which they have…3 times…in 5 years) they have two choices:
1. Ask the EU membership to loan them money and bail them out and thus submit to stipulations forced on them by foreign overseers….OR
2. Exit the EU, take control of their ridiculous government behavior, repeal the handouts, incentivize free-market deliveries, and take back their political and economic sovereignty.
Unfortunately, the Greek government chose the prize behind Door One and accepted a 3rd bailout from the EU which represents roughly $95 Billion in loans. And just like every loan YOU have ever taken out, someone else owns a piece of you until the debt is paid in full or is forgiven. Alas, some of the dictates that Greece now has to comply with include: foreign mandated overhaul of their judicial system, reforming it’s labor market, privatizing it’s electricity network, and depositing any and all “valuable Greek assets” into an independent fund to raise money to help pay back the bailout money. All of this will be done with the complete and immutable oversight of foreign institutions like the IMF, the ECB, and the European Commission. Can you imagine for 2 seconds something like this happening to the United States? Now you know why we should be nervous about China owning $1.22 Trillion of U.S. debts! What would we do if they called that debt home and we couldn’t pay? Well, they would likely extend “bailouts” to us to (Just like the EU just did) and instill the same controls that Greece is currently having to submit to. But I digress…
To rub salt in the gaping wound, Greece has an unemployment rate of 26% (among younger folks its 50%+) and according to the recent reports, Greece has lost a quarter of its national income since its financial crash and approximately 8,500 small to medium-sized businesses have closed since the start of the year. Who now pays for the unemployed and entitled youth in that country? The ever so giving German and French day worker of course!
The saddest thing about all this is that here we have a country in Greece, once the foundation and defender of Western civilization as we know it, is a broke, defeated, embarrassed and disgraced country, now under the ownership of their historic European rivals. The civilization that was home to some of the greatest philosophical, military, religious and political leaders such as Aristotle, Socrates, Alexander and Pythagoras has given way to a litany of forgettable modern leaders who willingly and flippantly gave up the thing Greeks have been so proud to “defend to the death” throughout history…their own sovereign agency.