March 02, 2010
Greece is a country that thrives on rumor. Hearsay has been a part of the Greek DNA since time immemorial. Even Plato remarked on it. Demagogues used rumor and gossip to silence their opponents, demagogism being a Greek word, after all. Greeks also thrive on the spoken word. As was the case of their ancestors, the power of the spoken word sometime drives out reason. As I write, I hear a lot of my fellow Greeks say some very unreasonable things. Such as, the Germans and the French conspired to embarrass us and take over our businesses and natural resources. Or, the EU was a plot against Greece from day one. The one I like the best is that Europe without Greece will cease to exist.
Be that as it may, and as unlikely as it may sound, Europe, as in the European Union, might just cease to exist because of little old Greece, especially if the short-sellers of the Euro have anything to do with it. Or Goldman Sachs, for that matter. Goldman has admitted it helped Greece fiddle the books. Once allowed a peek into the country’s true finances, Goldman, I am certain, advised its hedgies to start selling Greek bonds short. Keep selling until the little greasers cry uncle, or words to that effect was the order from the Goldman Sachs Fuhrer, Lloyd Blankfein, one of the world’s greediest and most disgusting individuals. But before I go on, a word about those nice chaps who advised the Greek government how to mask the deficits while earning 192 million Euros for themselves. Goldman Sachs helped inflate and then profit from the worldwide bubble that eventually burst less than two years ago. In my not so humble opinion, no one except Goldman partners and insiders has ever made a bean, as all profits are intended for those who run this house of ill repute. Goldman Sachs has throughout its history invented new ways to screw the public and further enrich itself. It was typical of the Greeks to go to Goldman Sachs for advice. A crook in trouble does not call the fuzz. He calls another crook.
But back to the Greeks. I will not dwell too much on their present problems because they’ve been enumerated and debated on by every newspaper and television news service in the world, including the Mogadishu Daily News and the Monrovia Mirror. In brief, Greece’s deficit has grown to such a size, as compared to her ability to generate revenue, that it will now require a rescue package from her euro-zone partners. By this, of course, I mean Germany. However maligned the Germans might be, show me a day that American and European TV stations don’t show a Hollywood movie showing beastly German soldiers raping nuns and breaking the fingers of Jewish pianists, and I will gladly immigrate to Saudi Arabia; which, incidentally, does not show such films. When it comes to rescue packages, it is always Deutschland uber alles. The Americans are broke, the English even more so, the French talk sex but don’t pay, the Belgians are too busy molesting children, and the Dutch have their hands full trying to teach their citizens how to speak, dress, and act like Muslims. The rest of Europe are PIGS, except that Italy has replaced Ireland along with Portugal, Spain, and Greece. (The Irish have made an unbelievable recovery by dealing in drugs and kidnapping, hence their balance of payments has improved.)
So, what is it about Germany that we Greeks suddenly admire so? Well, that is not actually true. The sudden part, that is. German women have been welcome in Greece since the fifties. Although with the invention of blonde bleach their popularity isn’t what it used to be, there are more phony blondes in Greece than real ones in Sweden—a German lass is considered better than gold among horny Greek men. No, the reason for the Fatherland’s sudden popularity is that Germany was the first nation to hand out goodies to non-working stiffs and immigrants. The handout was called social justice, and it was exemplified by the fact that heads of working German families had less money in their paychecks than many unemployed people—mostly immigrants—receiving support payments from Santa Claus, aka the German government. The Greeks are smart people, and quick learners. What was good enough for Turks, Africans, and other Muslim migrants, was certainly good enough for us Greeks, who, after all, invented geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, medicine, astronomy, philosophy, tragedy, poetry, history, as well as buggery and cheating on one’s taxes. Which brings me to the Greek character.
The Ancient Greek we know all about. He was brave, proud, inventive, emotional, volatile, heroic, as well as jealous and vengeful. It is a given that we modern Greeks inherited not only the language of the Doric tribes, but certainly their defaults. Where once upon a time a Greek like Odysseus drew the wrath of the Gods through hubris and was sent peregrinating for ten years, most modern Greeks blame the United States and Europe for their problems. 400 years of Ottoman occupation did the trick. Greek intellectuals and historians have generally blamed the Turk for the nation’s ills. And it is a fact that, where humiliation persists through several generations, the oppressed begin, in defense of their own dignity, to imitate their oppressors. The cruelty, vindictiveness and harshness shown by warring political factions testify to this theory.
But this is not sufficient explanation. The volatility of the Greek character, probably the only link with the glorious past of antiquity, is another. The highly individualistic Greek is too self-seeking to submit easily to the dictates of others. His unruliness has helped him survive throughout centuries of oppression, as well as to rise above adversity, economic or otherwise. But it has also made him unaware of the advantages of a communal spirit and true democratic attitude. He will go to any length to attain his goals, not hesitating to lie and cheat in order to achieve them. This has—brutal though as it may sound—created a climate where cheating is a way of life, and where the highest and lowest of citizens do not hesitate to use dishonesty, especially where politics are concerned.
A direct result of this way of life has been the “spoils system.” Although not a Greek invention, nowhere has it been practiced more assiduously than in Greece. Succeeding governments have shamelessly brought in their favorites, returning favors and expecting new ones in the future, and changing laws to suit their purposes; thus encouraging resentment, divisiveness and a wait-until-my-turn comes way of thinking. No Greek government has ever come to power that has truly tried to reconcile the people. The worst, as far as the great historian Taki is concerned, was Andreas Papandreou, or Ali Babandreou, as the famous philosopher Taki named him. Andreas cheated and lied for close to twenty years, and after he croaked and went to that sauna-like place below, the second worst was Constantine Karamanlis, the fat slob who was responsible for the latest euro mess (The present prime minister, George Papandreou, Ali Baba’s son, is an honest and serious man not responsible for the mess). Karamanlis was supposed to be a conservative, but he ran the country into the ground by doing what every one before him had done, only more so. He never hesitated to lie where the deficit was concerned, believed he had Brussels in his pocket, surrounded himself with crooks, and when the you-know-what hit the fan, called in Al Capone from America in the guise of Goldman Sachs. The rest is history, as Herodotus said.
One of the world’s all time great economists, Taki, believes he has found a way out from the Greek dilemma. Tell the European bureau crooks in Brussels to go to hell, bring back the drachma, devalue it and then head for the beach. Peg it to 15,000 drachmas to one euro, and watch waiters and bus boys go out and buy shiny new Toyotas (also devalued) with the tips they got from the millions of euro suckers stepping over themselves to get to the cheapest place in the civilized (well, almost) world. Pay off the deficit with drachmas, and, presto, watch the euro suckers drool with envy. Tell Trichet (it means cheating in French) to shove it, and van Rompui, or whatever his name is, to eat some French fries, a Belgian specialty along with child molestation. Stop using the language of entitlement which no longer has any resonance. Language devaluation has done more harm for Greek politics than raiding the state piggy bank. Hyperbole is a Greek word, but stop using it. Greek civil servants are on a par with those appointed by the murdering Robert Mugabe in that once wonderful country known as Rhodesia in the good old days. There are more jokes about the inefficiency, laziness, vindictiveness and shabbiness of Greek civil servants than there were about Monica Lewinsky and the stained dress. Cut their benefits, force them to pay taxes like the rest of the people, and if they strike, fire them. Bring in a few old-fashioned Germans to run the country until it gets back on its feet.
Follow these ground rules offered by the world’s most preeminent economist, and after that go to the beach.