August 22, 2011

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. This encourages resentment, divisiveness, and a “wait until my turn comes” way of thinking. This is the bad news. The even worse news is the fact that Greece might bring down the whole western financial system, as the country owes untold billions to mostly German and French banks. If Greece defaults it will make the Lehman Brothers fiasco seem like chump change, but then it was the greedy bankers who lent the Greeks money blindly and without collateral.

I almost forgot: Lloyd Blankfein’s merry little band of brothers, Goldman Sachs, were the Greek government’s financial advisors. They showed the descendants of Pericles, Leonidas, and Alexander how to cook the books when the European Union’s financial examiners checked them. Goldman Sachs made hundreds of millions by showing the Greeks how to cheat, yet now it is the pensions of the poor which are being cut in order for Greece to show that they can get their house in order.

But the Greeks never will. Default is in the cards. Every Greek government since the military junta’s 1974 collapse is responsible for the mess. Even the referendum to bring back the King—who had left because of his opposition to the junta takeover—was a fraud. He was not allowed into the country, false rumors were spread that he was behind the junta, and greedy politicians expropriated his properties without compensation. Andreas Papandreou, father of the present premier and thankfully now dead, was as responsible for the financial collapse. So was the recently departed Kostas Karamanlis, a so-called conservative who spent like George W. Bush without two wars as an excuse.

But the greatest fault lies with the EU. For years money that poured into Greek coffers was wasted by politicians in buying votes (when it didn’t go straight into their pockets). The EU turned a blind eye because it is basically corrupt and power-crazy. The unelected EU found a way to rule Europe—something Napoleon and Hitler failed to achieve. Greece, an ancient society of savers, became one of borrowed prosperity, surrendered to luxury and easy credit. It now depends on international creditors’ charity. The Greeks, among a handful of nations that have survived with their language and identity through the millennia, forgot their ancestors’ advice and abandoned their grandfathers’ habits. We became soft and have no one to blame but ourselves and the EU’s Eurocrooks.



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