David Cogswell | July 07, 2015 1:00 PM ET
Ode to Greece
I want to go to Greece and I want to go right now. I want to celebrate Greece as the home of democracy, the founding cornerstone of Western Civilization; the birthplace of Classical architecture, sculpture, philosophy; the land that inspired Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; the home of Zorba and his bouzouki.
I want to enjoy the heartbreaking beauty of the Greek Islands: Mykonos, Delos, Patmos and Samos, the astonishing cliffs of Santorini, the sparkling Aegean Sea. And I want to celebrate and support the people of Greece for having had the fortitude to throw off the chains of the money masters and defy their commands that would have required Greece to go forward into even greater austerity, poverty, unemployment and hopelessness than had already been created by a financial system that clearly does not support the needs of human beings.
Most of the coverage you see on the big news channels and newspapers will follow the establishment line, that Greece was naughty and irresponsible and must now pay the price even if it forces the population into an endless cycle of poverty. But through experience I don’t have much trust in those organs of media on subjects such as this. I will go to Greece and experience it for myself. Maybe it will be the dawn of a new Western Civilization.
There is another side to the story. Nobel Prizewinning economist Paul Krugman, says that the euro itself is the problem. “Europe never had the pre-conditions of a single currency,” he said.
Greece, according to Krugman, is just the latest and worst in a series of economic disasters in Europe during the recent era, and he names Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands.
“Why are there so many economic disasters in Europe?” asks Krugman. “Actually, what’s striking at this point is how much the origin stories of European crises differ. Yes, the Greek government borrowed too much. But the Spanish government didn’t — Spain’s story is all about private lending and a housing bubble. And Finland’s story doesn’t involve debt at all. It is, instead, about weak demand for forest products, still a major national export, and the stumbles of Finnish manufacturing, in particular of its erstwhile national champion Nokia.”
Why are all these countries’ economies failing, when they have so little in common?
“What all of these economies have in common, however,” says Krugman, “is that by joining the eurozone they put themselves into an economic straitjacket.”
Many of the European decision-makers are rigidly holding to the conviction that the world must bend and twist itself to fit into the system, even though the system is proving increasingly unworkable in its current state.
“There are many European officials and politicians who are opposed to anything and everything that might make the euro workable,” says Krugman, “who still believe that all would be well if everyone exhibited sufficient discipline.”
If the public had voted to accept the demands of the creditors, it would likely have brought down the Greek government and would “empower and encourage the architects of European failure,” says Krugman. And the creditors would have “demonstrated their strength, their ability to humiliate anyone who challenges demands for austerity without end. And they will continue to claim that imposing mass unemployment is the only responsible course of action.”
So Greece said no. We have no more to lose. We fold.
I agree with two-thirds of the Greek population in throwing off the bonds of the European Community. If the euro doesn’t work, to hell with it! If it is going to keep the country chained in poverty for generations, get out of it.
If the monetary system is based on some ideal that Europe could function under a common currency, but without a real solid basis for making it work, then scrap it. Or at least modify it to create the flexibility that can make it work, and can allow people to live within it. I say people and life are more important than the financial systems that the rulers of the world today hold sacred.
The financial systems are not sacred, and the fall of Greece is only one of many reasons why it is clear that the way they are functioning now they do not work for humanity, except a very small percentage.
Greece’s financial troubles really hit with the financial meltdown of 2008. And whose fault was that? It was the irresponsible behavior and sometimes out-and-out criminal activity of the big banksters, some of the same ones that are now trying to dig more money out of Greece.
Remember 2008? The ever-creative money masters of Wall Street had irresponsibly sold subprime mortgages to legions of people who they knew could not afford them, confident that the government would bail them out if they failed.
They bundled the subprime mortgages into “mortgage-backed securities” and sold them off to financial institutions, reaping huge profits in doing so. And they were junk. When the whole fraudulent house of cards came down, it was not the banks who paid the bill. It was the taxpayers.
The banksters extorted nearly a trillion from U.S. taxpayers to prop up the system after they had crashed it. They extorted more than $30 billion from Greek taxpayers too, while the privatizers scooped in to grab everything they could in Greece while the country was stunned and weakened.
So the people of Greece have become the ones who were pushed too far and finally stood up in defiance. Staring at the dagger at their throat they said, “Enough.” They spoke for many others in the world when they said, “We refuse to be slaves to an irrational, brutal and rigged financial system.”
And I agree with them. I will go to Greece and function under the barter system if necessary. I’ll take American dollars, or I’ll trade pencils for potatoes. I want to show my support for Greece.
More by David Cogswell
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Latest Travel News
Airlines & Airports
Airlines & Airports
Hotel & Resort
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship