How far the mighty have fallen. When I was a teenager I read a few histories of Greece and marveled at the ages, for there were a few, in which they rose, conquered, and were subdued once again. The eternal enmity between Athens and Sparta dominated the centuries until the Romans put a permanent end to delusions of grandeur. Come the twelfth century the Greeks had new masters in the form of the Ottoman Beys. The Greeks and the Persians had always battled for supremacy for the wine dark sea and the shore upon which it washed. From Pope to Iman the Greeks have been under the thumb of one authority or another. Now it is the new master state of Europe, ever socialist’s dream of complete idiocy. After the tanks left Athens and the army generals retired to their villas, the new democracy voted itself and the people a raise. The rest has been history, and a rather bad one at that.
The myth of the economic miracle has always been the siren call to those whose wishes would be horses. Cuba was the great socialist and communist experiment. I use the two terms since both are based to one degree or another on central economic planning. As a communist revolution, Cuba was an economic disaster. Sugar cane and tobacco were its main crops. Cuban cigars represented the finest in quality. Of course the embargos that fenced cuba out of the US markets were there for a reason, the government had expropriated the private property of US corporations (along with those corporations incorporated in other countries). It was left to the USSR (the communist Russian empire) to keep Castro and company in goods and services. But one can only buy so much sugar and so many cigars. Once the collapse of the communist regime came to the USSR and the various captives peoples of former conquered nations sought their own ways in life, Castro was left with out a sou to his name. Time to relax some of his foreign policies. Trade was sought from other Latin and South American countries and was trade from China. Well, a little here and a little there and slowly the people move from a sustenance living to enjoying a few more freedoms. A little entrepreneurship was encouraged, but not too much. You will share your profits with Fidel, one for you and nine for him. In the nineties Cuba became quite the tourist resort, a bit low budget with that run down feeling, but complete with prostitution. Not that the working girl ever went away completely, but with neighborhood spies everywhere it became a true espionage adventure. The very smart survived and the not so smart were sent to re-education camps and taught the virtues of chastity even if it was a tad late.
The nineties saw Hugo Chavez emerge on the political stage in Venezuela offering a new way of life for the poor downtrodden and the put upon middle class. Well, one thing leads to another and any law that prohibits the great Hugo from saving his people is simply done away with as if he was the supreme dictator. Which he became. The peon’s paradise (this is South America, there are no peasants, only peons). Free health care, free food, free whatever it takes to buy the vote, the more willing you are to vote for us the less ballots we need to stuff into the ballot box. So it was that the Greeks saw what Chavez had done and thought it was good. They wanted the same life for themselves. A guaranteed pension and the earlier the retirement the better. Why should an individual have to work for forty five years, save for his old age, and live within his means his entire life? Let’s wave the flag of special interests. Politicians scrambled to gather their voting bloc for the next election. Promises, promises, and even more promises are spoken. Maybe you represent the government train workers. What do they want from the government? Promise it is spades. Everyone belongs to a special interest group, even the beauty salon operators and the hair dressers. If you are a hairdresser then you must have an early retirement with generous benefits. Why? Oh, because the chemicals you use in your profession (trade, but why mince words). So instead of waiting until sixty five which has now dropped to sixty, you can retire at forty five. Where’s my comb and hair drier?
Well, all of this idiocy would have continued for another ten to twenty years but as we should suspect, the Free Shit Army pays no taxes. Of course the middle class are no fools either, tax evasion is the fun game as learned through those centuries of Ottoman rule. The wealthy never pay taxes as it is cheaper to buy a few politicians. Men of little honor come cheap enough. Tsipras didn’t get elected to Parliament because he is an honest guy. He represents his clique of special interests and does his best for them. The myth is that Greeks are lazy and that is completely untrue. They’re crooks. He should have listened to Varoufakis and taken Greece out of the EMU. The road would have been difficult and the Free Shit Army would have put up great resistance but at least Greece would have had a chance to survive as more than vassalage to the EU state. The problem then was one of keeping enough funds in their current account (money in other currencies one uses for international trade) once the went back to the Drachma. Ecuador tried to print their own currency after the coup of the socialist/marxist politicians but it fell flat on its fiat face. They had no appreciable quantities of other currencies in their current accounts and no one would trust them. They resorted to having to adopt the US dollar as the official currency.
But the average Greek isn’t exactly stupid. He knows that Europe will pay for his lifestyle as long as he is in the EMU. It has to do that by its own regulations. Of course regulations can be suspended when enough nations force the issue. That is what we see now. The new Troika or commission that currently rules Greece (own its economy and you own the country) will decide what is what and when is when and how is how and who is who. Why doesn’t matter. But the current capital controls are killing the economy deader than a doornail. The government train system is the most poorly run in the whole of Europe, maybe the world. And if the government stopped its operations and simply paid its workers, they would save multiple millions in costs. Thankfully, the workers have stepped in to save some of the costs, they went out on strike. That means the trains don’t run but I’m not sure if the workers will still receive their wages. If they don’t, that is even better, might save a billion or two, Of course there is talk about selling the train system to a private corporation and that is why the workers are out on strike. If the rail system is placed in private hands half of them will lose their jobs. Well, you know what they say about socialism. It works until you run out of other people’s money. Of course Greece is the poster child for the United States of Europe. If one paid a little more attention to Venezuela these days one would see the wages of socialism, complete economic destruction and social chaos. The place looks like a war zone. Maduro is living on Fantasy Island without Tatto or the plane. And yes, he looks nothing like Ricardo Monteban. So he must destroy Venezuela in order to save it. The same is in store for Greece. One needs to thin the Free Shit Army herd so that the country can get back to business.
Standard and Poor’s rating service has downgraded Europe again, to the negative, and that will cause a few problems with bonds, loans, and other debt instruments. The instruments of mass economic and financial destruction have been hoarded is quantities to kill any economy one hundred times over (sounds like the eighties anti nuclear warhead demonstration propaganda). These derivatives are starting to be unleashed upon Europe and it is a matter of a couple of years before Europe will look like the aftermath of World War Two again. You see, the next world war will not be one of bombs and bullets, but derivatives and debt. The problem is that most of the economists and politicians can’t see the elephant for the herd in the room. Well, good luck with that.