My Big, Fat Greek Default (May 6, 2010)

Greece

Greece, that ancient land. What it giveth us culturally, it simultaneously taketh away.

They give us the philosophic wisdom of Socrates, but we must also accept Constantine Maroulis, former American Idol failure, and “star” of Broadway’s Rock of Ages.

They provide us with ouzo, so that we can comfortably endure the amoral, classless legacy of the college fraternity system.

They give us a beautiful vacation spot beloved by tourists for centuries, and then they go bankrupt.

They giveth….Ok, I’ll stop. You get the point.

By now most of us know about the great fiscal crisis currently abroil in Greece. Hitting a little too close to home, given America’s own balloning deficit, and the ’08 collapse of our banking system, it is impossible not to feel empathy for the Greek people. The picture above clearly demonstrates that they are mad as hell about their current fiscal situation. What to do?

However, my issue today is not with Greek folks, or even the nation itself. Instead, I want to talk about Germany and it’s blame in creating the mess that caused the Dow to fall a collective 347.8 points over the course of the day.

Germany, you ask? What does the land of beer and sauerkraut have to do with Greece’s current meltdown (full disclosure: Boop and Jen are half German by lineage)? Didn’t they just approve a bailout package for the struggling nation two days ago?

Yes, they did dear readers, but sadly this vote, which makes Germany look much the proactive benefactor, comes far too late in the game. In fact, the European Union has been aware for quite a long time that Greece was on the brink. And as recently as mid-February, the Germans did not want to do much of anything to help their “spendthrift” economic partners.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/world/europe/16germany.html

So two months of hemming, hawing, “not my problem” isolationism later, here were are. Greece is the new United States, and global markets are in a free fall. Obviously, given that our nation is still muddling through a way to figure out what the hell happened to our own economy, we have no space to start pointing fingers.

But I am not Barack Obama and I have no need for diplomacy. Germany, j’accuse!

The justification for waiting it out was that “Every country has its own debts.” Well yes, in theory that is true. However, when Europe decided to make it a coalition by creating the European Union, they implicitly resigned the right to keep their concerns within their own borders. If Germany is now second guessing the wisdom of the EU, formed during the heady, prosperous aughts, well they are not the only ones.

I realize that blaming Germany for this debacle does not determine its only cause, nor does it do anything to resolve the gigantic crater sitting in the middle of the Greek economy. But we must hope that Germany is paying attention now, and understands that it can no longer treat the Greeks like so many drunken cousins, whose life choices have no effect on its own fortunes.

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