Saturday, June 27, 2015

The stupidity of cruelty - the special case of Greece

Mercy is essentially compassion, from the Latin "suffering with."  This is wisdom, because in this way we see through our own pains and needs into those of others, and so we are led to make it possible for others to work with us.  We don't force them to fight to the death by trying to make them do what they no can do, or to make them do without what they gotta have.

Cruelty is stupid that way.  Knowing and caring nothing for the pains and needs of others, commonly rationalizing such willful blindness by their wrongdoing, cruelty compels others to fight to the death - and because God hates such arrogance and cruelty, unpleasant and wholly unexpected results are pretty near a sure thing.  This is the real cause of such disgraceful US misadventures as Iraq and Vietnam, the Japanese stupidity of attacking the United States in 1941, and the short lives of the Nazi and Stalinist regimes.

So, then, today's special case - Greece.  Greece racked up its debts in the first place because European banksters and their governments made what they knew to be bad loans figuring - rightly - that they could use these to plunder the Greek nation when the Greeks couldn't pay - a game described by John Perkins in his     Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.

For years, Greece was ruled by compliant puppets, Papandreou and Samaras, who obediently destroyed the Greek economy for the convenience of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank - and without reducing Greek debt at all, since inflicting all this misery reduced the tax receipts needed to pay.  So in January, the Greeks sensibly threw out these puppets and elected the Syriza party to push back.

Everyone knows that these debts can never be repaid - even European economists are not stupid enough to believe that they can be.  Here the wisdom of Moses on debt cancellation is especially pertinent - but who wants to listen to him? 

Even so, the new Syriza government negotiated with these fools and tried to accommodate them, but last week it became clear that this was useless.  Syriza couldn't betray the Greek people and knuckle under to the same futile stupidity that they had been elected to stop.  It was simply a no-can-do.  And having been elected by only 36% of the people, they couldn't take the responsibility for the train wreck that the default being forced upon them would cause, a weakness that the creditors were counting on to make Syriza cave.  And they did come close.

But since that was simply not possible, the Greek government did the only thing possible - they called a snap referendum on the creditors' ultimatum for July 5, thus giving the Greek people the chance to decide, and forcing the creditors either to back down or hit the wall on June 30, when a huge payment to the International Monetary Fund is due, which cannot be made and won't be. 

The recklessness of compelling the Greeks to default with a FU offer they could not accept reminds me of Austria-Hungary's ultimatum to Serbia on July 23, 1914 - designed to be a demand that Serbia could not accept, so that Austria could destroy Serbia before the Russians could get involved.  Well, the Russians did get involved - and then the Germans, the British and the French - and we all know how World War 1 turned out.

We don't know exactly how playing the same game almost exactly 101 years later will turn out, but one thing we can be sure of.  It won't turn out well for the perps, and probably not for anyone else.          


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't pretend that I understand any more what is going on between Greece and the European Central Bank. I have heard that Greece should have never been allowed to join the Euro in the first place. It did not meet the criteria but it was certified as meeting the criteria anyways.
Now its debt can not be repaid. The funny thing is the whole international financial system seems to be fraudulent. All the major ecoonomies have huge debts. OK if we measure debts against assets those debts might not really be so large. But can any country really pay off its debts without selling their national assets? I have not checked but I would be willing to bet $20 with out checking that none of the G-7 countries balance their budget, ever.
Does anyone really know what the complete consequences of these deficits are? Does anyone really know what the consequences would be if all the G-7 countries balanced their budgets? Would balanced budgets lead to a collapse of the economies of the G-7. Conservatives try to convince us that our deficits will destroy us and we should balance the budget. Liberals try to convince us that consequences of reducing social spending and infrastructure spending will destroy us even faster. The liberal view point makes more sense to me. Sadly I suspect that it is not the whole story. Germany runs budget deficits yet it runs a trade surplus. The United States runs budget deficits yet it runs trade deficits as well. that would seem to indicate that there is not any connection between budget deficits and trade deficits however a countries currency does not stay with in its borders.
Since a country's currency does not stay with in its borders it can be used to pay for raw materials from other countries. If the raw materials of poor countries are being transfered to wealthy countries by currency which would essentially be what beads did in the 17th and 18th century I have to wonder if the poor nations are being cheated. I am not sure because the poor nations can take those 21st century beads and buy things from the industrialized countries that the need. So, by getting the first benifits from the deficit spending do the wealthy nations get an unfair advantage?
Another thing that troubles me about the Greek economy is that the ratio of workers to retired people is terrible. I do not recall exactly what the ratio is but I seem to recall it was one retired person for each worker in the country. Can any country sustain its economy under such circumstances? Then on top of that I think that the percent of the work force who were public employees has been higher in Greece than else where in Europe. Now if those employees where producing cars, or bananas, or even some sort of service that brought in money for the government I imagine that would not be a problem. If they were mostly policemen, soldiers, prison guards, and other occupations that are a drain of the economy then it is a problem.

So what it all boils down to is, if the Greeks need to be supported by the rest of Europe exactly how much support should they get. The reason that I ask is that the people of Africa and some parts of Asia need support as well and one Euro will go farther in those places than it will in Greece.

There are hundreds of schools in the USA and hundreds more in Europe that are supposed to be turning out trained economists. What a waste of money. There have to be millions of people now in the industrialized world with degrees in economics yet the performance of these people, collectively speaking, is dismal. What is even more of a joke is that 90% of these people would not rate their performance as dismal but as at least satisfactory.

Your partner in crime,
Curt Kastens

6/28/2015 3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just thinking this morning about Saudi Arabia and Wisconsin too. Saudi Arabia is a cruel society. Well it is cruel in the sense that it imposes draconian punishments for crimes. To me that makes it a cruel society. From our Western Standpoint we would say that the punishements imposed do not fit the crimes, which would by implication make Saudi Arabia a society guilty of torture, even before the issue of torture being used to gain information and extract confessions is considered.

Yet there is an up side to draconian punishements, isn't there? In Saudia Arabia the rate of crime for things that plague Europeans and even Canadians is really low. At least from what I have been lead to believe. It makes sense to me.

About ten years ago in Belgium they imposed really draconian penalties for speeding.
As a result I not only avoided speeding while in Belgium, I avoided driving in Belgium all together. That cost Belgium some money which might have been made up for by other drivers in Belgium having fewer accidents or at least less espensive accidents.

When I was young we could go in to Wisconsin a legally buy beer. Yet in Wisconsin the Police were sticklers about enforcing the speed limit. In Wisconsin 55 meant 55. In Minnesota 55 meant 60. So although the punishement for driving 56 did not fit the crime either even if it was just a warning. Minnesotans tendened not to drive over 55 in Wisconsin. (Unless they had taken special precautions)

So now I have gotten to where I want to be. I would like to propose a Belgian approache to speeding in the USA. But there is an important difference between Belgium and the USA. As far as I know driving while black is not a crime in Belgium.

The primary reason that I want to make make speeding a very expensive crime in the USA is not to save lives by having fewer traffic accidents. That could be the reason tht the public it told though. No there is another reason. You have to promise to keep this reason a secret because I do not want anynone else to know it.
It is to encurage more people to use public transportation. After all people who have lost their licence for a month or two will have no other choice, for the most part. Try it you will like it. OK, not as public transportaion is today but as it will be when the law goes in to effect. Then just maybe some lives might be lenghtened by slowing the rate of global warming.

That now brings me to the second point of my tour. I think that draconian punishements are in order for a whole bunch of crimes. Sadly due to the rampant nature of racism (and or class warfare) in America the effects of my wish may not turn out to be what I intend them to be. I wonder if it is possible to fine tune the law in such a way that the law will promote harmony. Promote is the key word.
Harmoney can not be manufactured by by laws that are obeyed. But I think that good laws properly enforced are part of the formula.

Back in Saudi Arabia the laws try to promote harmony by ensuring that everyone thinks the same way. That rules out any changes in the society. At lesat any change not decided upon by the rulers for the benifit of the rulers. So harmoney should not be over rated. Disharmony is a neccessary price to pay for the ability of a society to adapt to a changing simulation.

8/16/2015 2:18 AM  

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