If Greece were a person it would be Snooki.
When the reality television starlet crashes into an Italian police car on the most recent Jersey Shore, she blames the traffic. She blames the roads. She doesn’t blame herself. When she winds up in jail, her friends bail her out. When her boyfriend jets after she shows her bad goods at a dance club, she exclaims, “I don’t deserve that!” and asks “Why did he do that to me?” These tantrums typically involve a great deal of crying, an infantile tactic that nevertheless converts the reproach at her misbehavior into sympathy for her.
Snooki often sleeps-in until the late afternoon. She has a job but doesn’t really work. She hides in a barrel at work. She drinks at work. She shops at work. She doesn’t work at work.
Snooki isn’t malicious. She’s sweet. She’s really fun. But she’s lazy, incontinent, unaccountable, and, usually, smashed. Her massive breasts and fondness for the “smoosh room” tell us she is an adult. But everything else suggests a child.
Snooki is a lot like Greece.
Greece has partied on someone else’s dime. The hangover has arrived, and they don’t feel like paying the tab. The nation’s finance minister—not some sandwich-board shouter—endorsed a default leaving creditors holding the bag on half of its debt as the country’s “best” option.
Greece has relied on its friends to bail it out. And now Greece may just bail on its friends. Such perfidy would try even JWoWW’s loyalty. The default will leave Europe’s banks, and the International Monetary Fund and the European Union, in a terrible situation. Greece, like a certain four-foot-six, orange-skinned party girl, doesn’t seem to factor in long-term interests. Who will lend Greece money in the future once it doesn’t pay back it current debts?
Greece owes its creditors a half trillion dollars. Its debt exceeds a year-and-a-half of its gross domestic product. Unfortunately for Greece, the GDP keeps shrinking. The debt keeps growing.
But who is counting when it’s someone else’s money? Party on party people.
A system based on giving out that which the duty-bound provide for themselves has resulted in a dearth of money and responsibility. Greece is imploding because a government that promises to take care of its people as though the state were parent and citizens its children soon discovers that it can’t take care of itself. Coddling governments produce irresponsible people. Coddled people elect irresponsible governments.
What the international media has mislabeled “draconian austerity measures” Americans might better understand as profligacy restraints. When the government announced cuts necessary to get expenditures closer to revenues, unions threw a Snooki tantrum. As it turns out, Greeks still get free health care, babysitting, and university tuition. The socialist government touted austerity measures. It hasn’t really enacted them, which is why European leaders openly speak of bailing on their bailout.
Greece’s taste in economic systems, like Snooki’s taste in men—Lou Ferrigno muscles, gold chains, track suits—went out in the 1980s. But socialism is passé only for those with an awareness of the past.
Greece doesn’t bully its EU roommates. It burdens them. It is not frivolous with other people’s lives but with other people’s money. We should be thankful that the face of 21st-century European socialism isn’t Hitler or Stalin but Snooki. But Snooki Socialism is still socialism, and only adolescents could still think socialism works.
Socialism lounges. It sponges. It slacks. It doesn’t work.
One man who counted a fifty-fold increase in government workers living in his village since 1980 asked the Financial Times: “Is it ever possible for a country to prosper with so many state employees who do not produce?”
In other words, where but in government, or on reality television, can employees loaf without fear of firings? Greece’s EU sugar daddies, like MTV executives, may soon cancel that program.