Friday, May 21, 2010

Greece - and us - by Mark Steyn

One reviewer of Mark Steyn's book "America Alone" said he had the oddest feeling of chuckling while contemplating doom.

There have been enough articles about the Greek meltdown to sink a supertanker, but Mark Steyn still manages to produce an analysis that is a sad pleasure to read. The same facts are there, but Mr. Steyn is able to put the facts together like no one else.

"From the Times of London: 'The President of Greece warned last night that his country stood on the brink of the abyss after three people were killed when an anti-government mob set fire to the Athens bank where they worked.'

Almost right. They were not an 'anti-government' mob, but a government mob, a mob comprised largely of civil servants. That they are highly uncivil and disinclined to serve should come as no surprise: they’re paid more and they retire earlier, and that’s how they want to keep it. So they’re objecting to austerity measures that would end, for example, the tradition of 14 monthly paycheques per annum.

You read that right: the Greek public sector cannot be bound by anything so humdrum as temporal reality. So, when it was mooted that the 'workers' might henceforth receive a mere 12 monthly paycheques per annum, they rioted. Their hapless victims—a man and two women—were a trio of clerks trapped in a bank when the mob set it alight and then obstructed emergency crews attempting to rescue them...

To prop up unsustainable welfare states, most of the Western world isn’t 'printing money' but instead printing credit cards and pre-approving our unborn grandchildren. That would be a dodgy proposition at the best of times.

But in the Mediterranean those grandchildren are never going to be born...Greece has one of the lowest fertility rates on the planet—1.3 children per couple, which places it in the “lowest-low” demographic category from which no society has recovered...In practical terms, it means 100 grandparents have 42 grandkids...

Last year, President Sarkozy said that the G20 summit provided 'a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to give capitalism a conscience.' European capitalism may have a conscience. It’s not clear it has a pulse. And, actually, when you’re burning Greek bank clerks to death in defence of your benefits, your 'conscience' isn’t much in evidence, either."

Vintage Steyn.

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