So it seems Greece is rapidly going down the toilet, and a number of other European nations aren’t far behind. After decades of extravagant expenditures on social services, the tipping point has been reached. Greek lawmakers rushed through legislation to prevent total insolvency, cutting the minimum wage by 20% and dissolving roughly one out of every five civil service jobs. That still may not enough to save the capsizing country, and rumors were circulating that at least one of German Chancellor Merkel’s advisors were calling for Greece to get the boot from the EU. If that happens, would it be the beginning of a run of falling dominos, with Portugal and other economically deficit nations next to be expelled? Could it spell the end of the EU experiment? How Greece manages to recover – or not – may lay out the roadmap for things to come.
Sadly, the Greek people seem unwilling to accept reality, having looted and rioted across the nation, and burned over 40 businesses. But while residents of other nations – including my own – stare at the news feeds and shake their heads, I have to ask, when social security runs out of funds in the US in about six years, will things be any different here (aside from perhaps the median age of the rioters, and the fact that most of ours will need their glucosamine and Geritol to rush the police)?
After all, Americans epitomize the term entitlement. While most have never actually read the Constitution and Bill of Rights, they insist on their “rights” to drive, have a job brought to them, live in a house without paying the mortgage, and burn police cars when they’re unhappy with the outcome of a major sporting event. Basically, Americans seem to think they have the right to get away with whatever they can, and scream about the injustices when they’re caught.
While I lean to the left on some views and to the right on others, I’m pretty firmly with the right’s philosophy on being responsible for your actions (notice I cite their philosophy, not their practices). Sometimes things are someone else’s fault, and sometimes people do need a hand or a bailout, but not always, and certainly not permanently. Unfortunately, neither side tends to practice what they preach, and Republican lawmakers are no different in how they’re pulling their weight in government. This whole nation – its people, its federal, state and local governments, its entire attitude – seems to espouse both the “it’s someone else’s fault” and “let someone else fix it – preferably a few years down the road” viewpoints. Sadly, that’s not going to cut it any more. Unless we’re ready to follow Greece’s path, drastic measures need to be taken, and soon. And yeah, it’s gonna hurt.
Residents of Jefferson County, Alabama – home of the major city of Birmingham – already know how it feels. The county is in bankruptcy, and the people are feeling the impact. All satellite county courthouses have been closed, leaving huge lines snaking out of the sole remaining courthouse in downtown Birmingham. The remaining jail is horribly overcrowded with some imates sleeping on the floor, while a newly refurbished nearby prison sits empty, the county unable to afford running it. The police department can’t afford to pay overtime for its officers (I wonder if any enterprising criminals have hacked the police’s rotation schedule to see when the fewest cops are on duty now?). Roads are not being repaired and roadkill is not even being picked up (which seems trivial, until I read someone hit a cow a couple of weeks ago). A few other cities and counties in the US have also declared bankruptcy and others are on the brink.
How long before ramifications of these localities are felt in the federal government? How long, if our federal lawmakers don’t take these examples to heart, before the federal government follows?