Breaking! We now interrupt your regularly-scheduled soapboxing to bring you a short, unsolicited blurb about the debt crisis in Greece!

Okay, I admit it, I’ve spent the better part of the week wringing my hands about this thing. First, the referendum, which ended in a heart-breaking “no” to the latest EU rescue package that may as well have been a “no” to other questions such as “Will Greece keep the common currency?” or “Can we be sure that Tsipras isn’t a psycho shape-shifter sent by Hades?” I held out hope for this morning’s EU summit based solely on a reasonable certainty that the Greeks were bluffing and don’t actually want to plunge themselves into economic chaos on purpose.

“The Akropolis? You ain’t seen Greek ruins yet, Voldemort.”

I guess I was wrong. New finance minister Euklid Tsakalotos showed up to today’s summit without even a new proposal to show. At a point when news sources estimate the time remaining before Greek banks run out of money in the unit of days or even hours, just wow. And meanwhile Alexis Tsipras is frolicking about happily, still high off whatever he snorted to celebrate the referendum results a few days ago, without a care in the world even though each day of capital controls will make any EU rescue effort that much costlier, and therefore a lot less likely. If only the man’s brain was half as big as his balls! I can only assume that an economic free fall is what he’s actually angling for.

Do I blame the Greeks for voting “no”? Not at all – the IMF itself found that there’s no way for them to ever repay the loans under the terms of the austerity plan. But I do blame them for the ridiculous show they’re making of being the only victims here. Yes, the euro ended up benefiting Germany more than any other member country, and their stellar economic performance in the last decades was in great part due to the blunted competitiveness of Greece and others. I don’t think that’s how it was envisioned when the currency was introduced in 1995, but it surely played out that way and I think Germans should acknowledge that they have been systemically blessed by doing more than their share of helping their euro neighbors in their hour of need. When the Greek crisis first broke, triggered by the 2008 Great Recession, I thought the first austerity-conditioned bailout was a bad call, and Greece probably should’ve defaulted and declared bankruptcy then and there instead of taking it. But they did choose to take it. Fast forward to 2015 and they’re still retiring 10-15 years earlier than other Europeans and haven’t managed to collect the taxes they promised they would. Even if it’s just a drop in the bucket maybe they should’ve done something more to help dig themselves out of the hole, instead of shoveling full blame plus interest on someone else’s doorstep.” I read that on average every European (man, woman, and child) has already contributed $500 in taxes toward the last two Greek bailouts. That’s a whole bunch! Even so, I still think Germany and the rest of the prosperous European countries should just do the morally right thing and cut Greece’s debt. Unfortunately for the Syriza party, the rest of Europe are democracies, too. I don’t think they’ll ever consider a debt haircut now, thanks in great part to Tsipras’ ridiculous strategy of old school demagoguery and brinksmanship, and Tsakalotos’ note to himself not to gloat today when the rest of the continent imagined that he would be there to humbly ask for an exception to the written financial law was the nail in the coffin. If Merkel dares to bend the rules now she’ll be out of work in a month. The average European tax payers are suffering from this crisis, too – and they had as little to do with the bad loans as the average Greek did. For the Greek populace to keep denouncing them as stingy and imperialistic, after all they’ve been doing to try to solve a complicated and unprecedented problem, and on top of that to ask for more and more from people whose lifestyles are in some cases a hell of a lot more austere than their own, is seriously shocking to me.

“Good people don’t need laws to act responsibly. Bad people will find ways around the laws. And ridiculous people will pass a law that a dead man’s pension is inherited by all his unmarried daughters.” – Plato

I hope that the Grexit goes as amicably as it can. I’ve been following the news in a couple of newspapers and even from the Germans and Spaniards who reacted to the audacity of Greek brinkmanship as one would expect them to, there was a call for humanitarian aid while the country rebuilds itself. It’ll suck and life will turn out way more miserably for the bureaucrats and military personnel than any EU aid package ever could’ve made it, but maybe the only way out of this for Greece is through a new drachma. The hardest part will be finding someone else to give them loans after they declare bankruptcy. Unlike Argentina, which bounced back from bankruptcy as if it were Diego Maradona’s hand, Greece imports a lot of its food and fuel. It needs to secure loans to survive, because its economy is that unproductive at the moment. Will Russia step up? As much as Putin is looking chummy with Tsipras, I highly doubt that he can afford to put his money where is mouth is. Neither China nor the U.S. are likely to find it an attractive investment, either. The defaulted-on IMF and soon-to-be-defaulted-on ECB won’t be able to give more. So that leaves… the European Union. Oops.

Sascha

And puny DIY economic stimulus: We had a bunch of Greek olives for dinner, in hopes of helping an olive farmer.

For the record, they were so close! Even in Germany, where most of the supposed “hardliners” live, even as late as last week, the majority were for the referendum and many criticized Merkel for never offering Greece a reasonably generous bailout. When polled on their greatest concerns in the Greek crisis, a measly 31% of respondents cited the disintegration of the European Union and 69% worried about the suffering of the Greek people. I haven’t been able to find a more recent poll but it doesn’t take a political scientist to see that the tide of sympathy has shifted dramatically in the last few days. From interviews posted on German news sites it seems clear that at least some Greeks are blaming Germans for keeping “their” money away and Merkel even for directly closing Greek banks. Even if Tsipras didn’t encourage this thinking, he certainly thrived on it (and let’s be real – he and Yanis Voldemort, er Varoufakis, pretty obviously encouraged it). I’m worried sick about the impending suffering of the Greek people, too. I hope that their recovery from bankruptcy will be quick but without access to credit or a viable economy I think they might be living in a third-world country for generations. How deluded Tsipras and his ministers must be, to think that they have something to gloat about!