Friday, July 1, 2011

A Quick Note to the Greeks

A MeanMesa Fiction

The Prime Minister's Speech
The Greek "Misunderstanding" (image source)

"Well, we all know about the mess that the country is in with respect to its debt crisis.  And, I could hardly miss the violent demonstrations which have been held outside the Parliament building.  So, I thought that perhaps a bit of 'fireside chat' might serve to explain things a little and possible diffuse some of the discouragement you are all feeling about the austerity and privatization programs."

"I wanted to take this opportunity to explain a bit about exactly what problem we face, who is helping us take necessary steps to respond to it and exactly what our new policy will mean in your everyday lives.  Hopefully, once you all have an opportunity to understand the forces at work and the consequences of not responding to them successfully, some of the anger I see on our streets will subside."

"Some troublemakers among your crowd have purposefully misled you about many of the important reasons for what is happening.  Among other things, these troublemakers have told you that our country's economic crisis was actually caused by only a few Greeks at the top of the national income scale.  This story of theirs goes on to claim that rich bond holders and bankers, many of whom invested their money in our nation's financial system, are now demanding that they be made whole."

"Of course, according to these troublemakers, when the Greek banking system collapsed -- along with most of the rest of the world -- these rich bond holders faced the entirely unfair possibility of losing part of the wealth. they had so unselfishly invested in our economy. Unhappily, among you less exceptional Greeks, there is an 'old wives' tale' and an 'urban legend' that when one invests in anything, there is always the very, very remote chance that, as our Boetian forebears might have said of the invading Spartans, 'things will turn South' and part of these investments might be lost."

"So, these troublemakers' story continues, these very well connected bond holders had no intention of losing part of their money. Instead, these troublemakers say, these bond holders contacted other bond holders in the European Union and cooked up a great scheme to make themselves whole. and, uh, save Greece from the socialistic ravages of all you poor people. Worse, this incendiary story of theirs goes on to say that these bond holders have already been paid a handsome interest."

"This is the very, very bad and entirely wrong story these troublemakers have suggested to you which is, somehow, consistent with these ridiculous 'old wives' tales' and 'urban legends.' The unpleasant facts of the matter are quite different."

"You see, this problem of ours comes from all of you little people who have no bonds. You have been so greedy and selfish that you have now ruined everything for everyone, again. The fact is that you non-bond holding, little people have not only emptied our nation's banks, but the national Treasury, itself. Now, we have no money to pay these horribly damaged and totally innocent bond holders."

"However, we do have a plan to 'make this up' to these important people you have treated so miserably."

"The European bond holders, gracious friends of the Greek bond holders you have treated so poorly, are willing to buy most of the national Greek things which, over time, you greedy poor people have always considered to be part of the national infrastructure. As a result, we, as dedicated public servants, have put everything we could think of on, as they say, the auction block at bargain prices in hope of a quick sale."

"Airports, harbors, roads, schools, hospitals and bridges -- the list could go on -- all now have a price tag. When these are sold, we will take the money and pay the bondholders who you have frightened so much. The alternative would be very, very horrible and very, very terrible, probably worse than the invasion by  Old Darius."

Bond holders, you can own this!  (image source)

"To go along with our national 'garage sale,' we will be lowering the wages of all government employees and raising taxes on everybody, government or not.  Of course we can lower the government employees' wages immediately, but, as the Greek economy contracts, the value of the labor of all the rest of you will also decrease.  This is actually quite acceptable, because the bond holders consider the cost of your labor too expensive, even before the economic catastrophe you have caused."

"And, not only have the bond holders thought that the cost of your labor was too high, they have also always thought that the price of businesses here in Greece was also too high.  You see, these bond holders, anxious to assist the national economy in any way possible, always wanted to purchase many Greek businesses and industries but were never able to do so because of the high prices."

"Now that the Greek economy will be returning to more rational values, these patriotic bond holders of ours will be, once again, able to rush in to re-establish  a new national prosperity and success by purchasing whatever Greek businesses they wish at a very good price, then operating them at a quite acceptable, lower labor cost."

"And, as I mentioned before, these 'bargain basement' prices will not be limited to existing businesses and industries, either.  After this massive, national privatization phase has been completed and the bond holders paid back, many of the things you have paid for with your tax money in the past and have come to  take, more or less, for granted, will now become businesses and industries as well."

"This means that things such as public school, hospitals, harbors, fire departments and police departments will all become profit making enterprises.  Of course, the profits from these 'new businesses' will go directly to our bond holders while the increased costs will go directly to you.  All sorts of new things which used to simply be paid for with your tax dollars will now be paid for, not only with your tax dollars, but with a little something extra to pay for these profits which our bond holders so sincerely deserve for bailing us out of the mess you have caused."

"As a result of these beneficial changes in the plan to save our country, you may  also notice a few changes in your individual lives as a result . Let's take a look at a few examples of these changes.  To make these changes a bit easier to understand, a few terms need to be re-defined in order to make sense out of this new policy."

"During winter, as an example, your homes will now be 'warm' when they are 50 degrees Farenheit, although your gas bills will remain the same or become slightly higher. This crisis is hardly a time to cut energy prices."

"Likewise, the tomatoes and potatoes you have always purchased at a certain price, will now cost more, and the new, higher price will be considered a 'good deal,' given all the wreckage you have so selfishly created."

"The gasoline you use in your old cars will also cost more than it used to cost. There will be a new, higher price on the water you drink, your doctor visits and the letters you mail. These, of course, will also be a 'good deal' considering the terror your selfish habits have inflicted on Greece's bond holders and the very, very terrible, horrible things which would have resulted otherwise if they had not so generously come to rescue us."

"In fact, every time you buy anything, anything at all, the price will be higher because the road that truck traveled or the harbor that ship entered will now be required to 'turn a profit.' The public school your children attend must also bear its own burden. Lazy, useless teachers will be dismissed in a very business-like streamlining program. School buildings, soon to be in private hands, will no longer be able to suck exorbitant maintenance costs from the nation's budget."

"Even the nation's politics will have to adapt to this new plan.  In the old days the political contest was always between the man in the street and the wealthy Greeks who ran the country.  The new Greece will be somewhat different.  In our future, all political strife will be between tax payers and labor unions.  This is the course for our future."

"Naturally, once you all have realized that you have brought this upon yourselves, I expect the demonstrations to cease  So, why don't you all simply go home and figure out how you will cut costs in order to live within your means. This national recovery plan of ours closely follows the similar austerity programs the American Republicans have formulated to face the terrible economic problems greedy poor people have created there."

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