Deep inside the august halls of Athens University, the renowned political commentator Paschos Mandravelis will deliver a message this week that until very recently was lost on most Greeks.
His speech will focus on a single fact: that the country in the centre of the storm of Europe's worst crisis since the creation of the common market, missed the biggest story ever – its own looming bankruptcy. "Everyone," he says, "starting with the Greek media, was in an incredible state of denial."
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Does this sound familiar? Senator Chris Dodd famously told us that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were "fundamentally strong." Reuters and the Associated Press routinely and comically employ the adverb "unexpectedly" when communicating that the US labor market or economic output underperformed during the previous period. Pundit after talking-head pundit tell us on CNN and MSNBC that the economic recovery is well under way. That TARP saved the day. That the stimulus "saved or created" millions of jobs. Everything is fine. Pay no attention to runaway entitlement spending. Pay no mind to the shell game that Congressional Democrats used to ram through the Obamacare debacle. Ignore the fact that the only difference between Greece and the states of California, New York and Michigan is that none of those states have been bailed out by the IMF (yet).
The Greek financial crisis, which even after the pending bailout could still threaten other members of the EU, is a complete meltdown of the entire statist, entitlement-driven model of government. The "austerity" measures being "forced down the throats" of the Greeks include such draconian, near-inhuman measures such as reducing Easter, summer and Christmas bonuses for government employees and increasing the retirement age from an average of 61 to 65. What do the beneficiaries of these programs do? Having finally run out of other people's money, Greek socialists took to the streets. They looted, burned, pillaged, rioted and killed people to save their way of life.
What preceded the episodes of the last several weeks were several years of complete denial that the leftist Greek government was driving the country into bankruptcy. Virtually no one in Greek society was willing to admit that a serious problem loomed. Greek politicos denied it. The Greek media, as chummy with the socialists as the US media is with our own leftists, denied it. The people of Greece, living large off of government handouts and entitlements, denied it.
Does it all sound familiar?