A Way Out for The Greeks?

So Greece has rolled over and played dead for the European Union.  Greece will now be the vassal state of Germany and to a lesser extent, France, and to an even lesser extent, the remainder of the Euro powers, e.g., Latvia.

The problem of being a vassal state is your masters use you the way the Roman Empire used its provinces: A low-cost source of labor and resources exploited to the fullest.  Many in Rome felt grinding the provinces into the dirt was just a dandy idea. However, in talking about Rome’s relationship with the provinces, no less a person than Tiberius Caesar said, “I want my sheep shorn, not shaven”.

Look back at the Biblical times and you see Rome’s vassal states, like Israel and Assyria, still had their own local governments and economies, but Rome called the shots and drained those countries’ through heavy taxation and slave labor. Today, with Greece and the EU, it’s pretty much the same arrangement, but without the slave labor.

They didn’t get shaved, but the Greeks sure got shorn.

So what can Greece do now?  Let’s look to the past.

My dad was born in 1899 so he was in his prime years when the Great Depression hit.  He told me how the economy was in the toilet and that all of FDR’s mighty New Deal achievements helped, but the Depression lingered on.

Then, unintentionally, we hit on the sure-fire way to get a stalled economy working: War.  For four years, America worked 7/24/52 to build stuff that was then promptly thrown away — shot from the skies, sunk in the oceans and blown up on land.  Economically speaking, WWII was one vast make-work project.  Of course there were 407,300 casualties too, don’t forget.  In any case, at war’s end, America was the economic Colossus bestriding the Earth.

Did we have austerity here at home like the Greeks are having now?  Yes, but it was self-imposed.  Everything was rationed and Victory Gardens bloomed in almost every yard and commons.  Housewives worked the armaments factories.  Ma even saved bacon grease and brought it to a collection place at the grocery store; it was used to make gunpowder.  There was a central government authority that saw to it the austerity was felt by everyone so all Americans felt each person pulled his or her share of the load.  Taxes went up and almost no one objected to paying them.  Government bonds were sold and everybody bought them.  Huge deficits were run up too, but the prosperity at war’s end took care of that.  And what wasn’t taken care of was handled by printing more money.

Could the Greeks pull-off something like this?  Lift themselves up by their own bootstraps?  Quite possibly.  All they need to get the ball rolling is understanding two things. One, that they are in a war of survival against a european empire much like old Rome. Two, a nation’s wealth is the product of its peoples’ labors.  That this second point is true is demonstrated by the old barter system, i.e., “I’ll work for you, doing what I do best, if you’ll work for me, doing what you do best”.  No currency required.

So, then, the Greeks could repudiate their debt, kick the EU to the curb, reintroduce their own currency, or maybe use the dollar a la Venezuela, and put the country on a war footing.  Undertake vast public works projects that get everyone, and I mean everyone, involved. Create an actual honest-to-gosh labor shortage. If you don’t have a private sector job, you’ll be out on the road, swinging a pickaxe on a government project.  And, most importantly, you’ll get paid.

People won’t live high on the hog for a while.  Indeed there will be austerity but only on a personal level.  You can have a Victory Garden of your own as opposed to the grocery store but all the while the Greek government will build, build, build.  Employment will probably be at 110%, like it was here during the war.  In four years’ time, Greece could be wealthy once again.

Sure, the EU can make a billion-and-one reasons against this but you know, sometimes you’ve just got to take a winger.


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