The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Two or three decades ago, arguments about the advisability of unrestrained government spending and the increasing growth of the federal government were theoretical in nature. Most people on the Left supported a large role for government with its attendant costs and chose to ignore the long term consequences of unrestrained spending. Most people on the right argued against big government, but conservative politicians did little to restrain spending growth and the deficits that resulted.

Today, the arguments are no longer theoretical. Europe (at the moment it’s Greece, soon to be followed by Italy and Spain) is providing us with the consequences of big government and unrestrained spending. The harsh reality cannot be wished away. Reuters reports:
As [the EU] parliament prepared to vote on a new 130 billion euro bailout to save Greece from a messy bankruptcy, a Reuters photographer saw buildings in Athens engulfed in flames and huge plumes of smoke rose in the night sky.

"We are facing destruction. Our country, our home, has become ripe for burning, the centre of Athens is in flames. We cannot allow populism to burn our country down," conservative lawmaker Costis Hatzidakis told parliament.

The air in Syntagma Square outside parliament was thick with tear gas as riot police fought running battles with youths who smashed marble balustrades and hurled stones and petrol bombs.

Terrified Greeks and tourists fled the rock-strewn streets and the clouds of stinging gas, cramming into hotel lobbies for shelter as lines of riot police struggled to contain the mayhem.

State NET television reported that trouble had also broken out in Heraklion, capital of the tourist island of Crete, as well as the towns of Volos and Agrinio in central Greece.

Despite the chaos, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos warned that Greeks faced "unimaginably harsher" sacrifices if parliament rejected the package, which demands deep pay, pension and job cuts, when it votes later in the evening.

Tomorrow, President Obama will introduce a 2013 federal budget that has virtually no real spending cuts whatsoever, does absolutely nothing to address the structure problems with entitlements, suggests that taxing the "rich" is our road to solvency, and continues to promote his fantasy that big government can cure our nation’s ills.

It’s almost as if the President and his supporters refuse to recognize the ominous signs in the Reuters reports. The fires and social unrest in Greece are real, not theoretical. They are a consequence of decades of lies offered by irresponsible politicians to a Greek public that was only too happy to accept massive government subsidies, handouts, and cradle-to-grave government programs. These became “rights” that were inalienable—until the money ran out. And now that forced austerity is necessary, a deep anger that has shaken Greece to its core.

The Greek story should be a lesson for all of us in the United States. It is truly tragic that our President and his supporters refuse to learn from it.

Update (13 Feb 2012):
And today in Greece reported by Reuters:
Scenes [in Athens and other locales] of running battles between police and rioters and flames engulfing cinemas, shops and banks underscored a sense of deepening turmoil in the country after more than four years of recession and two of punishing austerity.

Meanwhile, the President's spokespeople were making the Sunday rounds claiming that Obama's budget really does cut spending, that his health care mandate will save the country money, and that if millionaires would only pay their "fair share," all would be well. These claims are startlingly dishonest and even worse, will drive us closer to a time when must face what Greece is living through at the moment.