Wednesday, May 5, 2010

- An Open Letter To Greek Protesters

There is no money. There is no one else’s pocket left to pick. You can’t borrow anymore, you can’t print anymore, and you can’t steal anymore from anyone else. The people who will be paying the bill to keep you from reentering the 15th century are, unlike you, working very hard. They deserve better than you spoiled pampered children are giving them.

You object to the bond market, but the bond market is just the voice of reality calling. It’s telling you that 2 plus 2 is still 4, no matter what your union bosses would have you believe. Your bosses tell you that ‘the people’ didn’t spend the money, but it’s not true. That’s exactly who has wasted the money, and now the bill is coming due. Right now the Bond Market is actually your very best friend. It’s telling you what a horrible mistake you’ve made, and giving you a chance to undo it, before it’s too late.

The standards that the Germans are living by right now are unsustainable in their own right, but they are a lot closer to reality than you are. At the very least you should pull up your pants, wipe that stuff off your face and be responsible enough to live at that level. Since it’s they who will be coming up with the bulk of your shortfall you should do it out of good manners if you can’t manage any other reason. And once you do, the rest of us will step up and pull you back from the brink.

But the truth is, we’re not going to pull you that far. If you continue to make no contribution to productivity, your life from here on out will be one of relative hardship and poverty. And frankly that’s how it should be. You can live your lives any way you like as far as we’re concerned, but no one is going to reward you for getting drunk on the beach anymore. In the modern world you’ll only get out of the system what you put into it. Either work – or learn to live without.

Socialism always was (and frankly – still is) a horrible idea. It’s the reason you’re in this embarrassing position in the first place. In the eyes of the world you all look just as stupid and spoiled as can be. You could be protesting in diapers and demanding that ‘the state’ wipe your behinds and it would only marginally affect your public image. You need to accept the fact that there are no circumstances under which politics can arrange for nothing to be equal to something. You can not make a contribution of zero and expect to get a benefit greater than that.

You’ve thrown your bottles, burned your flags, waved your signs and had your fun. Now it’s time for you to learn the lessons of history and abandon this idiocy before we finally lose our patience with you. Grow up – and get back to work.


Vishnu said...

One of the protestors commented on BBC, that they want rich guys at the banks to pick-up the tab, i.e., restructuring the debt, instead of stealing that money from the "working people". Ignoring the fact that "working people" is an oxymoron in Greece, I would like IMF/EU to just grant that wish and show these protestors what happens then.

Tom said...

Yeah - you really have to wonder what color the sky is in their world.

The truly tragic thing (if you ask me) is how hard our administration is working to get us out of the lifeboat and back on to the Titanic.

Rick Bomstein said...

Ha! Great post. One question - when exactly were we in the lifeboat?

Pete said...

Great essay, absolute bullseye. Copied and sent to my brother.

Smack MacDougal said...

Americans who pay taxes are bailing out the Greeks, you should see.

The U.S. ruling establishment decides how much the USA should fund the IMF and taxes Americans for the cash to give the IMF.

The IMF executives, in turn, have decided to bail out the Greeks. Thus, Americans who pay taxes are bailing out the Greeks.

In truth, the bailout money is going into the hands of French and German bankers who hold the lion's share of Greek sovereign bonds.

The long of the short of it, in one form or another, American taxpayers have been bailed out and propped up Europeans since World War Two.

Ke said...

The attitude of these Greek workers are no different than the populace in San Francisco and Oakland.

Anonymous said...

Humans are defective...

Anonymous said...

Excellent article.

Christopher A said...

In addition to what Senor Smack said about the IMF, the US also defacto pays for Greece's defense. They don't need to keep a big military because they know the US would protect them if they were invaded.

NY Conservative said...

Outstanding! This is what is coming to our shores faster than many would want to believe.

Anonymous said...

yeah, you hit the nail on the head. these people are all just moochers. they don't work like any americans do...they don't know the value of a dollar, they're just trying to steal the money out of our hard-working, sweaty palms. we work hard and they don't. work work work work work work

Anonymous said...

The Turks are doing pretty well these days. Maybe they'd consent to re-form the Ottoman Empire & let the Greeks in. (Of course, the Greeks did mosat of the administration for the Ottomans, probably contributing as much as anyone to the Empire's decline, but, so probably the Turkes wouldn't like the idea. Never mind...

Anurag Chitlangia said...

What can go wrong in a frappe based economy, where half of the time people wrk in cafe to serve Frappe, and other half of the time they are having frappe in cafe.

John Davis said...

you sir are a genius

Anonymous said...

The Gods of the Copybook Headings
by Rudyard Kipling

As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market Place;
But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "Stick to the Devil you know."

On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "The Wages of Sin is Death."

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don't work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four—
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man—
There are only four things certain since Social Progress began:—
That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will bum,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

CL said...

Awesome post!!

Anonymous said...

I am Greek and I work ALOT my friend.

Please do not forget that not everyone in Greece is like what you describe. In fact what you describe is a minority. A big one, but a minority nonetheless. Also, do not forget that the IMF and the EU are lending us with a outrageous interest (5% average). So, they are actually investing in Greece. And at 5% in our times this is a pretty good deal.

Also, do not forget that we are buying your weapons, Greece is one of the top countries in defence expenditure in the world. I did not hear you complaining about that? I did not hear a German complaining about the fact that half of the cars in Greek roads are German? Nor because the repair parts of German cars cost 5 times more in Greece than in Germany.

Might I also remind you, that the rotten and completely unfair "free market" system that is bashing your head and is also the main reason behind the Greek crisis, is your invention. And if Greek economy completely blows, be sure that you are next.

A global economy is what you envisioned my fellow American. Have fun with it now!

Tom said...

Much of what the anonymous greek commenter has said is simply irrelevant.

But to be completley fair, my personal experience with Greeks is that they work at least as hard as any other group of people I've ever met. I don't mean to malign the entire country, only those people who are out there in the streets protesting. I'm sure there are a great many Greek people who are as horrified by the protesters as I have been. and to them I certainly mean no offense.

If however you are part of the group that is protesting, then my post was very specifically directed at you. If you're an overpaid Greek civil servant crying about how the state should make someone else pay, then you are part of the problem not of the solution, and you deserve every insult I can muster.

Anonymous said...

I am working in the private sector, as is the majority in Greece. I never go to protests, since I do not agree with those people. But I want to point out that there are people working for the public sector that are also hardworkers and are getting very low salaries. These are the ones that are flirting with the poverty line right now and this is not fair at all.

Please do not oversimplify things. Greece cannot be a country of morons. In fact, no country can be a country of morons. If you want to see why we are in this position, read up on history. Just don't start posting stereotypical ideas that you read and watch in the totally clueless American media.

Also my opinion is that we should not accept the money from the IMF and the EU (which you claim is your hard earned money). When you are in a debt crisis, the last thing you need is more dept (at huge rates). The 110 billion we are getting and the recession that the IMF imposed measures will cause will get us in an even worse position in 2 years. Bankruptcy is going to happen sooner or later. The sooner the better.

Anonymous said...

"Might I also remind you, that the rotten and completely unfair "free market" system that is bashing your head and is also the main reason behind the Greek crisis, is your invention."

LOL, the free market system caused the Greek crisis. RIGHT. Explain that, please. How does a system based on individuals making the choice to exchange value for value result in such chaos? You don't think that a heavy welfare state, where prices are inflated to pay for bureaucracies that move money from one sector to another without receiving anything of value in return MIGHT have something to do with this meltdown? No?

I believe you when you say you work hard, but if you fail to appreciate the system that gives your work value, I find that you're only a few steps from becoming a moocher yourself.

Anonymous said...

In theory you are correct. In practice, you could hardly call a system whose a major players is Goldman Sachs "a system based on individuals making the choice to exchange value for value".

connats said...

You REALLY have NO idea about Greece and the Greeks.
They are responsible for their votes, of course, but not for the robbering dirty politicians who all they did was lie to them and to Europe.
Let's be honest: ALL countries have large debts. The US, the UK, and others, as Spain and Portugal.
So, don't act as if all non-Greeks are saints.
Greeks know hard work and they don't avoid it. But, on their free time they have fun. And that is what a normal person who doesn't want to get depressed would do. Maybe you should, too! You wouldn't be so wicked I believe.
And one last thing: The Hellenics always managed to rise from their ashes because during hard times they unite. That is what History (for anyone who has studied it) shows.

Tom said...

Yes of course that's it... after 20 years analyzing the effects of public policy on the capital markets, I have no idea about the Greek situation. If only I had recognized my own limitations sooner, this whole thing could have been avoided.

I'm continually amazed at how predictable the people on the political left are. They will ALWAYS blame others for problems that were created by policies they supported. It might be the banks, it might be Goldman Sachs, it might be the politicals, but they'll continue to cast around until they find someone else other than themselves to blame. They live in a world with no personal accountability at all.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, here, here...very well said.
Sadly this tough love will fall on deaf ears.

ck said...

Goody! What you're saying is for them to learn to enjoy slavery. Real nice! How would you react to having your salary cut and having more work piled on?? You'd probably quit, that's what. You certainly wouldn't take it; why should these people?

Already, these people are going to be paying more taxes. More taxes; less pay and services.

By the by, Greece has always been in that situation, but we never had it hammered to us every 5 minutes until the economic crisis, which I believe, your government, under the Republicans caused, starting with Reagan's trickle down economics to predatorial lending and the last straw, total financial deregulation of the banking industry.

Something to think about, isn't it?

Why do you think, we in Canada weathered the economic storm as well as we did? Because when your gov't pressured our's to deregulate our financial industry, the Prime-minister back then held fast and refused.

Pretty simple, if your financial industry doesn't have regulation reinstated, you're all going to find yourselves in permanent financial trouble. Who will bail you out?

As for socialism, countries like Norway and Sweden consistently rank above the U.S. and Canada. Chew on that one a spell.

Again, folks, where exactly is greed supposed to lead to?

As for Greece, they well back out of the Euro eventually.

Vishnu: "working people" is an oxymoron in Greece,

How do you know how hard Greeks do and don't work? How do you know how average working class Greeks live? Do you live there? Don't judge.

Tom said...

CK, anyone who associates socialism with freedom and capitalism with slavery is too confused to argue with. You’re so off the mark about how the world really works that it’s probably a waste of time trying to explain it to you. I think the best thing to do would be for you to go read a beginner’s Economics textbook before you try to argue these things with grown ups. I can recommend one if you need it – something that’s readable and doesn’t contain too much technical data would probably be best for you. My first choice would be “Basic Economic” by Thomas Sowell.

You say this is “something to think about” but it really isn’t. It’s actually been settled business for 4 decades and you’re view is simply wrong. It’s not a ‘matter of opinion’. The evidence has been in since before you were born.

I don’t mean any of this as an insult. I’m not trying to offend you. I’m simply pointing out that nothing you said makes any sense at all to those of us in the real world who analyze things like this for a living. It might sound great in the college dorm room or union hall where you picked it up but in reality it’s all nonsense.

So do yourself a favor and start getting educated about reality now. Because facts are stubborn things and nothing you do is going to allow you to deny them.

Socialism requires permanently suspended disbelief. But its proponents have finally run out of rope. The modern social welfare state is beginning to fall apart and it’s just a matter of time before the whole thing ends up in ruins.

Anonymous said...

What i don't get is why several people here are saying that the EU and the IMF are charging huge rates for some reason (5%)
It's well below the current market rate for greece and if that isn't enough, the EU and IMF have decided, against the normal policies of the IMF to be a junior lender instead of super-senior as the IMF usually is, which basically means that they'll be the last ones to get any money back should Greece default on it's debts.
So Greece is getting a pretty sweet deal actually since on the market you'd be paying like, i'm not completely up to date with the continously rising interest, but something in the order of 8 or 9%

Anonymous said...

Come on CK, take off that silly Halloween mask, and admit that you are really Barney Frank in disguise! We in the US engaged in total deregulation of the banks huh? Uh huh, and that started when? Bwaney .. you're the one who revived the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977. You know, the one that the Peanut Man signed? And so, starting around the time you became chairman of the House Banking Committee, you poured billions into Fannie and Freddie, thus insuring that slugs with no credit and no job could buy a nice house in the suburbs. Swell idea, Bwaney! While you did that, you encouraged companies like Goldman Sachs to lend money to people with no credit or even bad credit and no job. When the slugs couldn't pay their mortgages, you still encouraged banks to lend even more money to the slugs. The lenders naturally sold those worthless mortgages into circulation just like you knew they would. Now that you've collapsed the economy Bwaney, which of course, you knew would happen, who do you blame? ahhh yes. The gweedy capitawists. The wascally bankers. Bwaney, you even said that conservatives blamed poor people for the collapse of the economy! No, we didn't actually, we blamed you, but of course, you will NEVER take responsibility for what you did Bwaney. Franklin Raines got $90 million our of this scam, and you Bwaney, your moron constituents will keep electing you to office, so you can keep stealing from now until hell freezes ... uh ... fweezes over. :-D

Anonymous said...


I think we can all agree that there is no perfect system of Gov/Economic system (Cap-ism-Soc-ism,etc) out there. Just like America, Greece has hard workers (and some not so hard workers).

We are all in huge debt (every country, just look at the Italy,Spain and UK now).
We all have our share of corrupted politicians and companies. However, the difference is in the size of their power and influence of these Governments (and their militaries, media/propaganda and Corporations). A country like Greece can only have so much say in this world. Germany & America or their Big Corporations tell them what to do (buy are planes and tanks or else?). This is true/fact.


If you are still convinced that broken Socialist society is to blame here instead and that the US is a glorious success of Cap-ism. There are always statistics! ( good source to find some is at
For instance.....

Anonymous said...

f you are still convinced that broken Socialist society is to blame here instead and that the US is a glorious success of Cap-ism. There are always statistics! ( good source to find some is at
For instance.....

Which country has lessy inequality (rich vs. poor), Greece or the United States?
Which country has lower rates of infant mortality, Greece or the United States?
Which country has greater age longevity?
Which country has more affordable university education?
Which country has a lower homicide rate and about one-tenth the number of people in prison, Greece or the United States?
Which country has a lower rate of teenage births and lower rates of drug use?
Which country emits far fewer carbon emissions per capita?
Which country has affordable, universal health care for all its people, and pays about half as much money per person to receive it -- Greece or the United States?
Which country has more paid vacation time for workers?
Which country has a higher high school and College
graduation rate?

The answer to all those questions is: Greece

NOW, I'm sure you find some things that Greece is worse at. But I'm just trying to show you how one system can be better than the other, but none are perfect.

In addtion, we as citizens in all of countries cannot influence congress/parliament, like lobbyist with Corporate money can, unless we group together and demand a change by force.

However, what is really sad is how we are all now comfortable with what has happened in the last 10, 30 or 40 years (especially in America). Hundreds of years ago when people had no food to eat they would rise up and overturn governments. Now that we have the dollar menu at Mc'ds and Walmart, we feel comfortable. But I think we can do better, yes?. Just because we can still afford to eat ( dollar menu at Mcdonalds is not real food BTW) and sit on comfortable couch at home (the one you bought with a credit card) does not mean we are okay! The lower quality of life and inequality of wealth is the big story here. It's is happening to all of us!

You cannot argue that the Greeks have a higher quality of life over a lot of countries (I should say HAD!). Now that will change. The Euro was a mistake for Greece (and for many other countries if not all). In the short term that got some investments to go build a fews thins(with whatever money that was left from the thieves in Parliament). But if the Drachma was still alive it would be easier to devalue this currency and open a path to recovery.

Now the hard working person has to cut his already low salary and for what? Do only suspend the inevitable bankruptcy/default or to see us get our the euro or go into a 10 yr recession? Or because a few people cheated everyone else and now he/she has to pay for them?

Layoff the protestors and start asking more about the Government and where all of the money went?
We all know the 1%-10% of the population are usually to blame for all of these problems. They control the money,the laws and there is nothing you or I can do, unless we overthrow them by brute force.

By the way, Greece contributes to the IMF fund and they are a member since 75'.

So stop the complaining about US. contributing cause If America would need money (of course they just print money and charge it on a the credit card to China instead) they would take a part of the cash that Greece contributes too.

Wake up people (Republicans especially!)! The Truth lies not in in mass media! Thank you Internet!

Zito! Ellada!

Tom said...

None of the statistics you mention really say anything about the standard of living or the actual economic condition of a country. They are either statistically insignificant, (longevity, infant mortality), irrelevant as an economic metric (rich vs. poor, people in prison, graduation rates, carbon nonsense) or temporary and about to collapse (affordability issues, drug issues, paid vacation time).

You look at a value judgment like “I’d rather be drunk on the beach than work all day to get rich” and think that since you like getting drunk on the beach better, the world would be a better place if everyone were forced to get drunk on the beach every day. Socialism does that by taking away the opportunity and the choice. Capitalism puts that choice back on the individual.

As an example, double the income of everyone in a country and you’ve just increased the difference between rich and poor. It was never a meaningful statistic, it was just a canard touted by socialists to increase feelings of envy.

My point is that we can only agree that all economic systems are flawed in as much as they all contain some aspects of socialism. Socialism has brought Greece to wear it is. The inefficient top down decision making in socialism makes people into slaves. Now the people in Greece are about to feel their chains.

In the meantime, no social factor has been shown to greater improve the lives of the poor than economic freedom – the freedom to choose how and when to spend their own money. It has made capitalism the greatest engine for creating wealth ever devised.

Over the course of history command and control socialism fails in every real economic metric when measured against capitalism. It fails because the mathematics of top down thinking can’t possible work as well as freedom. Capitalism provides that freedom and socialism doesn’t. Corporations don’t force people to do things – governments do. Leftists can’t seem to grasp that simple basic concept.

This has been settled business for decades but leftists need to continue to deny it. You had all better hold on tight, because over the next 5 or 6 years reality is about to come calling for you too.

Anonymous said...

Not that the US is a truly capitalist society by the way.
Armed forces paid for by state, medicare, social security benefits, minimum wages, police, fire and ambulance services provided by local or state governments, etc. etc.
Neither are the Eurozone members truly socialist states: private property rights, stockmarkets. freedom of capital goods, services.
So why keep bickering about the stuff we take different paths on and just realize that we have much more in common then what seperates us.

(if the text is too hippyish, my bad :p)

Dora said...

FINALLY!!!! Someone has said what needs to be said....Clearly and to the point!!
Will the Greeks get it? I don't know.... after so many years living like its their right to be spoon fed, we're talking a few generations here!!! Its part of their culture.
Even though I am a Greek Canadian and still have family and property in Greece so this really affects me, I am sooooo temped to say ....FUCK them.... Let them figure it out themselves, they do not deserve any better. When you see the kind of protests going on when they should be hanging their heads in SHAME!!!! And when you ask Greeks in Athens point blank where will the money come from to build a country's infrastructure without a tax base... they all get that glassy eyed look and mumble something about the EU.

Tom said...

This is the real tragedy of socialism Dora. Although only a minority of people have been short sighted, everyone will have to suffer. Most Greeks don’t support these protests, but that doesn’t matter. They’ll all be going back to the 15th century.

In point of fact, I was discussing this with a friend on Friday and it occurred to me that the politically pragmatic thing for the EU to do would be to let Greece fall. Portugal, Italy and Spain will all need bailing out eventually too, and if they see what happens to Greece when the socialist protesters get their way, it will make the rest of what has to happen their much easier.

In the meantime the Greek government will be insolvent. They won’t be able to borrow money at any price in the market, and that will leave unemployment at record levels; maybe as high as 40%. As the government loses the ability to pay their army and police, they’ll lose the ability to maintain order, and in 12 months or so, Greece will more closely resemble Zimbabwe or some other central African country than a member of the EU.

So the EU has a choice, either they can bring reality back to the more irresponsible members one at a time, or they can let Greece fail as a state, and the rest will bring themselves back to reality. In the end the latter is probably a better solution in terms of cost.

Anonymous said...

So right. Keep up the good work my man!

spyros( an 18yr old greek citizen who knows whats going on) said...

you guys are idiots because you are generalizing. Majority of greeks are hard workers who get nothing in return and now are gonna be getting less than nothing BECAUSE IMF IS ENTERING AND IS ASKING FOR AN ARGENTINA style extreme laissezfaire reform of the country where all national spending on health and education is completely is decimated and trade unions will all out lose their power(kinda reminds me of a bitch named thatcher and a guy name reagan or howabout the late dictator pinochet!). Not that a corrupt (lite)socialist government is better but it's got its security measures for the dying pensioner!thanks guys whatever the media serves you completely and passively consume!

Tom said...

Actually Spyros you have it dead wrong. When the media wants to know what's going on in the financial markets they call someone like me, not the other way around.

The only one who is passively buying what he's told here is you. But you're young... with any luck you'll eventually learn who's been lying to you and who hasn't. (Hint: your labor unions and your leftist politicians don't have a lot of evidence to support their view - just the wreckage of a failed communist system, while we generalizing capitalists have the greatest engine ever created for generating wealth on our side.)

Anonymous said...

I just found this article. I just want to say; Tom, after the multiple economics courses I have taken in college and the individual studying I have done on the topic... I completely agree with your article and every comment response you posted. I wish I could take an inflatable movie screen to one of these squares in Greece where protesters gather and show an educational video on basic economics. Just basic principles of economics. The result would invariably be hanging heads in shame and slapping of foreheads in enlightened embarrassment. Forget the tear gas and the riot gear the police there are using, a healthy dose of common sense and education would disperse the crowds and convince the people to adopt free market policies so that they can enjoy BENEFITS of great healthcare and social services provided by a prosperous economy including but not limited to services provided by churches and other charitable organizations as opposed to - a socialist or communist attitude of "RIGHTS" to free food, free health care, and free living conditions even if you don't work, especially if you don't work.