It takes a uniquely special idiot to grab my attention these days, as there exists a smörgåsbord of options to pick from. One example caught my eye fresh off the press:
“We must avoid the country’s collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back,” – Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou.
Consider this statement. It starts off with broad assumptions with the very first word, “We.”
“We” of course is an emotive word, and politicians are masters at swaying the masses with the use of emotion-laden vocabulary. No coincidence that marketing firms use the same strategy. Government itself is basically one giant PR firm, albeit one backed with guns and seasoned with a greater than average percentage of sociopaths.
In addition ‘We” is a collusive statement in this context. When I look up the meaning of collusion I find the following: “fraudulently contrived by agreement.”
What Georgie, our Feta cheese-eating friend wants the Greek people, and by extension his European “brothers” to buy into is the fraudulently contrived argument that “We” are someone(s) other than his own political hide, and those of European bankers too stupid to lend Greek politicians money they could never pay back, at interest rates that bear no correlation to the underlying risks. We know that the debts on the balance sheets of French and German banks are sufficient to sink some of them. In fact, even the ECB has an exposure of over 50B Euros and rising. No politician wants to preside over the inevitable restructuring of debt, so they kick the can and watch the debt ball grow.
The second part of the statement is equally fraudulent. He talks of avoiding the collapse of the country – Is this discussion about the countries collapse or the collapse of a government?
I think Mr. Papandreou’s statement needs clarification so that everyone understands what is being said. Since I won’t hold my breath on Georgie providing it for our clarity, I will.
“We the politicians and bankers must avoid the governments collapse at all costs. Now is not the time to step back from raping and pillaging the populace to that end.”
While this soap opera-like drama unfolds, I’m gratified to see that the market answers these statements in its own words.
The Reality of Consequences
Should we buy Greek debt here? I think you could buy some of the short-dated stuff and you might get away with it, but the long-dated stuff is going to experience significant write-downs, and then I have to ask myself the question… why bother? The Greek government, along with those in much of Europe and ultimately the US, will continue to stub their toe on the reality of consequence.
With a $330 Billion economy Greece accounts for only 0.5% of the world economy. The risk therefore lies not in what happens on the streets of Athens, but more with the repercussions in the Eurozone and the potential domino effect of a Greek default on the plethora of indebted nations that currently litter the globe like plastic bags on an African roadside.
Selling to an Ignorant Population
How is it that Georgie and all his kin around the world manage to get away with even appearing on television, or in public without being lynched?
I suspect the reason is the same as its been throughout the ages. It’s easy to sell to an ignorant population, unread, and devoid of the ability to think for themselves and critically examine information. Dosed up on just the right concoction of ouzo, reality TV, and tabloid newspapers whose concern lies with the latest extramarital affairs of some half-witted beauty queen, they rail to the “Nations” cause like lemmings off a cliff. It happens with the consistency of a Swiss clock and is as predictable as the sunrise each morning over Mykonos.
The governments of much of the world manage to successfully blather on with the sort of drivel I’ve just discussed, but what is really frightening is how they have managed to secrete themselves into the everyday life of their citizens. The intrusions are simply astounding with government involved in every imaginable activity we care to take part in.
The Greek government itself accounts for just shy of 50% of the country’s entire GDP. This is why I suppose we find ourselves at a stage where the world’s populace (Greece is not an exception) accept to illiterate, arrogant, obnoxious middle-aged men groping our genitals at airports, random searches on trains and buses, “seizure” of our toothpaste and shampoo whenever we hop on a plane and requirements that we fill out a deluge of meaningless forms for something as simple as cutting down a dead tree on our own property? I’m told it’s all for my own safety. What if I don’t wish to feel safe? I might want a bit of a thrill in life. Yeah, I’m one of those crazy wild adrenaline junkies who want to cut down that small 3-meter high dead tree in my backyard, and because I’m such a thrill seeker I’m not going to wear protective clothing… the horror! Of course I might just pull the damn sapling out with my bare hands.
To give you a practical example of this intrusive force; in one of the countries where we have a home we don’t have a swimming pool. This home is at the beach. A couple years ago I put up a small paddle pool for the kids and failed to fence it off. Apparently this is illegal. If you failed to get that let me repeat. WE LIVE AT THE BEACH, the world’s largest known swimming pool that is completely devoid of any fence. The hell with them I say, but I digress.
This system requires a complete reset and that’s where it’s headed. The sound we hear from Europe at present is a can bouncing down the road, however all roads have an ending.
Why Politicians are like Guerilla Soldiers
I’m well aware from corresponding with many of our readers that we have a uniquely intelligent group of subscribers. As such it’s likely that the Greek situation is no surprise to you. It did however get me to thinking how such a course of events takes place, and with such regularity and consistency. I also asked myself the question, how is it that under such obvious fundamentals the system isn’t changed until a crisis changes it? Further, how is it that we have people like George and his cohorts getting away with blatant theft? How is it that these same people have managed to worm their way into our everyday existence without absolute outrage?
Let me have a crack at answering this.
In warfare one of the most difficult enemies to fight is the guerilla soldier. They secrete themselves into the local society, they look like civilians, they speak the local language, wear the same clothes and the only way to tell them apart is by their actions… and when it comes to that it’s usually too late.
Politicians and lower-level bureaucrats are the political versions of guerrilla soldiers. They huddle in their cubicle farms working diligently against the betterment of society, creating obstacles and hurdles for everyday people who are trying to make a living. They will come to your barbecue on weekends, and for all intents and purposes appear to be normal human beings, hold a conversation and discipline their unruly children just like any other neighbor. This is how the system continues. These people manage to function in society without absolute outrage and ostracization from the societies they live in.
For starters they belong to faceless organizations which your average man has become so accustomed to that they are treated like earth, sea, sky and water; in other words part of the landscape and unchangeable. These people hide behind these faceless organizations with statements like, “Yeah it’s bad, but you know I’m not one of them, I’m there trying to make things better… really I am.” Another favourite, “It’s not me it’s the system. Who am I to be judged? Don’t pick on me I’m just doing my job.” It’s either that or a completely belligerent moron who actually thinks he adds value to society by ensuring people tick boxes in order to register my child car seat “approved.” Worse than a military mind? You tell me.
Take a wild dog, domesticate him, feed him daily and provide him with bedding. Now take it all away. He will whine, growl and potentially bite you in the ass, but the last thing he will do is go away and re-learn how to feed himself. He will only do that as a last resort.
Government officials down to every last layer are akin to domesticated dogs. Stick them in a private-sector job and they’ll moan and complain with the rest of productive society about the red tape, the inefficiencies, the corruption and the uselessness of it all. Take them out, give them a public sector job and they’ll fight tooth and nail to defend that job, coming up with all manner of justifications why the position should even exist at all and why they deserve to be remunerated with attendant benefits, logic be damned. Self-interest is the strongest motivator known to man, and unfortunately now a disproportionately large populace has a self-interest directly or indirectly tied to government.
Government, like guerrillas, are deeply entrenched into every layer of society. What’s more, the longer they exist in any society the more difficult it is to eradicate them. Domesticated dogs! You can’t take the mutt’s food away without it turning into a savage beast. That same dog will happily vote for others to have their food taken away (austerity) so long as “It ain’t me.”
It’s difficult to root out guerrillas without cluster bombing entire civilian populations, so instead we’re left with countries and economies that simply grind lower until a system reset takes place.
Not all economies are on this track, and while we’re wildly bullish on certain markets others leave us scratching our heads. I’d be interested to know what readers think lies ahead.
“Politicians are like diapers; they need to be changed often and for the same reason.” — Mark Twain