This is the Life: Greece financial plans should come from within

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For sale: Well-loved property consisting of a mainland and cluster of islands that feature spectacular rugged coastlines and magnificent white sand beaches. Motivated owner willing to negotiate financing terms that include a significant cash down payment.

Amenities are many and varied, ranging from turnkey operations to once popular destination venues that are now to be considered “handyman specials”, such as the Parthenon.

Often referred to as the Cradle of Western Civilization, this property has close historical ties with the scientific, medical, political and philosophical communities, and opportunities abound to rejuvenate them. Included in the sale is a coin mint and press facility capable of turning out coins and paper money of little value. The canny entrepreneur will see these as opportunities for future revenue generation.

Existing banks offer large storage space, although recent heavy use indicates a maintenance program will need to be instituted in the short term.

With panoramic views that include, to the north, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia and Albania; to the west, the Ionian Sea; to the south, the Mediterranean Sea; and to the east, the Aegean Sea and Turkey.

Disclosure: Prospective buyers should be aware that current ownership of this property may be in dispute, with a number of banks threatening to place liens as they attempt to claim monies owed.

For further information, contact Angela Merkel, president of Germany Inc. Holdings.

Okay, I exaggerate. But, as my old university geography prof liked to say, not by much. We were in Calgary in the run-up to the referendum asking Greeks whether they wanted to continue with an international bank-enforced austerity plan or take their chances on finding their own solution. In a discussion with my oldest son, I said that I would like to see a no vote, but that I would also like to see what the government’s Plan B is.

So I got my first wish but, in all honesty, I doubt there is a Plan B. Naturally, the leftist Greek government wants to negotiate a bailout package that includes a significant forgiveness of debt. But the decidedly rightist Germany, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund will be loath to support writeoffs — a lineup of other European Union (EU) nations, including Italy, which has an economy larger than Canada’s and suffers from many of the issues that hamstring Greece, could result.

Of course, Greeks have long memories and when they look north to see Germany’s dominance in Europe today, they remember the nifty economic deal that it received back in 1953. Germany’s debts came from Hitler’s desire to rule the world and from the damage that two world wars caused within its own boundaries. Greeks can argue that they committed no harm to others in racking up their unsustainable debt. A systemic pattern of corruption and overspending has been eroding the Greek economy for a half-century or more and, regardless of whether the country stays in the European Union and keeps the Euro, changes have to be made.

Personally, I would prefer to see Greece find its own way out of its financial mess. The people are much more likely to accept necessary change if it comes from within. And they are certainly right in their belief that the EU and banks are not to be trusted when it comes to forcing change. The forecast five years ago that austerity measures would result in a moderate drop in the gross domestic product were stunningly inaccurate. Instead of seven per cent over five years, the drop has been 25 per cent, and the Greek economy is far worse off today than when the austerity measures were imposed. Eventually countries are going to have to take a stand to reduce the power that huge banks and the International Monetary Fund now wield.

Whether the debt is forgiven or defaulted, there is one little discussed truth that should be acknowledged. The money did not magically disappear. Much of it has been repatriated to the banks in the form of interest payments and the rest continues to float around through the economies of Greece and its trading partners. Which do you think is more beneficial — the money held in banks waiting for another sucker to borrow, or the money in circulation, which is being used to buy goods and services, which in turn pays bills and wages, which in turn is used to buy goods and services and so on, ad infinitum?

In a perfect world, it would be nice if all countries could live within their means, but we are in a far from perfect world. It can be argued that the ability to borrow creates stability in economic downturns, which in turn contributes to peace. Think about what might happen if a Greece, or a Brazil, Italy, Spain, Soviet Union or even a United States, simply pares back on services, watching unemployment soar with fewer or no benefits available to compensate. Starving masses tend to get a little testy and they won’t sit around idle for long before they go out and try to take what others have.

Lorne Eckersley is the publisher of the Creston Valley Advance.