Monday, June 29, 2015

My Head Hurts

There are mornings when I get, look at the goings on of the world, and then just sit there watching my coffee steam.  It makes my head hurt.

It used to be only once in a while,  It seems to be a lot more frequently now.  It used to be only in some places and locales.  Now it seems to be everywhere.

The difficulty with being a student of history, of course, is knowing what history holds and how it works.  It always surprises me - a little - that those who believe that success is repeatable if only we do what the successful did are those who seemingly forget that failure is always repeatable if we do what those that failed did.

You may wonder if I am talking to a particular issue.  You know, of course, one of my cardinal rules of the sites:  no politics, religious struggles of my own.  That said, there are simply so many issues on which we seem to be repeating the errors of the past that the only thing that will surprise me at this point is how long we are able to go on.

I will take an easy one, one that should create little ill will among my readers and involved the politics of precisely no-one present:  the fate of Greece.

In a nutshell, Greece has borrowed over time more than it can repay.  the solution ( I want to say it was 2014 but perhaps a bit earlier) was to change the government and go on an austerity plan while continuing to service the debt.  This has not worked effectively:  spending has not gone down where it needs to be.  Greece has now threatened several times that the debt be renegotiated or they will simply stop paying.  It looks like it may finally happen - as of yesterday, all Greek banks are on a one week holiday and citizens are restricted to withdrawing 60 Euros a day.

Think about it:  an unsustainable debt continuing to get worse and eats more and more of the general income.  If this were a household, we would cry out "Change your spending habit!".  If this is a country, we simply shrug our shoulders and say "Well, that is the way it is - besides, some day we will make it up".

What happens for Greece?  Nothing good - either they come back to repaying a debt they can never repay and do not improve the lives of their citizens or they repudiate the debt, re-establish the drachma, and become the economic and national equivalent of the kid who no one lends anything too anymore because they do not pay it back.  Real consequences that have been repeated time and time again historically.

Did I mention the US has$18 Trillion in known debt and up to$ 49 Trillion in unfunded liabilities?  Or our current estimated budget deficit, which has fallen for the last 6 years, is a mere $468 Billion?

And this is just one minor item, one among many. We love the scientific method and the social method that tell us cause and effect works, and then fail to actually ever connect cause and effect.

The difference to me?  In all of the many issues this covers, not much.  My ability to impact any of this is minimal but its impact upon me may be large.  I suspect I am not the only one - throughout history, the ebb and flow of empires and nations and ideologies has swept along the inhabitants of the times willingly or unwillingly, dragging them either to the reefs of reality or pushing them past the reefs by the skin of their teeth.

On days like today, my head hurts.  And there is nothing for it but to finish my coffee, go out, and do what little I can to prepare for the storm I know is coming.

2 comments:

John Wooldridge said...

I think the storm maybe the worst we will ever see TB

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

I agree John. I worry. I have acquaintances who think that things will go on as they ever have. If history teaches us anything, it is that what was it not what will be - and sometimes that changes in ways that are quick and unpleasant.