No debt gifts for the Greeks

The last full week of October 2011 marked another bad week for Greece. Earlier Monday, the Athens stock market plummeted on news that the nation’s European allies had failed to meet an agreement to keep the nation afloat.

Greece’s bank shares took a beating on news they may be forced to accept higher losses on their government’s bonds as part of the larger European deal.

And while the government seems paralyzed with inaction, the people of Greece (mostly public workers) took to the streets once again to protest.

I don’t generally have a problem with protesters. Ahh, who am I kidding — I usually do have a problem with them. The reason is they rarely can cite the reason for their anger. In this case, it’s even more evident, as the protesters should be going after their policymakers for not taking the necessary steps for a return to long-term stability in the nation. Instead, they want a return to the status quo ante — an untenable state of affairs where government was seen as the answer to all of the country’s woes.

Sound familiar?

There’s a crisis of confidence in Europe right now, and its effects are spilling over in small but impactful ways in our country and its own inability to recover.

The sooner the Eurozone’s leaders realize they need to address the Greek financial crisis for what it is — runaway government spending perpetrated and masked by irresponsible state leaders — the sooner the continent can prevent other, larger nations from falling into similar situations.

I’m not one who wants to see an entire country suffer because of the ineptitude of a select few, but the example needs to be made of Greece for the greater good of other nations.

What kind of message does it send that a nation can pile billions of debt up and then, almost righteously, expect others to bail them out because they were “too big to fail”?

As one Eurozone analyst recently commented, “There is no prospect of revival in Greece until and unless Europe gets its act together. Greece will have to wait in this comatose state, zombified state, until Europe collapses or fixes its problems.”

While that statement may be accurate, it’s for a different reason. Europe won’t collapse; that much is certain. But to “fix” its problems, it must exact a form of economic punishment onto Greece the likes of which it has not seen. The sooner that can happen, the quicker the continent can begin to recover economically.

There is no easy way out for the Greeks. The pain is inevitable; the suffering is optional.