I recently caught up with a podcast from NPR’s This American Life show. This one, entitled ‘Continental Break-up’, is based on the seemingly never-ending economic crisis of the eurozone. And oh what a tangled web is weaved, from French dreams of union, via German fear of hyperinflation and a secretive bond trading firm in Southern California, to Greek misinformation and catastrophe.
The tale of the formation of the single European currency is a continent-wide epic, of a dream of peace sold to its citizens and, hidden behind that dream, the inevitable profiteers. The cry now is for the rest of Europe to become more like Germany, when instead the request should be for the elite capitalists of Europe to be more like the workers.
Listening to the tales of ordinary Greeks who were suddenly able to get bank loans at rates of 4% when previously they had been 18% and that of reckless job creation and infrastructure development all financed by cheap loans, is a familiar tale to anyone who has read about the beginnings of the mortgage crisis in the United States in 2008.
And then when the day of reckoning finally comes, the austerity measures bite those at the lower end of the economic food chain the hardest.
The thought occurs to me, who should bear the most responsibility for economic malaise? Those who live within the system and follow its rules, or those who created the system in the first place? Because former always has to pay for the callousness and greed of the latter.
Listen to the show on This American Life.