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The PJ Tatler

by
Ray Hartwell

Bio

February 21, 2012 - 8:21 am

This is a brief follow up to my earlier articles on developments in Greece.  The first, in December, described in some detail the impact of the country’s unsustainable spending on the lives of its citizens.  The second, published today, provided an update that put more focus on parallels between the long economic descent of Greece and the downward spiral that continues in the United States under the current administration’s policies.

In the space of a few days, two more news reports underscore my respective points.

First, a report on Friday (February 17) in ekathimerini.com, the online version of the Greek English language daily, tells how Constantinos Polychronopolous “saw two children fighting over a few rotten pieces of fruit at his local farmers market.” Inspired by the sight, Polychronopolous joined with some friends to form a group that prepares meals for the indigent. Echoing the reference I made to desperate times during the German occupation, the article quotes an elderly man saying he had hoped never again to “experience the kind of hunger we knew in the 40s.”  But, as with the elderly woman I mentioned in my second article, conditions in Athens are evocative of the city’s very worst experiences.

Second, on Saturday the ekathimerini reported: “Thousands of European citizens marched in several cities of the continent on Saturday afternoon in solidarity to the Greek people demanding an end to the austerity measures imposed on Greece.” The short article contains a long list of European cities, and concludes by noting that two rallies are planned for New York City on Saturday afternoon.

Reading the last report, I am constrained to wonder, by “demanding an end to the austerity measures,” do these marching “citizens” have some other rational solution in mind? Or, more likely, do they simply rail against reality, grieving at the stark fact that no government can go on indefinitely spending money it does not have?

 

Ray Hartwell is a partner in the Washington office of a major law firm, where he specializes in competition law and white collar criminal matters. Over the past decade he has also served as a trustee of his alma mater, Washington and Lee University. He is a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, having served as antisubmarine warfare and nuclear weapons officer aboard a guided missile destroyer. His opinion articles have appeared in various publications, including the Washington Times and the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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