Continuing from the last post, we look at the most recent example of bonafide financial turmoil: Greece.
In Wednesday’s article, I shared how when it comes to economic or political themes, people are selective with their perspectives. We talked about rich people and how some people only see the wealthy as fleecing the public for their own gain. On the other hand, others view rich folk as deserving of their rewards because of the growth and service they provide. We saw that recognizing this split in perspective goes a long way to understanding why and how two groups can be at odds while fighting the same enemy: Occupiers and Tea Partiers both are mad at Wall Street, but one sees capitalism’s failure while the other, Washington’s. One wants to use government to reach a little deeper into the rich’s pockets; the other wants to lesson government’s role.
Now let’s look at Greece. And we can do so through the eyes of these same two groups. The Occupier-type points their finger at what they notice: tax evasion by the rich or controlling powers from continental and world banking institutions.
“Explanations of how Greece got in this mess typically focus on profligate public spending. But its fiscal woes are also due to a simple fact: tax evasion is the national pastime…It makes the system unduly regressive, since the rich cheat more.”
Referring to the all the violent protests, Zach Zill at SocialWorker.org writes, “Greek workers are right to resist efforts to make them pay for a crisis caused by bankers, business executives and politicians.”
Meanwhile, the Tea Party-type notices the unsustainable public spending, the necessity to cut back, and thus, the perceived oddity of the protests when its the protester’s own country that’s threatened if spending cuts aren’t made.
Each side points out that which gets their goad. The important part is to notice our tendency to lock into a certain perspective. It’s great to notice a cause to a problem, but why not notice more than one–from varying angles?
We come to the table already with a specific tint on the world shaped by our ideology, and we view the issue through this lens which filters out the data that doesn’t fit.
This is basic stuff, but it’s also easily abandoned. A new plateau is to recognize the merit to various perspectives and recognize our own selective attention to that which is convenient to your ideology.
Beyond this, I emailed Greek economic analyst, and Athens native, Robert G. Danon who writes at rgdanon.blogspot.com and whose Twitter is rgdanon. I wanted a better understanding on Greece: the reason for their money mess and the protesters’ anger. In response to my inquiry, he wrote (with my writing in parentheses):
“Over the course of the last three decades we had to a large extent a socialist government run by PASOK with a manifesto of deficit spending and promises of increased electoral public employment in exchange for votes. The centre-right NEW DEMOCRACY party also lay claim and embraced this modus operandi, effectively condoning this behaviour.
“This was effortlessly carried out as Greece was the beneficiary of very low interest rates courtesy of the Euro, and the party euphoria that ensued having no regard to the longer term structural imbalances prevalent throughout this period. Equally, massive transfers of wealth occurred to help the periphery catch up with the core. (I’m honestly not sure what this last statement means.) It goes without saying that this money did not find a home in productive investment but rather in excessive consumption, lavish living, and Swiss and local bank accounts. Europe turned a blind eye as it was in many ways easier.
“At some point Greece had to pay the ferry man. Lending seized and the Troika (the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank) imposed its lending conditions. The problem is this bloated Government sector of…public servants has never been cut to size, a large part of which earn excessive salaries, a large part of which is totally redundant and of course is being maintained at the expense of the private sector, which in neglect, is being asked to pay an ever increasing share of taxes. It is self-evident that this process has a dead end and we have reached it.”
Got all that?
have an awesome weekend!