And that is the Greek debt crisis. For those of us who don't follow such things, here's the Martin instant synopsis: Greece is a land of crooks and tax cheats where lying on one's tax return is rampant to a mind boggling degree and goof off civil servants can't be terminated because their rights are written into the Constitution! Say what you want about our constitution, at least it's not a glorified union contract. So along comes the EU, anxious to put the whole continent under its aegis, whether they meet the requirements for entry or not. So the Greek government, much like its citizens, lie about their financial state to the EU; the Union fails to do even cursory checking, apparently, and lets them in.
Flash foreward to a few months ago. The world's economies go into the tank because of rampant and unsecured debt acquired on the basis of illusory assets that dissolve into thin air when needed most. Greece, who the EU has let play at the big boy's table without a stake, gets hurt bad. An enonomy based on tourism and building on OPM (other people's money) isn't going to hold up too well in a recession. Needing help, they decide to come somewhat clean with the EU and admit that their debt is 5 times what they claimed. Their ratings go into the tank, and suddenly they couldn't get a loan from a confidence man. The EU decides we will help, but Greece will have to do some cutting. Greece's people revolt, screaming they won't put up with these austerity measures. Included in these are an increase in the taxes they don't bother to pay anyway; a cut in the subsidies the gov't pays out to the university students who have nothing better to do that protest stuff they don't understand and light candles at the foot of their Karl Marx posters; Lay-offs for the hitherto protected civil servants who do little but draw a salary and enjoy the good life, in between lying on their tax forms; and changing the retirement age (and thus the date they start receiving their version of social security) to 65 or 67. What is it now, you ask? 53. That's right, fifty-fricking-three. So of course, now the Greek people are rising in all sorts of protests, including a 4 hour general strike coming up on Tuesday. In the Meantime, you have Germany who has somehow found themselves on the hook for most of this bailout. The German people are pissed because they have to bailout a nation full of people who are in debt so that they can retire 15 years before any German can. They say, if yu cut your spending, cut your corruption, and act like adults, you wouldn't need a bailout. The Greeks (and I forget who the quoted party/parties were on this) reply, Yeah , well, if Germany would repatriate all the gold and other stuff the Nazis stole from Greece during 1941-5, we wouldn't need the bailout either.
Bottom line: the EU and Greece reached an "agreement" on the bailout plan (which, before it could be finalized, doubled in size on Friday), after Tim Geithner told his German counterpart, you're the big bopper in Europe, it's your pooch to screw. Truth is, Greece is just the fizzy cap on a nightmare that can and may well take the USA down with it. Observe:
I'm hoping when I post this you'll be able to click on this and make it bigger. Ah, I just checked, and yes you can. As you can see, Greece is the teeny tiny peak on a verrrrry large iceberg. If Italy goes down, she'll take France with her. Britain has already been warned that the first thing that the new p.m. will have to deal with is that their day of reckoning is at the doorstep. Do we survive a general European collapse? Ask yourself why Geithner got involved in this in the first place.
I hope you understand, I'm not saying the world's going to collapse because the Greeks are crooks. What I am saying, is that the Greeks sat at a table they had no business being at, so they get to be the first ones to go down. The question is whether they will be the last.
Speaking of going down, news from the KHL: Dynamo Moscow, which looked like they might fold despite their long and glorious history, have reached an agreement to merge with sucessful neighbor and playoff runner-up HC MVD. The resulting team will be called OHK (Russian for "joint hockey club") Dynamo Moscow, and will play out of Balasheika (if you listen to the MVD people) or an arena just outside of Moscow (if you listen to the Dynamo people). Obviously a few wrinkles are left to iron out.
Scrappy and I had a walk today that was run of the mill coming and going, but a bit interesting at the turn. Cutting through the Papermill office park, we ran into our old friend Mr. Bunny Rabbit, who we trailed back into the backside of the apartments. Looking for a place to cut through to the street, we went past a place that thought hat it was safe to leave their dog (I think it was some kind of boxer mix) on their porch without tying him. We learned different, when he managed to jump the fence. Hoping for no fight, I watched as the two dogs touched noses. Then the dog looked at me, and I told him, "You'd better get home." He tried, but one closed fence gate looks much like another, and he ran on down the row. I hope things turned out okay, but GD it, people, the leash law is there for a fricking reason! Finally, once at the street we ran into a girl who asked about Scrappy:
"Is it a beagle?"
"Beagles are so cute. (Then, petting Scrappy) I wish you would have puppies so I could have one."
"That would be a trick for him."
The girl moved on then, pizza box in hand, leaving me to wish Scrappy could better understand human conversations, so I could've enjoyed the WTF look on his face.