This Article is a continuation from New World Order: A World of TrEUble – Part 2
Previously, on A World of Treuble: Greece, addicted to entitlements, tax evasion, corruption, and EU grants, and suffering from bouts of acute irresponsibility and unaccountability, was taken aside by her peers and made an example of. She was economically pilloried, starved and ridiculed, and the whole situation backfired.
Lots Of Pain But No Gain
So Greece is going under. What can you do, some say. Alas, capitalism. The inefficient and the failing must be taken out of the equation for the formula to work. The engine can function only if the faulty parts are fixed or replaced.
In an age where we tend to throw things away rather than fix them, it is no surprise that Greece is being treated like expendable material.
Economically, of course, this makes no sense . Everyone stands to lose if Greece falls. Why let her go?
Simple. Because not everyone stands to lose.
There’s what one calls Credit Default Swaps, for example – financial tools with which people make money if the area in which said tools are invested goes bust.
There’s also short selling. Investors can basically sell stocks they don’t have with the promise to buy them back later. If the stock goes down after being shorted, then they buy it back at a lower price and make a profit.
In other words, there’s all kinds of speculation driving the market, with huge sums of money standing to gain from defaults and bankruptcies.
This involves mostly transnational money – money that belongs to and corporations and hedge funds and private equity funds that are not bound by the same interests as states. Hence their ability to invest in bad players, such as Greece, and watch them go down. It’s good business. It may even be good practice, for the entire economic system. I mean, would you want a person in your company who screws things up, spends like hell, doctors the accounts, and shifts the blame on you when you catch her doing it? And then asks you for a loan? With low interest? Seriously?
So what’s so bad about getting rid of this person? Nothing. Makes life easier, safer, saner. And generate some income while doing it? Even better! Most of the times you have to pay severance checks to get rid of people. Getting paid for doing it, now that’s smart business.
But it’s not as easy as that, not when dealing with a nation. A person you can dismiss and never hear from again – never mind the humanitarian and moral implications, we are talking purely practical factors here. From a manager’s point of view, dismissing five, ten, a hundred, or five hundred people, is doable, for argument’s sake. But ten million? How do you lay off ten million people? How the hell do you slash the paycheck and cut the perks of an entire country, all at once?
A patient has to be treated swiftly and decisively, but properly.
Simple, the argument goes. You do it without vacillating. The region is sick, and you have to fix it. Failure to act will result in the country going completely bust. The cost will be much higher if no action is taken. Other countries may be afflicted. You have to be decisive and sequester the sick country for a while. You have to take her aside, put her on medication, on a special diet, monitor her, treat her, tell her to grit those teeth and bear the pain. You may need to do surgery on her, or give her medicine that causes severe side effects. It will not be an easy ride. But done properly, with lots of effort and a little bit of luck, things will soon be alright again.
Done properly. That is they key term. A patient has to be treated swiftly and decisively, but properly. With patience. With care. With respect to her condition. You have to take her aside and explain to her and her family what the problem is. You have to make sure she knows what is going on, leaving nothing aside. You have to give her the choice to make up her mind on how to proceed. If there is no time to waste, or if she is unconscious or delirious, and you have to act immediately, then do it, by all means – but make sure you treat her properly. You cannot get angry at her and slap her in the face when she lashes out; have a nurse hold her hand. You cannot scream at her if she is not responding; try another treatment instead. You cannot parade her in the corridors when she is delirious, telling everyone what a bad patient she is. You cannot laugh at her when she groans in pain. You must maintain your composure as a doctor and do whatever you have to to get your patient healthy again.
Yeah, yeah, all good in theory, say the critics. You can do that with a person, sure. But in practice it’s a little more complicated. Ten million people are much harder to handle than a single person. With each of them screaming for a different thing, it’s an impossible task, they claim.
The question is: Is it impossible?
Fact of the matter is, no, it is not. There is always a way to deal with huge numbers of people, so long as one understands their thoughts, wishes and needs. Plus their culture and history – one must always keep those factors in mind too. Know them well, and apply a little common sense, and any plan one comes up with will make sense to those involved, on some level. It won’t be perfect, and many individuals will be vexed and unsatisfied, but if you explain the situation well enough, and invest enough time and resources in prepping and supporting them as you invest in the (aggressive) therapy you are initiating, you will have convinced enough of them that this is the way to go. They will bear the pain and keep working with you until the results show.
Let’s drop the act and get to the root of the problem: ignorance.
The finance doctors forgot this part. Some of them never even thought about it.
Thank goodness medical doctors don’t share this ethos or aptitude. Dealing with complex situations that involve conflicting interests is nothing new to them, all in a day’s work. They address trillions of cells that make up our body, and all its organs, and all its faculties, and find solutions that tend to the patient. They could just as well raise their hands and give up, but they instead do their job, finding a way to make things fall in place.
Then again, we have seen the extent of modern medicine’s capabilities. Great by comparison to one hundred years ago, but, in all fairness, pretty blind, blunt and inadequate. Sorry to burst the bubble, but now that we have established the inadequacy of the finance doctors when compared to the medical ones, let’s drop the act and get to the root of the problem: ignorance. We are still in the dark as to what makes complex organisms and organizations work, across the entire board.
No wonder then that the Troika’s financial doctors, people who are not bound by anything remotely as noble as the Hippocratic Oath, are applying interventions that can only be compared to aggressive chemotherapy. They are dowsing a country with blanket medication that kills the good cells with the bad, hoping that by the end of it there will be enough living tissue to work with.
Of course you will by now have noticed that we have just compared the financial Troika to oncologists shooting in the dark. You will also have noticed that we have compared Greece, and countries like her, to cancer patients. We have identified them as bodies suffering from tumors, namely, from unproductive and unsustainable public sectors, corruption, amateurism, black-market economies, unsustainable entitlements, and inept political leadership. All of which demand more resources than what they provide in return, growing at the expense of every healthy institution around them. They grow at will, with absolutely no regard for any body, their only aim to feed themselves, until they kill the host and everything around them.
For death to be averted and life to go on, they have to be contained, cut out, or squelched dry.
Contained, cut out and squelched dry. Sounds an awful lot like austerity measures.
See, medicine and finance may be in the dark as to what makes complex organisms tick, but they are all we have for now. We may need to employ them after all, warts and all. Bearing in mind that Greece is not actually a person but an organ inside a complex organism, it gives the intervention at least some merit, ugly, ugly as it may be.
Part 4 to follow.