Conservative Political Commentary

[Under the Radar?] Anti-socialist, anti-communist, anti-globalist, pro-Constitution, and usually with an attempt at historical and economic context (This blog was given its name before I decided it was going to be a political blog.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Isn’t Only Greece That’s in Trouble

Assorted international currency notes.Image via Wikipedia

Socialist Paradise Fails
Let’s see – The nation of Greece has spent itself into near-default by social welfare programs that enable people to retire early at near-full salary, to work under the most generous conditions, and have many things provided to them by the government. This has naturally led to crushing debt, endless deficits and the supposed need for a large-scale bailout. Since the bailout providers want some assurance that Greece will put its fiscal house in order, some austerity measures have been approved. This has resulted in riots by angry union members, and has caused deaths.

There are so many things wrong with this situation, it’s hard to understand how wrong it is. And the proposed cure is worse than the disease.

When Greek politicians were approving these unaffordable, deficit-incurring benefits for everyone, and people were enjoying them, was no thought given to the ultimate cost? Politicians buy votes by providing government benefits to people who will gratefully vote for them. As for the long-term consequences, they’ll be dealt with later. Political successors will handle it. Except that this fiscal mess is coming to a head and has to be dealt with now.

To the Rescue with Big Bailouts
The European Union, the European Central Bank, the IMF, and the central banks of other countries, including the U.S., have concocted a bailout plan that not only is supposed to save Greece, but head off possible default by other fiscally weak European nations. After stock markets momentarily seemed to panic, causing the Dow to lose 1,000 points during one session, then regain most of it before the close, news of the latest bailout efforts sent euphoria through the markets, but apparently only for a day.

Don’t worry, soft-hearted liberals are coming to the rescue, printing money to pour into the problem, money that must ultimately be provided by taxpayers of other nations, including the United States. Should foreign bailouts be a big item in America’s budget? A great many people were and are opposed even to domestic bailouts, as they should be.

The plan is like a long-term European version of the TARP bailouts the U.S. provided in 2008. Banks considered “too big to fail” were forcibly given bailout money and the government took equity positions in them. The financial regulatory bill now in the Senate is basically a continuation of the U.S. TARP authority of the Treasury Secretary, and despite the claim that it will stop “too big to fail,” it will actually perpetuate bailouts of large banks.

Moral Hazard
As a New York Times article points out,

Another big issue is whether bailing out economies creates moral hazard. Other countries may continue to skirt the kinds of actions that would lower their budget deficits and debt loads — steps painful to the public and dangerous to politicians — because they too can expect to be rescued. [1]

If any large entity, be it bank, business, or nation, is assured that it will be rescued in case of trouble, a moral hazard is unavoidably created. “No matter what happens, we’ll be OK. Sure, there will be restrictions on us, but what if we don’t completely follow them? We’ll still be OK, because our benefactors don’t want to be in the position of having wasted all that money without an ultimate bailout,” the beneficiaries would be tempted to think, and to some extent, would think.

An Investors Business Daily editorial of 05/10/2010 states the following:

By bankrolling irresponsible governments and firms, a new generation will learn that virtuous behavior will be punished and bad behavior rewarded. This is a recipe for future meltdowns, when the next generation's failures will expect that they too will be rescued.

Except they won't be. They can't be. That's the real tragedy here…. [2]

The bailout itself is a moral violation, because it unjustly forces nations’ taxpayers to pay for the huge mistakes of other nations which should be held accountable for their own actions. There generally are no government bailouts available for individuals or small companies who face financial failure – only bankruptcy, as it should be.

Until governments lose the concept of “too big to fail,” which they show no sign of doing, we will see a continuing string of large bailouts until the bailers themselves need a bailout, and there will be no one to provide it.

Currency Crisis in the Making
Ron Paul says that the Greek problem is a world problem and is not only a financial crisis, but a currency crisis (YouTube via Below the Beltway blog):

Predictable Result
The lesson that should be learned here, but probably won’t be, is that we are seeing the inevitable natural result of socialism. The basic path that led Greece to this point is being followed in America by the Obama Administration and the Fed: “Keynesian” spending, new entitlements, vast welfare spending, huge deficits, massive growth of government, probable high unemployment for years, and all taxpayers soon to be made poorer through high taxes. America urgently needs a change of direction toward limited government, sound money, low taxes, and encouragement of private sector economic activity.

Who do we turn to when our fiscal and monetary house of cards collapses?

[1] Landon Thomas, Jr., and Jack Ewing, “A Trillion for Europe, With Doubts Attached,”
05/11/2010, The New York Times.

[2] IBD Editorials, “The Euro Zone’s $1 Trillion Mistake,” 05/10/2010.

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