Selections: Crony Capitalism: From GM to Greece, the Lies Keep Growing, By George Will
Now American taxpayers also own a little bit of a small nation. They provide the U.S. contribution of 17 percent of the assets of the International Monetary Fund, which is giving Greece $39 billion (the IMF also is contributing $321 billion to a "stabilization"fund for other eurozone nations with debt problems). So the U.S. government, which would borrow 42 cents of every dollar it spends under the president's 2011 budget, is borrowing to rescue Greece and others from the consequences of their borrowing.
That nation, whose GDP is below that of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, is "too big to fail," meaning too inconveniently connected to too many big banks. Bailing out Greece really rescues European banks that improvidently bought Greek bonds. . .
Time was, the European left said it spoke for horny-handed sons of toil oppressed in dark Satanic mills. But Athens' so-called "anti-government mobs" have been composed mostly of government employees going berserk about threats to their entitlements. Even Greek air force pilots went on strike. The government, unable to say how many employees it has, promises to count them. It cannot fire many of them because article 103, paragraph 4 of the Greek constitution says: "Civil servants holding posts provided by law shall be permanent so long as these posts exist."
America's projected $9.7 trillion in budget deficits in this decade will drive the nation's debt to 90 percent of GDP (Greece's is 124 percent). So some people say that to avoid a Greek-style crisis, America should adopt a value-added tax (VAT). But Europe's most troubled nations -- the PIIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain -- have VATs of 20 percent, 21 percent, 20 percent, 21 percent and 16 percent, respectively. As part of its austerity penance, the Greek government is going to give itself more money by raising its VAT to 23 percent.