A.J. DiCintio
Prosperity, poison, and politicians
By A.J. DiCintio
July 2, 2012

Like every great writer, Herman Melville wrote with unremitting honesty about the verities surrounding human nature and human experience, his insights enormously enhanced because like his character Ishmael, he could say of himself, "A whale ship was my Yale College and my Harvard."

However, while Melville's Moby Dick has properly achieved international recognition for its artistic genius, his much less known story "Bartleby the Scrivener" also reveals a number of hard truths about humanity.

For instance, after the tale's lawyer/narrator relates that he gave one of his topcoats to his employee nicknamed Turkey in an attempt to decrease the copyist's afternoon carelessness and surliness, he goes on to observe that the gift had the "pernicious" effect of making the man downright "insolent" and therefore to describe the irascible, red-faced employee of afternoons as "a man whom prosperity harmed."

The notion that some people are "harmed" by prosperity comes to mind these days for two reasons:

First, because the creatures most disposed to exhibit the perverse reaction at its poisonous worst are the world's most powerful politicians.

Second, because the catastrophic clouds currently hovering over the euro nations were huffed and puffed into being by the highest and mightiest of Europe's politicians who, perniciously affected by the continent's post-war prosperity, arrogantly began to spin a host of stupidly dangerous social and economic theories out of their imaginations, including one that instituted a common currency while blithely ignoring not just the program's lack of enforceable fiscal rules but the problem of enforcing such standards among culturally disparate nations with profound differences in their productivity, labor laws, and propensity for spending and borrowing.

At the time of the euro's institution, many of us sardonically asked, "Hummmm, what do you think the Eurozone will look like when the German public is told it has to sacrifice big time to pay the debts of its less productive, incorrigibly profligate neighbors?"

Well, our biting irony was certainly justified as today we see in Euro-Europe runaway debt addicted, serial defaulter Greece of intractable recession; hopeless youth; damaged social order; and horrendously corrupt, wasteful government whose money-sucking monster of a socialized railroad is exceeded in financial ugliness only by the train wreck that is its social security system.

In addition, we cannot miss perceiving serial welfare queen Greece, which stoops not to conquer its problems but to blackmail its neighbors, and serial blamer Greece, which craves German money even as it spits the filthiest Nazi slurs to condemn prudent Germans for causing its turmoil.

Having seen the ingloriousness that is Greece, we turn to behold dysfunctional Italy, plagued by growth-stifling red tape; a 120% debt to GDP ratio; bloated, parasitic public sector institutions; ever diminishing private sector enterprises; barrier-to-entry job markets; frightfully high unemployment among young people; and an overall sense of entitlement and malaise that has sapped a once great country of its intellectual, entrepreneurial, and creative vitality.

Looking westward, our eyes fall upon Spain of 90% debt to GDP ratio; dangerously large deficits; ravaged banking system; and 25% unemployment rate that was 12% during the so-called boom times and is currently more than 50% for the almost certain to be lost generation aged 18-35.

Also coming into view is self-proclaimed "too big to fail" Spain that cries "Give us the money, Germany!" but insists "Don't call it a bailout" and bloated, "social democracy" Spain of job-for-life labor laws; unrealistically high wage structures; pie in the sky government subsidized windmill electricity projects now scrapped; and immigrant "regularization" programs, pretentiously bragged about but currently trashed.

Next our gaze falls on fiscally devastated Portugal and Ireland as well as economically sclerotic France, sickened by shaky banks, burdensome social welfare demands, a socialist inspired anti-business atmosphere, and a large Muslim immigrant population prevented from having access to good jobs by French customs and from fully integrating into French culture by their own.

Finally, we look upon industrial powerhouse Germany, whose power loving, dreamy-brained political elites have been complicit in helping guarantee that the German people will suffer significantly whether they agree to continue serving as fiscal wet nurse to shamelessly sucking profligates or decide to exit the euro and return to the mark.

Here's financial expert John Mauldin (mauldineconomics.com) on the subject:

"I continue to believe that Europe in general and Germany in particular have no good choices. They can only choose between Disaster A, which is keeping the eurozone together, and Disaster B, which is breaking the eurozone apart. Either will cost trillions of euros and mean much pain."

Yes, nothing but disasters from A to Z are destined to occur when the perilous arrogance that lies in the political heart is stimulated by a poisonous reaction to prosperity, causing leaders to behave like inmates in charge of an asylum.

However, Europe's current disaster should occasion no finger pointing lectures by us Americans because as the current administration's behavior particularly attests, the inmates who control Washington have, for decades, been passing bills, signing them, and adjudicating them, thereby endangering not just our economy but the very nature of the extraordinary Republic bequeathed to us.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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