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Despair: Greece vs US


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I'm reading this WSJ article and wondering how much more unhappy the Greeks are than the average US citizen:

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904199404576538261061694524.html?mod=WSJ_hp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsSecond

 

Suicide rate (now):

Greece:  6 per 100,000 (doubled recently due to austerity/collapse)

US:        11.1 per 100,000

 

Are things that much worse in Greece?  What's really important in a society, when it's so bad you kill yourself?

 

They have 16% unemployment.  Some say we have that too (counting underemployed and those who have given up looking).

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I think it is similar in other even more economically depressed areas such as Africa where they say they have almost no young/teen age suicide.

 

Im sure it has to do with the rat race.

 

We keep drawing these lines in the sand of what we think we need etc etc.

 

The happiest people seem to be those who have very little or just enough to survive yet equality among peers.

 

 

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What constitutes "happiness", "good life" etc greatly differs from one country to the next.

 

In Greece, they don't want jobs: they want to sit on their asses as the money comes in. A job is a burden; it wastes 8 hours a day. If he were running the European Union (EU) he would not have let Greece in. From Charlie Munger at the last Wesco meeting.

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I really wonder how much of the despair has to do with expectations.  I see the Amercian Dream is under attack and ask the question what is the American Dream and maybe the dream is not under attack but the expectations need to be lowered to reflect reality.  I see this in America and in the Euro crisis.  Does it make sense to expect German-like behavior/culture from the Greeks, Spanish and Portugese when it comes to finances?  And how long will Greece, Spain and Portugal endure 15/20% unemployment to satisify money already spent? 

 

Packer   

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I really wonder how much of the despair has to do with expectations.  I see the Amercian Dream is under attack and ask the question what is the American Dream and maybe the dream is not under attack but the expectations need to be lowered to reflect reality.

 

I couldn't disagree more.  Maybe as a young person under 30, my impression of the past is different than those who actually lived it but I see a complete failure of leadership in this country.  I was watching the Right Stuff the other day and it made me think: what if the Space Race happened today? There would be no chance we'd win.

 

It makes me laugh that we literally poured hundreds of billions (maybe trillions in total) into what was essentially a pissing contest between world powers.  There was no real practical purpose to sending a man into space or the moon.  Some might argue the externalities (technology) made it worth it but we probably could have had twice as much innovation if we had just directly invested in innovation instead of just capturing externalities.

 

But when it comes to things like solar, God forbid the government invests a dime.  Republicans only support government spending if it makes us better at killing foreigners and Democrats only support it if it benefits unions or the poor.  Republicans say billionaires paying 17% income taxes rates are still overtaxed; Democrats claim the unemployed need more than 99 weeks to pick themselves up and the poor need free cellphones.  We need leadership that wants to do more to confront our two biggest welfare classes: the poor and the super-rich.

 

Our most notable government-subsidized banker said if he wasn't allowed to take hundreds of trillions in derivative risks, he'd just go to Singapore.  Our Treasury Secretary believes that homeowners should be pushed aside for the benefit of the money-center banks.  The leader of our Teachers Union once said that he'd put students first as soon as students started paying union dues.  A PhD friend of mine who worked for Google was deported because she couldn't renew her work visa but the President wants us to consider amnesty for poor, uneducated illegal immigrants.  Republicans tried their best to get America to default, only to then claim the resulting market fear was a message on Obama's economic policies.  Our leadership absolutely sucks right now.  But only right now.

 

People say our future is a dismal "new normal."  That the American Dream is just that: a dream.  I say America is massive turnaround situation waiting for the right management.  If we, as a country, woke up tomorrow and said we are going to put as much effort into education or alternative energy as we do laser guided bombs, we'd leave everyone in the dust.  We have so many levers to pull it's crazy. 

 

Just my person opinion.

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I really wonder how much of the despair has to do with expectations.  I see the Amercian Dream is under attack and ask the question what is the American Dream and maybe the dream is not under attack but the expectations need to be lowered to reflect reality.

 

I couldn't disagree more.  Maybe as a young person under 30, my impression of the past is different than those who actually lived it but I see a complete failure of leadership in this country.  I was watching the Right Stuff the other day and it made me think: what if the Space Race happened today? There would be no chance we'd win.

 

It makes me laugh that we literally poured hundreds of billions (maybe trillions in total) into what was essentially a pissing contest between world powers.  There was no real practical purpose to sending a man into space or the moon.  Some might argue the externalities (technology) made it worth it but we probably could have had twice as much innovation if we had just directly invested in innovation instead of just capturing externalities.

 

But when it comes to things like solar, God forbid the government invests a dime.  Republicans only support government spending if it makes us better at killing foreigners and Democrats only support it if it benefits unions or the poor.  Republicans say billionaires paying 17% income taxes rates are still overtaxed; Democrats claim the unemployed need more than 99 weeks to pick themselves up and the poor need free cellphones.  We need leadership that wants to do more to confront our two biggest welfare classes: the poor and the super-rich.

 

Our most notable government-subsidized banker said if he wasn't allowed to take hundreds of trillions in derivative risks, he'd just go to Singapore.  Our Treasury Secretary believes that homeowners should be pushed aside for the benefit of the money-center banks.  The leader of our Teachers Union once said that he'd put students first as soon as students started paying union dues.  A PhD friend of mine who worked for Google was deported because she couldn't renew her work visa but the President wants us to consider amnesty for poor, uneducated illegal immigrants.  Republicans tried their best to get America to default, only to then claim the resulting market fear was a message on Obama's economic policies.  Our leadership absolutely sucks right now.  But only right now.

 

People say our future is a dismal "new normal."  That the American Dream is just that: a dream.  I say America is massive turnaround situation waiting for the right management.  If we, as a country, woke up tomorrow and said we are going to put as much effort into education or alternative energy as we do laser guided bombs, we'd leave everyone in the dust.  We have so many levers to pull it's crazy. 

 

Just my person opinion.

 

Wow... This had the effect of a heavy dose of sober reality administered straight via IV. Thanks man.

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Does it make sense to expect German-like behavior/culture from the Greeks, Spanish and Portugese when it comes to finances?

 

Well, yes, you bet I do.  If you want to be member of the same EU group as the Germans you had better adjust your financial/fiscal habits to the fiscally more responsible Germans and Scandinavians. If not, you will end up like the Greeks: borrowing large sums of money at artificially low EU rates of interest, something you could never have done as a stand-a-lone country. Unfortunately, this priviledge in the hands of unscrupulous, irresponsible politicians is like throwing gasoline on a fire. They use this new found "wealth" to trade for votes and power, bankrupting the country in the process. 

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"It makes me laugh that we literally poured hundreds of billions (maybe trillions in total) into what was essentially a pissing contest between world powers.  There was no real practical purpose to sending a man into space or the moon.  Some might argue the externalities (technology) made it worth it but we probably could have had twice as much innovation if we had just directly invested in innovation instead of just capturing externalities."

 

The difference MIGHT be that the US government SET A GOAL, as opposed to telling the American people HOW TO GET TO THAT GOAL. It seems when our government allows private enterprise and private citizens (INDIVIDUALS) to PURSUE something, the American people respond.

It is a little insulting to categorize Republicans as those who "only support government spending if it makes us better at killing foreigners" (Your statement about Democrats I'll decline to respond to). I support government spending when there is a clear goal that is within the federal governments powers, and the powers that be will NOT try to pick winners (Solyndra).

 

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Does it make sense to expect German-like behavior/culture from the Greeks, Spanish and Portugese when it comes to finances?

 

Well, yes, you bet I do.  If you want to be member of the same EU group as the Germans you had better adjust your financial/fiscal habits to the fiscally more responsible Germans and Scandinavians. If not, you will end up like the Greeks: borrowing large sums of money at artificially low EU rates of interest, something you could never have done as a stand-a-lone country. Unfortunately, this priviledge in the hands of unscrupulous, irresponsible politicians is like throwing gasoline on a fire. They use this new found "wealth" to trade for votes and power, bankrupting the country in the process.

 

Take a look at M. Lewis's article on Greece, then decide if it was a political or cultural problem:

 

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/10/greeks-bearing-bonds-201010

 

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