Recent developments in Europe and the US have reminded me of the frailty of the human condition and the flawed human character that drives it.
Let us not forget that the human condition throughout all of recorded history has been one of misery. Man's history on Earth is a perennial calendar of death, disease, pestilence, drought, blight, hunger and savagery toward one another. It was not until capitalism and the industrial age that it spawned that man began to experience security in his surroundings--and even then it did so only in those areas where capitalism was practiced or where capitalism provided the necessary wealth to drive charity.
Since its inception, capitalism has lived side by side with its detractors. For every individualist plowing his own soil there were hundreds of others who subsisted miserably on either the benevolence provided by or the forced servitude demanded of others. These inefficient economic systems resulted in shortages of nearly all necessary produce while robbing individuals of the capital required to improve their destinies. Generation after generation suffered with the same intensity as those that came before.
And yet capitalism is still attacked the world over.
Greece is a land that denounces capitalism and is currently mired in perhaps the worst financial situation throughout all of Europe. It is buried under debt, is woefully lacking in industrial production, is an unattractive suitor for foreign investment, and its population is now bristling at the prospect that it might have to either cut back on its own consumption of the produce of others, or start producing more of its own. For many years it has sustained its meager living standards by living off of the production of others within the EU, a situation that Germany has tired of.
A majority of Greeks are unhappy with the way that its financiers are forcing them to adapt to conditions not of their own liking--Greeks want charity, and they want it provided according to their own ideals.
The French too have tired of austerity. With the recent election of socialist Francois Hollande as President, the French have chosen a candidate to lead them who is decidedly anti-capitalist. His platform of promises is a cash box full of socialist giveaways that will further stymie French productivity and wealth creation.
The Socialist candidate has promised to raise taxes on big corporations and people earning more than 1m euros a year.This treasure trove of predictable socialist reforms will shrink the economy, dissuade employment, help to chase corporations out of country, add to the number of unproductive people who will live on the backs of taxpayers, and also raise prices. In a socialist's view, this is pro-growth.
He wants to raise the minimum wage, hire 60,000 more teachers and lower the retirement age from 62 to 60 for some workers.
Call it either a flaw or a feature of the human character, but people will typically care for themselves better than they will contribute to what is perceived as the common good. Likewise, when a government in authority stands in the way of self sufficiency while it also promotes communal consumption, it predictably gets what it begs for--a population of demanding consumers that produces too little to provide for itself.
You go Greece! Way to go France!
Time to turn another page on the perennial calendar of misery.