Chaos in Greece – Could this Be Us?

May 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Money and Behavior

The protests in Greece should not be ignored. This is not a Third World country experiencing another uprising. The protests are more about the past mistakes of government than about current spending cuts. The protesters are upset that those in government who made the poor decisions are not being asked to share in the consequences.  Could this happen to us?

Many Americans have expressed concern through repeated disgorgement of stimulus and bailout billions that their children and grandchildren will pay an unbearable price for mistakes not of their making.

Taxpayer dollars continue to flow by the billions into the mortgage Titanics known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. (Source) Some experts believe that the Chinese economy – mostly fueled by real estate development – is headed for a crash soon. (Source) That can’t be good for our economy.

One observer’s take on the Greek protests:

The protests also brought out many Greeks who were resigned to belt-tightening. Their unhappiness at the cuts was matched with rancor toward a generation of politicians who they say spurred the crisis with decades of corruption, kickbacks and accounting legerdemain aimed at obscuring to the EU the true level of Greece’s annual deficits.

(Source) Sound familiar?

These sentiments sound a lot like Tea Party members. What will happen if more moderate U.S. voices join in these protests, spurred on by unsustainable tax burdens and employment levels for our youth that never recover?

The signs of further discontent are already here. Confidence in the federal government is abysmally low. The Tea Party may be adding members soon, in a perfect storm of government distrust.

I’m not planning to take to the streets like the Greeks. But for personal and family preservation, everything lawful is on the table.

Are you planning for a worst case scenario? Should you be?


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28 Responses to “Chaos in Greece – Could this Be Us?”
  1. mdb says:

    The protesters in Greece are the ones being cut off due to the “austerity” measures. That won’t happen anytime soon in the US, especially with the euro taking a beating. The US will be able to borrow cheaply for at least the foreseeable future, staving off these unrest.

    When the US HAS to implement its own austerity measures, I expect to see the same thing.

    China’s real estate is no where near as leveraged as the US. House prices could fall 50% and there would be a lot fewer foreclosures than there were in the US. Is there a bubble, probably, will it have the same effect – not likely.

  2. GW in TN says:

    We continue to plan for the worst and hope it doesn’t come to that! Our planning includes paying off our home within the next year, getting more experience growing our own food, and continuing to maintain an emergency fund.

    Working on the mortgage payoff is rewarding and challenging; rewarding to have the goal and realized as we move closer with each passing month; challenging in that there are some wants that are set aside until we slay the mortgage giant. In that respect we are on a “wartime footing” knowing that the sacrifice is necessary to defend our financial freedom!

  3. Rick Beagle says:

    I think Mr. TML needs to unplug from whatever websites he has been reading, and take a trip to the lake.

    While the Tea Baggers might eventually turn into a group that provides value to our political debate, at this juncture they are a disturbing reminder of our worst values for the majority of the right, center and left.

    Also, if you have ever read their literature, there is very little that would make anyone believe that fiscal conservative values are truly at the heart of their movement. Don’t believe me? Look for actionable items to reduce our deficit that actually passes a reality litmus test.

    Pfft, just a group of people using this catchy phrase to show that they are no longer happy with the status quo combined with brown shirt reactionaries with profiteering agenda.

    Peace.
    Rick

  4. MasterPo says:

    Rick – Get your head out of your ass and breath some fresh air for a change.

    You can’t possibly tell me (and if you do you can’t possibly expect me to believe) that you’re pay check goes just as far today as it did this time last year or the year before!

    Now what happens when gas hits $5/gal by July 4 as it will, maybe even $10/gal by Xmas?!

    What’s going to happen when people like you and me and TML and everyone else here has to REALLY decided between gas for the car to get to work, oil to heat you home in the winter, or literally food!?!??

    People who are cold and hungry will do many things they won’t do when they are warm and well fed.

    And then add in all those great new taxes and tax hikes the Messiah is piling on:

    – Obamacare tax
    – Cap&Trade tax which by his own words says will cause electric rates to quote “necessarily skyrocket”!?!?! :-O
    – VAT tax
    – Bush tax cuts expiring end of 2010
    – And all the state level new taxes and tax increases

    Meanwhile unemp hovers in the 9-10% range and isn’t going down to 8% as Obama PROMISED it would *if* passed his stimulus plan last year!! All the above reasons WILL cause more unemployment. Oh that’s right, I forgot about all those high paying “green jobs”.

    Oh, 2011 is going to be a VERY “interesting” year.

    ps- GW in TN is definately on the right track. God help America.

    Pps- Gold is over $1,200/oz. today.

    Ppps- Gun and sporting goods shops on LI can’t keep small arms ammo in stock fast enough for sales! :-(

    • Rick Beagle says:

      While the cause is different, every time a Democrat is elected into the WH, the crazed religious right with their guns start talking about the apocalypse. Seriously, why don’t you folks come to the table with talking points and suggestions… oh that’s right, you don’t have any, so you resort to fear tactics. You have been doing this for years, and guess what, we are still here. So come up from the shelters and get a freaking clue.

  5. avery says:

    Personally, I am a former democrat, now independent and I’ve been to TEA party protests. I do not consider myself a right winger by any means, but have always been chiefly concerned with fiscal issues. Of course, calling me an extremist racist instead of responsibly addressing economic issues that will impact my young childrens’ future is not likely to reconcile me to my former party at any time in the future.

    • Rick Beagle says:

      Let us assume that your motives are pure, and that your cause is just. It doesn’t mean that the Tea Party movement isn’t full of radicals and racists – which imho it is. And **** the TPers for thinking that the rest of us aren’t concerned about our children, the deficit, and many other things. Since we won the election, we get to push our agenda through… that is a democracy.

      Don’t like it, come up with some better ideas and head to the polls. Threatening to secede, buying up guns, ignoring the more radical and violent members of your party, and preaching revolt is disgusting. I repeat my earlier assessment, Tea Party members represent the more loathsome, gullible and for the most part uneducated side of our human character, and a huge step backwards in our thinking.

      Peace.
      Rick Beagle

    • Rick Beagle says:

      So, um, how will you explain episodes like this to your children?

      http://www.ibabuzz.com/politics/2010/05/11/cd11-goehring-wants-to-thin-liberal-herd/

      “If I could issue hunting permits, I would officially declare today opening day for liberals. The season would extend through November 2 and have no limits on how many taken as we desperately need to “thin” the herd.”

      Yep, TPers are all about fiscal responsibility. Check out the name, kind of meshes with my comment comparing them to brown shirts don’t you think?

      Truth.
      Rick Beagle

  6. MasterPo says:

    Ricky –

    Here’s an idea: CUT MY TAXES!!!!!!

    Even a one-track-mind liberal like yourself shouldn’t have a problem understanding that if I have more $$$ in my pock I’m going to spend it.

    Comprende`? (trying to be multi-cultural, don’t want to offend anyone)

    Tell you what Rick: Give me an example (with a link) of ANY nation in human history that has TAXED itself into prosperity and I’ll conceed your point.

    Show me just ONE example of a nation in deep debt, deep unemployment, deep economic malaise that got themselves out of the hole and onto the road of economic strength and health by RAISING taxes and/or enacting NEW taxes.

    Just one example please.

    Not racist.
    Not violent.
    Just not silent anymore.

    • TMN says:

      “Just one example please.”

      America circa 1940 to 1978.

      The fact that you’re pointing to the Bush tax cuts expiring as an example of “new” taxes when those cuts were never actually funded in the first place somewhat undermines your claims that you’re interested in fiscal responsibility. Sure, bring down spending, all of us want that on both sides of the aisle.

      But from where I’m sitting there’s one group of people doing it responsibly and rationally, and another group that’s screaming at the top of their voices how long-term debt reduction (health care reform) and forcing capitalist corporations to shoulder their own negative externalities (cap and trade) instead of foisting them off on the rest of us are going to bring about the apocalypse. Guess which group I trust to actually do something to fix the problem?

    • TMN says:

      “Here’s an idea: CUT MY TAXES!!!!!!”

      Oh, and by the way, which of your services do you want to give up in exchange for lower taxes? Cut national defense? Cut highway and mass transit funding? Cut social security? Cut public education? Because for all the shouting, I haven’t heard a hell of a lot of actual proposals out of the people making all the noise other than tort reform, which would have achieved about 2% of the savings of the recently passed health care bill while fucking the poor in the ass even more than we already do.

      Any rational budget decision has to be about giving things up, and so far I haven’t heard a single coherent argument from any teabagger outlining something substantial they want to give up in exchange for lower taxes. As soon as you think of something, please, feel free to share it with the rest of us. Because this discussion is going forward with or without your contribution. If you want your ideas considered, you’re going to have to start voicing some real ones, and not just unsubstantiated platitudes.

      • MasterPo says:

        How about cutting turtle tunnels? Saving the spotted owl? Funding stuides on the flow rates of Ketchup?

        Please please PLEASE! Stop blaming budget issues on national defence!!!

        The military budget is only 20% (give or take) of the Federal budget. The rest is social spending.

        • Rick Beagle says:

          Hmm….

          I’m pretty sure you know that this is incorrect, but regardless, we need to cut spending across the board. When you start picking your favorite cause, then nothing gets cut. The BUDGET needs to be cut across the board, period.

          Peace.
          Rick Beagle

        • Jack Clark says:

          “Oh, and by the way, which of your services do you want to give up in exchange for lower taxes?”

          How about answering the question Master Po?

          What will it be? Less Social Security for Grandma? Less Medicaid for when Grandma gets sick? Less money for educating your children? No mass transit? No road construction? No government R&D? Less money for law enforcement?

          You initially asked what nation with a bunch of economic problems had them helped or solved through taxation and I clearly showed you that the USA did twice.

          Let’s brush up on your right-wing, Rush-loving history.

          I showed you that by the time Reagan left office about 65% of the ’81 tax cut was gone with taxes being increased every year from ’82-‘88.
          Yes the Congress was Democrat controlled, but Reagan mostly supported the tax increases via compromises with Tip O’Neill to get his own party’s agenda passed.

          And by the time Bush 41 left office taxes had gone way up since ‘81, not down, after twelve years of Republican presidency.
          And if you notice in the ‘80’s with taxes going up every year, I think we all did OK.

          Clinton more or less did the same thing. Taxes go up as soon as he takes office, and coupled with a few other policy initiatives we have a gigantic fiscal boom and I think we all did OK for the remainder of the ‘90’s. And Yes, GOP ideas had a lot to do with that boom.

          The part that you, and your Rush-loving crowd, keep missing is that the taxes are not the real problem. History has shown that if used in conjunction with moderate spending good things will happen. And there lies the problem.

          Neither when Congress was GOP controlled, nor the Presidency GOP controlled, did the ridiculous spending stop.

          I’m not saying the Democrats are any better. Because they are not. But quit this “ditto-head” revisionist history of blasting the Dems. for the same crap your own party did for the past thirty years.

          Until Federal spending is brought under control in a more realistic way, and the Republicans bring something to the table and stop being the party with no ideas other than subversive ideology nothing will change.

  7. Jack Clark says:

    “Show me just ONE example of a nation in deep debt, deep unemployment, deep economic malaise that got themselves out of the hole and onto the road of economic strength and health by RAISING taxes and/or enacting NEW taxes.”

    Um, let’s try our country the U.S. of A.

    What do you think saved Reagan’s presidency? His tax increases in 1982 and 1983.

    Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982
    Social Security Amendments of 1983
    If he doesn’t do that the economy doesn’t begin to turn and he’s bounced in ’84.

    Reagan himself said that for every dollar of tax increase instituted in ’82 he got three dollars of spending out of it.

    Here’s a quote from a column by Bruce Barlett: “It may come as a surprise to some people that once upon a time in the not-too-distant past Republicans actually cared enough about budget deficits that they thought raising taxes was necessary to bring them down. Today, Republicans believe that deficits are nothing more than something to ignore when they are in power and to bludgeon Democrats with when they are out of power.”

    As you know, Bruce is a full conservative Republican who worked in the White House under Reagan and in Treasury under Bush 41 and his work is supported by Alan Simpson who’s the Republican on the deficit reduction committee.

    So what this tells you is that usually when a country gets their fiscal pants in a bind, spending cuts coupled with tax increases not tax cuts are the answer.

    So Master Po, please pull your head out of your partisan ass, and see that tax cuts alone right now would solve nothing and that the problems we face did not just conjure up in the last two years as you keep misstating.

    But were instituted by both the Left and the Right over the past twenty.

    Both political parties are far too interested in partisan bickering instead of making the hard choices that they were voted in to office to make.

    That’s the real problem.

  8. Rick Beagle says:

    Show me one country where a political party full of racism, false national pride, and hate – elected leaders the drove their country to prosperity.

    Definitely racist.
    Definitely violent.
    STFU Brown Shirt TPers….

    Seriously pick up a book once in a while.
    Peace.
    Rick Beagle

    • lurker carl says:

      United States of America, Democrats and Republicans both played into creating an outstanding upturn in our living standards. Even our most impoverished live with luxuries and gadgets only the most wealthy enjoyed 50 years ago. The current prosperity was borrowed against our future and is now pushing us into financial ruin. The Republicans are pushing at 90 mph, the Democrats are pushing at 100 mph – regardless of the speed, we are doomed to fall into that abyss.

      Rick, you can see that racism, false national pride and hate first hand if you look at yourself in a mirror. Everyone else sees it in your words.

      • Rick Beagle says:

        Carl,

        I am not sure what your point is, but if you think Tea Party members are all about fiscal responsibility, look at the current leadership. Which TP carrying card member is a fiscal conservative? Okay, in what state have they produced ideas and legislation that lead to balanced budgets? None. Zip. Zilch.

        How about legislation that addresses illegals? Yep. Legislation concerning birth certificates? Check. Abortion related legislation? Check. How about legislation to end two wars or at least define our role there so we can stop sending a mint of cash into two wars? Nope. Reduction of our military budget? Nope. Reduction of our expenses in any form, business loopholes closed, regulating authorities encouraged to keep a level playing field for all participants? Sound business atmosphere to encourage small and medium size businesses? NOPE. Seems they only talk about fiscal responsibility.

        So Lurker, we have a group that concerns itself with everything but those things that would actually help. Combine this with their penchant for overt racism, gullibility, blatant stupidity, and you have the brown shirts redux.

        Here are my final thoughts on TPers, get some ideas that pass any reasonable litmus test, stop encouraging violence against those that disagree with you, and start using your fifteen minutes to encourage positive changes.

        Peace.
        Rick Beagle

  9. MasterPo says:

    Jack – I don’t know what tax increases you’re refering to.

    I do know that Congress (a *Democrat* congress) under Reagan did try some new taxes like the ill-fated “Luxury Tax” that was either reduced or repealed.

    I don’t know anyone who’s taxes went up under Reagan.

    How in the name of Heaven can you or Rick or anyone else say that me and you and Rick and TML et al *keeping* the hard earned money that WE EARNED is a terrible thing?!

    Give me a moral justification for taking more as we work harder and make more.

    Do you seriously believe that taxes make an economy strong and country great?!

    • Jack Clark says:

      “Jack – I don’t know what tax increases you’re refering to”

      Tax Increases Billions of Dollars
      Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 +57.3
      Highway Revenue Act of 1982 +4.9
      Social Security Amendments of 1983 +24.6
      Railroad Retirement Revenue Act of 1983 +1.2
      Deficit Reduction Act of 1984 +25.4
      Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 +2.9
      Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 +2.4
      Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 +0.6
      Continuing Resolution for 1987 +2.8
      Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 +8.6
      Continuing Resolution for 1988 +2.0
      Total cumulative tax increases +132.7

      Those tax increases.

      “I don’t know anyone who’s taxes went up under Reagan.”

      Reagan had the big tax cut in ’81, and than immediately in ’82 started increasing them and by the time he left office about 65% of the ’81 tax cut was eaten up by new tax increases that he mostly supported through compromises with Tip O’Neill.

      “How in the name of Heaven can you or Rick or anyone else say that me and you and Rick and TML et al *keeping* the hard earned money that WE EARNED is a terrible thing?!
      Give me a moral justification for taking more as we work harder and make more.Do you seriously believe that taxes make an economy strong and country great?!”

      First of all I am not of the same mindset of the Beagle. Second, don’t bring morality into a discussion where there is none.
      See the writing on the wall.

      Both the Left and Right through asinine revenue and taxation policies have left you and I (The American People) holding the bag.

      And unfortunately, unless you want the country to slip into a deeper fiscal recession we are all going to have to bite the bullet for a while for the good of the country as a whole.

      I realize that you don’t want to worker harder for less, who does?
      But right now, is there really another answer? I don’t think so.

      • Rick Beagle says:

        I am sorry Jack Clark, you failed the purity litmus test and have been deemed a progressive. :-)

        Seriously though, I am surprised that you didn’t mention spending cuts, nor did you mention the fiscal irresponsibility at local levels? IMHO attitudes need to readjusted top to bottom.

        As for the folks who keep repeating the same rhetorics of the last twenty -thirty years, I remain stunned at your refusal to recognize failure.

        Peace.
        Rick Beagle
        (token progressive still wishing for that fiscal responsibility promised by Reagan)

    • TMN says:

      “Give me a moral justification for taking more as we work harder and make more.

      Do you seriously believe that taxes make an economy strong and country great?!”

      1. We can afford it.

      2. We benefit from the infrastructure, and probably moreso than those who earn less.

      3. Everyone is better off for having a social safety net, and even some who are quite rich at one point in their lives end up needing it eventually.

      If you want to go live in the woods somewhere and keep your money tax-free, I say go for it. After a while maybe you’ll realize that living without a public transportation system, highway system, people around you with a decent minimum level of education, trained medical professionals, technology developed in government funded research labs, a police force, and the ability to be reasonably confident that food you buy from others has been tested and regulated so you won’t DIE from eating it isn’t actually worth the extra 10% you pay in exchange for living in a civilized country.

      • MasterPo says:

        1) Speak for yourself.

        2) We already have budget items for those.

        3) So now VAT, cap&trade, healthcare tax, etc. is NOW all about having “social safety nets”???

        Maybe you haven’t been around lately or just not paying attention.

        I am NOT a zero-tax person. I have always said that a *minimal* level of taxation is necessary to fund government operations.

        Accounts Receivable Tax
        Building Permit Tax
        CDL license Tax
        Cigarette Tax
        Corporate Income Tax
        Dog License Tax
        Excise Taxes
        Federal Income Tax
        Federal Unemployme nt Tax (FUTA)
        Fishing License Tax
        Food License Tax
        Fuel Permit Tax
        Gasoline Tax (42 cents per gallon)
        Gross Receipts Tax
        Hunting License Tax
        Inheritance Tax
        Inventory Tax
        IRS Interest Charges IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
        Liquor Tax
        Luxury Taxes
        Marriage License Tax
        Medicare Tax
        Personal Property Tax
        Property Tax
        Real Estate Tax
        Service Charge Tax
        Social Security Tax
        Road Usage Tax
        Sales Tax
        Recreational Vehicle Tax
        School Tax
        State Income Tax
        State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
        Telephone Federal Excise Tax
        Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
        Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Taxes
        Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
        Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges
        Telephone State and Local Tax
        Telephone Usage Charge Tax
        Utility Taxes
        Vehicle License Registration Tax
        Vehicle Sales Tax
        Watercraft Registration Tax
        Well Permit Tax
        Workers Compensation Tax
        etc.
        etc.
        etc.

        You just let me know when it’s enough.

        • Rick Beagle says:

          Most of the taxes on your list are locally generated taxes, and quite frankly are outside the bounds of this conversation. However, I do encourage you to discuss the issue locally, and perhaps with prudent cuts in spending you can have those taxes reduced or eliminated (some of your list is a bit absurd, but what the heck, I will let it slide). As stated previously, the spending frenzy is not just a national level problem.

          Peace.
          Rick Beagle.

          • MasterPo says:

            You’re right Ricky.

            Only milk & honey flows from the caring people of Washington DC.

            Here – have some more Kool-Aid.

        • Rick Beagle says:

          Sigh.

          “Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman’s presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.
          Some conservative political movements such as the “Tea Party” have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

          Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.”

          USA Today.

          Got to love them facts.
          Peace.
          Rick Beagle

  10. MasterPo says:

    The “Facts” are what I see in my pay check.

    Between my Federal, State, FICA and Medicare tax I *loose* 37% of my pay before I ever see it. To make it even simplier for you to understand, that means for every dollar I earn the government takes $.37 and leaves me with $.63.

    From the remaining $.63 I still have to pay all those lovely taxes I listed above, as well has pay my bills, my mortgage, put food on the table, save for retirement, give to charity and causes etc.

    I’ve asked time and time again:

    Just tell me when it’s enough?????????

    • Rick Beagle says:

      Perhaps you just need someone to explain your pay stub to you, or move. I hear Costa Rica and Mexico have a great tax rate.

      Lotsa luck with that.
      Peace.
      Rick Beagle

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