Saturday, February 27, 2016

A Greek Lesson For the USA


It’s Wednesday and I’m on a plane headed to Phoenix for Left Coast Crime 2016, aka Cactus Caper.  I thought I’d write about the first thing that came to mind for my Saturday post because I won’t likely have time after we land.  I’ve events and panels to attend from practically the time I touch down through Sunday…plus Annamaria and Susan to pester. 

I found my inspiration while passing through Queens on the Van Wyck Expressway to JFK, just past the Jamaica Hospital. Two names emblazoned atop separate buildings stood staring at each other across a busy highway. One bore the name Lincoln, the other the name of a Queens Borough native who’s running for the nomination of the party of Lincoln for President of the United States.

About the only enjoyable thing I’m getting out of this year’s Presidential race is how every talking head continues to be so very wrong while desperately attempting to convince the public that he (or she) actually understands—let alone knows—what’s happening.  Then again, it’s hard to understand something when you’re so heavily contributing to the problem. 

Which raises two questions. What is the problem? And what (or who) is the solution?

Sure wish I could help you out with simple answers, but your guesses are likely as good as mine.  About all I can say with an assured sense of all-knowing certainty (think theatrical style over factual substance) is that we are living in a time of massive global uncertainty on a scale not experienced since the run-up to World War II.  Folks are anxious and unsure of where things are headed, making them susceptible to fear-mongering, offered-up scapegoats, and promises of ready cures.

None of that is a new routine, been around since Biblical times, with religion often called out both as savior and villain.

How will it all play out?  People are funny.  They naturally want to blame others for their predicament—and “shake things up” is a powerful motivator for the frustrated. Trouble is, when you’re sailing stormy seas upon a shared ship of state, you better be very careful who you pick to do the shaking, or you just might find yourself tossed overboard.

It’s happened before.  And in fact, been discussed here before…albeit in the context of Greece. Nearly four years ago (May 26, 2012) a post of mine on a visit to Munich prompted a brisk exchange of views among commentators on the seriousness of Greek elections for both Greeks and the world. Here is an excerpt from a post-election comment by N&C (relayed in my July 14, 2012 post) to a comment posted by another.  I’ve substituted “the United States” for “Greece.”

If history is any guide, an electorate willing to grasp for any solution that makes them feel better in the short term; will in my view, only lead to far larger and protracted problems in the future. I truly feel sorry for the despair and hopelessness that I see among many of my friends of all ages in [the United States]….

Let’s hope that for the first time, an elected coalition government in [the United States] can effectively work together and stop putting their personal and party interests ahead of those of you and your fellow citizens and your country at large.

While I too respect your opinion, I would suggest to you that the answer to [the United States’] problems today does not lie in substituting capitalism with something else - nor electing extremists from both sides of the political spectrum to govern your country - but for people to play by the rules as they have long been established, and get back to the work of demonstrating to the rest of the world that [the United States] can indeed become the great, proud democracy that it once was, where prosperity and a decent quality of life is shared by all…

Once again, we can learn from the Greeks.



  1. Wise words, indeed. I have little expectation that they'll come to pass. Great hope, but little expectation. T'is the season... You've got to get through winter before spring can appear.

    1. Yes, but with Spring also comes the hungry bears.

  2. Interesting analogy, Jeff. However, the last line should have read, "Once again, we can learn from the Greeks mistakes". I enjoy reading your blog every Saturday - it gives me a deeper understanding of Andreas' frustrations and tirades. Mazeltov! -Peppe

  3. Jeff,

    How little did I know when I wrote those words four years ago, that a look in the mirror today could reflect them being equally applied to that of our own country, as you have so adeptly pointed out.

    In closely watching this year’s Presidential debates, both I and our European friends are totally bewildered by the naivety in which our countrymen seem to be desperately grasping for non-existent short-term solutions for problems that have long plagued our own country. I have no adequate answers for those who frequently ask me now if all Americans have simply lost their mind.

    Strong and continued American leadership remains sorely needing in the very uncertain world that we live in today, and the nationalistic, bigoted, intolerant, and isolationist fashion in which some of the candidates campaigning for that leadership role today exhibit on a world stage, will only lead us all to more confrontation - both domestically and abroad - and to a yet further decline in our Nation’s esteem.

    It is time for Americans to again demonstrate the exceptionalism that has made this country the freest and most economically and militarily powerful country in the world, and that exceptionalism should in no way equate to exceptional stupidity.

    I can only hope that the silent majority of our countrymen will wake up before it is too late and make the right choice in exercising our constitutional right in November, for the benefit of not only ourselves, but the world at large.

    N & C

    1. You're a gifted analyst, my friend. Here's hoping you're also successful in your prayers.