I bet Britan, France, and Germany are rueing the day they ever let Greece into the EU. Given Greece's overspending, debt, deliberatitely deceptive accounting, and me-first unions, it was only a matter of time before they showed up, hat in hand, on the EU's doorstep to beg for money.
It is easy for the USA to dismiss the financial troubles of Greece due to size (economically the USA is almost 50 times bigger), but I think there are important lessons for us here, since the causes that are driving Greece to the brink are present here too.
Especially the four I listed 2 paragraphs up.
Government overspending? Oh yeah, we have that! And an out-of-control congress only too willing to push problems into the future (when they all magically get solved). Since our Congress has shown they have no ability whatsoever to live within their means, they clearly need some sort of help. I'll provide some first-steps at the end.
Debt? Got it.
Deliberatitely deceptive accounting? We have this, in at least three different ways:
First, some key government statistics, like unemployment, are politically intentionally misrepresented to give the illusion of of a smaller problem.
Second, much sleight-of-hand goes into making the U. S. Budget look better than it is .
Third, we invented the concept of "to big to fail" , bailing out quasi-private financial firms with taxpayer dollars. (fear of) Failure ensures success. If any business knows they have an Uncle Sam Backstop should they fail, they will not learn the hard lessons they need to be a true success. http://stoptoobigtofail.com/stop/
Me-first unions? This hardly needs explaning... but a big portion of what drove GM to ruin was/is ruinous UAW contracts that effectively add thousands of dollars to the price of any new GM car. LINK
Yes, GM had to stupidly agree to the contracts, so they bear some culpability too.
NEA shows an analogous story. Many teachers have lifetime pensions, often at the same final working salary of the teacher . A pension like this is almost unheard-of in the private sector - but if Uncle Sam is bankrolling it, hey, why not?
School districts add Propositions and Mill Levy Proposals to local ballots, and they like to pretend it will be used for new textbooks and #2 pencils, but the elephant in the room is these underfunded pensions that shouldn't exist.
So, what should we do? I have three concrete proposals:
1) Starting NOW, eliminate lifetime pensions in government positions. Pensions should be funded like the private sector, with a defined input and a defined output and a low lifetime cap.
2) Eliminate the pay-scale gap between public and private sector - today it is very lopsided in 'favor' of the government LINK .
3) Scale the pay and numbers back by 10% for all federal employees annually, until the budget is balanced.