Jun 252015
 June 25, 2015  Posted by at 7:38 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  1 Response »

NPC KKK parade on Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington DC 1925

Today I fly to Athens, and boy, does time seem to fly along with me. I’ll be arriving in Athens apparently just in time for a big demo in Syntagma square (got a mail minutes ago saying people are on their way there as early as 9 AM local time). Something tells me there’ll be quite a few more of those during my stay. And I don’t think there’s any guarantee of all of them being peaceful as time goes on.

The negotiations, if they still warrant that title, are going nowhere, and even if they would, they’d be going nowhere good. So during my -provisional- 3 week stay, I wouldn’t be surprised to see capital controls, closed banks, empty ATMs, and quite a bit more.

But I am lucky enough to have a strong contingent of Automatic Earth readers in the city, who’ve been kind enough to not only offer me accommodation, but to also introduce me to a plethora of organizations and individuals, so much so that I’m going to have to be careful about claiming the time it takes to do the daily Automatic Earth posts.

If there’s a day or two when I can’t do a Debt Rattle or essay, please know that it won’t be for a lack of trying, but for an overabundance of gracious yet impoverished Greeks. Hey, in times of hardship people remember how to be people again. Most Americans and Germans are long overdue for a taste of that.

There’s that Seneca quote I used somewhere before, which captures it to a T:

We become wiser by adversity; prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right.

I’ve been feeling smothered here in Holland, and in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year, and in all the European countries save for Italy and the Czech Republic that we’ve visited over the past five years and change, smothered by the denial and techno-happy thinking that seems to be everywhere you go. People don’t seem to do wealth well. It blunts their senses: “prosperity destroys our appreciation of the right”.

Italy gets it. Maybe not in the major cities, but when we visited Beppe Grillo in late 2011, it was obvious that Italians saw the writing on the wall. Slovakia was in the eurozone and was just starting to receive all those big EU loans that are now haunting the PIIGS, who got them years earlier.

On the other hand, the Czech Republic, which had split from Bratislava only a few years before, but decided to keep the koruna, seemed fine, though with less new black top and fewer flashy government buildings. The big difference was that the euro had lifted prices in Slovakia much higher than those in Prague etc. Today, if you look behind the numbers, the Czech Republic is in a much better spot than Slovakia.

Anyway, different parts of Europe have had a different view of life for years. And of course Greece had been going down with a vengeance for a long time. I’m just trying to say that Europe is not one big happy entity with Greece as a black sheep.

But they’re all still, or seem to be, ganging up on Athens. That’s all just the effects of propaganda, and everyone should learn to see through that thin veil. But it’s so tempting, isn’t it, to think you’re superior to someone else, to ignore that you’re the same.

And that it’s beyond brainless to drive your brand new Beamer on the Autobahn at 200 miles an hour blabbing about them Greeks who deserve to be flogged for refusing to pay you back what they stole from you.

This cannot and will not ever be repaired. Europe is not a union. Which is fine, as long as no-one tries to make it one. The very moment anyone tries, you end up with where Greece is today.

Long story short, let’s talk about that Fund For Athens I innocently started recently. Last time I mentioned it, on June 19, it was already at an amazing $2217, much more than I ever could have dreamed.

Well, you guys are something else. Because the fund now stands at $5534.47. Can you believe it? I sure can’t. Seeing the amount go up has been, and hopefully will continue to be, very humbling, your generosity has made me feel small. Who am I to trigger this kind of kindness?

Please, please, keep the donations coming, and I’ll make sure, along with the TAE readers in Athens, that we get the money where it is needed most. Solid promise.

For the how and why, please refer to The Automatic Earth Moves To Athens and Update: Automatic Earth for Athens Fund.

I’m thinking the Greeks need all the help they can get, more than ever, more every single day. I find it deeply concerning to read just now that both ex-PM Samaras and To Potami leader Theodorakis were spotted talking to the troika yesterday. That reeks of regime change. Not surprising given the EU MO, but at the same time: not good.