From the Publisher: Meanwhile in Greece …

Arnold G. York

What is going on with Greece? European foreign ministers have been conferencing constantly, European Heads of State have been pontificating and there is a possibility that Greece may drop out (or be forced out) of the European Union (EU). Reading the press, you would believe that this would produce a major catastrophe. I must confess, I’m totally puzzled.

Greece is about the smallest country in the EU, with about 11 million people in the entire country. We’ve got more people than that in the County of Los Angeles. It’s not that the Greek economy is a terribly significant part of the economy of the EU. Greece consists of a minuscule portion of the EU’s gross domestic product. So why is everyone so upset? Well, they say it’s the public debt of Greece. According to recent numbers, their debt is 161.7 percent of their annual income, compared to the U.S. with 67.7 percent, Germany with 81.8 percent and Japan with 211.7 percent. All of those numbers may be off by a couple of years. So I think it’s kind of like a debt on an expensive house. It’s not really how much you owe, but whether you can handle the payments, and, clearly, Greece cannot handle the payments. 

Frankly, I don’t even think it’s primarily economics. I think what they’re deeply upset about is that it’s an indication that the EU is failing. They have economically strong and weak countries in the EU, and the strong don’t have the desire or the political will to help bail out the weak. Much as we often beat up on each other in this country, we have a strong federal union, and we look out for each other because we have a unified political system. As a practical matter, the industrially strong states like California, Texas and New York put a lot more in taxes into the system than they get back. The smaller states, the agricultural states, which are principally many of the Southern states, get back more than they put in, but, taken all together, it works. I can’t say that I am always overjoyed that states like Mississippi and Arkansas, who are adamantly against a bigger federal government, don’t seem to have any difficulty dipping into those deep federal pockets when they need it. It works in national defense. It works when crises hit, like storms, tornadoes, flooding and fires. It works in education and health, which fund all sort of research and institutions. It works in Obamacare, which has brought millions more into the health system. We may hate each other at times, but we are an amazing, functioning republic and the original constitutional deal done over 200 years ago still works, which is something of a miracle. I suspect it is more than we can say for the EU.

Closer to home

Running rampant on our campuses is a belief — fostered in no small measure by some very spineless college administrations — that our students not only have a right to be educated, but also have a right to be free from speech that bothers them, is confrontative or makes them uncomfortable. It’s sort of an extension of the helicopter parents who hover over their terribly valuable offspring. It goes along with our constitutional right to have all of our offspring be well-above average.

Perhaps I’m getting to be a grumpy old SOB, but I really don’t think that every kid should get a trophy for being alive, or that they should be working on their resume when they’re in nursery school, or they’re not allowed to fail, to take risks, or occasionally come home with a black eye, without you calling your lawyer.

Recently, I’ve had some exposure to the 20 somethings, and they are kind of scary. They take themselves very seriously. They are all hypersensitive to the new word “microaggressions,” and their sexual interactions seem to carom back and forth between alcoholism and Victorianism, and they just don’t seem to laugh that much. So much from a grumpy old man.

P.S. There is an op-ed in the June 23 edition of the L.A. Times by Eugene Volokh, a professor at my old alma mater, UCLA Law School, about the “UC PC police,” which is well-worth reading.