"When they allow a talk show host to play them like a two-dollar banjo, they demonstrate what kind of backbone they'll bring to the job later on, if we elect them. After they get elected will they continue to allow Jeff Crank to put a nickel in them and wind them up every Saturday morning?"

Barry Noreen, former columnist, Colorado Springs Gazette

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ATHENS IS BURNING


By

ROBERT HARKINS

In 1981 Socialist academic Andreas Papandreous, running on a campaign theme of “change”, became prime minister of Greece. Change? Sound familiar? In 1981 Greece was strong, capable, confident and solvent. Athens, after all, is the cradle of democracy and philosophy. They have a right to be proud. Napoleon Linardatos writes that,

Thirty years ago, Greece was in an enviable position on the matter of national debt, with its debt just 28.6 percent of GDP…. By the end of Papandreou’s first term in office, that ratio had nearly doubled, with debt at 54.7 percent of GDP. By the end of his second term, the figure was in the mid 80s.The 1980s in Greece were a time of dramatic expansion of government. Papandreou and his Socialist party created a new government-run health-care system, dramatically expanded employment in the public sector, nationalized failing companies, and increased government handouts of every shape and form. It was a government expansion so large and many-sided that in the end it generated a revolution of expectations and attitudes about the role of government in society. No government since then has been able to reverse that revolution, no matter how willing it was or how pressing the circumstances. [1]

In 2011, I wrote that thirty years later, Americans and Europeans watched as tens of thousands of Greek youths protested the socialist government’s attempt to impose even the mildest cuts in government welfare, salaries and retirement benefits even though a massive European Union bailout was conditioned upon the passing of austerity measures. The protesters assaulted police, destroyed property and killed other Greek citizens. Over the last few weeks of 2012, Athenian youth, protesting budget cuts as a condition to another 150 billion dollar loan, set fire to nearly 100 buildings, a few burning to the ground, smashed in the front windows of small stores to loot their merchandize and threw deadly Molotov cocktails at police. Nearly 70 policemen were hospitalized. Murderous violence escalated from the violence of 2011 when,

Riot police fought running battles with hooded youths in Athens …as tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets against tough austerity measures. Parts of the Greek capital were ablaze and dozens were injured as youths hurled rocks, bricks and petrol bombs at police, who responded with baton charges and tear gas. Last night protesters, taking part in a two-day national strike, were on the streets again…. Hundreds of terrified tourists ran for safety from cafes and restaurants as youths, many wearing gas masks and scarves covering their faces, rampaged in front of luxury hotels in Syntagma Square. Five thousand police patrolled the streets, but shops, banks, trucks and bins were set on fire. [2]

President Obama’s administration is the mirror image of the Papandreous socialist regime. Like Papadreous, President Obama has incurred billions in taxpayer losses by bailing out failing businesses, investing in phony green companies run by political donation bundlers, and subsidizing with billions such failed welfare programs as Head Start. He has forced a health care plan on Americans that will demolish their privacy, mandate their medical care, diminish its quality, increase waiting times, drive physicians from their profession and break the bank—just as did Medicare, and Medicaid.

President Obama’s promise that “if you like your health care plan you can keep it” is just as false today as when the president first made it. Already, thirty percent of American corporations will dump their employee health care plans, pay the federal fine and turn their employees over to the tender mercies of Obama Care. As if this were not enough, Obama Care contains massive tax increases on capital gains.

Finally, he has declared open war on freedom of conscience. He intends to force all Catholics organizations to pay for various kinds of abortion services, just short of the aborting of a fully developed human being in the final months of pregnancy. His compulsion of full abortion coverage will follow shortly.

The conduct of socialist Greece and the socialist left presently occupying the White House teaches once again that socialism produces leaders and citizens who are arrogant and lawless, dependent and destructive. That socialists continue to demand that the state continue its expansion always and forever—even as it hurtles downward toward bankruptcy—is a species of psychosis.

In 1944, the Nobel Prize winning economist Fredrich Hayek predicted the disintegration of post-war, socialist England. He wrote that socialism, in its new incarnation as the welfare state, would smother the creative powers of a free civilization.[3] For when a citizen surrenders his freedom to the state, in return for its benefice, the corruption of his character begins immediately. Hayek wrote,

“… The most important change which extensive government control produces is a psychological change, an alteration in the character of the people.” Against this, “… even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.” [4]

In 1848, not so long after the birthing of America, Alexis de Tocqueville described the insidious and corrupting power of socialism. Socialism, he wrote,

“…does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrial animals, of which government is the shepherd….[5]

I’ve written in past columns that there is now only one constituency: Leviathan, the welfare state, a wasteland of disputatious tribes each struggling for the larger cut of a shrinking pie—a state created by the moral surrender and wastrel spending of both parties. While the parties tout endlessly their personal commitment to the “American people,” in fact, they are committed to Leviathan, an obscene mix of impenetrable bureaucracy, welfare recipients, crony capitalists, lobbyists, leftist unions, plain crooks, avaricious politicians—in a word socialism.

Leviathan, much like the medieval church during the centuries of its Inquisition, will not brook dissent, diminishment or departure from the dogmas that insure its faux legitimacy, power, prestige and privilege. In Greece, the European Union, and America, Leviathan has become so powerful and its political acolytes so beholden to it that they are simply terrified at causing it the least offense.

Hence politicians spout billions of word reiterating the obvious, that America is on the brink of a cultural and financial abyss, that spending must be cut and the deficit reduced—and yet when the talking is done, nothing is done. Not a single government institution, however useless, corrupt, or unconstitutional has been marked for repeal. Indeed they have grown even as those compelled to support it are facing an economic Armageddon. The president’s current budget, an exercise in cynicism and deceit, will increase the size of government and its consumption of private wealth.

Athens is burning. But so is America.

My new book Renegades, Their Betrayal of America. Her Revolution and Renaissance, endorsed by our own Jeff Crank, is now available at Amazon.com. Type in my name Robert Harkins and Renegades and you may place your order. I would most grateful for your business.



[1] Napoleon Leonados, The Greek Way of Sorrow, National Review Online, 6.28.2011.

[2] David Williams and Christine Pirovolakis “Athens burns in riots: Protests explode as Greek MPs debate EU's call for £25bn in cuts.”June 29th, 2011

[3] Fredrick Hayek, The Road to Serfdom, Viii.

[4] Hayek. Xi.

[5] Alex de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Part II, Book IV, chap.vi. Xiii.

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