What would Pericles say?

by cheri sabraw

View of the Parthenon from our hotel

View of the Parthenon from our hotel

I visited Athens in May of 2010 to take a class on Alcibiades only two weeks after the fire-bombing of a downtown bank which killed three people, a violent act to let [then] Prime Minister George Papandreou know that some Greek citizens did not approve of his austerity cuts.

That act of violence was far different from the scheduled Greek demonstrations we were to watch unfold every day in the square that fronts the Parliamentary House–when men and women who had previously been lounging while playing cards under the trees or laughing and joking while drinking coffee would leap to their feet at the appointed time (usually mid-afternoon when most of us work),  look up to our hotel, where from the T.V. cameras and a slick anchorman recorded their scheduled wrath.

I’m sorry to say that my impression  of modern Athens was negative. Businesses did not open until late morning, graffiti covered much of the downtown and even the walls of the Plaka like an ugly tattoo, cab drivers complained at every chance, and loiterers flanked doorways, parks, churches, and historical sites–just about everywhere we walked. Add to those images the hundreds of homeless dogs on the streets. People were simply hanging out.

The contrast between modern Athens and ancient Athens is stark.

Being in the realm of ancient Greece and its stunning reminders of the genius, industriousness, and the pure beauty of ancient Greek drama, philosophy, mythology, literature, mathematics, and sport was an entirely different emotional experience.

The Parthenon by Day

The Parthenon by Day

Temple of Hephaestus

Temple of Hephaestus

One afternoon, we decided to drive to Cape Sounion which juts out into the Aegean Sea. There, according to Greek mythology, King Aegeus leapt to his death upon seeing his son’s ship sailing back from Crete  flying a black sail. The father and son had agreed that should Theseus lose his life in his battle with the Minotaur, the signal would be the sail. The tragedy of Aegeus’s death is that his son had simply forgotten to change sail colors.

The Temple of Poseidon

The Temple of Poseidon

Cape Sounion is also mentioned in Homer’s epic tale The Odyssey.

As we approached the promontory, the temple looked like the strong bones of Pericles himself.  I wondered if Lord Byron had really carved his name (and defaced)  one of the Doric columns. Soon I would see it for myself.

IMG_5648We learned upon reaching the closed gates to the Temple of Poseidon the ticket-takers, supervisors, and gift store clerks were not at work. They were on strike.

 

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

Odeon of Herodes Atticus

The Greek drama continues today, June 30, 2015, long after Oedipus and Antigone. If the Oracle at Delphi is still in business (and agrees to pay her taxes), perhaps the Greeks can swallow their hubris, cut their pensions, tighten up their togas, and get to work, just like the rest of us.

 

 

 

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
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36 Responses to What would Pericles say?

  1. Glenys says:

    A moving account of your impressions, five years ago, of Greece, ancient and modern, accompanied by some superb pictures. You describe perfectly the seeds of the current plight. To what extent, I wonder, are modern Greeks in fact the descendants, or true successors, of the ancient people.

    However that may be, it is clear that their political masters in the EU have systematically robbed them of their pride, sense of identity and self-reliance in pursuance of half-baked and outdated European idealology. That is so whether or not the loungers and demonstrators you saw are representative of the country as a whole. I rather suspect they are not. If not, then there is a great injustice being done to the industrious and the savers, who must despair at the current system. There is more pain ahead for them, whichever way they go, but freedom is the key to solving their woes.

    I hesitate to draw a parallel because of the obvious differences, but maybe the ravages of destruction committed by “Isil” against the cultures and ancient monuments of Mesopotamia derive from the same human will to oppress and control.

  2. Richard says:

    The above comment is actually mine – there is a confusion of log-in details from this iPad. 🙂 I believe, though that she’ll agree broadly with what I have said. (She’d better!)

  3. Christopher says:

    The loiterers you spoke of were likely part of the 27% of Greek workers who are unemployed.

    Compare this to the 25% of American workers who were unemployed during the Great Depression.

    It would appear that Greeks, on average, are among the *hardest workers* in Europe, and work anything between 10% and 40% harder than the industrious Germans.

    • Cheri says:

      The problem is that Greece has the highest ratio of government workers to the private sector in the EU. The private sector ( listen to the interviews of restaurant and shop owners who have shouldered the higher taxes to pay for the swollen ranks of pensioners) and you will quickly see the root of the problem.

    • Richard says:

      Also, as is so often the case, the conclusions in your link, Christopher, are based on a false premiss. This time it is that hours worked are a measure of industriousness.

      Cheri’s point about the private sector is well made. So easily do the beautiful ideals of socialism degenerate into the dead, dehumanising hand of state control.

      • Christopher says:

        The maintenance and staffing of an unusually large army for so small a state (to guard against the Turks), explains much of the size of Greece’s public sector.

        In any case, if Greeks want a large public sector, that is their right.

        As I need hardly explain to you, the root of Greece’s current travails isn’t the public sector.

        • Glenys says:

          According to the World Bank, in 2014 Greece spent 2.2% of its GDP on defence. The percentage for the UK was 2.1% and for the US 3.5%.

          This represents falls of 18%, 14% and 17% respectively on the figures for 2010.

          Tables:
          http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/MS.MIL.XPND.GD.ZS

          Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP for those same countries for 2012 was 53.8%, 42.1% and 23.1%, representing a rise of 9% and falls of 2.5% and 10% respectively on the 2010 figures.

          Tables:
          http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/GC.XPN.TOTL.GD.ZS/countries

          The UK and the US have not defaulted on international borrowing, Greece has. Greece’s right to finance its public sector by such default is not established. That may be hard to do, having regard to Greece’s generous approach to public expenditure generally since 2010 as compared to the UK and the US and also having regard to Greece’s expenditure on defence as compared to the UK, with its international commitments.

          I make no comment as to the propriety of any of this expenditure.

  4. Christopher says:

    @Richard – Even though Greece has cut its military spending significantly over recent years, its military spending as % of its GDP is still the second highest (after the USA) among the NATO countries.

    “…..The UK and the US have not defaulted on international borrowing, Greece has. Greece’s right to finance its public sector by such default is not established…….”

    Greece’s default was as much due to irresponsible lending by banksters (sorry, bankers), as by irresponsible borrowing by Greece. Under the rules of laissez faire capitalism, you lend someone money with the intent of making a profit. If the loan goes bad, then you, as the lender, absorb the loss.

    Therefore in the case of Greece, the banksters (sorry again, bankers) who irresponsibly lent Greece all this money, should simply absorb their losses, and stop crying.

    As the victim of irresponsible lending by banksters (oops, bankers, what’s got in to me?), Greece, I put it to you, has every right to finance its public sector by means of its default.

    • Cheri says:

      This assessment reminds me of the statement ” You didn’t handle my problem correctly.”

    • Richard says:

      Banks lend other people’s money, Christopher, often the taxpayer’s. That they may have lent unwisely and have skimmed off too much for themselves are separate questions not now under consideration.

      Greece is free to default and the lenders are free to stop lending. However much you try to chip away at the edges, you cannot buck the market. Rights and wrongs do not seem to be entering into our discusiion. The market place has its own, crude, justice, but to seek to replace it by taking away freedoms is an affront to human dignity and destiny.

      We can rest assured that Greece will be protected from the worst consequences of its own follies and the follies of others – many born out of idealistic, unworkable socialist sentiment. In the meantime, it is better that it should find its own answers to its own problems.

      • Richard says:

        Happy Independence Day, Cheri! Even though I say so with a lump in my throat, freedom serves your country well.

        • Christopher says:

          You spoke of “……idealistic, unworkable socialist sentiment…..”

          But you didn’t speak of idealistic, unworkable “austerian” (not to be confused with “Austrian”) sentiment.

          I refer, of course, to the *delusional policies* of economic “austerity”, so beloved, not only by your current conservative government in Britain, but also by the banksters (bankers, sorry again) who rule the EU, and who have driven Greece into the ground.

          • Richard says:

            Political pundits like to purloin perfectly innocent words and turn them into buzz words in the hope of persuading the gullible.

            To me, austerity means doing without unnecessary things, the opposite of, say, avarice, greed and gluttony, those sins which puritanical socialists are ever ready to condemn. None could accuse them of hypocrisy – look around the world and see for yourself the consequences of socialism and the controlled economy – not least in the EU. The Guardian article considers borrowing, a very capitalist invention, a virtue. It dies not suggest there is virtue in default for either borrower or lender. Intentional default is only one degree below theft.

            • Cheri says:

              Thank you Richard, for your measured and factual analysis of the situation in Greece. I have no patience with people who borrow with no intention of paying back the debt. The real problem as I see it in Greece lies in the two immature “leaders,” who are playing games with real people, whose pain will now become worse. Italy and Spain sit close behind.

              For those of us who borrow, sacrifice, sacrifice some more, exhibit personal discipline, we may find the way in which the Greek leaders have bargained in bad faith disappointing, to say the least. Whose hard-earned money did they borrow? I have never known socialism or communism. I’ve only read about it in the writing of Orwell, Origo, Marx, Steinbeck, and other other authors. I have several friends who are socialists but neither has ever been in private business. Neither understands anything about money. These are the same people who want the government to pay for everything but when I ask, where does the money come from, they say from the rich. It is a vicious circle. I’m not an economist but I understand dignity, fairness, and responsibility to obligations. It will be interesting to watch this Greek drama unfold.

          • Cheri says:

            I disagree with everything you have written here, Christopher. I do.

        • Cheri says:

          Thank you Richard. We had a marvelous day with the granddaughters in Portland. Fireworks are legal here. Wow. What a show last night. Sparklers, worms, and other small fireworks, along with S’Mores, hamburgers, corn, and homemade strawberry ice cream.

  5. Christopher says:

    In one of your previous comments, Richard, you said of Greece, Britain and the US, in that order, that “……Public expenditure as a percentage of GDP for 2012 was 53.8%, 42.1% and 23.1%………”,

    When I saw the 23.1% number for the US, I experienced……..how shall I say……….cognitive dissonance?

    So I dove (dived?) into Google, and came up *with this* – a listing of countries comparing their tax burden and government spending as a percentage of GDP for 2014.

    You’ll see the government spending percentage for the US was 41.6% – not even close to the figure of 23.1% you gave out for 2012. But, when you look at tax burden as a percentage of GDP, you’ll see the figure for the US was 25.1%.

    So, I’ll guess that the 23.1% figure you gave out for 2012, represented tax revenues (burden), not government spending.

    Assuming 2014 to be a not untypical year (and there’s no reason to think it wasn’t), it shows that 40% of government spending (federal, state, and local) in the US is on borrowed money, which will never be fully repaid, because it’ll just be rolled over into new debt. If you look at the equivalent numbers for Greece in this listing, you’ll see that this 40% applies to Greece too.

    Greeks must, then, wonder why there’s no (or relatively little) fuss about American public debt, but there’s so much fuss about Greece’s.

    Well, Greeks must understand, in the way the rest of us do, that Americans are the Exceptional People, and America is the Indispensable Nation. Americans can therefore get away with things that Greeks – as non-Americans, and therefore unexceptional and dispensable – can’t.

    • Richard says:

      This is the definition of expenditure used by the World Bank, with sources:

      Expense is cash payments for operating activities of the government in providing goods and services. It includes compensation of employees (such as wages and salaries), interest and subsidies, grants, social benefits, and other expenses such as rent and dividends.

      International Monetary Fund, Government Finance Statistics Yearbook and data files, and World Bank and OECD GDP estimates. Catalog Sources World Development Indicators

      This is the like, taken from the Wikipedia entry in your link:

      Government spending or expenditure includes all government consumption, investment, and transfer payments. In national income accounting the acquisition by governments, of goods and services for current use, to directly satisfy the individual or collective needs of the community, is classed as government final consumption expenditure. Government acquisition of goods and services intended to create future benefits, such as infrastructure investment or research spending, is classed as government investment (government gross capital formation). These two types of government spending, on final consumption and on gross capital formation, together constitute one of the major components of gross domestic product.
      Government spending can be financed by government borrowing, seigniorage, or taxes. Changes in government spending is a major component of fiscal policy used to stabilize the macroeconomic business cycle…

      This is a list of countries by government spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) for the listed countries, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. Tax revenue is included for comparison.

      Whilst the latter definition is less transparent to me, both are respectable sources and, if quoted correctly, do not immediately explain the discrepancies.

      It needs an economist to clarify, but I suspect the difference lies in the categorisation of individual items as either consumption or investment. One often hears public sector pay, for example, spoken of as investment when it is, in reality, consumption. Still, that does not explain the confusion, to which you rightly draw attention.

      The table in the Wikipedia article says that in the US taxation is 25.1% of GDP and expenditure is 41.6% of GDP, a difference of 16%. The figures yield a difference of 13% in the UK and in Greece a difference of 20%. The margin between the US and the UK on the one hand, who do not default, and Greece on the other, who does default, suggests mismanagement on the part of Greece rather than a difference in ideology.

      When you speak of Americans as different from Greeks, do you mean native Americans, white Americans, Spanish Americans, Italian Americans, Greek Americans, British Americans, Irish Americans, French Americans, Christians, Jews, atheists, Socialists, Americans irrespective of ethnic origin or political persuasion … ? Or just ordinary self-reliant Americans trying from day to day to earn an honest living, just like ordinary Greeks, despite constant meddling by political masters who want to control everything and everybody, whether for good or ill?

      • Christopher says:

        I agree, Richard, that all these numbers about tax burdens and government spending are confusing – most particularly to myself, who am so right-brained that numbers and any discipline to do with them will always be an opaque mystery.

        While we can quibble about whether the difference between what the US government spends and what it gets in taxes is 40% or 20% or 16% or whatever, we can both agree that America, at the governmental level, is awash in debt, and always has been – so much so that the amount paid to creditors each year, is often not too far short of the defense budget.

        All this is quite apart from the ubiquitous private indebtedness.

        America is, in fact, the world’s largest debtor-nation (not to be confused with “detonation”).

        Debt, you might say, is as American as the super-bowl, guns, and apple pie.

        You’ll also know, I feel sure, that having permanent government debt (aka budget deficits) is as good a way as any to transfer wealth – in the form of interest paid – from the Poor (and not-quite Poor) to the Rich, because the Rich are the ones who have money to lend, as opposed to the Poor, who usually don’t have money to lend.

        In the matter of what sort of Americans are Exceptional, and what sort of Americans constitute the Indispensable Nation, I would think and hope that it would be all Americans regardless of race, colour, gender, creed, or persuasion.

        Cheri, though, as an American, and who therefore is (one assumes) Exceptional, and a denizen in good standing of the Indispensable Nation, would be more qualified than either you or I, to enlighten us in this matter.

        • Cheri says:

          I am going to attempt to paste Bret Stephens’ WSJ editorial here. He writes eloquently and aptly. I do not expect any of his words to change your mind, Christopher and would expect you, as a Canadian (and socialist) to reject all of what he writes, but what he writes is exactly as I believe.

          Opinion Columnists Global View

          Greece and the Flight From Reality
          A people who want wealth without work will have neither.
          Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras celebrates his political victory. ENLARGE
          Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras celebrates his political victory. Photo: pool/Reuters
          By Bret Stephens
          July 6, 2015 7:28 p.m. ET
          51 COMMENTS

          On Sunday, Greece became only the second country in history—Argentina was the first—to make the transition from membership in the developed world to membership in the developing one. Now the question is: Who’s next?

          The question is worth asking since so many very serious people— Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman, Jeffrey Sachs and Joseph Stiglitz among them—think Greeks did the right thing by voting down their creditors’ demands that they attempt to live within their means as a condition of further largess. Mr. Stiglitz, who doubles as a cheerleader for Argentina’s Kirchner government, says a “no” vote gives Greece the chance to “grasp its destiny in its own hands” even if it means a future “not as prosperous as the past.”

          Destiny can seem so romantic—particularly to intellectuals wealthy enough to disparage the value of other people’s economic aspirations.

          Destiny also has its uses for politically ambitious ideologues throughout Europe determined not to let the Greek crisis go to waste. France’s far-right National Front, Spain’s far-left Podemos Party, and Italy’s far-out Five-Star Movement all cheered Greece’s “no,” and they will emerge politically stronger should Athens now succeed in extorting better terms from its creditors. If nobody has the will to enforce the rules, nobody will have the desire to follow them.

          But maybe rules isn’t quite the right word. The larger issue is reality—and Greece’s flight from it. Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 177%, which sounds like an abstraction but means that this year Greece will produce barely half as much as it owes. This is what the Greek government and its fellow travelers call austerity.

          As of 2008, on the eve of the meltdown, Greece had no fewer than 133 public-pension funds, each administered by its own little bureaucracy. (Under pressure from creditors, the number was supposed to come down to 13.) Greeks retire earlier and live longer than most of their eurozone peers, which means they spend close to 18% of GDP on public pensions, compared with about 7% in Ireland and 5% in the U.S. Pension fraud is pervasive, but nobody can put an exact figure on it because record-keeping is notoriously, and probably deliberately, spotty.

          As it goes with pensions, so too with so much else. Creditors asked the Greeks to pare their military spending (currently among the highest in Europe as a percentage of GDP) by 10%, but the ruling Syriza party could only bring itself to make half the cuts. The Turks might invade any day.

          Privatization of state-owned companies was supposed to bring in €50 billion. Five years into the crisis, successive governments have only sold off €2.5 billion of assets. Greece has more lawyers per capita than the United States. As of 2010, Greek labor costs were 25% higher than in Germany. A liter of milk in Greece costs 30% more than elsewhere in Europe, thanks to regulations that allow it to remain on the shelf for no more than a week. Pharmaceuticals are also more expensive, thanks to the cartelization of the economy.

          These and other details give the lie to the claim that Athens’s woes are somehow the product of powerful and indifferent economic forces beyond its control: the value of the euro, or the machinations of high finance, or the mood swings of Angela Merkel. Greece wanted to be prosperous without being competitive. It wanted to run a five-star welfare state with a two-star economy. It wanted modernity without efficiency or transparency, and wealth without work. It wanted control over its own destiny—while someone else picked up the check.

          What’s more remarkable is how Greece’s flight from reality persists. Since Athens defaulted on its IMF loan last week, the Greeks have gotten a taste of what their future holds: shuttered banks, ATM withdrawal limits, pensioners lining up for their €134 weekly allowance. And yet they voted overwhelmingly for a government that is leading them, almost inevitably, to a swift exit from the euro and possibly the European Union, their only lifelines. Pride goeth before destruction, goes the proverb. So does stupidity.

          Perhaps in a few weeks, the Greeks may notice that their vote has put them at the mercy of Mrs. Merkel and other European overlords as never before. Or they might not. If the demagoguery of the Syriza government has worked, it’s because the Greeks were a people who wanted to be demagogued.

          The conceit of democracy is that people will eventually learn from their mistakes—even if they must first make those mistakes—and that experience is the ultimate teacher. But suppose it is not? Argentina shows that people can get it wrong generation after generation; that illusions of grandeur can sustain a politics of failure.

          Greece proves that Argentina isn’t alone. Spain and Italy could easily follow. And so could we. The lesson of Greece is that nobody is immune from making it their model.

          • Christopher says:

            Thank you, Cherie, for allowing some of my recent comments to be aired on on your site, even though you may vehemently agree with much of what I said.

            You described me in your comment as a “socialist”. I would better describe myself as a “social democrat”.

            I’ll share with you that my family background was right-wing conservative, and that I grew up in a conservative self-governing British colonial society, whose ethos was not unlike that of the American Deep South of the 1950s, which held, among many other things, that socialism was akin to communism, and therefore the work of the Devil.

            When young, I swallowed all this uncritically. Then I began to read books, and the more I read and the more I learned from what I read, the less able I was to hold onto the beliefs that had been inculcated into me as a boy and as a youth.

            The intellectual trajectory of most people as they go through life is from being leftish when young, to being rightish when old. My trajectory has been the opposite – from being rightish when young, to being leftish when old.

            It was books wot did it.

            My experience is a lesson for any parent who has children. If you see your child reading a book, take it away from him, and tell him to go out and play baseball.

            You said of the WSJ article you pasted, that you didn’t expect it to change my mind.

            You’re right. It didn’t. You see, it didn’t say anything I hadn’t come across before (remember, I was a right-winger once!!).

            Almost needless to say, discussions like the one you and I and Richard have been having, never change anyone’s mind.

            Now. Greece.

            For what it’s worth, I think that had Greece not signed up for the Euro, it would have been relatively fine. For reasons too lengthy go into here, I think Greece, for its own good, will have to leave the Euro-zone, repudiate all its debt, so that it is debt free, and re-introduce the Drachma.

            While this will of course present huge difficulties, they could hardly be worse that what’s been happening over the last five years, when Greece’s economy shrank by a quarter.

            But, leaving the Euro may present Greece with economic and commercial opportunities not currently open under the Euro.

            I’m saying all this on the assumption that the Eurozone countries won’t form a political union like that of the United States. Should there be such a political union, then Greece would do fine as part of this political union, in the way that a poor state like, say, Arkansas, does fine as part of the political union that is the United States, and a poor province, like Newfoundland, does fine as part of the political union that is the Confederation of Canada.

            Of course, I expect you to disagree with all of this. And you should!!

          • Richard says:

            It is hard for me to separate Stephens’ rhetoric from his science, Cheri, and there is too much generalisation.

            This, I think, is a more sober analysis, and one of the best I have read:

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/11721838/Greece-does-not-mark-the-end-of-the-euro-debacle-merely-the-beginning.html

            • Christopher says:

              I found Hague’s piece to be well reasoned and thoughtful, notwithstanding that it appeared in the Telegraph, and that the writer is a former leader of the Conservative Party.

              I recommend it as a good introduction to anyone who finds confusing the current Greece/EU crisis.

  6. Christopher says:

    I read carefully, Richard, your passionate yet thoughtful response to my comment, in the previous “thread”, about “austerity”. You made some very good points.

    I was, however, puzzled when you said, “…….Political pundits like to purloin perfectly innocent words and turn them into buzz words in the hope of persuading the gullible……”. I did, though, like your use of alliteration (“……Political pundits……purloin perfectly…..”)

    When you said “political pundits”, were you, peradventure, including Paul Krugman, the writer of this Guardian article? If so, I’m not sure I’d describe Krugman as a “political pundit”. I might more felicitously describe him as an economist, who won a Nobel Prize for……….well……. economising. He seems to know stuff about economics that even you might not know about, and that I certainly would not know about.

    When I read, “…….avarice, greed and gluttony, those sins which puritanical socialists are ever ready to condemn…….”, I was made guiltily aware that it’s been so long since I’ve been to church, when I used to listen to sentiments such as yours, spewing forth from the pulpit in the course of the obligatory sermon.

    Now, I think I really must return to the church that I abandoned when I left school long, long ago, for I realise my life has been missing something ever since.

    You said of what Krugman wrote, that he “……considers borrowing………a virtue……”.

    If you mean “virtue” in the moral sense, I’m not Krugman said this. He would have said that borrowing is good because it helps put societies back on their feet. Krugman got this idea from another economist called Keynes, of whom I sure you’ve heard.

    You said, “……Intentional default is only one degree below theft……”.

    By “intentional default”, do you mean where a borrower can’t pay back all that he’s borrowed because he’s bankrupt? Mmmm……..to call such an unfortunate, a thief…….

    When next I speak with a Man of the Cloth, I’ll ask him what he thinks!!

    • Richard says:

      Economists, even Nobel prizewinners, are not above political controversy, and as a result of the multiplicity of variables with which they have to deal and the inevitable selectivity they have to practice, they have plenty of opportunity to arrive at conclusions according to their political persuasions.

      I don’t advise you to go to church if you are averse to the “….spewing…..of obligatory sermons…..”

      By “virtue” I mean a thing to be approved of and encouraged.

      Genuine misfortune deserves proper sympathy and indulgence. Reckless conduct of financial affairs requires an assurance that the recklessness will be remedied and cease. Recklessness without concern as to the consequences is reprehensible and possibly a fraud. Misrepresentation from the outset as to the purpose of the borrowing is a fraud, though can be difficult to prove. A private determination never to repay a loan is the taking of the money with the intention of permanently depriving the lender of it: that sounds to me to be very close to common law theft, though I would have to check the precedents. Take your pick as to which applies to Greece.

      Make sure your man of the cloth is also a lawyer, since what constitutes theft is a legal question, not a theological one. Forgiveness of indebtedness, whatever the circumstances, is, however, a theological matter and no doubt to be approved of, provided it is voluntary and not under any kind of duress, but you will need to ask your clergyman to confirm.

  7. shoreacres says:

    I gave up somewhere in the middle of the comments, Cheri, but I appreciated very much your comments, and the WSJ editorial. I will simply say that we need to understand Greece, because what is happening there will be happening here, and sooner rather than later if we don’t all grow up and accept the fact that our so-called “entitlement programs”, our profligate spending, and our fantasy that the good days never will end are going to ruin our country: particularly when combined with unlimited and unregulated immigration.

    At age 68, I’m stil working because I can’t afford to retire. I’m lucky, because i’m in good health, and I enjoy my work. But I do resent the fact that the taxes I pay provide phones, housing, medical care, food and education for people who are not legal residents of this country, and people who prefer not to work because they would lose benefits if they did.

    So, that’s what I have to say about that. I’ll just add that, in 6th grade, I built a model of the Parthenon and made a couple of really snazzy dioramas featuring assorted examples of clothing. I hadn’t thought of those in ages — thanks for the memory!

    • Cheri says:

      I wish I could add that my diorama was also of the Parthenon. Mine were of the California Missions when Junipero Serra was still considered a good guy.
      As a 60’s kid in college, I can also add that I went to quite a few toga parties. That’s all I’ll say about that..

  8. Glenys says:

    Your headline question for this post has been troubling me. Where are the learned contributors? What are the issues Pericles might have addressed?

    Would they choose as context the transformation of the union of states known as the Delian League into an Athenian Empire or prefer to defend accusations of Pericles’ maladministration of finances or would the first concern have been defence? I raise these questions after a only cursory scan of Wikipedia.

    Perhaps you could point us in the right direction, Cheri.

    • Richard says:

      I’ve done it again! The above comment is mine, not Glenys’s. – Richard

    • Cheri says:

      Perhaps you might consider rereading Pericles’ funeral oration?

      • Richard says:

        How is it that I have lived nearly seventy-two rears and not read this before? Again I have to thank you for educating me. Every sentence caused me to reflect upon what is virtuous, good and honourable. Whether it improved me or whether it is too late to do so, I cannot say, particularly where the oration speaks of courage in battle: I have never been tested, nor am I likely to be.

        What words, then, would Pericles choose today? If in the same vein, would those who wish to submerge the nation state dismiss them as mere nationalism? How might Pericles reconcile freedom and slavery? How would his words sit with the proponents of equality and women’s rights? To whom would equality before the law belong? Would he confine welfare to the children of those who have died in battle?

        To what extent, then, are the values of the Greece of Pericles’ time incompatible with today’s accepted values? That question has to be answered before we can consider the relevance of anything he might have said. Otherwise, much of any hypothetical speech would be unpalatable to modern ears, on both sides of the debtor-creditor divide, and ignored.

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