The reason that we cling to Europe, the EU and the Euro despite all our suffering and however much we attribute to their poor handling of our present predicament, is that with all the disillusionment we have in the capacity of our own governments and our institutions, imperfect Europe remains our beacon of hope.
This week, while the U.S. celebrates its independence, the world watches a modern Greek tragedy unfold as Greece votes on austere bailout terms imposed by the country's creditors. However the vote goes, one thing is clear: The austerity that came with the two previous bailouts has utterly broken the Greek economy. GDP has gone down nearly 30 percent. A quarter of the country is unemployed, including half of its young people. Pensions have been slashed. The health budget has been cut by 40 percent. Suicides are up 36 percent since 2008. The Troika has authored a new Greek myth -- that you can cut your way to growth. And now they're back, demanding more of what's already shattered the economy. The question is will they shatter the spirit of the Greek people? Just as we value our independence, so do the Greeks, who, after all, invented democracy. No matter the outcome of the vote, feeling some measure of control will help keep Greece's spirit alive.
It was all so predictable. The Marxists in Athens did what Marxists do: They ramped up the rhetoric. Yes, the IMF became a "criminal syndicate," certainly not the type of organization that the current Greek government would dare to pay. As for the IMF, it drew a line in the sand after realizing that it had been way too lenient and generous with Greece.