A Gallup poll of Greeks is instructive for America


A Gallup poll of Greeks late last year is rather revealing in that it seems to predict the future of the citizens of the United States. For a moment, contemplate what you think you know about Greeks. What comes to mind for most are lives of leisure supported by generous governmental benefits. The Greeks seem to be set for life, and the recent riots could be taken as a revolt against any trimming of the benefits and lifestyle supported by their government. All in all, a benevolent government coddles the citizens, taking care of any worries they may have financially.

If you thought that, as I did, you would be wrong. Gallup asked “Which of the following best describes how your household is keeping up with all its bills and credit commitments at present?” As Gallup explains, the results are surprising:

“Fifty-seven percent of Greeks, according to a Flash Eurobarometer survey conducted late last year, are constantly struggling to pay day-to-day bills or have fallen behind on at least some.”


Twenty-two percent more said they are keeping up, but struggle to do so from time to time. Only twenty percent of Greeks report no problems keeping up with their bills. Remember, this poll was taken BEFORE any austerity measures were put in place.

Why is this instructive for America? A few reasons, I believe.

– First, dependence on government erodes national character. As accepting government “help” becomes more and more common, the desire and ability to be resourceful declines. The importance of this cannot be overstated, and it appears that once this national character has been sufficiently damaged, it doesn’t repair itself. This is as true of business as it is of individuals.

– Next, interference by government causes individuals to become illiterate when it comes to personal finance. All bad decisions are bailed out, there are very few negative consequences, and the government is ready to stand by to make the poor decision makers whole. Lack of knowledge or common sense is portrayed as being preyed upon by wily villains, with help on the way as soon as the proper form is filled out. Why learn how to navigate your way financially when it really doesn’t matter?

– Last, the wily villains actually turn out to be the proponents of government handouts. By encouraging dependence, instead of encouraging citizens to fend for themselves, they produce a nation unable to pay their bills or even understand why they cannot do so. The promise the villains make to take care of their citizens is a lie, as 79% of Greeks have come to know all too well. That is cruelty in its worst and truest form, but results in more power for those in charge of handouts, until the force of simple mathematics causes the entire scheme to crash down.

Our debt per capita is higher than Greece’s. Our citizens and businesses not only are being bailed out and subsidized, they have come to consider them as a right. The erosion of national character and moral rot can be seen all around us, adults that should be standing on their own are staying at home and receiving health care insurance until they are 26 years old, and the tipping point is not far away. Greece should be not only a warning, but a prediction, and “compromises” and “realty” and “tactics” will most certainly not make America’s situation better. Economic prosperity through income redistribution is the biggest lie ever told, there is more than ample evidence to demonstrate this (like, say, Greece), and that the left continues to cling to this idea says all we need to know about their intentions.

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Jack Savage

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July 29, 2011 7:15 pm

Socialism works until you run out of other peoples money, lets make sure we send the Socialists home in 2012 and get our Country BACK!

July 29, 2011 7:21 pm

Cleveland vigorously pursued a policy barring special favors to any economic group. Vetoing a bill to appropriate $10,000 to distribute seed grain among drought-stricken farmers in Texas, he wrote: “Federal aid in such cases encourages the expectation of paternal care on the part of the Government and weakens the sturdiness of our national character. . . . “

July 30, 2011 1:33 am

People just become acclimated to the dependency on government over time, with the erosion of character that you’ve mentioned. But I will say this, Jack, and it may end up being our saving grace in America…the last two years of increasing unemployment have caused a lot of people to go back to old-fashioned “kitchen table economics” that DC mocks to the high heavens. Folks are having to learn or retrain themselves to live more within their means than on extended credit based on expectations of future income. Is it wreaking havoc on our economy for this to change? Yes, right… Read more »