While Tragic, we are not witnessing a Greek Tragedy

I have heard many explanations for what we are seeing in Europe as a whole, and specifically in Greece. Some are complex discussions of the macro-economic counterweights of stimulus and austerity, while others are as simple as dad (Germany) finally saying “no” to a too long coddled child (Greece). The one common opinion is what is happening (and will inevitably happen to the Greek citizenry) is truly tragic.

In thinking about this week’s blog entry, I hoped to entitle it “A True Greek Tragedy” but, upon reflection, I could not do so in good conscience. As glib as that would have been (and certainly I can be glib), an understanding of the origin and history of Greek Tragedies, and an observation of the Greek debt crises, renders strong distinctions. Firstly, a Greek Tragedy is based upon a completed event. As we know, we have not begun to see the pain and suffering that will emanate from the years of profligate policies that begat this drama. No matter the outcome, the years of growth of government and the failure to curb the social safety net, make this an ongoing crisis for perhaps generations. Secondly, unlike those who marshaled the seats at the old Greek amphitheaters, there will be no catharsis for the observers, as they cannot feel good about what happens to Greece or how much better their lives are (at least in the Euro Zone or in communities strongly reliant upon it) . In fact, in a rather un-tragedy-like way, this event currently has a most uncertain ending. Finally, Greek Tragedies were the NFL Sunday games of their time, no stadium (amphitheatre) was too large, and the performances (many of which were only performed once) could take on a Super Bowl aura. If tickets were sold for attendance at today’s events, no one would voluntarily pay the price.

Chris Honenberger is the former President and CEO of Clearpoint. He has significant experience in law, banking and finance, and executive leadership, and during his time at Clearpoint he guided the agency toward its mission of “consumer health through financial education.”

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