Welcome to the Theater of the Absurd that has become the narrative of crumbling western institutions. Like the audience of Waiting for Godot, those of us who are observers in the audience don’t know whether to laugh, cry, or simply maintain a dumbfounded muteness at the inactions and confusions on the stage. In Beckett’s play, Vladimir and Estragon vainly wait for an acquaintance named Godot to arrive, blithely unaware as to whether they would even recognize him if he were to appear. So go the stumbling, bumbling leaders in charge of running the western assemblies who presumptively stand vanguard over two thousand five hundred years of western civilization’s most shining achievement, the elevation of each individual to a creature of value. We individuals, having bought the tickets for this absurdest drama, are frozen in the audience, the theater doors bared to any conceivable escape. We can only look back and wonder why we thought buying the tickets was such a good idea in the first place.
In our pitiful play, Greece is our Vladimir and the United States our Estragon. Greece, the citadel of western civilization, as a free willed country, is now at a point past death. Having involuted its entire economy into a vehicle for self digestion, the bill for the lavish feast is long past due. The puppets that are the face of the Greek assemblies agonize over the steadily increasing vise the international community, and in particular, the European Union, place on their ability to ingest themselves. And everybody is upset at the forlorn Greek taxpayer, a steadily diminishing segment of society that has realized that paying taxes is over rated, when the taxes simply go to those who demand more taxes from those foolish enough to pay. The fact that enormous financial burdens of the state have overwhelmed its ability to obtain receipts to pay for it all is looked upon hilariously as a specific character flaw of the Greeks.
The current supportive plan of the European Union is a ponzi scheme that should lead to our old friend Charles Ponzi to be nominated for a Nobel Prize in Economics posthumously. The Greek government forces the selling of short term bonds meant to pay their explosive debts, to insolvent Greek banks that long ago had their available capital washed away in debt restructuring, who in turn are held up by loans from the European Union countries, particularly Germany, at interest rates that everybody knows the Greeks will never be able to pay back. This, of course will lead to the wonderful absurdest moment in Act II, where the German Chancellor Merkel will get to explain to the German people in her bid for re-election, how investing Germany’s hard earned capital sustained through taxes on the German taxpayer, needs to be invested in an enterprise with no hope of return on investment from the incapable Greek taxpayer, and that this scheme needs to go on indefinitely. I suspect that will certainly produce some nervous guffaws from the audience. Luckily, a potential villain has surfaced. It turns out that the only surviving economy in Greece is the large group of small business owners, the individual mom and pop shops that make up 30% of business in Greece, far exceeding the percentage in any more civilized western socialist democracy. It turns out these little businesses have learned to survive by under-reporting their meager receipts, in order to avoid the oppressive taxes that would destroy their businesses. To European Unionocrats, this is an intolerable situation, that demands the coalescing of these businesses into a more manageable and cooperative bureaucracy. Thus furthering the destruction of individual incentive and enterprise. Who would have guessed?
Ah, but wait. The play, seemingly wandering about without answers, holds for us even more surrealist directions. We are beginning to hear from Estragon, in the form of the United States. Here is where the play will abound in absurdities. The recent election has confirmed the public’s confidence in the economic musings of a former Hawaiian prep school pothead, positioned to lead the once great American economic miracle into the rocks. Facing the “fiscal cliff” of enforced tax raises and dramatic directionless spending cuts guaranteed to throw the country back into recession, the former Cannabis connoisseur has determined the way to deal with the crisis is- no really- “stimulus” spending. You see, how this works is, the government overspends thereby needing more tax receipts thereby raising taxes thereby reducing economic performance thereby reducing receipts thereby needing economic stimulus through more spending. Estragon would be proud of such logic as he took off his bowler and stared inquisitively into it, seeing nothing. The legislative bodies sit by and wonder if cannabidiol has made logic invisible to the man who woke up one day and discovered himself Leader of the Free World. Certainly it can’t it can’t get more absurd than that.
The end game for a play which has no end is the lonely waiting for someone who will never come, a sustained and constructive policy to get the West out of this mess. The United States will unfortunately ignore its ridiculously prevalent bounties of personal incentive, creativity, innate thriftiness, and natural resources, and instead propel forward to economic decline, spiraling debt, and progressive paralysis. Europe will tumble into Act III, where suicide is contemplated but the characters of the play lack the energy and incentive to follow through.
Western Civilization, whose two thousand five hundred year brilliant journey is now in the hands of such characters, is best eulogized by Samuel Beckett’s most memorable line in the play regarding the frailty and brevity of such existence:
They give birth astride a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it is night once more.