by Conor Friedersdorf
I'm more puzzled than anything by this Barbara Ehrenreich op-ed:
Why are Americans such wusses? Threaten the Greeks with job losses and benefit cuts and they tie up Athens, but take away Americans' jobs, 401(k)s, even their homes, and they pretty much roll over.
Is someone taking away the 401(k)s of Americans? Would street protests somehow salvage the jobs of those who've lost them in the recession? For that matter, have street protests done anything to improve the lives of the Greeks engaged in them?
Here is Michael Lewis describing the economic situation in Greece:
In addition to its roughly $400 billion (and growing) of outstanding government debt, the Greek number crunchers had just figured out that their government owed another $800 billion or more in pensions. Add it all up and you got about $1.2 trillion, or more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek. Against $1.2 trillion in debts, a $145 billion bailout was clearly more of a gesture than a solution. And those were just the official numbers; the truth is surely worse. “Our people went in and couldn’t believe what they found,” a senior I.M.F. official told me, not long after he’d returned from the I.M.F.’s first Greek mission. “The way they were keeping track of their financesthey knew how much they had agreed to spend, but no one was keeping track of what he had actually spent. It wasn’t even what you would call an emerging economy. It was a Third World country.”
I invite you to read the rest. It's as good as everything Lewis writes, and sufficient to show why it is lazy, amateurish journalism to act as though our countries are in analogous situations right now as if the fact that Greeks are protesting in the streets and Americans aren't shows that our people are wusses (or anything else).