Posts Tagged ‘bankrupt’
September 9th, 2010 at 7:27 pm
How Greeks Killed Their Own Civil Society

It isn’t often that we in America get reminded about the importance of reasonably enforcing tax laws.  Thanks to the Greek experiment in systematic tax evasion that undergirded that country’s financial collapse, we can all rest assured that a sustained culture of lying leads to the death of civil society.

The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing. Lacking faith in one another, they fall back on themselves and their families.

To read more about the fantastical confluence of events that bankrupted Greece, read Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair article here.