Well I hate to say it, but I think we are the lucky ones who get to find out the answer to that question. And the answer won't be pretty. Overall, I think, or hope, the result won't be economic collapse, as such, but the end of constantly rising living standards. And hard as it may seem to believe, the standard has been rising, on the average, ever since the industrial revolution.
So to whom is all this money owed? Who is the debtor in all of this? Isn't it us, and our offspring, just a little further down the line? Our pension funds, and future taxes? .
This situation with Greece is very worrying. The last big crisis, we may recall, in Sept 2008, involved several very large companies who were 'too big to fail'. So the Government came in and injected some (borrowed) money. Now Greece might conceivably default on repayment of bonds on May 19th and the size of the rescue package is being put at around 120 billion Euros.
The worry is that in last crisis it was companies that had to be propped up. Now it is national economies. After Greece, there are big worries about Portugal and Spain - and Spain is a much bigger economy that Greece. There ain't enough money in the world to bail a problem that big out, should it come to that.
I will admit I am prone to being pessimistic. But the levels of public and private indebtedness associated with these problems are just inconceivably enormous. Britain's total govt debt is heading towards 80% of GDP, or something. Total public indebtedness has increased enormously in all the developed world in the last 20 years.
So to whom is all this money owed? Who is the debtor in all of this? Isn't it us, and our offspring, just a little further down the line? Our pension funds, and future taxes? I think the Western world has been writing cheques against the future for a long time. Well - the future is here. There have been dire warnings about 'the limits to growth' ever since Malthus. Maybe we are starting to hit them. Is the issue that economic theory does not take into account limits to growth? It assumes markets will always get bigger, real estate will always appreciate. It seems to assume a world where nothing ever runs out. But we are running out of credit here. Card is maxed.
Hopefully the problems with Greece will be contained. Hopefully the EU will get its act together, the Greeks tighten their belts and work out how to change the way they run their economy. Hopefully.
But Greek rorting of the payroll and tax evasion are only part of it. The other part is financial deregulation and tax cuts brought about by Thatcher, Reagan and Bush. .
What I'm worried about is that this will turn out to be an argument about which end of the boat is leaking. It doesn't really matter which end of the boat is leaking. We're all in the boat, and if it sinks, we'll go with it.
Today I was stuck in the traffic because there was a demostartion about the same things as in Greece. .
I give Obama 5 stars, myself. He inherited a couple of wars he didn't start, the largest budget deficit in history, and a financial crisis caused by capitalist recklessness. He has actually managed to start turning these disasters around at least to some extent. THe problem is that the US has drifted so far to the right that they view centrists as communist. Obama is a centrist, as am I, and we are thought of as communists by the right wing. We are not the extremists here.
But really it is all beyond partisan politics. On Sept 17th 2008 the world came very close to 'financial collapse'. Nobody seems to recognise this. What would have happened? Why, you would have got up one morning, and all the banks would be closed. There would be no money.
Think about that. That is what the world is trying to fend off. It is not Greek, Spanish, or American - it is the end of the capitalist economic model, and if it does fall over, it will not have been brought about by communism. Communism is already dead. Capitalism will have eaten itself.
He didn't cause, or rather preside over the start of, the Global Financial Crisis, which may yet be the ruin of all us. A very lrge part of the 'tripling' was required to prevent further catastrophe to the likes of you and me, while those who started it retire to their private islands.
What is that great saying about the way it was all done? Oh yes, I rememeber. "Privatise the profit, and socialize the losses". That is what the deficit has been tripled by.
But again, anyway, this is all a lot bigger than partisan politics. It is arguing about deckchairs on the titanic, if things don't turn around.
The causes of the forthcoming crisis go back a hundred years of more. And one of the reasons they are not being addressed is exactly because of partisan politics and the demonisation of the opposition.
It is not fatalism. It is recognizing that there is a kernel of truth in Marx's prediction about the ultimate demise of capitalism.