By Thomas Friedman
I REALIZE that I should be in Washington watching the debt drama there, but I’ve opted instead to be in Greece to observe the off-Broadway version. There are a lot of things about this global debt tragedy that you can see better from here, in miniature, starting with the raw plot, which no one has described better than the Carnegie Endowment scholar David Rothkopf: “When the cold war ended, we thought we were going to have a clash of civilizations. It turns out we’re having a clash of generations.”
Indeed, if there is one sentiment that unites the crises in Europe and America it is a powerful sense of “baby boomers behaving badly” — a powerful sense that the generation that came of age in the last 50 years, my generation, will be remembered most for the incredible bounty and freedom it received from its parents and the incredible debt burden and constraints it left on its kids.
It is no wonder that young Greeks reacted so harshly when their deputy prime minister, Theodoros Pangalos, referring to all the European Union loans and subsidies that propelled the Greek credit binge after 1981, said, “We ate it together” — meaning the people and the politicians. That was true of the baby boomer generation of Greeks, now in their 50s and 60s, and the baby boomer politicians. But those just coming of age today will never get a bite. They will just get a bill. And they know it.
Read the full article in the New York Times.