What do we owe Greece?

Kai Ryssdal: I don't know if at this point in the global business cycle, the phrase "mild recession" is going to calm anybody's economic nerves. But that's the way the European Union sees 2012 shaping up on the continent. Shrinking economic growth overall -- in part because of the various debt crises we all know and love so well.

Commentator Angelo Tsarouchas is first generation Greek-Canadian. He says, yeah, Greece has its debts -- but payback, oh you know what that's like.

Angelo Tsarouchas: Everywhere I go lately, everyone keeps asking me about Greece: "What's going on with Greece? They owe billions of dollars. They're not paying their debts. What's wrong with you Greeks?"

Whoa. Stop right there. Let's talk about something that the Greeks haven't brought up. Yeah, residuals and royalties for what the Greeks have given the world.

And you're asking me, "What have the Greeks given the world?"

OK, let's start with -- um, the English dictionary. Something like 80,000 words in the English dictionary are Greek-based. Without Greek, there wouldn't even be the word "economy" or "money." Yeah, look it up. Of course, Greeks also gave us words like "crisis" and "chaos," but whatever. That doesn't matter.

And you know you couldn't even get sick without Greek. I'm talking about all the medical terms. Yeah. Laryngitis, dermatitis, nausea. You know, herpes. Well, that was Hermes brother. But he fooled around a lot.

The way I figure it, all those words have to be worth like a million dollars a pop, so we're talking $80 billion here.

Let's see, what else did the Greeks give us? Oh, democracy! I mean it needs a few upgrades now and then. But democracy's gotta be worth... $200 billion. I mean, c'mon! It's your right to vote we're talking about here. And we'll even throw in Plato and Socrates and Aristophanes and all those other guys that just kept blabbing on forever and ever.

OK, what else? Oh yeah, and let's not forget the Olympics. Yeah, you know -- shotput, javelin, 4x100 relay, all that kind of stuff. That's worth -- flat rate -- $250 billion. Not to mention marathon. That's right. Whenever all you skinny, in-shape people get up early in the morning and start running around for 26.2 miles, that came from Greece. I mean, the guy died in the end, but that's irregardless. We'll throw that in with the Olympics package.

Greece should get its royalties and residuals back. The way I tallied it up, Greece is due $530 billion. We owe, what, $430 billion? So there's a surplus net to the Greeks of $100 billion. Why don't we call it square, right there. Yeah, that's good. You guys keep it as a tip. Thank you, you can thanks the Greeks for that and the world, too.

Ryssdal: Angelo Tsarouchas is a Greek-Canadian comedian living in Los Angeles. Your thoughts? Send 'em in if you've got 'em -- write to us.

About the author

Angelo Tsarouchas is a Greek-Canadian comedian living in Los Angeles.
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Sure, even though he is a comedian maybe people should take a step back and actually realize that he has valid points. There would be nothing in the world as we know it without the contributions of Greece and Greeks. Think about it. Okay maybe the Olympics are just "fun"... but is modern medicine, science and democracy a joke to you all?? I really wish there was a way to put a monetary value on these things and forgive all. Yes, maybe Greeks today were retiring slightly early, and being paid slightly over value in recent years, but the point is doesn't everyone make mistakes and let's look at the good they have done for the world, rather than the bad they're doing for an economy and currency they didn't even want to partake in in the first place. They were perfectly content with the drachma. And now that I've started venting I cringe thinking how broken the entire Euro system is-- I mean the best tomatoes in the world are grown in Greece, and yet they're forced to import produce and tomatoes from Beligum?? Ughh. I'm sure this is not the economy they had in mind when they invented the economic system.

It's good that you told us he is a comedian. Otherwise, we would think he's stupid.

Loved it! Note: I did not take it too seriously.

Love Marketplace. Did not love this piece. Ignoring the sheer quality of his voice (if there is a face for radio, he's got a voice for publication), I just didn't dig on his point. I'm not saying humor doesn't have it's place in market talk, and god knows I love a non sequitur (Latin, not Greek), I just don't think the "influence of Ancient Greek culture" has much to do with the current discussion. Don't take this as a "what has Greece done for me lately?" but I was begging for any reference to how modern Greek culture, often labeled as lazy, is being misunderstood, or at least under-appreciated.

Less of this, please. Otherwise, thumbs up on the show (Also Latin in origin).

Is this comedy program or financial program? What is the point of this?

I'd say much of the western world has payed that "olympics, democracy, etc. debt" about 180...190 yrs ago IN FULL. Can't play that card twice.

Did the Greeks give us the word "irregardless"? Doh! Nevermind....it's not a word.

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