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, 4×100 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.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.