The whole sovereign debt fiasco reminds me quite a bit of Odysseus’ mishaps on the Island of the Lotus Eaters. If any of you remember your Greek literature, you will remember that when Odysseus and his men wash ashore, they are given lotus to eat. The unfortunate side effect, was that people would fall asleep. When they woke up, they would eat more and drift off for another spell. Long narcoleptic interludes briefly interrupted by a quick snack reminds me of watching Titanic in the cinema, but at least when I left, I was only short $6 and a Sunday afternoon.
Wikipedia describes the effect this way: “The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic and addictive, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.” This pretty much sums up the effects of the welfare state. You wake up, look around and discover that your country has distributed a few billion more than they collected, but hey; penny pinching doesn't energize the electorate quite like free handouts. Just when you start to worry about public debt, which is your debt after all, government representatives come by to tell you about a fantastic programme where you can sell them your old useless car for $4,500, well above market value, to purchase a newer, state approved vehicle. This isn’t very different from the “narcotic and addictive” lotus fruit that made Odysseus “sleep in peaceful apathy.” It is the smooth jazz of social statism.