Fake wealth

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Most of the modern, Western world is operating under an illusion of fake wealth. Fake in the sense that true wealth, when you had the actual silver or gold in the bank, doesn’t exist for most people and nations around the world. Currently, the wealth of a nation and the value of its currency rest on little more than public confidence in the government.

Take Greece for example. We’ve been hearing about the fiscal crisis facing Greece for well over two years, and it seems that every time they solve the problems with a major European Union summit, the problem simply returns bigger and more serious than the previous time they “fixed” it.

The ultimate problem is in the nature of the fixing. The Greece situation, just like the entire European financial market, keeps getting solved with financial gimmicks and tricks that either hide the actual problem so the elected leaders can say they fixed it, or the budget numbers are crunched in a way that delays the pain and suffering that is required to truly fix the current financial situation.

The world is watching Europe and its currency crumble before our very eyes. It will take tough decisions to fix Europe’s situation, and it doesn’t appear that the European people have the stomach to make them. The people are upset with their leadership despite all honest attempts by the likes of France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany’s President Angela Merkel to lay the groundwork for financial stability and future prosperity.

I say “future” prosperity because prosperity without actual financial stability is merely a misleading feeling of wealth that has no underlying foundation. Merkel and Sarkozy recently faced resounding defeats in their respective legislative bodies, and Sarkozy lost re-election last week when his people voted in favor of a blatant socialist. Removing moderately fiscal conservative leaders and replacing them with socialist, almost populist, leaning people is not the way to climb out of a fiscal hole.

Europe’s scramble looks like it is headed in the wrong direction deep into the fiscal pit of bankruptcy as additional banks get downgraded, sovereign debt payments loom, and the people rioting in the streets demand increased services instead of reduced and practical government programs. This is where the delusion of fake wealth, deferred solutions and needy populations collide in an unsustainable cycle of suppressed anger and fake solutions to genuine financial problems.

The ironic thing is that America stands at roughly the identical fiscal edge of the cliff except for the fact that we still have the rest of world dependent on our distorted spending power that is fueled by debt and loans from China. In purely debt to income terms, our sovereign balance sheet doesn’t look much better than Europe’s.

Look for an exciting conflict in the coming months as the financial future of America is debated under the dark cloud of Europe’s fiscal ruin.

The last bite…

My favorite ribs have always been the mesquite dry rub ribs from Chili’s. Yes I said Chili’s. However this past weekend, the Chili’s ribs were outdone by my dad’s smoked ribs. He finally used his smoker that he’s been having for five years, and the result was perfectly cooked ribs covered in a genuinely spicy rub that had a flavor mix that only my dad could have done. I give dad’s backyard smoked ribs 5 out of 5 crumbs.

Buddy Boe, a resident of Garyville, owns a public relations and program management company and is well known on the local political (and food) scenes. His column appears Wednesdays in L’Observateur. ɧ