May 6th, 2010
05:00 PM ET

What lessons should U.S. take away from Greece?


A youth spray paints "I will burn you" in Greek on the ground near a line of riot police in Athens. (PHOTO CREDIT: LOUISA GOULIAMAKI/AFP/Getty Images)

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

If the fires and riots in Greece don't get Washington's attention, my guess is a 1,000-point drop in the stock market this afternoon might.

In less than an hour, the Dow Jones industrial average went from down a couple of hundred - to down almost 1,000 points - before rebounding.

The panic was triggered in part by Greece.

Greece is a world-class welfare state… People retire in their 50s and are accustomed to government handouts at every turn. Now the Greek government says "we're going to have to cut back," and people go crazy.

Here in the U.S. we have a growing welfare state: Food stamps, aid to dependent children, unemployment insurance, Medicaid, rent subsidies, welfare and millions of illegal aliens.

We have a $12 trillion debt that we're unable to pay. And while it ain't gonna happen tomorrow… at some point, we're going to be faced with the realization that we can't do it this way anymore. Something's gotta give.

When that day comes there will be cuts. Drastic, Draconian cuts.

Whether it leads to the kind of things we're seeing in Greece is probably a stretch. And we don't know that yet, but suffice it to say that when they start cutting… it's gonna make a lot of people unhappy.

The real tragedy is it's preventable. But no one in Washington has the guts to confront this issue head on.

It's the ultimate act of selfishness and betrayal: We are literally destroying the lives of Americans who haven't been born yet. Our children, our grandchildren and generations to come will suffer the effects of our irresponsible fiscal policy.

Look at Athens. Look at Washington. Do the math.

Here’s my question to you: What lessons should the U.S. take away from what’s happening in Greece?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jim in Cranford, New Jersey writes:
Greece has put us all on notice. The welfare state is unsustainable. Time to take our medicine. The longer we wait, the more it will hurt.

Jimmy writes:
Jack, I think you are finally starting to understand what the Tea Party movement is really about. Problem is the current administration wants to head the country towards becoming "cradle to grave"… It means more votes.

John writes:
Greece was the world's first democracy. Now they are the perfect example of what can happen when everyone with a hand out gets a hand-out.

W. writes:
Jack, I think we'll definitely have cuts that will inflame the Baby Boomer generation. I already expect (at 27 years of age) to be working until I am 70, Social Security or not. I will have a better middle age because of improvements in health care and medical research, so I should be expected to work longer and harder than my parents planned for. The Latest Generation rested on the laurels of the Greatest Generation, and they have nobody to blame but themselves.

Martin writes:
At this point, it's a lost cause. No one is willing to give up entitlements for the fiscal good of the nation, nor is it anything but political suicide to merely propose taking them away. See you in the breadlines, Jack.

Keith writes:
Greece seems like a place I need to go to. A place where people stand up for what they believe in. Americans are being taken advantage of and are doing absolutely nothing about it. Bring on the revolution I say. Bring it on.

Jan in North Carolina writes:
For the entire history of mankind, Greece has led the way. Greek philosophy has shaped the entire Western thought since its inception. Take a look at Greece, there go we.

Filed under: Greece • United States
soundoff (171 Responses)
  1. bob

    Just a follow up, I don't want to appear as a medalling outsider but some lessons to be learned by our neighbors might be learned from govenor Ron Paul.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  2. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    They are the canary in the coal mine, Jack. It will be worse when it happens to us because so much of the world is dependant on us. Greece is a blip, and the International Monetary Fund can cover them, but when the dominos start to fall and we are the last ones standing who will bail us out? What's even scarier is the kind of people that are bred out of these types of circumstances. Hitler and Stalin and their ilk, are born out of these types of crises, maniacs who can sell bad ideas to good people and uproot the world. I wish we had real leaders in Washington, people with backbone and principles grounded in what made our country great. Instead government is rank with idiocy, corruption and self-interest at every level. As a father, I am very concerned that my children will even have the opportunities I had or will they become slaves to the government?

    May 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  3. Ron

    Don't care much for Greece.....America needs strong leadership ....we could learn from Austrailia....they have a great President....looks like Obama is scareing our leaders......they are afraid to talk...it seems.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
  4. Patrick (Denver)

    I think we (citizends) are all smart enough to realize that the current situation in Greece is the future of America. Sadly, it appears our elected officials are not smart enough to realize this.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  5. Jim Steichen

    The lesson: ALL Entitlement programs MUST be phased out if the USA is to avoid the tragedy that's befalling Greece today!

    May 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  6. Meg from Troy

    Now that the President's Commission on the deficit is ready to begin its work, it's time to get down to the serious business of cutting where we can. It's better to plan the cuts in programs and do it methodically and rationally, than to do under emergency pressure after things have gotten out of hand, as they have in Greece. I've heard a lot of whining from the Republicans about the deficit–it's time for both parties to work together and come with a plan–now.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  7. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Get your finances in order, reduce your debt, cut out the wasteful spending, reduce the size of government and reduce the salaries of government worker to where they are more in line with the average American. Limit the terms of congress, eliminating huge pensions to members of congress and operate within a balanced budget.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  8. JT

    Exactly, hit the nail right on the head. "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do to your country". It's time we return to a country where things must be earned; handouts are for charities not for the government. We pay taxes for protection and public projects, NOT to pay other's living expenses and so that others won't have to pay their own taxes.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm |
  9. Jim - Columbia, Md

    As an American of Greek descent I have been taking a fair amount of grief today at work from colleagues about the situation in Greece and the spillover effects in the world market.

    The issue for the US is the same as the one for Greece: it is about leadership. Our leaders at all levels of government must do a better job of making thoughtful and more longer term decisions about difficult issues and articulating their rationale for decisions calmly and fairly to the public.

    If we can't afford everything we need or want, we have to make difficult choices. For example, if we decide to go to war, we need to make the sacrifices requisite to pay for the war and all of its outcomes, including caring for our veterans. We need to view this latest Greek drama as a real wake up call.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  10. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    What lessons should the U.S. take away from what's happening in Greece?

    That government cannot undertake to give things to its citizens.

    There are several reasons for this, but the most important is that governments create nothing–everything they give to one person must be taken away from someone else. Not only is that an immense disincentive to work for people on both ends of that very raw deal, no society has ever long endured that undertakes to do it.

    The best a government can do is to maintain conditions that make people productive and able to support themselves and their families.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  11. Richard Fairview, Texas

    Jack it takes something called "Courage" to be fiscally responsible and our government has none. They have no problem sending our brave men and women off to wars they have no business starting in the first place yet they are affraid to cut spending to pay for it. They will not deal with domestic issues like illegal immigration because they are affraid it will hurt them in the polls. Our governmental leaders need to grow a spine and deal with these issues before it is too late and America is given a Junk rating on the S & P.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  12. JT

    May 6th, 2010 4:36 pm ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Exactly hit the nail right on the head. "ask not what your country can do to you but what you can do for your country". It's time we return to a country were things must be earned, handouts are for charities not for the government we pay taxes for protection and public projects, NOT to pay other's living expenses and so that others won't have to pay their own taxes.

    New Bedford, MA

    May 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    There really aren't any free rides. All able bodied people, have to earn their way in the world. Any who don't, have to be paid for by others. There's only so many people, that "others" can pay for.

    Precisely why the middle class is becoming the "poor" class, rapidly. The middle class has been paying for the non-able bodied, for decades, and it has reached the point, aggravated dramatically by the cost of illegals in the country, where the middle class just can't do it any more.

    We have to change the attitudes in this country, from "take care of me", to "let me take care of myself".

    Otherwise, there is going to be rioting in the streets here, as well.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  14. Roger S


    The US is on a greased rail headed right for the edge of the Greek cliff. If the Executive and Legislative branches don't get their heads out of their... sand, we are going to be living a Greek tragedy.

    We need to cut ALL gov't spending AND benefits by 10% — NOW. This includes the Military (as much as it pains me).

    Let's get Draconian now while we are in control, so it won't get Draconian later when we have NO control.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  15. Gary

    Any talk of fiscal responsibility while absolutely and completely ruling out tax increases is asinine. Americans are 1.) the most lightly taxed people in the industrialized world, 2.) under the worst income inequality (poor getting poorer, rich getting richer, middle class struggling) since the 1920s, and 3.) under a tax code that is regressive and falls too heavily on the middle and working classes, despite the conservative talking point about the poor paying taxes.

    We need spending cuts and tax increases. It will hurt, but its the only reasonable plan for averting disaster.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  16. Catherine King

    Just wondering. If we divided the national debt of $12Trillion by the 300 million citizens in the US, how much would we each have to pay? It works out to $40K per person I think! I never in my life thought I'd have to say this, but it's time to increase our population to decrease each person's share! My own family of 4 would owe $160K! Since
    that's impossible, we'd have to increase the number of citizens to about one billion citizens so each of us would only owe $12K each. Get the picture? We're screwed!
    Cathy King

    May 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
  17. Margaret from Colorado

    Before we ever have riots in the U.S., we'll probably have runaway inflation. Perhaps the U.S. government is counting on inflation to reduce its debt liability. That would certainly be one way to stick it to us, and it would affect everyone, not just those whom you mention as living off the "welfare state." The bigger problem is also that we are on the downslope curve of cheap, abundant energy to fuel the kind of economic growth it takes to pay off that sovereign debt.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  18. Ken

    The US debt spending is already 9%+ of GDP, almost as bad as Greece. And despite this Obama shows now sign of cutting spending or controlling costs, and he's working hard to even add more programs and spending. So no, the US will not learn from Greece until it's to late.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
  19. Brad Sydow

    We in California are already experiencing this! College tuition through the roof and students protesting, prisons with 50% illegal population, local schools laying off teachers and public employee pensions drastically underfunded. On top of that 34% of the welfare recipients in the US are here in our state! We are on the edge of a Greece-like mess and waiting to fall off the cliff. Our prison employee unions will be the first to hit the streets when there is not enough money to pay their inflated wages.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  20. LB

    The United States is not going to learn anything from this because the feeling of entitlement that is growing here. We are in the process of recovering from a massive recession and we passed a billion dollar health care bill.

    I am fine with the idea of Universal Health Care, I think every developed nation is going to reform health care at some point in the next 10-15 years. I think the timing was poor considering our deficit and the state of the economy.

    I know the theory is that it will actually help pull us out of the deficit. There is also a theory that drilling in 5K+ feet of water is safe and look how that worked out.


    May 6, 2010 at 4:44 pm |
  21. Bill From New Mexico

    What we have learned from Greece is that when you have Unions ruling a country and the people so convinced of a Utopia funded by the Government that anarchy will surely follow. Obama and all the socialists in this country should wake up as we can see the once great state of CA following shortly behind by this whole country. Government is not and never has been the answer to any vibrant economy. The socialist party currently leading this country is quickly putting us on the pace to the same disaster. We need to vote out all the politicians who think what is happening in California and Greece is a good thing as their problems have one common denominator and that is Unions and a give me ... give me take on Government and life.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:45 pm |
  22. Florence Robertson

    Greece is our crystal ball people. Take a good look. It doesn't take a wizard to predict the future.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  23. Brock

    What must be realized is that when many of the programs Americans have were legislated, families were still having 5-6 kids at a relatively young age, which guaranteed a growing pool of workers from which to tax. However, that's changed. People now are having 2 kids on average at an older age, and our means of paying for social programs is in serious danger with an exponential increase in social security applicants in the next 10 years and a shrinking pool of workers to pay for it. By 2020, the United States will have to make massive public spending cuts to stop us from teetering on bankruptcy. Frankly, now's the best time to start cutting benefits of social security and welfare programs otherwise it's going to be much more difficult to do later on. If we hold off cutting the welfare state until 2020 or 2025, it would be a disaster considering the number of people in this country who are preparing their retirement with social security alone; and they'll have nothing left once the money runs out.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  24. bryan

    Jack I was told by Obama that I didnt have to worry about it because we can just tax the rich.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:46 pm |
  25. Joanne

    We had better pay attention! Who would have ever thought that Rome would fall...all that wealth...all that Glory. But the greatest Empire fell.

    History repeats itself.

    It's time to wake up.

    Michigan City, Indiana

    May 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
  26. Joe M., Staten Island, NY

    The lesson we should learn from Greece is that public unions can and, inevitably will run out of control if left unchecked. Public unions are so close to the system that they can corrupt it from within and, when that happens, the U.S. will resemble Greece on a much larger scale.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  27. Chris

    You are kidding....right? Our politicians gave up on listening to the PEOPLE long ago.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  28. Jim-TO


    Abraham Lincoln once stated "Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle." When final the day comes where those that hustle no longer have the bustle then Washington just might begin to wake up. Albeit, their spinmasters will go into overdrive.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  29. Gary

    Any talk of fiscal responsibility while absolutely and completely ruling out tax increases is asinine. Americans are 1.) the most lightly taxed people in the industrialized world, 2.) under the worst income inequality (poor getting poorer, rich getting richer, middle class struggling) since the 1920s, and 3.) under a tax code that is regressive and falls too heavily on the middle and working classes, despite the conservative talking point about the poor paying no taxes.

    We need spending cuts and tax increases. It will hurt, but it's the only reasonable plan for averting disaster.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  30. Ancient Texan

    Jack -We, the U.S.A. are on the verge of the same sad situation, and yet the politicians can not stop spending. Why can't they understand that? Now they are talking about bailing out Greece with left over TARP money. Money we are borrowing. Are they totally insane? We already know the answer to that. Lamesa Texas

    May 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm |
  31. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    We need to act now or we are next! Legislators don't have the guts because any cuts will make folks unhappy. But like you said, Jack, our current path is unsustainable. Dick Cheney said deficits don't matter. He was wrong!

    May 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  32. Eric Arlington, VA


    It's amazing how conservative you can sound at times and be dead-on right and how off-the-cliff liberal you can be at other times. We will be Greece if we don't stop the Welfare State. Nothing is free! Somebody somewhere is paying for what you think is free, and eventually the golden goose is cooked.

    Another thing.... nobody ever talks about Spain and their Welfare State. Their proud socialist government is coping with 20% unemployment and you never hear about it in the MSM! And people wonder where the tea parties come from.....

    May 6, 2010 at 4:51 pm |
  33. Doug from Winnetka, IL

    Jack, we learned that demographic forces which are causing exponential growth in spending on entitlements, and public employee pensions, combined with public policy that inhibits private investment and job creation is a toxic mix. You can't have both slow growth (lower tax revenue) and high government spending which in turn retards economic growth and lowers tax revenue. It's a self sustaining downward spiral. BTW, do they teach econ 101 at Columbia University?

    May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  34. Joe

    Florid....The fight between the two parties will forever make it difficult. They don't see the country but they see making their party look good to score points. Meanwhile we are suffring.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
  35. Gene

    From Lincoln, NE
    Echoing the delusional rhetoric of a hundred years ago, the Greek Communist party drapes a banner from the Acropolis shouting "Peoples of Europe, Rise Up!"
    When the European taxpayers discover just how much it's going to cost them to bail out this reckless little peoples' republic, they darn well might just do that.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  36. Greg Turman

    Destroying tax payers and creating tax takers is universally stupid.

    Greg Turman

    May 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  37. John Allen

    One day thy bell shall toll for thee United States, one day soon. We only have ourselves and our parents to blame. In just 2 short generations we have gone from the wealthiest country in the world, to the most in debt, and in large part it can be traced back to our lack of political involvement. I believe in the days of the tea party and our new found involvement we are just simply to late to save the sinking ship. The 1st tea party was timed correctly, as soon as they saw the problem, they got involved at the risk of their lives and fixed the problem. Maybe it will take in America what we see happening in Greece to wake up Washington that a trainwreck is coming, and it is yet at the door for our country, due to the support of the so called entitlements. Apathy has a cost associated with it, we now have to pay the Ferryman.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  38. A Costigan

    The biggest lesson is learn to live within your means. You can't live forever on borrowed money. Greece is a sneak peek of things to come.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  39. Yvonne Chester

    What about the fact that if you make over a certain amount, you pay no social security tax but still get to collect it at retirement and medicare to boot? Catering to those who can afford lobbyists is a continuing problem. The middle class can't get ahead because the Republicans care only about the rich and if one does manage to crawl up the ladder the Democrats will tax and regulate them out of business. We need a third party.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
  40. Joe R - Houston

    The lessons the U.S. should take away from what’s happening in Greece is that the only difference between the U.S. and the USSR is that we don't have a symbolic wall to tear down.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  41. Cousin Vinny Connecticut

    The lesson is that we have to get off this road to socialism that the Obama admin. and the Dems in Congress are leading us on. Americans don't want socialism; socialism is a FAILURE. Greece, Italy and other European nations are on the road to bankruptcy. One reason the Roman Empire fell was more people were "on the dole" (that's where tha phrase comes from) than were working or in the military. The US is going BANKRUPT but hopefully, this November we can get back our country and our sanity from the absolute worst Pres. and Congress EVER!

    May 6, 2010 at 4:55 pm |
  42. Debbie

    You forget to note that Greeks are notorious fro wanting handouts AND not paying taxes. You can't have both.

    In the US, you have people who don't want to pay taxes and bitch about the services, you have people who don't want to pay taxes and want all the services (like Greece) a, and then you have the people that have no problems paying taxes and want services for all.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  43. Vernon Warthen

    What should we do? First, cut spending now. Second, implement a tax on assets, imposed on individuals with assets of >$5,000,000, whose revenue would be devoted only to paying down the debt, and would expire when the debt is paid off.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
  44. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Washington needs to impliment astute financial regulation to see our country through this crisis time. They need to do whatever it is going to take to right this ship. After the Dow plunges and everyone loses everything is too late. Do Something NOW to prevent panic and another depression.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  45. Dave

    The United States Learn? Ha that's a good one, the politicians can't even learn to get along and pass reform much less get the job done how can the US LEARN if they keep doing the same mistakes over and over again.

    Kearney Nebraska

    May 6, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  46. mike

    Greece has what Obama wants a Welfare State. Big GOV entitlement programs that will create the same environment as Greece. A broke GOV unable to pay it's bills, have's and have not' population. Greece is the America in afew more years.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:58 pm |
  47. John in NY northcountry

    YES, I would call it foreshadowing. Greece's economy is about the size of Mass. NY, CA, ILL, MI and others and numerous others can expect the same default of bonds. The US will have to bail out the staes like EU does to its pieces. This has only just begun. This is what happens when you let the bobbleheads in congress & government get involved in business. That is not a party statement both are equally quilty.

    May 6, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  48. Alan

    I would really like to believe that we can take a lesson from what's happening in Greece, but the current political class, whether Republican or Democrat, isn't interested doing what is necessary to prevent a Greek-like implosion here at home. They are not interested because they understand that the steps required to solve our long term debt problems in large part involve relinquishing the power they've accumulated over the past 70 years – the power that comes from making individuals further dependent on the US government for maintaining their standard of living.

    Arlington, VA

    May 6, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
  49. John, Fort Collins, CO

    If we Americans don't smell the coffee and get our collective financial acts together, before we know it the U.S. Capitol will look just like the Parthenon. Our nation needs to move from credit cards to debit cards starting first thing tomorrow. Beware of Greeks giving gifts.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm |
  50. Eric

    If Russia attacks Turkey from the rear, do you think Greece will help?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  51. Dennis

    The Tea Party movement's primary concerns are the sudden rise in government spending, government dependency, and 20% increase in debt in just one year. The exact same things that have destroyed Greece and other socialist countries. The lesson to learn is that it is the power of the individual, not the size of the government that has made this country great. I fear this president and congress want to change this country into just another Greece.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  52. Taylor

    This whole problem isn't because Greece is a welfare state. Scandinavian countries are all welfare states, but they haven't been having too many problems. I think that we should be focusing more on not spending insane amounts of money on military AND cutting taxes. If we look at our neighbor to the north, Canada, we can obviously see that it is possible to maintain fairly low taxes, have moderate spending, and pay off our debt, but all of the politicians in Washington have been unwilling to make major changes. Even if we pay off the money from the stimulus, our future growth will be hampered by growing entitlement spending due to an aging population, so at one point in the near future, that will have to be reformed dramatically.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  53. Big Mike

    Stop wasiting money on worthless leaches like those who live off welfare and career politicians. Max 8 year in office for any state or federal employee. Everyone who wants welfare has to reapply to it, EVERYONE, no exceptions. That will give a temporary boost to unemployment as we need to do lots of paperwork. Only accept applications via the internet (public libraries off free access) and require 2 forms of of id for each application. Orginals, no copies. We would save from allt he people illigally collecting welfare, add jobs and thats a start. Then we start hacking off all the extra programs out there. We also get rid of the 106k cap for socical security taxes. Are the rich going to get it all back? No, are the poor going to get a lil more? Yes. Thats part of living in civilization, it helps create stability. This is all common sense. Also layer the entire border with Mexico with landmines and elextrivied razor wire. Give all illigals 1 months to get out then if they are caught, 6 months of community service on a farm growing food then exported.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  54. Joe R - Houston

    One lesson the U.S. should take away from what’s happening in Greece is that collective self sacrifice enforced by coercion is ethically different from encouraging charity. But, where's the money and the need for power in that?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  55. Ron Achs (pronounced "ox")

    Your commentary is spot on and while Greece, Spain, Portugal and other EU countries succumb to their debt woes in terms of absolute dollars we are already much worse off. Who will lead the US toward fiscal discipline? I'm afraid no one in Washington... or Sacramento or Albany, or...

    Ron Achs,
    Chicago, IL

    May 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  56. Ron

    "no one in Washington has the guts" where Ron Paul when you need him?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  57. Mark

    Obama keeps spending like a drunk sailor and Obamcare hasn't even kicked in yet!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  58. Alex Winter

    The Obama administration is too busy pushing us in the direction of Greece to learn from it.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
  59. Rob Maximus

    We are Americans therefore we have no memory of history. We do it over and over again thinking that it will go away by itself.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:09 pm |
  60. Ram Chillarege

    The US has had a large number of providers versus fewer receivers for a long time. And, a rich country can afford a reasonable amount of giving for the less fortunate few. The operative word being "few". But, that equation is changing fast. And our "democratic" ways will soon tilt in favor of the receivers as those numbers swell. And that is when our system will fail. Borrowing from the future hides it for a while, and then we can have what we now have in Greece.

    As a nation, we have to watch this trend, and usher people back into an economic balance that works. "Most" can support a "few". But a "few" cannot support "most".

    May 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  61. Don (Belleville, Ontario)

    The American fiscal situation is likely already beyond hope, just like that of Greece.
    However, to avoid Greek-style street riots, the USA government must be seen to be actively and fairly trying to uphold its laws.
    Allowing hordes of illegal immigrants (some of which are possibly terrorists) to infiltrate America and live forever under the grid, sends the message that the government is not capable of keeping the peace. The twelve million illegals already inside have no loyalty to the USA, and are a growing internal threat to security.
    I was in Detroit in 1967 during the first night of riots there.
    Insurrections are liable to break out all over America this time around if the public perception of the honesty and effectiveness of your federal government gets much lower.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:11 pm |
  62. Hennessy Black

    Absolutely none!

    Greece and America have two totally different systems: there's is dominated by humanity, while ours is dominated by pure greed...

    May 6, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
  63. Bruce Watts

    How about the following: Quit printing more money, get back to a gold standard, cut spending whereever possible, work towards a balanced budget, get serious about paying off the national debt, and most importantly, regular audits of the Federal Reserve, enact legislation limiting their power, and require complete transparency in all their future transactions – until such time as its disbanded.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  64. Jay

    The United States should pay down it's debt while it's still a solvent nation. Once we cross the line to insolvent it's too late. We will lose our super power status due to the crippling weight of our debt and interest on it.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  65. Ty

    "When that day comes there will be cuts. Drastic, Draconian cuts."

    So you'd rather starve the poor, throw them in the streets, and deny them health care than raise taxes on the rich? Nice legacy to leave your children and grandchildren. Welcome to Calcutta.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  66. ghandigee

    Mr. Cafferty you have it all wrong. The biggest welfare recipient in this country and Europe is not the public, it is the financial elite of this world. The bailout of AIG and the Wall Street firms used public money to insure that the investors in these shaky deals get paid off on their investments leaving the taxpayer to pickup the tab. That's not welfare? Define it as you may; it is still welfare. To turn around and claim that the belt tightening imposed on the public is the result of programs that assist them is an arrogant outright lie.The people of Greece know this and that is the cause of their outrage. With trillions of dollars spent to shore up financial institutions which made bad investments and pay off investors,the political elite now have to turn to the public to balance their books.Quite frankly the public is tired of it . Power to the people.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  67. George in PA

    The main lesson is the same lesson we've repeatedly ignored about our own Welfare syste; people on the government dole long enought begin to believe its an entitlement like air and water. Greece highlights the result when an entire population graves government assistance like a drug addict with a monkey on its back.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  68. Scott Stodden

    I think more than anything the lesson that the U.S. Goverment and President Obama should take from Greece is to stop spending immediatly and balance the budget and create jobs! If we have to raise taxes then so be it, I think the only to save our debt is to cut spending and raise taxes for a certain period of time! If we don't do like Bill Clinton did in the 90's we're going to be in trouble! We need experience in Washington right now, Immediatly!

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    May 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  69. southerncousin

    Socialism is a lie and Greece is a perfect example of it bankrupting a country. Of course if you are Hussein Obama or a liberal, you blame it on Bush.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:17 pm |
  70. Mark

    Probably not a lot. Right now teabaggers are complaining about taxes and government spending. They are really going to be upset when the government honors their request.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  71. Charlie in Bremerton Wa

    Nothing. We're American, we don't have to pay attention to these things. We're better than everyone one.


    May 6, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
  72. John from San Antonio

    The lessons are obvious. we haver been practicing them for about thirty years. Greece just beat us to the punch.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  73. Thomas

    Who do we owe the debt to? Follow the money. The problem is the system.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
  74. Andrea from Gilbert, Arizona

    Lesson to be learned from what's happening in Greece: Wake up Congress and stop the spending for all the entitlements. Get back to basics. Get control of paying off debt. If you want to add a course in all high schools that is mandatory to graduate is credit, debt, financial well being. People can't expect free anything. Cause when you take it away, they freak out. What happened to self reliance. Living under huge debt is slavery for all.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  75. Paul from Phoenix


    "Lesson learned" and "government" are oxymorons.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  76. Ken in NC

    The lesson is that if Greece can be burned (PUN INTENDED) the US can too. Problem is that our politicians have never tried cooking.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  77. bob

    Jack you are right on the money ! People in this country need to wake up now and realize that something for nothing is an addictive illusion and the withdrawal symptoms are liable to be violent ! They won't though. The key ingredients to any great con is greed and something for nothing. Thanks for being honest.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  78. Gary Marion, IL

    I'm afraid that people will think its time to riot now. We need to pay attention to where we are heading soon.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  79. Jeff

    We should all be aware that no matter what your FICO score is, there is always more credit available if you are willing to pay the interest.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  80. Bloodyheck

    A recent report said that 87% of Greeks don't pay or cheat on their taxes. Siphoning off BILLIONS from the countries coffers.
    Plus the Govt is so corrupt that BRIBES are a way of life.
    Maybe THAT is the lesson we need to learn. Get tough on the CHEATS, LIARS and crooked politicians.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  81. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Jack, the one thing they should learn is that once you give something for nothing, the expectation is that you will continue to give whatever is wanted/needed forever. That is Socialism. It does NOT work and can never work, because when everyone gets everything they want for nothing, that is exactly what work effort they will put forth--nothing, and the system will collapse. Too bad Obama and the Progressive Democrats can't read the writting on the wall, because they think they can "do it better and make it work". Insanity!!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  82. Brian Smith Ph.D.

    Eventually you have to pay the piper. All this about Greece is not new. The USSR economy fell apart as well in 1989. Same thing, what money they did have was spent in the wrong way. The USA is next. It is just a matter of time before America has to pay the piper too.

    San Diego CA

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |

    i just heard a radio item on CBC (Canada) outlining how it is a custom in Greece for people to avoid paying taxes. Apparently it started when they had to pay taxes to Turkey back in history. Now transactions are done "under the table" so Greece is owed millions of euros in back taxes from her own people.
    What can we learn from this?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  84. Lisa Lisa

    We are in freefall Jack! We have lost so many of our rights as Americans, we are run by offshore banks and the debt is about to smoothers us alive. Meanwhile illegal aliens have more rights than Americans and the media just keeps igorning it. You mention liberalism is destroying maybe the media needs to look at their role in all this

    Our only recourse is : CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION!!!!!!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  85. Ramon

    America needs to pay attention to whats going on in greece, much like a small scale experiment we're seeing the effects of irresponsibility with money. This can likely be a reality for the United States because at some point government officials will be ousted for inactivity rather than for doing what none of them want to do.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  86. Eric Riviera-Jurado

    If there is one lesson, its that there are better ways to make cuts and reign in financial problems other than lopping off programs all at once. If American legislators, at the state, local, and federal level, are willing to slowly pare away programs and services, then people will still be upset, but they wont revolt in the way Greek citizens have.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  87. Rich

    there's no such thing as a free lunch
    we need spending cuts and a value added tax
    (VAT) to bring our deficit in line

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  88. Arlene Carsten

    Vote to oust the Dems in November and in 2012 get rid of Obama and his cronies who have no concept of a free market and personal responsibility!

    Welfare states don't WORK!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  89. James Arthur Strohm

    Jack, it's not so much the lessons that we should learn from Greece. Those lessons haven't been written yet.

    Instead, it's the lessons we should learn from the former Soviet Union. When a government gets too big and its economic demands on its people become too great, the government topples.

    Wait, we also saw this with the Roman Empire.

    The old saying is "Those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them." Today's economic blip from Greece is the teacher saying, "Children, get out a clean sheet of paper. It's time for a pop quiz in history."

    May 6, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  90. Keith

    Greece seems like a place I need to go to. A place where people stand up for what they believe in. Americans are being taken advantage of and are doing absolutely nothing about it. Bring on the revolution I say. Bring it on.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  91. Martin

    At this point, it's a lost cause. No one is willing to give up entitlements for the fiscal good of the nation, nor is it anything but political suicide to merely propose taking them away. See you in the breadlines, Jack.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  92. Janet M.

    Stop all the handouts. If you increased the fraud investigators you could probably get enough people off the welfare rolls to eliminate the debt.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  93. Jane Kline

    We must stop spending too much, cut taxes, balance our budget however we need to, and begin cutting out some of our "Welfare state" giveaways. And do it ASAP. I'm praying that conservtives will be elected this year.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  94. Jerry from ky

    Its not a question of what the U.S should learn but the fact we wont learn.

    That is what is saddening for my 12 and 4 yr olds.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  95. Ralph

    I think you are exagerating the state of the USA as a Welfare State , no comparison and what we need to stop doing is starting wars we cannot pay for not welfare checks to single mothers.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  96. Michael from Keller, Texas

    It is not so much Greece, but 17th century France America should learn it's lesson from. When the people have an unresponsive government and leaders who lavish wealth on themselves and have become totally corrupt, then it is time to change government for one that will represent all Americans. The idiots in Congress will only learn their lesson when they have been stripped of their greedful pride and arrogance.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  97. Chris morrissette

    I feel like i am looking in the mirror jack. Sooner or later we are going to end up just like greece. I am getting my guns ready as i type this up.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm |
  98. Tom Welch Lake Luzerne, NY

    Our situation in this country is hopeless. Speaking out againest all the entitlements and giveaways makes you anti-American...
    Makes you want to move to New Zealand dosen't it?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  99. Leon

    The United States needs to get back to the PEOPLE standard. Gold won't save us, but rugged individualism, hard work, and building a system that doesn't promote and reward welfare mentality. I'm not sure that we can pay down the past two years' incursion of debt, but making the poor into a "Protected Class" is not the answer. Time to get back to hard work, America.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  100. Michael Casteel - Denver Colorado

    Sadly the Protesters in Greece are not rioting to oppose any great evil, but rather a cutback in their free ride. The fact is that their nation is effectively bankrupt. The lesson for the US is that we are hard on their heels on the road to financial ruin. The outcry over the Arizona immigration bill is similar in that it is a class of people demanding "rights" and privileges that they have decided they are entitled to. In their opinion, just as with the Greek rioters, they feel the rest of us are obligated to provide for them. You can expect similar riots in US cities when States start cutting off welfare and Medicare payments in the next year or two as they go broke.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  101. Evans (Hackensack, NJ)

    I am a 17 year old high school student but dont let that fool you. Whats going on in Greece should noted not only by our government but by our citizens. We too will riot if we dont stop choosing between worse and most worse. We need to support candidates that understand the future and not just the present. The sad thing is I see my generation confining to todays norm of choosing between two bad candidates and not looking out side for the actual candidates that can help our country.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  102. Gerry, Albany Texas

    The lesson is........ socialism does not work! Any system that teaches it's children the easy lesson of dependence is not compassionate. Self-reliance is a more noble human state than dependence for any reason. If Big Business is bad, so is Big Government.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
  103. Steve in rural Florida

    Simple. People easily become accustomed to free stuff from the government. It is inevitable that the flow will be interrupted, and they get mad.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  104. Agenda

    "Lessons"? Our government isn't interested in "learning any lessons" from this! THEY are part of the cause! "The Global Elites" intend on collapsing the U.S. economy too. It's just a matter of time. Doesn't anyone remember Henry Paulson? Ben Bernenke? Geitner? These guys are all crooks and they are in bed with all of those that are putting together their "New World Order" agenda. Don't any of you see this?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  105. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When we talk about the lives of generations to come being destroyed by our irresponsible fiscal policy it sounds as if we expect them to repeat history and not be smarter and more responsible. Greece has a rapid increase of the elderly who don't contribute to the financial growth as we do now and future generations to come.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  106. Doug - Dallas

    The biggest lesson the U.S. should learn is that if we do not curb our spending we will be in the same situation in a very short period of time. The civil unrest has begun to manifest itself with the Tea Partys but it will get worse if the government doesn't change. I remember the riots in the 60's & 70's; now imagine that on a large scale basis. Congress seems very content to push it down the road, just like climate reform, immigration reform and all the rest; they just play the blame game. No one is willing to make the hard choices.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  107. Mike G

    It is an extreme oversimplification to take the fairly common view to 'pay down the debt.' Most of the people that want this done simultaneously advocate spending more on defense or health care (depending on the party with whom they affiliate). I advocate balancing our current debt with appropriate long term investments of our own. We should become the best investors on the planet in locally and internationally.

    The main reason that the 'bankrupt country' metaphor is so outrageous to use is that we still have plenty of money to invest, something a bankrupt citizen rarely has. Put our money to work!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
  108. Warren G Richards

    Jack, what does it matter to us? Why would you burden us here and now about future generations? It seems SOME people don't concern themselves about such matters unless it affects them directly, whether you're considering paying the bills or paying for your next meal. Why should we care about learning any lessons? If you think I'm becoming cynical, you may indeed be right. If you think I'm apathetic, though, you could not be more wrong. Hang in there if you can. –Warren G. Richards

    May 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  109. Melanie & Petr

    Jack, having lived in Europe Americans need to understand that you have to pay for services and peace of mind-that means taxes. It is on everythying in Europe. As to Greece, these people probably paid up to a 50% tax rate-they expect toget things for that-peace of mind on education, health care, and retirement. You bet they riot in the streets when somebody suggests taking that away after the tax money they have paid. America need not think they have it right-they dont. We need to pay for services and the rich and rich corporatiions need to pay A LOT more.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  110. david ackerman

    i say lets get rid of our empire. do we need to spend more on defense than the next 16 countries. close some of our bases that are over seas. think we won ww2 and the cold war. Bet you Bp is getting tax cuts for drilling for oil here . Denmark is a walfare state and heard it is doing well

    May 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  111. Maria Kenez

    I saw a bumpersticker: "How is that hope and change stuff working for you?" GREECE's lesson is that when too many people are unhappy, domestic tranquility is in danger. But here is where I part with your opinion. I think, had Obama not intervene, we would already be experienceing unrest, like Greece.

    So, the bumper sticker expresses impatience and gloating, but there was a major change. We were heading down on a much steeper slope. That angle has been changed. Things are slowly leveling off. If we could have cooperation as opposed to sarcasm and attacks from the Right, we would all do much better.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  112. Doug

    Your worried about going broke? Hell, we are going to over populate and destroy the world. Maybe the next form of "intelligent" life on earth will fare better.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  113. Paul

    I'm an American who has lived in Greece for half of my life, and I can tell you that you are completely wrong about Greece being a 'world-class welfare state'. Keep on doing your homework. Greece is a socialist state where people are severely underpaid and heavily taxed. In return, they expect decent health care and retirement benefits. What do they get? Terrible health care and terrible retirement benefits. When the traditionally corrupt government over here tells the people they will have to sacrifice even more for the mistakes of their leaders, the people should go, as you say, 'crazy'. If anything, Greece should give the rest of the world hope as it did when it first developed democracy–back when the rest of world was grunting. It should give us hope because there is actually a democratic population in this world that still feels and has the right to rise up and seriously dispute the actions of its government. If any of this was to happen in the US, thousands would be dead from police gunfire.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  114. Brad


    We are a truly capitalist society with a few socialist type programs that benefit only the poorest and elderly in our country. As the greatest nation in the world, do you honestly think the little we do for those groups is too much?

    New Hampshire

    May 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  115. Dr. Gene Bourquin

    I can do the math, and "welfare state" is not our problem. The relative role of public assistance in the federal budget is a staw dog I expect from the right, not a thougtful commentator. Assistance for families and children: $99 billion for the neediest among us; the cost of the Iraq war, $2 trillion dollars (and $100 billion a year as we go forward). Do the math. Want to balance a budget and pay off the national debt -- don't beat up on the most vulnerable. Why do I hear about welfare and not a peep about the money we waste try to run an empiure. It does not add up, does it?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
  116. Rafi Rauther

    I have never blogged on your file before,but today I could not resist.
    You need to highlight to people that a mere increase of 1% of interest rate will cost the US $130 billion in additional payments. Imagine what would happen if the interest rate were to go up bu 3% our interest payment will be over $600 billion or 50% of our revenue.
    These things happen very quickly and once it is triggered it would be very difficult to control.

    The increase in interest rate is exactly what is bringing down Greece so fast.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  117. Leonard Aaroe, Raleigh, NC

    I'm 80 years old and probably won't be affected by all of the Obama changes and spending. It's all so crazy to me. I don't recognize all the change in this country. Everybody wants everything for "free". The one question I never hear answered is how many people have been given benefits through Social Security who have never contributed anything to that system. Not a penny. Millions. How do you support that.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  118. Kim Smith, Dodge City, Ks.

    The U.S. is too far gone already. Any lessons that may be learned from Greece will evaporate in the vacum of congressional corruption, and will be forgotten before the next power lunch with a lobbyist.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  119. Chuck Wright, Georgia

    The lessons to the American Government is what every head of household knows but often act just like the Government: Don't spend more than you make. There are no gifts from the Government , you always pay for it. The problem is never technical it is always greed or fear (in the case of war). We don't need more intelligent people in Washington, just more honest, less self serving, less greedy, less emotional driven. Pull all troops home and work on our problems.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  120. Chuck in Warren, Ohio

    Jack: Cry a little. I don't have to worry. GM and Wall Street got all of my money. Jack it's time we start living within our incomes. We don't need most of the things we buy. We need to stop spending like there is no tomorrow. There will be one, be ready!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  121. Eileen Kapetsky

    Our legacy costs will do us in and will be similar to or worse than Greece. No, not the auto industry which has been accused of these outrageous costs. It is the costs of pension and health care for the legions of municipal, state and federal employees and politicians in the US. How much is it costing the average taxpayer to support this system?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  122. Greg

    Asking this question alone states how pathetic the U.S. economy is. Greece doesn't hold a candle to the global economic powers in terms of production and consumption. What can the U.S. learn? Stop talking and start producing.

    Greg L. – La Crosse, WI

    May 6, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
  123. Cathy in Alabama

    Jack, it is mainly the Democrats that keep offering more and more welfare to people in order to "buy" their votes with other people's money. That's why they want to legalize the illegal Mexicans-for their votes in exchange for more giveaways. It is a FACT that far more hispanics are on welfare percentage-wise than others. That is what they come here for and that is what the Democrats want to offer them.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  124. Bruce, California

    Jack, your lead in comments for this topic were pandering to those Tea Party viewers however small in numbers, you have. You were so fallacious. I don't know about Greece, but you are wrong, wrong, wrong about USA! "Welfare State" is the call to action for the tea baggers to foth at the mouth. You darn well know that it is our own interests that drive the expenses of our government. Be it municipal, state, national, or international interests, it cost money to claim the title "Leader of the Free World"; or as you would have us say "not so Free World".

    May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  125. Angie

    I have an idea; the Federal government should impose a fee that companies have to pay.

    What on earth for, you ask?

    Companies should pay for every non-American that they pay to work a job, when the companies can easily hire and train a USA citizen to do the job.

    The companies should pay a fee for every non-American working on a job that was taken over seas, which American US citizens in the USA could be trained to do right here in the USA.

    Also companies should pay a fee for every employee whom they force to retire because of their age.

    Once the companies realize that they would do better to hire Americans, instead of giving and sending the jobs else where, the numbers of US citizens on government programs would decrease.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  126. Mark and Felice

    Jack –
    Once again you are Mr. doom and gloom! Yes, Jack, our govt. and all of us have to be more realistic, but circumstances, due to the manipulation by the financial industry, created a volatile situation. While you are sounding like we should have immediate cut backs in social programs, multi-millionaires are getting richer. Obama, etc. can't cut back instantly while people are out of work and have no health insurance due to this. There are families, children, etc. that have to be taken care of. While in times of prosperity ,such as Clinton's years, such changes should have been made, but who would know what a jerk Bush really was. We didn't hear much from you during Bush's administration concerning his economic failures.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:30 pm |
  127. Dilyana

    We should learn to live within our means. Creating a dependency state will only make the situation worse. The welfare reforms should encourage people to train and return to the workforce. Instead, it encourages many to stay home and expect the governments' help for life. What message does that send to future generations?! It's always easier to wait for help than help yourself!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  128. W. Jackson Davis


    The only reason Greece is not happening to us already is that we are printing money, while Greece can't. The results of printing money include upward pressure on inflation and massive increases in the national deficit. Either outcome will soon preclude printing more money, in a matter of....years? months? weeks?

    The lesson: get our financial house in order today (this year) or go the way of Greece tomorrow (this year).

    Professional politicians seem too fearful for their jobs to take the unpalatiable steps required. Both political parties will have to make an equal commitment and then stand by it in the interest of America.

    Good luck. Greece, here we come!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  129. ann perry

    We need to cut spending.Cut medicare,medicaid and quit paying rent or house payment for people.Across the street the goverment pays this woman house payment and she has 3 kid by 3 different men.I am sick of people taking advantage of the goverment.Stop paying to lazy people.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  130. Michael S Oakland Park, FL

    Have we suffered amnesia? Did no one remember the that Greece mortgaged it's future to host the 2004 Olympic games. At least those were entertaining. Watching the Financial community being "grilled" on Capital Hill should be turned into a reality show where those who lose our 401K's have to re-build the Nations infrastructure on "Extreme Makeover National Edition"

    May 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  131. Roberto (Legal)

    Jack – I don't always agree with you, but this time I think you are 100% right on. You want a crystal ball on America's future under the disastrous idiocy of laws and policies of the Obamacrats? Greece! A welfare state with only a shrinking middle class working and paying taxes. Government healthcare, government owned manufacturers, bailouts, rising taxes, legalization of 12 million illegal aliens demanding amnesty, free education, free healthcare, and accomodation of all commerce in Spanish. An entitlement generation with a poor work ethic, no appreciation of our cultural heritage, rapidly deteriorating morals, an increasingly uncompetitive offering in world markets. A cowering victim of "politically correct" secular humanism being bullied by Islamic jihadists.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  132. Joan C.

    The lesson to be learned from Greece is that we either take care of our own people or we take care of the Empire. We can't do both. I suggest we give up the Empire, bring troops home from countries that don't even want us, try to end these wars ASAP, relinquish military and old treaty, entangling alliances, stop fighting other nations' wars and paying other nations' bills, and stop intervening in every quarrel somewhere on this planet. This is not to suggest that we should be isolationists but to remind everyone that we are a Republic and not an Empire.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  133. Che

    I agree with Ty, what good is this country if it's ok to let the not so fortunate starve and die. What annoys me is how this overpaid news actor can sit in his comfortable chair and basically say to heck with the poor that's their problem, we have to worry about a hypothetical future that may never happen.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  134. Paul

    Like Greece, the U.S. should make massive cuts in sacred cows that are wildly disproportionate to the rest of the world. Cut the military budget by about 88% would bring military spending to international standards. That would take care of the deficit in the blink of an eye and help us afford the American dream again.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  135. Mike G

    'Balance the budget' is a ridiculous sentiment. Imagine a world without lending! The overall efficiency of the economy plummets with such radical ideas. You would have complete shut downs in recession and hyperinflation during economics peaks. Budgets need to be cyclically balanced and offset by long term investments in good economic times.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  136. susan

    Jack, the lessons that Americans need to learn is that you cannot have two wars, and veterans care, and social security, and medicaid, and medicare, and funding that help when natural disasters strick, and NOT have tax increases to pay for it !
    Tax increases should be expected – and those who are here at home, and not on a battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq, like our soldiers – should be willing to pay them, and not complain, and complain, and complain whn it comes.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:34 pm |
  137. Melanie & Petr

    Jack, We have lived in Europe before so we know what the deal is there-you have to pay for the services you get. That is the lesson from Greece. You pay taxes to the tune of 50% but for that you get peace of mind-education, health care, vacation, safety net etc. You bet these folks are mad that they paid for the peace of mind and the government has squandered their money and are trying to change the rules. If you talked about discontinuing medicare or social security here you would get the same thing-revolution. Get a clue USA-pay for the peace of mind and charge the top 10% the most for it

    May 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  138. JD

    The lesson we should take is that the government needs taxes to run. The decline of the United States began with the Reagan tax cuts and reached a peak with the Bush the 2nd tax cuts. You can promote cutting services to those in need, but what will you tell your children when they see old people dying in the streets and cripples living in boxes? We're better than that. If all the jobs are going to be outsourced, the fat cats doing it need to be taxed to the hilt so the average people don't starve.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  139. Nick in WA

    The day of reckoning is likely going to come a lot sooner than most people think. National debt is currently 12.9 Trillion, 90% of GDP. Greece's was 120% of GDP. We will be paying for it (not just our children) and soon too. It's just a matter of the loss of a critical loss of trust in debt repayment before the pyramid scheme collapses.
    What's important at this stage is to avoid the trap of playing the blame game. Both political parties have acted irresponsibly since the days of the balanced budgets of the late '90s. The politicians craft new spending because we demand new spending (for our own municipalities, while decrying money spent elsewhere). They cut taxes because we demand low taxes. When they go against our will, they don't get re-elected. The responsibility is collectively on us as a people.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  140. Bill Barrett


    If the U.S. would give up a lot of its 'empire' we would have plenty for everyone. Do we really need to have military bases all over the world where were are charged excessive fees by the host nation? Do we need to stick our noses into the business of every country all the while ignoring the needs of our own? So much money is spent (wasted?) on foreign aid for countries that can very well afford to stand up for themselves. How about some aid to bettering the standing of the good ol' USA. We are a hard working group of people who deserve better for the fruits of our labor.

    Bill Barrett
    Zanesville, Ohio

    May 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  141. Micheal Burquim

    You've given wefare, section 8, food stamps and other subsidies to 4 generations of mostly women. Stop encouraging young women to have out of welock children. Offer benefits to married couples and require both to continually seek employment.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
  142. John

    Amen Jack,
    As a small business owner (barley making a profit, but still in business) I hope that all branches of our government will learn the old saying is true.....
    "there's no such thing as a free lunch"

    I have friends who are white, black, and Hispanic....Republican and Democrat.....and with all my hundred's of friends, business associates, neighbors, etc.
    We all work hard....
    We all pay all of our bills....
    None are in default, none have seen any "stimulus money", none are on any government assistance, etc.

    Maybe those in government service could learn a few things from us???
    Work hard, pay your bills NOW, and be kind and compassionate to those that you can......

    Maybe, just maybe, there is time left to fix this......but maybe not.....

    in Florida

    May 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  143. paul

    Get ready we will see the same thing here.Wall street folks and the bankers are make millions of dollars and the middle class is paying for this wast of our tax money.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  144. Jeff in Minnesota

    Greece today is where the US ends up if we do not take action now to rein in our own spending. Our government is writing checks on money we get from other governments. As a result, we are living on borrowed time, yet we keep pushing the problems off to the next group of legislators and generations. We need to step up and recognize that we do not have all of the money necessary to fund all of our desires. I'm not suggesting that we have to have the federal government balance their budget as that has been shown to be a questionable policy. However, the federal government needs to limit the amount of debt it can finance and cap that and never increase it without real justification, not the fact that we need to just spend more. Until we do that, we will always be facing the problem of funding too much spending and getting deeper in debt. Eventually ending up like Greece today.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  145. Paula

    Dear Jack,

    Unfortunately we will not learn anything from the events happening in Greece. We continue to ship our jobs overseas, spend recklessly and increase our dependence on oil from the Middle East. I am hoping that more of us will get out & vote in Nov and vote new leadership into Congress. God knows we certainly need it.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  146. Joekre from Pennsylvania

    I can see it as clear as the day. In order to balance the budget in our near future, our federal government will look to across the board cuts to social security and medicare payments to our senior citizens. Those tea party intellectuals came out and said it, as did Joe the alleged plumber but the media doesn't appear to focus in on their comments. The seniors with the aid of social security are our last large middle class. Once they are destroyed, we will become Greece and the high society national socialist criminals will have total control. The gap between the haves and the have nots will expand greatly and chaos will ensue. Yet it can all be averted if our politicians would do what they are getting paid to do. Take care of this country and its people.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  147. Michael in Phoneix

    The US government should learn that in the end they have to answer to the people.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  148. Cindy

    All of the debt our government is incurring will come home to roost one day, and that day is coming soon. All of those promises to everyone will no longer be possible.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  149. Apostolos

    I must set the record straight because Mr. Jack Cafferty went way over the limit. The current crisis in Greece is mostly due to widespread corruption of government officials. It has nothing to do with Greece being "a world-class welfare state". Germany, the UK, Sweden or Denmark offer way more social services to their citizens as compared to Greece. The late conservative government in Greece almost doubled the Greek deficit in just 5 years time. Beyond that they invested more than 300 billion Euros of our retirement funds in the toxic derivatives of your financial system that collapsed a couple of years ago. In 2004 Greece needed to borrow less than 7 billion Euros per year. Now with all that pension money lost they need to borrow 70 billion Euros.
    Do you realize now why people are so angry in Greece? The conservatives stole their future.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  150. Elizabeth Richie

    Here's a lesson for US citizens because the US may be a lost cause. Learn to live in "the country."

    Back in the 80's, I bought a little piece of "almost heaven, West Virginia" and happily lived for 6 years in a stone root cellar without electricity or running water. I know I can live on the land, keep warm by a fire, cook bread in a wood cook stove, raise chickens, live on canned tomatoes and peanut butter and have a heck of a good time doing it....and probably be healthier than most.

    Yes, we ( my husband and I) built a more conventional home and live more "normally" now and the root cellar stands empty.

    But when watching today's stock market events unfold, the knowledge of how little is really required to survive gives peace of mind beyond compare.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:40 pm |
  151. Seth Lisonbee

    Here is the lesson from Greece: If you do what Greece did, you will get what Greece got. There is no way out of that fact.

    The more important lesson is that if, as you say, no one in Washington has the guts to tackle the problem, WE THE PEOPLE need to do our job, vote them out, and get people in there who DO have the guts to make the tough decisions. Then let all Americans know it is unpatriotic to whine about the loss of your entitlement, we all have to sacrifice to get out great nation back to stability.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
  152. Susan, Vancouver

    The people of Greece need to wake up. They are responsible for electing the people that promised them everything and spent money they didn't have. If they have to tighten their budget, then they should quit whining and tighten their friggin' budget! Nobody should expect something for nothing except maybe thieves.

    We can vote in people who promise us some great stuff but somebody has to pay for it. That's the lesson I take from this.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  153. Ed

    The handwriting is on the wall! We are increasingly becoming a debt-ridden welfare state that cannot pay its bills. And, unfortunately our present Government and gutless politicians will do nothing that will hurt their winning the next election. Instead they continue to spend and resist even controlling our borders to aliens in order to help them win that needed vote. There is little question that very difficult times are ahead for us-we need to understand that the Greek riots are real and take a lesson from them. If we do not, the same kind of serious riots and insurrections will certainly be in our future, as well as with any other increasingly debt-ridden country. There is no free lunch anywhere!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  154. kierra

    If we are going to look after our seniors in this country with Medicare, and Social Security, and IF we are going to fight these 2 wars in Afghanistan, and Iraq, and IF we are goinf to look after our military veterans when they return home – We are going to have to raise taxes to pay for it all.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  155. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio


    What we have learned from the U.S.great economic adventure does allow a comparison to the cliche, what goes around comes around,
    big time !

    May 6, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  156. Mark T.

    Isolationism..Globalism isn't all it was hyped up to be..I can't speak as to everyone here in the good ol' US of A as to lessons learned but as for me, as an activly voting and participating independent..I will cast my vote and effort behind any canidate who supports us as a nation detaching a lot of the strings that has made us more like the worlds puppet than any mutually beneficial interconection that was advertised..think about it ..close our borders...no dealing with anyone for say 10-20 years...No middle east issues, no two wars..recall our troops and deploy them to our borders, there's immigration reform, no trade deficit..no lead laced toys..and maybe a lil' ol fashioned US innovation will do us some good in tearms of infrastructure...

    May 6, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  157. Bob

    It's obvious; instead of adding social welfare programs we need to cut back or eliminate entitlements and reform how financial institutions do business. We also need to fire all current politicians and start with a clean slate!

    Bob in Illinois

    May 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  158. Judy - California

    Some people need to realize that there ARE people who have paid into these so called entitlement programs such as medicare all their lives. Go ahead and cut the program, but I want my money back! I agree we cannot continue bleeding heart policies, but medicare and social security are all some of us have, and would never consider welfare.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  159. James C. Fuller

    You take the knee-jerk fatcat approach to Greece's economic problems and the problems you predict for our economy. You fail to recognize the shift in America's wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy over the past three decades and refuse to recognize the concurrent shift in tax burden from those with much money to those with only modest incomes and holdings. If we fix the tax imbalance so that the rich pay their fair share – something close to the same percentage of their income that the middle class pays – we can maintain the services that the majority of the public needs and wants.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  160. Michael H. in Albuquerque, NM

    One lesson is how to carry out a good protest. American protests are weak and inaffective. We need to get LOUD.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  161. Pam holt

    Foley,al, I have observed that president obama seems to want to give money to those not entitled. He wanted some ideas on how to help our economy, yet it didn"t dawn on him that if all the states could keep and get back all the money used for the illegal aiding and abetting for the upkeep of illegal aliens, there would be a lot more money per state. California went bankrupt and allowed the hard working , law abiding, citizens, who pay taxes, to suffer the consequences... There are some Americans who do not have homes, etc. And yet the money for government housing, foodstamps and free healthcare rolls in every month for those illegals living on our taxes, provided against the majority of American citizens. Yes, it"s all comming to a head. The thing that the republicans have going for them is, they have finally seen the light, and we are taking notice!!!

    May 6, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  162. Leonard

    Wake up call? 995 point drop in the dow? Should we expect our elected representatives to do the right thing? Have they ever done the right thing when confronted by a serious problem? Will they raise taxes to defray the growing debt? NA! They have all been bought and paid for and there only focus is getting more campaign contributions to get back into office to continue to do the same old same old stuff..
    Time for the American people to demand a pay as we go tax system.
    A variable tax that would be adjusted as we spend, no more debt, no more excuses. If we go to war in Iraq, Afganistan, a war on drugs, a new military program, social security, medicare, unemployment insurance or any other governmental program or agency. Paid in full as we go. No excuses.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  163. Dennis B.

    I am an older person and I will probably never see the days of bread/soup lines. I do believe that todays society needs to realize that that is exactly what we are dooming our great-grandchildren to. I can only thank God that the gernerations before me cared about and where proud of the United States AND its future.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  164. Cindy Merrill

    Like you said, Jack: We are all living in a state of denial- the truth is, Americans need to save more and ( GULP) accept the inevitability of higher taxes : Americans are spoiled rotten. $4 a gallon for gas would seem like a gift to most eurpean countries where the average citizen pays $8 a gallon or more. If it were up to me, by the way, every US student would be informed right now that they owe $45,000 , their share of the national debt. I am not being cruel, but kind. The sooner kids face reality, the better.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  165. altaloman

    As one of the boomers who was forced to take early retirement just a few months short of my 62nd birthday due to health reasons stemming from cancer treatment and recovery, I have justified reason to be concerned about the government's fiscal policy. Over nearly 40 years, I contributed and my employers contributed nearly a a half million dollars to my SS retirement account (not including the add-on Medicare deductions). Now, I derive a retirement allowance of less than $2,500 a month, or not even one sixth of my monthly wages prior to retirement. Social Security is anything but and no one should count on this fund for anything more than supplemental income. Should the government cut those benefits to people like me? What benefits?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  166. Joekre from Pennsylvania

    If you make more, than you should pay more. Willy Nelson said that on national television countless times. If I made over 250,000 dollars a year, I would be happy to pay more. Kill the tax cuts for those making over 250,000 a year. Also, President Obama should eliminate taxes for seniors making less than 50,000 a year. They would buy more and help the economy.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  167. Sue

    What lessons? You get what you pay for, so pay your damned taxes! That includes corporations, the rich and those who avoid taxes through creative tax planning and shelters.

    I noticed that you mentioned the entitlements common among the poor, working and middle class. What about corporate welfare, farm subsidies to wealthy and corporate farmers who don't grow or produce anything, federally subsidized flood insurance to cover rich peoples' beach front homes, tax write off for "business" lunches and dinners, write offs for private club dues, the inflated prices the government pays to contractors such as Halliburton et al., subsidies paid to developers to develop property that they rent or sell for a profit, the cost of destroying and rebuilding a sovereign nation invaded for political gain and oil... ?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  168. Andrew Eden-Balfour Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    Gotta love irony. If Washington indeed does something about the impending financial doom, like raising taxes and cutting benefits from alot of people, they're going to get alot of anger from foghorn Tea Partiers and Democrats would likely loose alot of seats in the 2010 midterm elections. But if they don't do something, alot of Americans in our future would probably end up being dirt poor, and the endangered middle-class would probably go the way of the dinosaurs. Essentially Jack this would be a loose-loose situations for Washington and Americans, but the question is, which one do you guys want to suffer through? The former which would essentially make you guys loose the good life, or the latter which would give your grandchildren no good life?

    May 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  169. Solitude

    "There is no chance Jack not after the last comment I heard on CNN two minutes ago. "Baraco Obama and his Democrats can ride it out.'
    Yes as they gamble away more of your money on a Useless horse and jockey."

    May 6, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  170. Jim from Boston

    If our government kept its books the way corporations do (under US GAAP), it would have to record an obligation for the value of pensions and healthcare that will be paid in the future for federal employees who have retired and for the portion of those post-employment benefits earned by existing gov't workers. If the US gov't recorded the pension and healthcare obligations in this way, it would have a deficit of $50-$60 TRILLION! That's about $500,000 per US household. Our cities and towns are also straining under the costs of these benefits for retired (or soon to be retired) state and local workers. So the number is more than $500,000 per household. Those gov't employees aren't all "hacks" as they are soldiers, teachers, policemen, firemen, FBI and other workers, so cutting the pay for "hacks" isn't the issue. What president is going to have the courage to cut the benefits of those people? So let's not look down on Greece as we're not much better in that we will not be able to live up to our commitments without bankrupting our country.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm |
  171. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    The lesson is when the US catches cold the world gets pneumonia.

    If not for the diplomatic skills of the president, Wall Street would have thrown the world into a second Great Depression. There is a happy medium between burning banks and ignoring disaster. It is finance reform. It is to our shame and the world's incomprehension that even one Republican, let alone all Republicans, dare resist it.

    May 6, 2010 at 5:53 pm |