(CNN) -- The first in what is expected to be a series of strikes has begun in Greece this week as workers protest against austerity measures imposed by a government trying to dig its way out of a financial crisis that threatens to engulf Europe.
So what's the problem in Greece?
Years of unrestrained spending, cheap lending and failure to implement financial reforms left Greece badly exposed when the global economic downturn struck. This whisked away a curtain of partly fiddled statistics to reveal debt levels and deficits that exceeded limits set by the eurozone.
How big are these debts?
National debt, put at €300 billion ($413.6 billion), is bigger than the country's economy, with some estimates predicting it will reach 120 percent of gross domestic product in 2010. The country's deficit -- how much more it spends than it takes in -- is 12.7 percent.
With regard to the Greek financial crisis, Mark Steyn is bang on in his commentary:
What’s happening in the developed world today isn’t so very hard to understand: The 20th-century Bismarckian welfare state has run out of people to stick it to. In America, the feckless, insatiable boobs in Washington, Sacramento, Albany, and elsewhere are screwing over our kids and grandkids. In Europe, they’ve reached the next stage in social-democratic evolution: There are no kids or grandkids to screw over. The United States has a fertility rate of around 2.1 — or just over two kids per couple. Greece has a fertility rate of about 1.3: Ten grandparents have six kids have four grandkids — ie, the family tree is upside down. Demographers call 1.3 “lowest-low” fertility — the point from which no society has ever recovered.
The Greek strikers have big plans that the Germans will yet bail them out, as long as they kick and scream enough, and throw a big enough tantrum like the kids they never had.
For their part, the Germans know that with 30 to 40 percent of their own women childless, they simply do not have the means any more to pay for their own future, let alone anybody else's.
The European way was held out as a great shining example by Obama and the American left as the hope and change that would transform America from its corporate greed. A trillion of debt here, a trillion there, but at least for the Americans so far they will have kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to foot the bill.
In the midst of the Olympics we are reminded that our past was a Greek one.
Will our future be a Greek one too?