At daybreak yesterday, I was getting ready for my morning run but couldn’t stop watching CNBC, as the riots in Athens injured as many as 500 people, who were protesting an unemployment level twice as high as the U.S., as well as steeply higher taxes, including a 4% increase in their sales tax or VAT, along with a 15% cut in pay for public employees, which includes government, transportation, utility and telephone workers. Deep cuts in both education and medical care will dictate the loss of even more jobs.
As I watched the Greek demonstrate their angst and fear, I also watched the futures market project higher and higher opening prices in the stock market, which means I was making money from all this. In fairness, the market had already lost value in fear the Greek crisis would end poorly, and we just recovered some of it yesterday, but I still felt a tinge of guilt.
Today, I’m getting ready for my run and am again glued to CNBC, watching teachers and other government workers in England protesting cuts to their pension system. Right now, futures indicate the Dow will again open up about 41 points.
It was not my fault that the Greek system of entitlements became excessive, nor the English system, nor the U.S. system. Politicians who enabled such entitlement systems did a terrible disservice to their people, but I doubt they feel even as much guilt as I did yesterday morning.