STUMP » Articles » Feeding the Profligate: The Entitled Brat and Greece » 23 July 2015, 13:21

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Feeding the Profligate: The Entitled Brat and Greece  


23 July 2015, 13:21

This silly story has been going around the internet this past week:

Have you ever given your child (or grandchild) something you thought would be a blessing but your gift ended up being a hindrance instead? Veruca Salt (who is an extreme example) comes to mind. She’s the spoiled rotten girl from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory who repeatedly screamed, “I want it all, and I want it now!” And she’s all I could picture as I listened to a 22-year-old college student who was gifted $90,000 for college by her grandparents and is now broke.

“Kim” called in last week to “The Bert Show” to seek advice from the hosts at the Atlanta-based radio talk show. Now a junior in college, Kim confessed she doesn’t have any money left to pay the upcoming bills for her senior year.
[Kim]: “Maybe [my parents] should have taught me to budget or something. They never sat me down and had a real serious talk about it.”

While I agree in part with Kim here — her parents should have taught her how to budget — she’s an adult now. The money was likely in some sort of trust given to her at 18, the age you’re deemed an adult. It’s her responsibility now to make wise choices with the funds she was given. She knew how much she had and how much her school was going to cost, and she admits she knew the bill was coming. But Kim continues to blame her parents for not stopping her from making bad choices and also insinuates that her parents should take money out of their retirement accounts to bail poor Kim out:

“[My parents] said there was nothing they could do for me. They’re not being honest with me saying they don’t have [money] because my dad has worked for like a million years and they have a retirement account.”

Now, the rich kid who blows through their money is a really old story. As someone at the Actuarial Outpost remark: a story so old that even Jesus told it.

Luke 15:11-32Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

11 And he said: A certain man had two sons:

12 And the younger of them said to his father: Father, give me the portion of substance that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his substance.

13 And not many days after, the younger son, gathering all together, went abroad into a far country: and there wasted his substance, living riotously.

14 And after he had spent all, there came a mighty famine in that country; and he began to be in want.

15 And he went and cleaved to one of the citizens of that country. And he sent him into his farm to feed swine.

16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks the swine did eat; and no man gave unto him.

Now, Kim isn’t eating with the pigs as of yet. But still, her story is not new.

Of course, in Jesus’s telling, the prodigal son came back home penitent. Perhaps Kim really does need a little time in the pigpen to appreciate what she had been given.

But the more I heard of the story, the more and more I was reminded of Greece.


As a reminder, here are my recent posts on Greece:

In that last post in the list, I looked at some history of the last time Greece got bailed out… in 2010.

And here we are, right back at it.

Unlike Kim’s parents, the Europeans (or, rather, Germany) keeps bailing out Greece for whatever reason…and then assumes they will change their behavior.

Greece is not at all interested in changing its behavior…and the polity acts like a pouty child when told they are flat broke and have been spending way too much cash on all their social welfare goodies.


I saw this thanks to Mish — only 4 minutes, and stick with it. It’s more than just one song.

Nicely done. It’s good to get at least one laugh out of this.


As I said in a prior post:

Reminds me of “negotiating” with my child about stuff she has absolutely no leverage on.

DD: I want to read Captain Underpants!
Me: It’s nice to want things. No library books today.
DD: What if I clean up the family room?
Me: I said no.

[time passes]

DD: Look, I finished my homework. Can I have Captain Underpants now?
Me: That’s good of you. No, you can read another book.
…and then 5 minutes later, I see she’s reading her book of Abraham Lincoln jokes.

To be sure, the item being negotiated over was not trivial, like reading a specific library book. But the issue has been what political leverage the Greeks have. There are a variety of threats they have to their arsenal, but the main ones are defaulting on their bonds and exiting the Euro.

If they really don’t have the money to pay the bonds, they are simply going to default. That’s it. Doesn’t matter if they restructure loans or whatever, the money will not be paid as originally promised, which is a de facto default.

Eventually, at any rate.

Both Kim and Greece have little leverage in trying to get more money.

They can try to lay the guilt trip on others, and to a certain point they are correct: Kim’s parents should have made sure their daughter understood budgeting a little better, and Greece never should have been allowed into the eurozone in the first place, and even so, they shouldn’t have been bailed out 5 years ago and kept having money shoveled at them.

With regards to Kim, it looks like her parents know better than to borrow from their retirement funds (given they have so little time to recoup them, and it’s not like Kim will be able to repay, at least for decades).

In Greece’s case… I’m still not sure what’s happening.

The immediate brinksmanship is gone, one deadline having passed, but it looks like talks continue. Okay then.

The vote on the agreement passed in the Greek parliament, but not everybody in the prime minister’s party is on board.

As in, a lot of them voted HELL NO or abstained (which I read as a plain no).

Fine, there is no parliamentary HELL NO option, but there should be.

There are 36 of the Syriza MPs went against the government on this matter. There are 300 MPs total, according to Wikipedia, of which 149 are Syriza. So about 1/4 of the party defected on the matter.

Not a huge revolt, but not exactly comforting given that Syriza isn’t even a majority (it created a coalition with a party that has 13 seats).

The full vote was 230-63 (not counting the abstentions).

While the vote passed, there is obviously going to be a tough time for the PM to hold things together.


I really don’t care to find out how Kim’s story resolves, and maybe we’ll hear some followup some years down the road, but I doubt it. It’s not a new story, and most people know at least one person who has burned through their assets and had to figure out how to maintain themselves.

It forms major plot points in multiple Dickens novels. Some fall prey to the debtors prisons. Some impose upon friends and relatives and get away with it. Some end in the grace, others supposedly debase their high society backgrounds by taking on =shudder= jobs.

Maybe Kim will do what most of my friends had to do, which was make money by taking on jobs that aren’t necessarily inspiring but do pay the bills. Indeed, lots of adults do that.

But Greece… well, we will all see how that happens. It seems that patience is now over on all sides.

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