I grew up in a very old house. It was built by my great grandfather in teak wood, bricks, stones and local soil which acted as cement. It did not have any modern day amenities not even a storage water tank that would assure us availability of water when we visited the toilet. My father decided to do something about it. He built a storage water tank in concrete, did the recommended water treatment. He was happy that no water leaked out of the tank for a few days. Soon something went wrong and water started leaking out of the tank. The tank would run out of water in hours and we were back to square one. My father went in search of a specialist who could fix the leakage but did not find anyone. He was not going to get bogged down. As a quick-fix, he fixed a water pump which would pump in water whenever level dropped. It did not work. The water pump would work only a few hours a day , leakage happened 24 hours a day. There was no match. Morever, the water seeped in the walls and started weakening the structure. More we pumped water, more was the damage to the structure which held the tank. My father realized that there is no alternative to fix the leakage. It was a painful process. It involved digging through the walls, finding the cracks and sealing them. It caused a lot of inconvenience but when it was done it worked very well. We now had water in the tank whenever we wanted and the structure was strong too.
I was reminded of this when read about current global economic situation. Many countries like Greece, Spain, and Portugal are on the brink of bankruptcy. Greece is in fact getting second bailout package in less than a year. Metaphorically, their storage tank is not able to hold water. My father’s experience suggests that there is no alternative to fixing the leakage. Bailout package which is equivalent to pumping water is never going to solve the problem completely. The money in the coffers is leaking out and is being spent in unproductive way. These cracks need to be sealed. Sealing these cracks is a painful process but unless it is done the storage tank would always run out of water. It would damage the structure. The citizens would never learn to live within their means, if the nation does not lead by example. Pumping water in a leaking tank is never a sustainable solution.
My childhood experience suggests that there is no alternative to live within the means and prevent leakages, whether you are a water tank or a nation. It is not easy but one has to do it.