During a tense, drama-filled weekend, a deal was hammered out and presented to the debtor nation, which now has to pass legislation this week in order to earn the bailout:
The demands, quickly leaked, piled up: a complete overhaul of Greece's tax and pension system, the ceding of $70 billion of Greek assets to eurozone authorities for privatization, and an agreement to allow Greece to become a ward in all but name of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank.
And all of this to be passed by the Greek parliament by Wednesday, according to Finland's finance minister.
The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, was given this to-do list in a meeting with Merkel, Hollande and European President Donald Tusk. One European official described the encounter as "extensive mental waterboarding."
If the Greek parliamentarians have any sense at all, they will pass the legislation and start the onerous work of dragging a chaotic, fraudulent economic system into the modern world.
What happened to Greece this weekend is what often happens to debtors who live beyond their means. Dickens had it right: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery."
If you borrow too much, if you live as if you have earned the borrowed money by the sweat of your brow rather than by trading value for value, then sooner or later you have to reckon with your lenders. That is what is happening to Greece. It has happened to several others in the EU, and to other nations.
The Greek government did a wonderful job of fighting their creditors until they could fight no longer. Then they settled for what they had to accept, because they have no other sane course right now.
Is the deal offered by the Troika and Germany really that unspeakable? Methinks not. Greece has a pension system that is out of control and only exists because politicians for years have pretended that debt equals earnings. Just like California and Illinois, politicians have not been honest with their people, but have pandered to pressure groups and committed to wealth transfers that could not work.
Greece has a corrupt economic system, one in which tax is a dirty word, and those who escape paying taxes by fast footwork or downright dishonesty, are lauded and not looked down upon. That system is unworkable, and has to change.
Merkel was right: Trust between a borrower and its lenders was broken. It is up to Greece now to restore trust with its lenders. They have to help their citizens scale down their expectations, and to create – as much as they can – an economy where earnings flow into the country, taxes are paid, wealth is built up, and the living standard equals that of money in.
The valiant Greek government did its best. Now it is up to the citizens to recognize what their government has achieved, and to work with them to fix their nation. There is a lot to do.
But Greece will stay in the EU and in the Eurozone. If they choose to.