Brother, can you spare a billion?

Puerto Rico is $70 billion in the hole and Greece is seeking approval from the European Union and the IMF for a $129 billion rescue deal.

The Obama administration is on record as saying Uncle Sam cannot offer the Caribbean island state a bailout, nor can the island default, because of the unique tax laws under which Puerto Rico operates.

While the local governments in both places ponder their next move, it is their ordinary citizens who suffer with inflated prices, stagnant wages, high unemployment.

And, in Greece, if the so-called “austerity” conditions demanded by European creditors are adopted by the Greek Parliament – a highly unlikely prospect – conditions are sure to get worse before they improve.

Blame the bankers and bondholders, blame the residents and businesses who avoid paying taxes, blame the bureaucrats for turning a blind eye to the crisis as it grew. May the gods bring down a curse on all of them.

Can it be that Athens – considered by historians to be the cradle of democracy – is now reduced to the status of chief beggar of the world?

Nikos Kazantzakis’ literary creation Zorba must be laughing and dancing up a storm as he recognizes the unbridled passion by which the Greeks are throwing themselves into the storm and, at the same time, the utter futility of the whole campaign.

I suppose that if a Greek from, say, Delphi or Thessaloniki, simply had enough of the situation, he could simply take a ferry to one of the islands in the Sea of Crete or the Aegian to dodge the tax collector, the wrath of Chancellor Merkel, or Zeus, whoever comes first.

Pursue an adventure, the riskier the better, collect a pile of drachmas – er, make that euros, at least for now – and spend it while you can. Have a Socratic dialogue with yourself, consume a bottle of ouzo, with a slice of melopita and settle back on your favorite sandy beach.

That’s the way to enjoy the end of summer … before the bill comes due.

When my creditors come looking for me, I will have decamped, possibly to the island of Mikinos or Paros – or maybe to Luquillo Beach in San Juan or collecting water from the rain forest before the forces of climate change and/or deforestation extract the last drop of moisture.

If all else fails, look for me in the Kearny Marsh, Frank’s Creek or the Keegan landfill … at the end of the trail of my credit card receipts.

Because my friend, at the end of the day, we’ve all got to pay the piper or face the music.

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