Tuesday, April 05, 2011

It's not just us

What's the worst that can happen when a state defaults on its debt?  Ireland should be looking through the history books.  When Pennsylvania defaulted in the mid-19th century, a truly bad thing happened.  William Wordsworth, whose family held Pennsylvania bonds, wrote a poem --

Days undefiled by luxury or sloth,
Firm self-denial, manners grave and staid,
Rights equal, laws with cheerfulness obeyed,
Words that require no sanction from an oath,
And simple honesty a common growth--
This high repute, with bounteous Nature's aid,
Won confidence, now ruthlessly betrayed
At will, your power the measure of your troth!--
All who revere the memory of Penn
Grieve for the land on whose wild woods his name
Was fondly grafted with a virtuous aim,
Renounced, abandoned by degenerate Men
For state-dishonour black as ever came
To upper air from Mammon's loathsome den.

And, er, that's it.   But we're supposed to be scared.

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