The European crisis reminds us of another instance of Aesop's tale of the ant and the grasshopper. The ants work hard and save. They generally have only one wife or two in their lives and their children go to college. But they are dull. The want to have fun in life so they hang out with grasshoppers. The grasshoppers are fun. They drink til 2am and then call in sick the next day. They drive nice cars and go from wife to wife. The ants create an association with the grasshoppers. They will be one economic unit. When ants have a labor shortage, grasshoppers will come to their countries to work. Ants can buy the grasshoppers' wine and olives and listen to their musicians. The arrangement works out fine.
Then one day the grasshoppers have a debt crisis. They bought things on credit and now have no way of paying off their loans. "Oh please, you ants have so much money! Help out your dear friends." The ants say "why don't you just lower the price of your currency like you did in the past?" The grasshoppers can't because now they share currency called euros. And that is the dilemma they are in.
Editor's note: A recent article in Slate disputes the theory that Germans work harder than Greeks.