Seems to me when those who could pay don't, while those who can't pay are forced to, it's time to broach the dreaded "R" word: revolution. Which is exactly what several European countries may now face thanks to the pain of "austerity" budgets.
Quite why the moneyed elite think pushing the masses of Greece, Spain and Portugal (for starters) into uprising is a good idea only they could say; but if the latest round of strikes and protests is anything to go by, don't be surprised if armed resistance comes next in this escalating class struggle.
Nobody is mentioning that prospect. Governments and bankers alike waffle on about ways to deal with mounting debt and what a shame the poor are being made poorer while studiously avoiding reference to the lesson of history. As if silence will stop it from happening.
But that lesson is you can only push the struggling masses so far. Push further and they strike back - hard.
Given unemployment running at 25 per cent (over half for the young), taxes increasing and economies contracting and the euphemism of "labour reforms" stripping workers of any rights, I'd say the Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese are being shoved against the wall.
For while it's convenient to suppose "the government" or "the people" have through over-spending or inaction or plain bad luck set up this scenario, the blame should fall on the extremely wealthy financiers, corporate and individual, who are manipulating it to their monetary advantage.
Take Greece. No matter what harsh measures are put in place - indeed, abetted by them - the debt crisis continues to spiral out of control. No enterprise, public or private, can survive long with interest repayments approaching 35 per cent - the current cost of borrowing for Greek government 10-year bonds.
They'll have paid four times the worth of the bonds in interest by the time they're due to be repaid. How will they do that? They won't. The Greek economy, already in recession for four years, is optimistically forecast to contract a further 11 per cent in the next two. And the deeper government spending is cut or the higher taxes rise, the more that fuels contraction.
In short, it will end in tears. Ditto in Spain, Portugal and, possibly, Italy and even France thereafter.
Meanwhile international corporations make mock of "legality" in every country they operate in by using networks of bogus trusts and offshore agents and dummy companies to circulate profits in such ways as to never touch down long enough to have to pay tax on their profits.
It's conservatively estimated the total wealth hidden within such ploys is at least US$32 trillion ($39.48 trillion).
That money is ultimately squirrelled away in anonymous trust funds, some 8000 or so of which are registered in New Zealand. Apart from a small percentage owned by Australians (who as a peculiarity of mutual law have to declare that ownership), the Government does not know how much money these trusts contain or have any idea where it comes from or who it belongs to. Yes, we're a tax haven, though for international nicety's sake we're not labelled as such. By such fine distinctions do the powerful hide their glad-handed gains.
Point being, if those who own this wealth were to pay their due to support an economic system they seem to regard merely as a toy to break or fix at whim (and people pawns to profit by in the event of war as much or more as in peace), Europe would not be disintegrating before our eyes.
This is not conspiracy theory; this is just how it is. As the founder of the Rothschild dynasty - once estimated to control 45 per cent of the world's wealth - said: "Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws."
With New Zealand's debt more than doubling in four years and unemployment now over 7 per cent you'd be forgiven for thinking we're being caught by the same trap.
Remember that when the guns start popping in Europe. That's the right of it.
Bruce Bisset is a freelance writer and poet.