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In Michael Lewis’s “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World,” he informs the reader about the consequences of the overindulgence of the credit sector in foreign countries. It leads the reader to believe that the foreigners are foolish. But then he turns the attention to the United States and recognizes the comparable overindulgences of this country are plenty. He uses real-life examples and by using characters, he clearly lays out the picture of the results of the Great Recession. In this paper, I will discuss his use of three characters in Chapter 2 to describe the economic dilemma that exploded in 2008 throughout the world. < Click Essay Writer to order your essay >
While in Greece, Lewis visits the Greek minister of finance, George Papaconstantinou. He is the man charged with the task of taking the country out of debt and “sorting out the financial mess,” (46). Lewis puts Papaconstantinou in a mixed setting, which explains the country quite well. The country has such beauty, but it has a black mark because of the severe financial crises in which it still finds itself. “Athens somehow manages to be bright white and grubby at the same time,” (46). Papaconstantinou arrived in Greece just as the financial crises hit. The country had a 3.7 per cent budget deficit when Papaconstantinou arrived, but that increased to 12.5 per cent two weeks after he came, after he uncovered hidden debts (47). Lewis describes this character as being clean and “almost American,” (47), which is a compliment and somewhat ethnocentric of him to say, because it subtly implies that anything other than an American wouldn’t be clean. But Papaconstantinou is “open, friendly, fresh-faced, and clean-shaven,” (47). Lewis goes on to say the financial mess was already in place by the time Papaconstantinou arrived (47). It’s discovered after Lewis talks to Papaconstantinou that there were several omissions from the budget when he took over, one being a pension debt of $1 billion each year (47).
When Lewis meets Tax Collector No. 1, he emphasises that the meeting took place in private. And even though he met two tax collectors with generally the same “offense” and the same consequence – after they “blew the whistle on colleagues who had accepted big bribes,” (50) – they did not know Lewis was meeting with the other. He met both in separate hotels. The way he describes Tax Collector No. 1 as being in his early sixties, in a business suit, “tightly wound but not obviously nervous,” (50), gives the impression that this man has been around the block and had finally become fed up with the sustained abuse of the tax system. He used the man’s descriptions as a metaphor for the tax system: in a “business suit,” gives the impression that the system is fine, when in fact it is “tightly wound.” Also, while Tax Collector No. 1 is referred to as being “not obviously nervous,” this is a metaphor for the Greek tax system pretending to be fine, but it is actually “tightly wound,” and ready to break at any moment. . [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
When Lewis laughs at Tax Collector No. 1’s remark that if the tax law was enforced “every doctor in Greece would be in jail,” (51), explains the lack of ability to enforce the law and tells the reader how widespread the issue actually is. But it was Tax Collector No. 1’s reaction to Lewis’s laugh that explained how seriously the tax collector took the situation. “I laughed, and he just gave me a stare,” (51). [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
The setting in which Lewis meets with Tax Collector No. 1 allows him to provide the perfect example of how widespread the tax evasion is. He pointed out that the waitress who was serving the men didn’t provide a receipt (53). This, as the tax collector points out, is because even the hotel isn’t paying taxes. This provides the final stroke in the picture that Lewis paints for the reader, as he uses the appearance of the tax collector, his attitude, as well as the setting in which the meeting takes place, to draw subtle examples of the corrupt tax system in which the Greeks find themselves.\
The way in which Lewis introduces another Chapter 2 character, Father Arsenios, sets the monk up as a personification of the corruption in Greece, to whom much of the outrage is targeted. As the “brains of the operation,” Arsenios is the head of the monks, whom “Every right-thinking Greek citizen is still furious with … and those who helped them,” (66). Lewis describes him as being in his late fifties, but he could be about 20 years younger because the beard makes them look older, (66). This could be Lewis’s way of saying the Greek monks give off an air of elderly innocence and vulnerability, but on the outside, they are quite different.
Lewis goes on to describe the food the monks eat. It is a very scarce diet consisting of all homegrown vegetables and honey. But Lewis wonders why some of the monks are fat, including a couple of the top monks (67). This hints at the possibility that there could be corruption in the monetary. While the vast majority of monks look like they eat according to the local diet, there are 10 fat monks out of 110, which raises suspicion.
Father Arsenios’s office also lends itself into question. It has a new fax machine, two computers, a tub of vitamin-C pills and a cellphone (67). These modern luxuries are something with which a monk wouldn’t normally be associated.
Lewis does a remarkable job at using his characters to describe the political scene in which they find themselves, and in which Lewis is analysing. He finds elements in the settings to describe in Chapter 2 the ocean of corruption in which Greece is placed. He visits those in parliament who have been tasked with correcting the books that were poisoned by the former leaders, while also talking to those who witnessed the corruption first-hand, and those who are responsible for the corruption.