Things aren't going so well in Cyprus right now. As you may have heard, the country's been struggling like the rest of Europe with the neverending debt crisis, and now, as the world watches, it's struggling to find a solution. On Tuesday afternoon, the Cyprus parliament rejected a deeply controversial bailout plan that would basically make citizens foot part of the bill by imposing a so-called "tax" to help fund the package.
This is good news for the Cypriots who weren't happy about the government picking their pockets, but bad news for the possibility for a speedy recovery. It'll be days before banks open back up, and even then, it's unclear if Cypriots will be able to make withdrawls.
Money is so tight that the British government airlifted 1 million euros, about $1.3 million, to the tiny Mediterranean nation. That's a lot of cash, so much that the Royal Air Force used its biggest plane, the Voyager, for the task. But this is no charity mission, and that money is not Mother England's way of giving its one-time protectorate some milk money. (Cyprus is still a member of the Commonwealth.) It's actually for the British soldiers stationed there, who might otherwise miss a paycheck due to the clusterfuck that is Cypriot financial system right now. "Anything less would be seen as betrayal across the military community and throughout the country," Shadow Armed Forces minister Kevan Jones told the press.
A plane full of money is just the dramatic twist this Cyprus bailout debacle needed. What better way to illustrate just how cash-strapped the country must be if foreign governments have to ship money to the island to pay them for their work. Cypriots, however, aren't so lucky. Since the proposed bailout failed, the country's leaders will go back to the drawing board with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the banks are expected to stay closed until at least Thursday.
In other words, the people of Cyprus better hope that British soldiers come eat at their restaurants and shop at their stores, because they may be the only ones with cash. Does this scenario sound familiar? Maybe a little bit like what life must've been like during the many decades that Cyprus was more or less a British colony?
As we learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, sending cold hard cash into crisis situations creates all sorts of accountability issues (ie, it disappears). But even in the age of digital currencies like Bitcoin—which is looking increasingly appealing to crisis-addled Europeans—bags of money remain the ultimate security blanket.