When it comes to crushing debts, unsustainable entitlements and ballooning deficits, Americans and Europeans are all in the same sinking boat. Where they part ways is in their response to the looming crisis.

Faced with out-of-control government spending and the prospect of a bleak economic future, Americans from across the country have rallied under the banner of the Tea Party and sent a clear message to Washington: Enough! In a vigorous manifestation of that greatest of all checks on government—the “vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America”—citizens began a grassroots wave of orderly protests that have since only grown in number and promise to keep the pressure on Washington to pull its financial act together.

Meanwhile in Greece, proposed austerity measures to avert bankruptcy have left the country paralyzed by strikes and riots. Last week in Athens, Greek police fired teargas at protesters who responded by throwing stones and yogurt. This week, the country is being hit with blackouts as the main power company goes on strike. Violent protests have sadly become the norm whenever European governments attempt to tackle their financial woes. Their citizens, coddled by the nanny-state and its promises of cradle-to-grave no-hassle living, do not take well to being told it’s time to face the music.

Cynics will say that Americans aren’t hurling stones and yogurt because the government has yet to touch their benefits, and that when it does, things will get ugly here too. Perhaps. But there are reasons to believe that Americans, who by and large still view themselves as free citizens of a republic rather than dependent wards of the welfare state, will have the fortitude to accept whatever painful cuts are necessary. And thanks to the efforts of the Tea Party, these cuts, when they do occur, will not be as drastic as they would have been had the people sat by in torpor until the crisis hit.