OPINION

On the smoking ban, corruption and the ‘I won’t pay’ movement

Bad choice

This mentality of «I’m not paying» is not a viable form of protest but an extension of behaviors and choices that have led to the sad state Greece is in at the moment. If we do not behave as civic-minded citizens but only do what seems right for us as individuals, there is no state, no civilization. The individual decision to make a choice that affects the collective positively must be made, otherwise we should prepare ourselves for a return to a brutish, caveman-type existence.

ALIKI IASONIDOU

Response to David Manson

So on the one hand you note that traffic laws are unenforced, which by the way leads to Greece having the highest mortality rate per capita of all countries in Europe — yes, you stand a much greater chance of getting killed on Greek roads — and on the other you hope that sensible measures designed to protect other people from the smoke that you produce will not be enforced.

Why should others have their risks of contracting a huge range of debilitating and life-threatening diseases greatly increased because you are selfish enough to want to smoke anywhere you please? The statistical effect of secondary smoking on children is particularly disturbing ans had been called child abuse. You want Greece to be a public health backwater? Even some African countries are now enforcing similar smoking bans and have more advanced public health enforcement than Greece, it seems. You are running out of countries in which to pollute the air of those around you. By the way, Australian businesses have not suffered in the long run since the beginning of bans in different states 15 years ago and it has, without doubt, one the best health systems in the world.

The World Heath Organization has targeted smoking as the number one public health problem worldwide. Greece’s health system is on the verge of financial collapse and smoking greatly increases the morbidity and mortality load and hence costs for that system. Most tourists that I have spoken to, even the smokers, support the smoking bans because they are now getting used to smoke-free environments back home. The idea that the smoking bans will in any way negatively affect tourism is a myth propagated by the pro-smoking lobby and I suspect that your letter is most probably spam produced by one of their members. I do however know asthmatics who have had serious problems in Greece because of the stupidity of allowing smoking simply everywhere — in hospitals is particularly mind-boggling.

Phil Grundig

How can a citizen report corruption of public officials?

I had a fascinating experience last week at Athens Airport coming in on a flight from London which originated in the US. I had bought an expensive watch for personal use which was held by the customs officials. What followed the next day for me to get my watch back is an amazing series of events.

After having to hire a customs broker to get through the mountain of paperwork and red tape, I also had to bribe three of the officials at the customs office arrivals area at the airport to move things along — 20 euros here, 20 there, 10 to the other person.

I would like to do something about this but I have no evidence except for my word…

JOHN

A Greek Tea Party

Regarding Costas Iordanidis’s piece on the possibility of a Greek Tea Party movement, I think it’s important to add that in the USA, the Tea Party movement is not a grassroots movement at all, but rather an astroturf movement funded by billionaire oligarchs like the Koch Brothers. The Tea Party movement is a mix of anti-tax, anti-social-programs, militarist, frequently racist, anti-Obama (largely for his skin color) groups that purport to be angry about government, but essentially they mostly angry with progressives. Paradoxically, Tea Party support for the radical right wing in the USA fuels corruption in government by demanding a repeal of any regulations meant to address the extraordinary defrauding of the country by corporate executives in Wall Street and elsewhere.

What Greece might need is the exact opposite of the Tea Party movement. That is, a grassroots movement against corruption, a movement that has not been bankrolled and co-opted by the corrupt oligarchs themselves who prey on artificial cultural divisions as a means to continue the system of corruption that plagues the country.

DIMITRI ANASTAS

BUFFALO, NEW YORK