OPINION

On violence, conspiracy theories, the debt crisis, French burqa ban

Up in the air or down to new basics ?

The analyses written down in ?Up in the air? is a realistic one. Already before joining the euro zone Greece had fundamental problems with its political, financial and economic design. And ?Up in the air? does give direction how to change this design.

When Papandreou took over the Greek government he did find a very difficult financial situation. Difficult for Greece and difficult for the EU and it?s euro. A situation which was covered up very well until that moment. Covered up for Greece and for the EU. So it?s important for Greece and the EU to solve this problem. And restructure the design of Greece in such a way it will and can?t happen again. This is difficult to do. And it hurts concerning many issues. You know now.

But there is another issue. An issue concerning attitudes and their consequences in daily life in Greece. What the euro crisis made very clear is the differences in attitudes between ?north? and ?south? Europe concerning the basic financial design. A design Max Weber did analyze about a hundred years ago. He called the north European design ?the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism?, a design he missed in South Europe.

This design is not about religion but about attitudes as consequence of a religion. Protestant attitudes are different from Orthodox / Catholic attitudes. Specially concerning financial and related responsibilities (to God). And these attitudes now feed the differences in responsibilities and opinions concerning the ?how? and ?why? of the euro crisis and it?s solutions. The Protestant Ethic is very clear about what Greece has been doing (for Europe): You will go to hell!

For Greece this means that that the now money supplying north European countries will expect from Greece ?up from now? a Protestant attitude concerning financial and economic issues (related to the euro). Because they won?t help again. And the only prevention to do this is expecting from Greece this attitude.

So in my opinion Greece now is facing two challenges concerning its basic design and future.

The first one has been described in ?Up in the air?.

The second one is even a more fundamental one. A challenge Greece is not aware of right now. And which is an implicit part of the outcome of the negotiations with the ?Trioka?. It is about the future of the Greek lifestyle. Not only concerning politics, finances and economy. It?s about ?Protestant? attitudes concerning behavior and responsibilities in daily life.

Does the Greek people want to change those attitudes?

I don?t know.

But you better start discussing this.

And what the consequences will be when (not) accepting them.

Kalo Pascha!

Johannes van der Schaaf

Holland

Up in the air

Dear Mr Alexis Papachelas,

My name is Nikos Stivactas, I am a Greek living in Sydney, Australia.

I wanted to congratulate you on your article ?Up in the air? pertaining to the current economic climate Greece finds itself in. It is a time of great hardship for the Greek nation, and in times like this, unfortunately, when there is no feasible plan for economic growth, discontent increases amongst the populace as does the drift towards extremism.

As you stated, more than ever, Greeks need to rely on their families, friends and communities, one of the endearing traits of the Greek character, that is rapidly being lost in the western world.

I was speaking to a Greek politician of the Diaspora who had been to Greece late last year. He said sadly, there is often a lot of talk but very little real action. The system itself prevents positive action from taking place.

I have written countless letters to Greek politicians, and men/woman of influence suggesting ways in which we can create opportunity for the Greek nation and thus prevent this slide into violence. I have suggested easy investment schemes from the Greeks of the diaspora, investment in special economic zones to create jobs and which are free from the bureaucracy that plagues the rest of the Greek economy. These will be ?powerhouses? of economic activity.

Also looking to improve Greece?s export market, a sure way to bring wealth into the country. Many products that Greece is strong in are simply not sold overseas.

I like to think I have some valid points. I am a business manager whose role is to grow industry share for the companies I am employed by. So I know something about market dynamics.

Sadly I have been unable to gain a sympathetic ear from any Greek politicians and anyone who does find merit in my proposals is simply not in a position to affect change.

Should you know of anyone who could help, I would very much appreciate it. All going well, I will be in Greece in August of this year.

Thank you.

Best Regards

Nick Stivactas

Business Manager

Ingredients Plus Pty Ltd

Violence threatens survival

In his article entitled «Violence threatens survival» Nikos Xydakis states in regard to the growing inclination to violence that, «It is not easy to pinpoint the exact causes and who is behind this decline; if we could, solving the issue would be a much easier matter». Xydakis goes on to say that it is safe to assume that the current economic crisis, austerity measures and fear of an uncertain future are clearly contributing factors.

While it is easy to blame external forces for the behavior of society I think that a more introspective approach must be taken. I believe that all behaviors, for good or evil, are the result of internalized principles upon which we act. Politicians that take bribes or those that pay them for personal gain, students that react violently upon those they disagree with or citizens that expect services but will not pay taxes, are all indications of another kind of crisis — a crisis of values/principles.

Instead of pointing at the external factors for this crisis it is time to take a hard look inside.

R. McGowan

Greek conspiracy theories again

I can only laugh over stories like this (regarding German Stefan [Schafer]’s bicycle win) in Greece. It seems that there is not once that Greeks can just say «They were better, they beat us» and move on. It always has to be some conspiracy against Greeks and Greece, and I get quite bored hearing this over and over from Greek friends and colleagues.

Sometimes, Greeks are just not the best or being victimized. Move on please!

Eleni Koures

Greece may have to play hardball

Given Greece?s current financial circumstances, another name for ?playing hardball? along the lines here described is ?cutting off your nose to spite your face.? A Greek default would be mildly injurious to the EU, but catastrophic for Greece. Were Greece to resort to so irrational a ploy as to threaten default in order to gain concessions, it would only reinforce widespread suspicions that Greeks cannot act like grown-ups. To be taken seriously, Greeks must stop striking and rioting — thereby scaring away tourists and investors alike — and pull together to overcome the crisis engulfing them. Europe can help, but in the end they alone can dig themselves out of the hole they?ve dug themselves into. It?s time they faced that reality. As the ancients would say: ??? ????? ??? ????? ?????.

?asil Zafiriou

Ontario, Canada

The ban of the burqa in France

I agreed with the writer, but I would add that no civilized society should allow either men or women to appear in public with their faces covered. This is first and foremost a security issue and should be looked upon as such… what have they got to hide?

Renee Pappas