OPINION

On the Indignant, Smaghi, Turkey and the economy

Clean house

Yes, Greece invented democracy, but how was it practiced? The ancient Greeks invented democracy for the slaves to feel that they had a hand in things; however, the reality is that the elite always ran the country.

You keep the masses undereducated, give them an addiction and rule forever. The Greek education system falls short of doing a halfway decent job. Many smart Greeks are walking around with blinders on because they have been brainwashed as to how things work.

As for addiction, look at Opap, look at sport fanaticism amongst others. People get so immersed with their teams that it is truly a drug for them.

Greeks, wake up, for you deserve better than this. Get rid of your idiot corrupt politicians and the corrupt system that has been robbing you of your rights as human beings.

Take over the country and clean it up. It can be done, and must be done. Remember to seek and learn on your own. Do not rely on your manipulated media or politicians.

You can do it.

James Garland

Enough will never be enough

In response to the comments posted by Oli Op (Enough is enough) I would like to respectfully disagree with you. The problems currently facing Greece are not the responsibility of the Greeks who live abroad. Many Greeks who live abroad are saddened by the current state of affairs but many of us who emigrated left Greece out necessity and not choice. We were forced to leave due to the gross economic mismanagement of the handful of families that have ruled Greece since the Second World War and are still ruling today.

Wave after wave of Greeks have been forced to immigrate to other countries to secure a better future for their children and themselves. You can even count the waves, 1950s, 60s and 70s up until today?s date.

So why should we contribute to solving the current economic problems of Greece? This will only benefit in securing the future of the same incompetent people who have mismanaged Greece for over 50 years.

But if you really insist that I do my part and contribute to solving the current economic problems facing Greece, then I only offer one thing. A box of matches.

Nick Mulgrave

For us Greeks that live abroad, and I am speaking for myself, I feel the Greeks in Greece got the politicians they wanted.

Every time I go to Greece I was made fun off because ?we Greeks? that live abroad don’t know how to enjoy life and work all the time. That did not however stop them from asking for money and trying to rip you off.

Well, my friends, now it’s time to pay the piper. I just feel sorry for my kin folk that still live in a corrupt country as Greece turned out to be.

My great grandfather said ?Work to eat and steal to have money.? This is in the fabric of the Greeks in Greece. I was just in Greece for a month-and-half, and stores were closed, out of business.

I will go again next year and see how many more stores are closed and see more unemployed people.

The Greek need to have a peaceful revolution.

Tom Morris

Recycled politicians

These are politicians. They keep getting recycled from election to election and they always have their eye on the next election results.

We need some patriots who will not mind getting defeated next time around as long as the job gets done and a catastrophe is avoided.

Greece is in dire straits and needs men and women of courage and vision to get us out of this mess, or at least spare us the indignity of having outsiders come in and auction our property to pay our debts.

All politicians and department heads along with ministers from both parties should be hauled in to answer the tough questions about what happened during the last 40 years.

The country did not go bankrupt overnight. A lot of thieves have safeguarded the spoils of their acts a long time ago and talking now is not going to accomplish anything. We need acts. Bold and brave acts.

Monica Lane

State property scavengers

Demand may eventually surface for some of the assets if the sales process finally gathers pace with help from abroad, including from private equity firms, said David Simpson, global head of mergers and acquisitions at KPMG.

It is already high — and growing — among pension funds looking at well-structured infrastructure investments. But that doesn?t mean they will be easy deals.

«Whoever the buyer is, they have to believe that these are businesses they can make a profit out of,» said Simpson.

“And if the local environment is not going to allow me to put port fees up, or lay people off or reorganise things, then I am not a buyer.”

And there we have it folks of Greece, sell your assets to overseas buyers, put the profits in another country and for that pleasure expect higher prices, sacked workers and restructuring to suit who? Germany, France etc. etc.

What benefit will you get when it is owned by Joe Bloggs from God knows where? The EU and IMF blackmailers, kicking the Greek people when they are down, just who are they really helping? Themselves, because they sure ain?t helping the Greek people.

Roly Baker, Corfu

Greeks reap what they sow

I visit Greece from Dublin every year, and although many Greek people are hardworking and conscientious, there are still more in the majority that have an entitlement mentality.

Maybe ending up rock-bottom again will shock them into realizing that enough is enough and shunning hard work is a thing of the past. Start picking fruit, doing construction jobs etc. Then maybe you won’t have to import foreign workers and complain as you do about it now.

As during the 1950s when allegations of mismanagement of Marshall Plan funds were the talk of the town in Washington, I can only wonder what discussions are being held in the halls of the IMF and ECB regarding the current management.

Larry Miller

Meeting of political leaders

Let?s be honest, PASOK has a huge majority in Parliament and can pass any legislation it wants. So why are they and the «troika» yelling and screaming for consensus? Because they want to give PASOK political cover and spread the blame around for the pain the people are feeling.

[Antonis] Samaras is a smart cookie and can see what is going on. He has no reason to give PASOK political cover. PASOK is to blame for creating an out-of-control welfare state and Samaras is more than happy to let them sink under their own weight.

Consensus is needed when the nation is in danger, not when a political party is in danger.

Chris Daskalakis

The Indignant movement

Pangalos is right that the movement lacks a political ideology, and that it is fueled by rage: From a youth unemployment rate of 35 percent, and the legal system not hunting down the politicians who ran the country into the ground. Perhaps Mr Pangalos should realize that the political ideologies of the two main parties who have held power in Greece for 30 years are fueling the rage of the protesters.

Angelo Arvaniti

It is shameful for our minister of ?We spent it all together? to criticize the Indignant movement — he was doing the exact same thing during the Dictatorship years.

The fact that the «normal» people in Greece are fed up with our governing bodies, politicians, unions or the public sector as a whole should be a good enough message that someone somewhere that people trusted has messed up big time.

The Indignant movement not only sends messages to our «leaders» but also to our lenders/usurers that they are trying to screw Greece even more than our own kind. The Indignant movement should wake up the world to the failures of the world governments and the global financial practices that ?kill? people with starvation, bankruptcy and despair. If the Arab world revolts, for they have nothing to lose having already lost a lot including their dignity, who are we in Europe to stay silent?

Alex Charalambous, France

EU needs to be more constructive

I applaud Dimitris Kontoyiannis’s article, as it makes a number of valid points, regarding return to growth, investment, etc.

His suggestion that proceeds from depressed asset sales should be used to buy back depressed bonds makes perfect sense.

Has he thought of applying to the Greek Finance Ministry as an advisor? Whatever they pay him will be worth every penny, unlike Goldman Sachs!

Yannis Nicolaidis

Protest demonstrations

The political system of Greece can only be declared to have failed because the majority chose to ignore the rules and laws passed in Parliament. I came to live in Greece in 2005. I was initially irritated by the fact that only ‘international’ enterprises offered payment by credit cards. After a while I realized that local enterprises did not offer facilities for credit card payment because they would have to give official receipts, and the transaction would be recorded. Most enterprises and individuals never gave receipts so that they could avoid paying all taxes on their business.

Family businesses employed members of the family, and paid ‘in kind’. This avoided paying cash, and enabled tax and insurance avoidance.

Family businesses are operated as syndicates, with security of tenure. For example, pharmacies and transport services are in the family. Their existence does not depend on quality of services. Likewise, civil servants have security of tenure and there is no inspection of efficiency or competence. Investigations have revealed that doctors and surgeons take bribes, and pay no taxes. Not only that, they divert hospital equipment to their private practices.

Laws relating to driving, roads, and smoking are specific, and are ignored. ‘No smoking’ means smoking. ‘One way street’ means any way. Speed limits are not observed. Safety belts and motorcycle helmets are ignored.

So far as I can see, the present government is trying to apply the rules and laws to the citizens, as well as handle a major sovereign debt. Why have governments in the past been forced to borrow money on such a large scale? Because the citizens have been making demands that they have no intention of paying for! And when the government tries to impose the regulations, everybody shouts, strikes, riots. The present protests are demands for ‘business as usual’ when the country is bankrupt. The people of Greece have to face up to the realities of living in the EU.

Kelvyn Richards, Trikala

United Greece

One of my «favorite» politicians of the 1960s, when faced with demonstrations for social reforms, was quoted as saying, «They can march all they want as long as they pay for the shoe leather and do not join his political party and change the rules of the country overnight.”

Party members can undo a corrupt and unresponsive government.

Greeks need to join political parties not to gain favors as individuals, but to protect Greece from disgrace. If half the demonstrators were thinking of Greece rather than their short-term interests, Greece would be out of the mud in two years.

Having a politically naive and uneducated lazy population that blames everybody else for the country?s ills is Greece?s main problem.

The debt Greece enjoyed by taking holidays around the world, buying American and Japanese cars at very low interest rates, and the world?s biggest houses after Australia and America, is where the money went. Many Greek houses and apartments are more luxurious than American and Australian houses.

The luxury yachts and motorboats owned by Greeks are rare in Australia, and seen in a few places in America. Many Anglos do not like to show their wealth, it is considered vulgar.

What Greek city or town in a very short time has not been congested by cars, when there were empty streets for children to play in before?

In every far-flung corner of the earth you now have Greek tourists, where in the past the only Greeks would have been refugees running the local restaurant.

The lack of Democracy in Greece is the key to its problems.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Smaghi’s comments

Of course, the EU financial and political elites are so very intelligent and have the right answers for everything. So how come that almost three years into this Greek tragedy they still haven’t been able to implement anything that worked? Piecemeal here, piecemeal there. Contradictory official opinions expressed here and there. Exactly the type of thing which reinforces confidence on the part of the markets. Shoot up a trial balloon and see if it works. If not, shoot up another one.

“We care about taxpayers’ money and that is why we warn against restructuring» — oh really? Or does it perhaps have something to do with the fact that the ECB lent — behind «closed doors» — almost 100 billion euros to the Greek banking systems (not to mention all the Greek bonds they bought at inflated prices from banks who needed to unload risk)?

?A Greek restructuring would be nothing like those in Latin America during the 1980s. An orderly restructuring is a fairy tale» — oh really? How does Smaghi know? An orderly restructuring is the only alternative to a flat-out default. Does Smaghi want such a default?

In one very important aspect, Smaghi is right when he claims differences between Greece now and Latin America then. In Latin America, the private lenders could not unload their risk to taxpayers. They had to «stay in the game» with their exposure amounts and, in fact, they had to provide fresh money on a pro-rata basis. If they wanted to unload their risk, they could do so in the secondary markets at high discounts.

Question to Mr Smaghi: What does a borrower normally do when he can no longer services his debts and cannot get new loans on a voluntary basis? He sits down with his creditors and negotiates a solution to his debt problems.

Suggestion to Mr Smaghi: Invite experts from the then Citibank which headed up the Steering Committees during the Latin American reschedulings and ask them to share their experience. In case you don’t remember: William R. Rhodes of the then Citibank was the head of those Steering Committees.

Klaus Kastner

I do not agree

I am a Turkish citizen and I disagree with this article [?From Kemal to Erdogan?].

Erdogan’s real base is not more than 25 percent of the country and they have been there since Ataturk. He is getting an extra 20 percent from people who really do not care for anything else than cash flow. When the money goes away (like happened to Greece) they will be the biggest enemy of Erdogan.

Moreover, he is getting 70 percent of parliament with 45 percent of its votes because the threshold for getting into parliament for parties is 10 percent, which always works for the strongest party. Basically, we have a guy who rules 100 percent of the country like a dictator, with 70 percent of the parliament, which is based on 25 percent of the people. Our economic meltdown is on the way. I will see Erdogan when that day comes.

And he is about to push the nation to build several nuclear energy stations close to the Aegean Sea. How can Greek media totally ignore this? With one accident, you will never have a tourist for the next 100 years. Even the bailout will not solve your problems then.

Gunay Toprak, Turkey