OPINION

On Greece’s entrepreneurship, lack of leadership, privatizations

Well said from Silicon Valley

As a Greek entrepreneur who has spent the better part of 11 years working day and night to build a global internet company in Greece, all I can say is that you are spot on in your post.

I am now in Silicon Valley and after seeing what goes on here in the Bay area, I am not even sure how the young Greeks will ever be able to compete. People here in San Francisco are sharp, curious, hungry, and risktakers. They embrace failure as a badge of honor and are eager to tackle challenges and problems with a sense of creativity and clarity that has nothing to do with money or status, but simply for the love of the job and the betterment of the company’s mission and values.

Young Greeks care about IKA and their ?sintaksi.? They want to have the safety of an ?apozimiosi,? with the government protection to shake down employers the minute they are asked to work harder and put more time into their professional careers. The value proposition is not there anymore… you get a lot of nothing for a lot of headache. ?Parea? takes priority over the job, and a night out at the ?bouzoukia? is much more important than a fresh early start to the day.

It?s time to forget about safety and security. It?s time for the government to put mechanisms in place where any company can scale up quickly and scale down quickly, based on fair evaluations and merit systems… believe me, the good start-ups with proper management will rise to the top. Make it simple to start a company and even easier to close a company. IKA and FMY needs to go…PERIOD!

You want jobs, give companies free cash flow. Cash flow is the key to every start up success, so making IKA payments kills cash flow, apozimiosei kills cash flow, 13th and 14th salaries kill cash flow, and taking away a business’s right and ease to fail destroys the risktakers and reduces idea generation.

There is and never was such a thing as a safe job. This was a lie fed to all Greeks for over 20 years. The party is over and the bill has arrived, and now is the time to change our psychology drastically in order to even think about competing with the go-getters, free thinkers, passionate youth that exists in this world. Young kids here are eager to change the world in ways that young Greeks are not even beginning to comprehend… and it has nothing to do with salary and money… they just love to build product. We have adopted a love-to-destroy product.

Alex Christoforou

True, sort of

Indeed, the country can hardly afford division now, but unity requires leadership, and the current leadership may just not be right for this historical moment. Greece needs a moral as well as fiscal and political transformation, and until every citizen realizes this the country will not be prepared for the kind of leadership that could help it salvage the future. How many Greeks have begun to pay their full share of taxes now, despite the hardships? How many people are still paying workers under the table? Who among the kleptocrats has stepped forward and expressed regret — and returned some of that ill-gotten wealth to the people? Who at any level of society has truly accepted his or her responsibility, and now acts accordingly?

No, it wouldn’t be nice if Greece defaults on its debt, but as sure as the sun rises each morning, some manner of default is coming. And no, it would be painful to leave the euro zone, but that too may come to pass, whether people want it or not. Greece is now caught in a downward spiral, and in the absence of a broad consensus on spending cuts, privatizations, pension reform, and tax increases, and wiping out the gray economy, Greece will run out of choices. But society will not collapse. It will just go through a period of turmoil and emerge much poorer, but perhaps also much more firmly attached to reality.

Henderson Claude

I doubt that anyone among the EU elites has even put a thought to the question of what privatizations to the tune of 50 billion euros mean (some papers even mentioned amounts up to 300 billion euros!). Is there a list of state-owned companies which would be worth so much money?

 

Assuming an asset valuation of 5-times cash flow, one would be talking about companies which generate 10 billion euros cash flow annually. Does that cash flow exist? If so, why would the state have liquidity problems?

 

Mind you, a 5-times cash flow valuation assumes a well-performing company in a stable business environment. A fire sale in a country which now has the lowest credit ratings of all countries worldwide, might not achieve those optimistic forecasts.

 

Klaus Kastner

Gmunden, Austria

The path of creative protest

I came from Canada to Greece almost 15 years ago in the hope of establishing myself as a certified accountant with extensive experience in this field. My aspirations were realistic, reasonable. However, the realities I faced on the ground were utterly unexpected and certainly uncharacteristic of a country forming part of the EU. First, the profession was serverly closed and the certified accountants recognized were handful and their abilities were mediocre to say the least. In addition to this, the tax offices were all antiquated in their systems and ways of doing work which didn’t remotely resemble what I saw back in canada. What made me so angry, though, and sorry for having left Canada, was the fact that most of the tax officers were corrupt which means that normal business practices could not be applied: such as audit, verification, examination and so on. Every single tax problem (i.e. tax evasion) had a price, you pay the officer and get off the hook. The tax department was like a state within a state. On the employment front, the picture was even bleaker. The country had no placement agencies. I was later apprised by friends of mine who lived here that in this country it’s not your abilities that count for finding jobs but who do you know; hence, everyone who had someone in PASOK would get a job immediately. At that time I opted to become part of PASOK and had the chance of finding a decent job. Upon reflection, I find what was happening extremely damaging to the country and expected that one day bankruptcy would be knocking on our doors: and here we go the expectations became realities. We PASOK and ND have destroyed this country and have made it lower than even Jamaica (CCC rating).

This beautiful country has become a laughing stock to all nations. Wherever I go I hear murmurs and giggles about Greece from everyone around me.

Finally, although I have been able to make some money as a result of PASOK membership but I lost a country I loved and still love. My heart bleeds and my soul hurts. I am also sorry for the public servants and politicians who stole all the millions and billions and are still residing in their homes unperturbed. To those I say the story is not over. The time will come when they will have to ship out exactly like the dictators of the Arab world. They have destroyed the country and the time will come when they will be dejected from Greece with their underwear only.

Greece never dies. God bless this country

John Nasopoulos