OPINION

Re: ‘If this is democracy’

Actually, Greece?s parliamentary democracy seems to be one of the things which work well these days in Greece! The government proposes a bill and there is real and serious debate not only between the parties but also, apparently, within each party. What more can one ask for?

Greece is definitely not being ?blackmailed, manipulated, discredited and humiliated.? I can understand that Greeks in their view might feel this way (aroused by petty politicians) but that view is not supported by facts. Greece owes the rest of the world 410 billion euros and it is only natural that the rest of the world says, ?Before we give you even more money, there are a couple of things we would like you to do first.?

The ire of Greeks should not be directed at foreigners who brought the money to Greece. Instead, the ire should be directed at those Greeks who transferred the money abroad again. Bear in mind that Greeks altogether must be among the wealthiest people in Europe (except that a very large part of that wealth is outside the country).

Klaus Kastner

Austria

This opinion is misguided. Greece is not held to ransom by a few greedy investment banks and rating agencies. But it is being pressed by banks, investment funds, insurance companies, and of course foreign governments whose ultimate customers are individual citizens, savers and pensioners who only want the return of their money lent to Greece. If they do not get it back they will suffer for the mismanagement of Greek politicians (is that fair?) and will have to sell other investments to try to make good the shortfall (if they can and have other assets), thereby causing contagion elsewhere. Greece’s democracy failed not now with the financial crisis, but years ago when it was unable to control the profligate and useless borrowing and spending undertaken by its ruling class.

Ian Curtis

I’m sure Mr Boukalas didn’t mean to insult the Jews who survived the Holocaust by likening their situation with that of Greece, so we’ll just set that aside.

On the topic of democracy, I must say that yes, it is democracy. Mr. Boukalas is confusing economic activity with democracy. With democracy you cannot vote yourself a job. Nor can you vote food onto the table. And you certainly can’t vote away your obligations, which is what Mr. Boukalas seems to be secretly hoping for. Democracy does give you the freedom to make bad decisions, and it even gives you the freedom to walk away from your obligations. However it certainly won’t shield you from the ensuing consequences. Why ever would Mr. Boukalas think it does?

Further, Mr. Boukalas has taken the word ?blackmail? and has completely stripped it of its meaning. According to Mr. Boukalas?s definition, the threat of losing one’s home if one fails to pay the mortgage is blackmail; and not the consequences of the failure to meet the obligations one undertook in obtaining the money to buy the home in the first place.

And so, Mr. Boukalas, I say feel free to reject the memorandum. Feel free to go bankrupt. You have the democratic right. But please, spare us the lament about the consequences that will ensue. It’s not blackmail. Because the ones bailing you out will also feel free to keep their money in their pockets. It’s freedom all around.

Nick Kanellos

Mr. Boukalas,

First, I believe you must ask yourself the question, was there ever a true democracy in Greece? It’s disappointing to read once again that Greece is a victim of powerful banks and rating agencies. The root of Greece’s problems is obvious to all — you can’t spend beyond your means. The Greek government has done a splendid job of redistributing funds from the public sector to special interest groups and themselves. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these funds were borrowed (from mostly other European countries) given the extreme weakness of the Greek economic model and its inability to produce goods and services that other would consider buying. What you should ask yourself is why this broken system was allowed to exist for so many decades. Was it that the electorate was ill-informed or was it that their vote was more influenced by how much of the pie they could scam for themselves or what favors they could elicit to cheat the system. Is this a true democracy? If your answer to the question is yes, then Greece deserves the spoils of its efforts.

No one would deny that the European Union bears it share of the responsibility for Greece’s problems as they failed to strictly enforce the fiscal requirements that were put in place to act as a safeguard to excessive government spending and subsequent deficits. The Union’s lack of a common policy to deal with this problem has, as you said, added to the confusion in the market. It seems that both Greece and the European Union could both greatly benefit from strong leadership with a clear vision of the future.

I, personally, think the austerity program is wrong as the government continues to delay the necessary actions that would stop the excess public spending or streamline the government and rid it of the overbearing bureaucracy. A new and comprehensive development plan is needed to support the establishment of new industries to better utilize the resources that Greece has today. However, if the public truly doesn’t believe in the austerity program and wants a change, why doesn’t it convey that message to its elected officials and force the government to take a different path? Maybe because there isn’t a true democracy in Greece.

Peter Chresan

Greece

I agree with your views on the situation. It’s a very sad day.

I don’t think it is right that Parliament surrenders to these international institutions which have singularly failed to build a reasonable structure for the euro.

It’s not just Greece that is bankrupt, it is also our wonderful European democracy and her economically incompetent political elite.

To pretend that PASOK has no alternative to the present course is a lie. It’s not going to be easy, yes, but there are many other routes to a better, fairer solution. To impose huge cuts on the poorer sections of society is a grave injustice.

I’m German and a socialist (with little faith in the state and corrupt syndicates) — but these PASOK people cannot call themselves socialists by any stretch of the imagination.

Whether Greece defaults today or in a year’s time doesn’t really matter.

All I can say for our politicians is that they are weak and have completely failed by not getting the speculators, bankers, insurance and pension funds to agree to a haircut/restructuring of the present sky-high debt — the only rational solution.

In essence, we have a European elite which is unable to face up to big finance — in fact they go as far as formulating a program to please the rating agencies!

You only need to read the pages of the Financial Times if you want to know the thinking behind the cold and cynical calculations of the speculators who run this planet.

Today, the spirit of Europe is being buried by weak politicians and bureaucrats who knew that they were being lied to when Greece first applied to join the euro. It’s not a silly, unimportant currency we should cry about, it’s the lives of people all over Europe that these finance guys have wasted.

Banks, rating agencies, finance ministers and especially the European Commission deserve to be put in front of a tribunal for economic crimes against humanity.

Christoph Antonius