OPINION

On Varoufakis, Gaza flotillas, the Greek left, illegal immigrants

Land of my forefathers

I don’t live in Greece and I don’t experience the pain and frustration that the average Greek is living through. But as many expatriates have many relatives living there, I am not totally divorced from all that is happening.

At this time, it makes no difference who destroyed the economy. Too late for that, now it is time to go back to the history books and read how different generations dealt with imminent disasters. In the past, with blood and sweat, but above all with wisdom, the country prevailed.

One thing is for sure, Greeks worldwide are a very small percentage of the world population but our history is as rich as the most populous country. For me, without Greece on the world map, I do not exist.

I pray that new leaders will come forth and slowly but surely save the country we love.

Basil Aftousmis

Former EU leaders back ‘New Deal’ for Greece

Yanis Varoufakis? idea sounds really nice. The easy way out. Unfortunately, just like so many ideas that offer seemingly easy solutions (like ?let the rich pay?, ?Keynsian multiplier = indefinite wealth on public spending?, etc.), it has a catch.

In this case, the catch is that Mr. Varoufakis? proposal does not address any of the problems that caused Greece?s present predicament. It merely provides a temporary patch for the symptoms.

The effective bankruptcy of the Greek government has several key reasons:

? Inflated public sector: The large herd of voting cattle reared by the government by feeding them artificial public sector jobs

? Lack of meritocracy, no reward for performance in the public sector, widespread incompetence in political leadership and public sector management

? Corruption

? The lack of free markets (including the labour market) and an unholy union of established business interests and archaic unions stifle all entrepreneurship, preventing the creation of new jobs that actually pay, rather than consume tax

? Lack of tax enforcement

These are the causes of the problem.

The inability to borrow even more money, as well as the bad ratings by rating agencies, are merely the result. The symptoms.

Yes, if countries like Germany were blind enough to accept Mr. Varoufakis? proposal, it is quite likely to work for a while and ease the symptoms temporarily. Greece would have access to cheaper debt. And that would have the same effect as trying to heal a junky by giving him access to cheap drugs: It will make him feel better for a while, because we eased the symptoms. And shortly after, he dies. Because we prolonged the causes of the illness.

Even with the present intense pressure on the Greek government, it has failed to seriously and sustainably address any of the abovementioned causes of Greece?s problems. So why would anybody trust that they will address these problems once that pressure is eased?

The earlier the Greek government is forced to address the real problems, the less catastrophic the impact will be on the Greek population. Unfortunately, it is already very late and any real cure will be very painful. But Greeks beware: If you continue to go for the seemingly pain-free remedies like that of Mr. Varoufakis?, you are doomed. You have been given snake oil for 30 years. It tasted sweet for a while, then gave you a bad hangover and now is about to kill you. Time to switch doctor and medicine. How about replacing the amateur witch-doctors with a professional approach, with logic and analysis for a change? Greeks used to be good at that, before too many gave it up for nice, simple ideas, ideologies and conspiracy theories.

And there is another reason why Greeks should not hope for magic remedies: Any medicine containing Germany is contaminated. Germany has the same debt-illness as Greece and most of the western world. Marginally less advanced than Greece or the USA, but fundamentally the same.

Trust me, I am German.

Torsten Mailahn

London, UK

Hope for Greece and Israel

 

I just returned from my first visit to Greece, which was as wonderful as it was too short. I appreciated Greek culture, past and present, the warm welcome of Greeks from all walks of life, and to see that as much as Greece is going through some very real challenges now, life is going on in a way that the international media does not portray.

 

I could not help but draw a parallel between how Greece and Israel are portrayed in the media, and how life on the ground in both our countries is vastly different. I was nervous to visit because of reports of rioting and strikes, and for the first time felt the way many feel about coming to Israel, with worry that a pleasant visit might end up in conflict or worse.

 

Nevertheless, I came to visit Greece anyway, because I wanted to and because especially as close allies, it was important for me to show my solidarity with Greece at this time. I was glad to spend money in Greece and do my own very little part to add to the economy.

 

This was my first visit to Greece but I have a strong feeling it won?t be my last visit. I look forward to coming back again, I look forward to welcoming new friends I made to Israel, and on a macro level, I look forward to a greater and flourishing relationship between our countries and our people.

 

Jonathan Feldstein

Jerusalem, Israel

Stopping the flotillas

I believe the Greek government has done the right thing by preventing Gaza activists from leaving Greek ports in their ships. While these activists have turned down Greece’s offer to deliver the humanitarian aid for them, they have declared their intentions to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza as the real reason for taking their vessels out of port. Breaking the blockade is clearly a provocation and could lead to further incidents like the one involving Israeli commandos and peace activists last May, so Greece is behaving responsibility by trying to prevent such possible encounters from occurring again. With the whole region of the eastern Mediterranean full of unrest, from Greece’s fiscal and economic crisis, to the unrest in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, plus the continued conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza, more provocation by these activists is not needed. Perhaps Greece’s closer relations with Israel over the last few years has something to do with this decision as well. Whether this has anything to do with it or not, preventing these activists from provoking another incident is showing responsibility, good judgment, and concern for the well-being of the eastern Mediterranean region.

 

Peter Kates  

The irrelevant Greek left

It amazes me that there are still so many Greeks in Greece who are under the sway and influence of far left parties such as KKE and SYRIZA. Historically, the centre-left parties only represent the rights of the worker in most liberal democracies.

However this is not the case in Greece. KKE was founded on the premise that the Greek nation had to be subjected to orders from Moscow even if this meant that Macedonia had to be ceded to Yugoslavia. SYRIZA, another offshoot from the bizarre incestuous behaviour of Bolshevism and anarchism, was founded only to spread anarchy, violence and mayhem.

I am yet to see Mr Tsirpas and Ms Papariga inform the Greek people about economy-building measures. Where is their patriotism and innovation, I ask?

No, the Greek left continue their unpatriotic behaviour by rioting, looting and protesting and destroying our only strong and identifiable industries, our culture, historical legacy and tourism. I ask the question to the leftists and anarchists, what are you actually doing to revive the economy, to create jobs, to assist struggling families and to improve our credibility on the world stage and global market.

I do hope that when this crisis passes, the communists and anarchists are completely eliminated from the annals of Greek history.

Jim Babalis

Melbourne

Greece no country for illegal immigrants

I am at a loss as to what the commentator is trying to convey.

Illegals who entered Greece with no entry visa or legal papers, who according to their own admission, were involved in criminal activity are being held for processing and deportation.

What else should they expect?

What some elements in our society do not want to understand is that wholesale acceptance of undocumented refugees who cross borders with no controls or ability to sustain themselves become a burden on all of us.

During these hard times when the government cannot provide retirees with a pension for months after they actually retire, businesses do not invest or hire because of the economy, foreign interest is only from those who keep an eye out to make sure they will receive their usury fee of 16% interest on the loans, we can ill afford the expense of additional police forces to protect us and we definitely cannot afford better accommodations for those who broke the law and entered the country illegally and broke the law again by getting involved in criminal acts.

Perhaps a little bit of self-interest in the good sense of the word could serve us all right.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Neighborhood police

In Holland this system of neighborhood police was introduced 35 years ago, for the very same reasons as mentioned here. Concerning the Dutch people, it has been a success. Concerning the neighborhood officers, not always. This is because those officers bring ‘society and its problems’ into the police force, which most times is not open to those problems. So the neighborhood officer has to find his own way and own solutions concerning those problems.

Because his neighborhood wants to see solutions (now). This can develop a lot of stress for the officer and his family. So professional training of the police force and (all of) its officers is necessary in order to prevent a the project from crashing, right from the start. In Holland they had to do that five years after the introduction of this kind of policing. It took me five years to get the project back on track. So, please, don’t make this mistake again.

Hans van der Schaaf

Differences?

There are two issues we have to understand to know why we have these problems in Europe today.

The first is that Greek economists should have informed the Greek people and government about what the introduction of the euro was going to mean for the Greek lifestyle. They did not. So Greece was not informed about this and introduced the euro without knowing and without understanding.

But Greece did not change its economic way of life; a way of life that had paid for its yearly deficit by devaluation of the drachma.

Instead it paid its yearly deficit by borrowing cheap euros and lied about the volume of its growing deficit until this was not possible anymore.

An excellent practice of political and financial management!

In my opinion all this is a crime. Towards the Greek people. And towards Europe.

The other problem is the Greek lifestyle.

The German sociologist Max Weber made a study 100 years ago concerning the issue of ‘why the south of Europe had not developed capitalism.’

In his opinion this had to do with the lack of a Protestant work ethic. (See Wikipedia for this.)

The lack of this ethic in Greece today produces an effect on efficiency that costs this country 65 percent of what it is producing. Cost concerning time, money, quality, waste, etc.

Countries with a Protestant ethic produce at costs at about 5 percent! And are reducing those costs every year.

So something has to change here when Greece wants to become competetive with countries like Germany. And it has to while wanting to stay in the eurozone. Because otherwise today?s deficit problem will become a continuous one.

With the euro, Europe tried to merge incompatible economic, social and mental systems: All euro countries had to apply the same (Protestant) logic concerning its financial management without checking and informing the people of those countries and in Europe about those differences and their consequences concerning this logic.

The result is the mess we are in now.

And now German and other ‘Protestant’ countries are blaming the ‘non-Protestant’ countries and the other way round about who is responsible for this crisis. We really are perfectly stupid.

So one thing this crisis teaches us is that it must be that our political leaders were and still are not professional (enough) concerning the management of projects like now with the euro.

We had better blame them for the financial and moral crisis we are in now instead of each other.

We Europeans do have the same problem. We better start to understand that.

Hans van der Schaaf

Thoughts on the crisis in Greece

Having just returned from a short vacation in Greece and being of Greek origin myself, I felt the need to write this letter and express my distress and frustration at what I saw during my time in Greece. Although all is not yet lost or totally broken, the cracks are both deep and very wide and the risk of this chasm having very permanent damage to our beautiful country, economically, socially, emotionally and even psychologically are both real and perhaps even inevitable unless we decide the responsibility of change and hope lies with us and not others.

There is no doubt that the sovereign debt crisis facing the country is very real and very serious, but the lack of effort from the Greek population to realise this and attempt to rectify this situation is indeed disturbing and very alarming.

The ability to demonstrate and express one’s thoughts and feelings is at the core of any democratic nation and more so in Greece where we have given birth to these rights through our forefathers. These principles have been the guiding light for so many nations to embrace the ability of freedom of expression and action. There is, however, one fundamental element of responsibility that comes with democracy; and that is respect of property and the surroundings of where we live, work and interact with one another.

What I experienced in Syntagma Square was a disgrace and I felt embarrassed to call myself Greek. The graffiti, defacing of public property, filth and illegal immigrants selling fake products within the confines of this majestic square were both an ignominy and a discredit to those genuine demonstrators who have both a voice and opinion to be heard and heeded.

The crisis Greece is facing is not the sole responsibility of the government of the day. We as Greeks must all face the burden of blame our country is in today and there are three very simple characteristics that are not in evidence in Greece today: respect, patience and discipline.

Respect for one another and the ability to think beyond today and be conscientious citizens who take pride in our country and our heritage. Patience to know that in order to overcome this crisis and avoid the abyss we are pushing our children and our next generation towards demands we must make sacrifices today and understand that the blame cannot be shed on foreign governments and politicians, but firmly on our own actions and deeds over the past decades that have finally caught up with us. Lastly, discipline; which is so absent today in the fabric or our society: the discipline to pay our taxes, each and every year, to take responsibility for our actions, to care for our environment (Athens today is filthy and a disgrace to those who truly consider ourselves Greeks of conscience) and to abide by laws, regulations and conventions that any developed nation holds at the core of their values and moral obligations. We are still far from this and the lack of ethical behavior by so many of our countrymen disturbs and pains me immensely.

We must rise above the petty lies and the constant need to swindle, steal and defraud one another. It is time to teach our children and ourselves that in order to rise above this demeaning and undignified state we find ourselves in, we should start to exhibit more respect, patience and discipline in everything we do.

Then and only then, might we once again hold our heads high and say with pride, pose, self esteem and dignity that we are Greeks and responsible for our actions and remind ourselves of our heritage and legacy that will allow us to take a position of prominence and respect within Europe rather than one of belittlement and disdain that we find ourselves in today.

 

Joanna Malcom

Surrey

UK

When an example disproves one?s point completely

?The airport of Athens was built by German companies and paid largely by European funds,? Lambridinis cited as an example.

Eh? So having an airport paid for (Germany is the biggest financial contributor in the EU) and built by Germany is an example of Germany benefitting? How about Greece? After all, they got an airport which they barely paid for. The fact that a German, as opposed to a Greek, company built it surely relates more to competence than bias?

Mikael Ollon

Stockholm