OPINION

On the Greek bailout, taxi liberalization

Dear People of Greece

Joannes den Hollander’s expressed irritation over the Greek bailout reflects ill-informed notions that sadly are far too common in the western mass media lately. The problem with the Greek economy is not that Greeks don’t work enough. According to OECD data, Greek workers retire at roughly the same age (62) as Dutch workers and work considerably longer each year (an average of 2,119 hours compared to 1,378 hours for Dutch workers). What ails Greece is a huge public debt and a dysfunctional public sector. The EU support for Greece is conditional on the Greek government taking the measures necessary to address these issues.

The EU funds being advanced to Greece are not giveaways. They are loans, though admittedly loans at favourable terms to help Greece transition out of the current financial crisis. The crisis has hit the Greek economy particularly hard in part because, being a member of the eurozone, Greece has been unable to adjust its foreign exchange rate to cushion the impact of the crisis. Holland and other northern eurozone countries have benefited from a correspondingly stronger competitive position relative to Greece (and other similarly situated southern European countries) owing to the absence of that exchange rate adjustment. Moreover, the European Central Bank has already begun tightening monetary policy in response to improving economic conditions in the northern eurozone, while Greece is still reeling under its worst economic slump in over sixty years. This tightening, geared to the economies of northern Europe, is hampering unduly the recovery of the Greek economy.

Finally, Greece spends nearly 4% of its GDP on defence compared to less than 2% for Holland. Holland is able to get away with such low expenditure on defence in part because Greece does much of the heavy lifting of defending EU borders against the influx of illegal immigrants to Europe. A better understanding of the facts would spare Mr. der Hollander at least some of his irritation over the EU bailout of Greece.

Basil Zafiriou

Ontario, Canada

Greek population decline — time for a wake-up call

For over 20 years, I and am sure many other Greeks have been arguing that our ageing population and low birth rate are reaching levels of serious consideration.

It is not enough that our economic and social services have collapsed through an ineffective economy, but unless we redress the demographic issue we will only quicken our decline into the abyss.

Further, we will not be in a position to meet the growing demands of a resurgent and large Turkey and our reliance on the EU will only quicken the loss of further sovereingty.

I was in Greece last year and was amazed to see so many one-child families. It was also frightening to see so many Muslim illegal immigrants who from a social and economic perspective do not add or enhance our economic productivity. Do I need to remind everyone that it took us 500 years to throw off the Islamic Ottoman yoke?

What was most terrifying was that there are reports of at least 350,000 abortions per year in Greece. Australia has 24 million people and there are only 80,000 abortions. Since when has abortion stopped being an issue of health and safety and of women?s health and become a form of birth control?

Before I am called a fascist (and which I am not and resent) for speaking out against the issues that our population decline raises in order to arrest our demographic, social and economic decline, we need to do the following:

1. Encourage diaspora Greeks to return with tax effective resettlement programs similar to what Turkey and Israel have

2. Encourage immigration from countries and communities with similar cultural and religious values as our own, e.g. Orthodox minorities in Moslem lands, such as Lebanese Christians and Copts and Christians in India and Pakistan

3. Learn from countries like Australia and Canada who have baby bonus and parental payment schemes and part-time work at home options for women so that families can have 3 or 4 children

4. Learn from Israel with regard to affordable and state of the art IVF technology

James Stephens

Melbourne

Taxi deregulation in Greece

The Greek taxi drivers need to take a deep breath, and relax. Deregulation will provide a very welcome relief to the industry. For example, there will be no limits on fares that the cab drivers can charge, except those imposed by a free market which will allow companies and independent drivers to determine the fairest price for their services. Competition will tend to keep fares low, while realities of life (costs of living and costs of running a cab company) will tend to push prices up. The market ends up determining the ultimate price of a cab ride.

But there will also be room for innovation. Companies won?t be restricted in the number of cabs they put on the road, or the types of vehicles they use.

I run a cab company in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, where we have no onerous regulations (http://www.paulstaxi.com). Believe me, the freedom of operating a cab in a deregulated environment provides for far better service for the passengers and much better situations for the drivers and their companies than an over-regulated cab industry ever will.

Paul Farah

Phoenix, Arizona