OPINION

On crime, smoking ban, minority property, the ‘British myth, tax evasion

We cannot trust Greece

In Holland we pay 52 percent tax on an income of 55,000 euro. In Greece, you pay 45 percent tax on 70,000 euro.

Many Greeks, also with a high incomes, don?t pay any tax, according to a story I read in a paper about Kolonaki,

“Of the 150 doctors who have their private practice in Kolonaki, the most expensive district in Athens, 30 declare annual incomes below 10,000 euros, another 30 declare between 10,000 and 20,000 euros, and another 30 declare between 20,000 and 30,000 euros per annum.?

We all know that Greece has lied about its statistics to the other European countries from 2001 until 2010.

Greece is a corrupt country with many liars. Why should we help and trust them ?

Ruud Velsen

Netherlands

Peak in theft linked to crisis

Well statistics may demonstrate one thing and reality another.

Poverty does not breed crime. Criminals will attack their victims because this is the only way they know how to acquire instantly what others worked for, for years.

Perhaps we can go back in time when Greece was truly poor but the doors were left unlocked and the risk would come from the lecherous old man in a crowded bus. Back then headlines were made from crimes of passion or to protect a family?s honor.

Nowadays if someone goes downtown and comes back with the handbag and all the belongings intact it is considered a miracle.

We allowed people from lawless societies who have absolutely no way to legally support themselves come in and wreak havoc. Additional police patrolling the streets is a good start, however in these times where law-abidding citizens get hit from all possible sides, a firm repatriation program is needed sooner rather than later.

The government should take all the steps needed to expel all illegal immigrants and review all the applications of those who legally live in Greece for a number of years and either accept them in or send them to their countries. We do not have the luxury of being politically correct about it.

Our existence is in a downward spiral as it is. We at least have the right and the expectation to feel safe in our homes.

Monica Lane

A year on, smoking ban still flouted

Good for the Greeks. Given that the smoking ban is predicated on a tissue of lies, dodgy statistics and junk science (passive smoking) it?s good to see a nation treating such a stupid and socially divisive (not to mention economically suicidal) law with the disdain it deserves. The only people who actually benefit from such draconian legislation is the pharmaceutical companies, who pour millions of dollars of funding into anti-smoking lobby groups. The payback of course is a billion dollar nicotine replacement therapy industry. No wonder Big Pharma like the bans!

K Jones

Time for a decision

Greek government employee unions must understand that the day of the unending revenue stream is over. Collective efforts by all citizens must happen to confront the financial besetting Greece. If the unions are unwilling to compromise, the solution is quite simple. Wholesale replacement of inflexible and unyielding union government employees by those who are willing to work for an honest day?s pay. The Greek nation cannot and should not be held hostage by an elite and entrenched few.

Dennis Wanken

San Francisco, California

Property returns, now what?

I am a secular Turk and thus no obvious fan of PM Erdogan but, on this subject of justice for non-Muslims in Turkey, I believe everyone can relax and accept his sincerity.

See, he is the real thing, a true Muslim who believes in the sanctity of Moses, Christ, Mary and all others mentioned in the Quran. I realize this is hard to accept, given the «infidel» label often attached to non-Muslims by the last few decades? Islamic fundamentalists in the Middle East, but Erdogan is not burdened by any of that — Turks have never been ruled, colonized, etc., by non-Muslims, in fact quite the opposite. Erdogan wants to give them what his faith, unequivocally, says cannot be denied them.

Also, I have come to accept that, in his heart, Erdogan knows what injustice and suffering mean, for all humankind, and in his way, however imperfect, he wants to do the right thing — for Syrians, Libyans, Kurds, Armenians and, of course, Greeks. It is not all bad.

Ahmet Ergetun

New York

The British myth

I have recently watched a British Sky news documentary called ?The Greek Myth?, which was contemptuously critical of Greece, the Greek economy, Greek corruption and the Greeks in general. Though the criticism was certainly well deserved, the contempt was completely uncalled for.

But what I found to be truly surprising was the way the Greeks who took part in this program sheepishly accepted everything the arrogant interviewer threw at them, without a single one of them making a comparison between the undeniable Greek corruption and mismanagement with the equally undeniable British corruption and mismanagement — which has been raised to the level of a science and has the advantage of been very expertly camouflaged.

I am not trying to justify the thieving Greek politicians who were instrumental in stealing or facilitating the theft of billions, or who lied their way into the eurozone. They were and are despicable. But similar politicians have lived here in the UK for centuries and are still living here today, stealing and lying their way into considerable fortunes with impunity. Not only with impunity, but with every appearance that theft and corruption have been turned into a science, with seeming deliberate organisation at the highest level.

For about three hundred years, we ruled over — and had access to — one fifth of the world?s resources and were certainly not hesitant in stealing those resources from their legal owners. And we stole trillions.

Yet, despite the trillions we systematically stole from our worldwide victims, we managed to repeatedly reach the edge of bankruptcy several times and over long periods, only to be saved by American loans. In fact, it is only about a decade ago that we managed to pay off the last post-war American loan which saved us from official bankruptcy. In other words, British officials have managed to squander trillions through thievery and mismanagement on a scale beyond comprehension, even by Greek standards. At least Greek politicians are constrained in their stealing by the meagre income from feta and olive oil, which restricts their thievery to reasonably coherent amounts.

Eventually, the British economy escaped financial dependency on the Americans, when we found huge quantities of oil in the North Sea. And what happened then? Despite the oil, billions of pounds we were blessed with and have benefitted from, through unbelievable mismanagement and corruption we have managed to squander it all and we have managed to reach the point of bankruptcy again. In order to prevent that new possibility for bankruptcy, we are now going through an austerity program which is unprecedented in the UK and which almost emulates the one in Greece.

In Andrew Marr?s ?The History of Modern Britain,? Mr Marr makes the interesting observation that democracy did not arrive in Britain until the 20th century. Prior to that, Britain was ruled by very few people who did whatever they felt like with impunity. This fact led David Lloyd George to make his famous speech in Parliament in 1909, which included the following:

?Who ordained that the few should have the land (of Britain) as a prerequisite; who made 10,000 people owners of the soil and the rest of us trespassers in the land of our birth??

Yet most of us here in Britain actually believe that we have been enjoying democracy since the Magna Carta of 1215. A document exclusively designed to protect the interest of those 10,000 people Lloyd George was referring to.

When we had a revolution against the monarchy here in Britain (1642?1651), though we executed the then-King Charles I, the general in charge, Oliver Cromwell, soon ended up by ruling as a king himself. Not only that, but the intention was for Cromwell?s son to succeed the father! In other words, we are trained to be ruled and to die for a king. A willingness to die for one?s King (or Queen) is an essential pre-requisite in creating Empire.

Tom Culpeper

Ignoring good advice

For almost three years, I have now observed how extremely intelligent people on all sides have academically discussed solutions to the ?Greek problem? without realizing that, in the process, they have really turned it into a problem. Anyone who has been involved in the solution of similar problems in other parts of the world (I was involved in the Chilean/Argentinian debt reschedulings during the 1980s) can only marvel at so much ignorance!

My contacts with the then ?rescheduling bankers? have told me that the then-experts like William (?Bill?) Rhodes he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one?s taxes?

?Over and over again Courts have said there is nothing sinister in so arranging one?s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich and poor, and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands. Taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. to demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.? (Justice Learned Hand, United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.)

I commend Greeks worldwide for arranging their affairs so as to maximize after-tax profits by utilizing all legal means available to minimize their net tax liabilities.

Bassilis Kambas