OPINION

On corruption, soccer, the EU, debt, Greenspan, Ohi Day, ‘If I were from Greece,’ politicians

I get more and more disappointed, or should I say astonished, by Greek society the more I get into it. Everyone seems to try to avoid paying their taxes. I try to argue that this is stealing from society, why you don?t have proper schools, hospitals etc.

I try to explain how it is in my home country, Norway, where the authorities know everything about us, how much our salary is, how much we have in the bank, the tax we pay and everything else, the house we live in, who owns the houses — everything about how much the neighbor earns you can read in the newspaper. And if someone is corrupt, he will lose his job and probably go to jail, and it will be on the news immediately.

It?s another planet, people here say. Here you have to pay the policeman to do his job, and the money is to be paid to his wife in a bar, after 9 o’clock in the evening. A joke? No, it?s not a joke. My landlady will give me a contract for the rental of my flat, but the amount on the paper will not be what I pay — ?because of the tax,» she will say.

Everybody is doing this, everybody tries to avoid to pay taxes, to put money in their pockets, everybody is stealing from society. And now, the whole of Europe should feel pity for the Greeks and their economic crisis, and help, because we should understand the Greek philosophy? To steal? From each other? From society?

Ragnhild Irene Meijer

Paros

Alan Greenspan — Ironic?

It would be wise for Alan Greenspan to keep his mouth shut, given the fact that it was his monetary policies that eventually set off the «debt crisis» in America (2008), which then spread throughout the world.

Thanks to him, most Americans now own homes whose mortgages are worth more, because his constant «lowering the interest rates and throwing cheap loans» at the American populace did nothing but create the housing bubble etc. Makes sense however that these con artists want to divert attention away from the real cause of the crisis — American private debt and not Greece’s «public debt» or the PIIGS for that matter.

Jim Lengstreet

Greenspan comments on Greece and eurozone

It is in poor order that Mr Greenspan would have the gall to comment on Greece or anything these days. He should go sit in a corner and talk only to himself. His policies and lack of sound administration at the US Federal Reserve were a major contribution to the US mortgage meltdown and global recession caused by it. His commenting on Greece shows just how far gone he is.

Thomas Bordeaux

Debt as a percentage of GDP

One could pull one’s hair when one hears experts discussing where debt is today and where it will be in the future; what a sustainable amount of debt is and what not etc — all in terms of percentages of GDP. Obviously, the mathematic calculation is correct but:

It all depends on the growth of GDP and how that growth is financed. Suppose no more debt would flow into Greece but instead billions of euros of foreign investment. Then growth would be much higher than presently expected and debt much lower than presently feared.

After WWII, the USA had a debt of — I believe — at least 140% of GDP. Ten years later, that debt level was down to about 40%. Had the US repaid any debt during this time? Not at all; they had even increased it. The only thing is that the economy grew so much faster than the debt.

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Current politicians in Greece

I see a picture of the Finance Minister looking upset and mean, and I guess this is his natural form. My point is that all these politicians that are running the country, included the abovementioned, are metaphorically overweight and greedy as proven by the last few years. This is the real problem and not what will happen to the people of Greece in the near future. These are the politicians that brought the country to the state that it’s in today and it is impossible for the same politicians to solve the situation.

The people must find the real solution and I believe it?s time to seek a new political movement with leaders rising from the nation with vision and principles that best serve society as a whole.

George Argyropoulos

Re: A prelude?

I agree the EU did make some decisions which will have a great impact on this country. The problem is today?s parties were and are only able to prepare the last war. And even that one they (all) lost. But keep on fighting that war.

So please let this period be the prelude to some fundamental political change. Concerning the teams. And concerning the play. Some new political system has to come out of it. Otherwise Greece will keep on regressing, instead of developing.

Hans van der Schaaf

Alternative energy

I must answer Kosmas Voutsinos’s letter as he seems to be barking up the wrong tree!

It is not envisaged that all the debt could be paid off by selling electricity from solar power etc. The fact is that coal (lignite) and oil are polluting our planet and oil is running out.

Secondly, what about the cost of building conventional power stations and nuclear plant? These also have a shelf life, so your argument falls flat!

Your figures, therefore, for the number of units and maintenance workers are unimportant. In any case the more jobs created in this sector the better.

How about the Greek government giving incentives (not bribes) to firms to set up photovoltaic panel and wind turbine production in Greece.

Jobs and training are badly needed in this country and because Greece has so much free solar/wind energy this could be a winner.

How is it that countries like the USA, Spain and even England (yes, solar power in England) are already running such power stations and profiting from them?

David Lewin

Athens

Politicians, gangsters

George and his gangsters have sorted their finances in offshore accounts. And they’re now beginning to decimate Greece’s middle class, bankrupt the private sector and still claim they?ve ?saved Greece.?

Utter bull! PASOK and ND should just be disbanded and this country finally rid of these corrupt, thieving gangsters. They and their civil service cronies are responsible for this mess we’re now being forced and blackmailed to pay for.

These 300 brave politicians who keep saving Greece from all the evils — if ever there was a Ponzi scheme, this is it.

The Germans and the rest of the EU don’t have the guts to investigate Greek politicians; they’re too weak. Greek politicians should be jailed — all of them — for stealing EU taxpayers? money, robbing local citizens? pension funds, bankrupting the state, destroying the future for this generation and bankrupting Greece’s global standing.

The sad thing is, this lot of crooks have no shame.

Lionel Luthor

Ohi Day protests; illusion versus reality?

Ohi Day marks not only the Greek nation’s and its army’s finest hour in refusing to submit to the Italians, but a day on which a government and a nation were united against the enemy. Poor as Greece was, she had the spirit to come together.

Today Greece has been enjoying fantastic wealth, or the illusion of such, and is paying the price. The irony is surely that in 1940 it was an authoritarian government under Metaxas that united the country and prepared the youth for war. These are historical facts. Now it is and has been a socialist government that has created the illusion of wealth since 1981 and is now submitting itself and the country to ?protectorate? status, to another kind of occupation.

Perhaps the protesters at Thessaloniki were reflecting the irony. A poor but proud Greece, defiant and victorious, is celebrated every year on October 28. And the protesters this year represent the apotheosis of that, the remains of a modern delusional Greece on the backs of PASOK?s socialist realism, that those who fought in 1940 probably wouldn’t recognize today.

Greece needs and Greeks need to recover the pride and self-respect of 1940. Maybe they need the ghost of Ioannis Metaxas, together with the ancient wisdom of ‘pan metron ariston’ (everything in good measure) to return in order to tell the EU ‘ohi,’ and to chart a more spiritually real if materially poorer path to Greece?s destiny.

Philip Andrews

Bungling politicians

These bungling, corrupt crooks of politicians that ”rule” this country are capable of nothing less than controversy. They’re corrupt, crooked, greedy and inept. They can’t run a ?periptero? [kiosk] if someone placed Alpha Bank’s director along with them!

These same crooks drove out the shipowners, closed down the shipyards, shut down the industrial companies, closed the textile industry, squeezed every segment of the private sector and have created a disaster of a banking industry in this country.

Sarkozy, Merkel, Trichet, they know they’re dealing with outright crooks, who’ve robbed EU taxpayers for 30 years. Shame on Sarkozy/Merkel for not insisting on a full investigation into Greek politicians.

Greek politicians: bloody useless.

Lionel Luthor

Supervision

At the end of this year, Greece?s debt will be 350 billion euros and yet 218 billion has ended up in Swiss banks over the past two years. We are informed that high-priced property in the UK hasn’t fallen in value due to the recent purchases by wealthy Greeks. Of course we don’t know about offshore companies and investments in other European countries, but for sure the 10,000 Greeks that have left for Germany didn’t go empty-handed.

After 35 years here, I feel like I am living in a giant playground with a few adults here and there trying to keep control. It’s time to grow up and take responsibility before this situation gets completely out of control. Greece is a divided country; we only have to look at our Parliament to realize just how serious the situation is. Why can’t they sit down together and work together for the good of the country?

Nothing works in the public sector because from 1981 Andreas Papandreou changed not only the ministers in charge but the whole hierarchy in all departments. From that time on, each party and each change of government has considered that the public positions are awards for their voters. Each time records from the past are destroyed, which not only led to corruption but also to erasing past history, it is impossible to see where mistakes have been made. Why didn’t [Louka] Katseli resign when she was told to cut back the public sector workers? In all probability, she didn’t know how, as ministers do not know how their departments function. This is obvious from the education department and the legal departments.

How can Greeks in all honesty say that they do not need help? Of course we do because whichever party is in Parliament, they cannot function unless the public services are modernized, and this means computerized systems that work and responsible people in charge whatever their political beliefs. You do not see other European countries making changes in their public offices as we have done over the past 30 years. The public sector is the spine of the country and in Greece it has bent until it has broken.

They [supervisors] are here to help. Common sense says we definitely need it.

Ann Baker

Re: Greece is looking for a new model

Excellent piece. It hits the nail on the head!

Hopefully the crisis will create a new national mentality that places value on what we can do for ourselves instead of blaming others for our mistakes.

Manos Paxis

Re: If I were from Greece

But he is not Greek and he does not have any idea of what is going on in real life. No money for fuel (and the cold is here; heating oil is at more than 1 euro per liter), no jobs, no one is paying because there is no money to pay with (I have a contract due to me by a municipality and have been waiting to collect the money for the past 4 months) and what about the rest of what awaits us in the future?

It is so easy to talk, and, who cares, you get back on a plane and go back home and that is that. The rest, the real Greeks, go back home and see it, as well as the future, empty.

But, have no fear, I am not Greek but I have a Greek family to keep going and I still think, and see, that there is more courage and more guts in one and every Greek than in all Germans together.

Koli Abuelo

A new model ?

The problem is and was that Greece accepted a new model when accepting the euro without realizing it accepted a new model. A new economic and social model. A model that did not fit into the Greek economic and social reality.

The politicians who accepted this model were sleeping those days, and most of them still are.

This is the reason I think that a new model is necessary, and that it has to come from the Greek themselves. Most of them are still in shock because the dream they were living became a nightmare and is still not over yet.

I know the Greek spirit is still there. It got raped by this stupid dream. So you better wake up now, and start working again. This time I hope according to your own model. It?s the only way to stop this nightmare.

Hans van der Schaaf

On what criteria did Mr Simitis get Greece into the eurozone?

In an interview on French television about the new eurozone plan agreed on, whereby Greek debt will be written off to the tune of 50 percent while the area?s bailout fund will be increased to 1 trillion euros, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, «It was an error because Greece entered with false economic figures, it was not ready.”

Where is former Greek PM Simitis (playing the professor) to explain to all Greeks worldwide on what criteria he got Greece into the eurozone? Why isn?t he before a senate committee hearing to explain himself? The answer to this is that all Greek politicians have «political immunity» and this is the problem as there is no accountability.

The EU must also take responsibility for allowing Greece to enter the eurozone, they knew Greece was a basket case and the structural reforms were never in place.

George Salamouras

President warns Greeks of political and cultural changes

The President of Greece is right when he says that it is not mob rule that sets the agenda, but elections. Yet when a country is in turmoil then early elections are very justified. As for cultural changes to happen in Greece, this is not a good thing. Greeks need to remain Greek and not become German in culture. This, of course, is part of the economic changes that need to take place to make Greece more competitive. The reason why the northern European countries are different to the southern European countries is very imbedded in the religion and in the climate. Climate cannot change. Greece doesn?t have 270 days a year of rain like Belgium has, or 200 days of rain like Holland has. Nor does it have the Protestant work ethic. So what the President of Greece is demanding is unrealistic.

If Greece changes too much it will lose its identity and if it loses its identity all is lost. The Germans had a plan to control Europe after winning WWII and that was to move the people of Europe around. So the Greeks would be moved to Finland for instance. This would confuse the culture of every country for two generations, it was claimed. They would lose their identity and the climate would put every nation in turmoil.

This is what the EU is about. Except it doesn?t move people, it kills the spirit, the very soul of a country. Greece needs to leave the euro in the end because it is not Germany in nature nor in culture.

Elroy Huckelberry

Robberies