OPINION

On Papandreou, Samaras, coalition government, tax collection

Get rid of Samaras

Am I the only one who finds Mr Samaras to epitomise the very type of politician that Greece needs to get rid of? His main aim, it seems to me, is to have elections now with the single aim of satisfying his personal ambition of becoming prime minister. He pursues this agenda without any consideration about the implications an early election will have on the country.

In the UK, we had the same problem. Gordon Brown put his own personal ambition over and above that of the country. He was, of course, never elected and was kicked out after two years.

Good riddance to Samaras — all he has done in the lead up to this crisis will come back to haunt him in the next election. Surely, there must be some with talent within ND who can take over from him.

Bob Bratland

London

Not for himself

Whether you support Prime Minister George Papandreou or not, you will have to agree that he did not care about his own popularity or the popularity of his party. His actions were designed to save Greece and ensure a future for all Greeks. No other leader was willing to sacrifice his own position and his own party. When a fair and balanced analysis of these times are made, the Prime minister will be justified.

Costas Hallias

Australia

Deutch Bank chief warns against Greece?s exit

Mr. Ackerman does not realize, or maybe will not admit, that the whole Euro Zone is already contaminated. The US and Europe are undergoing a deleveraging cycle that will last at least 10 years. The result of populist government decisions and accommodating opportunistic bankers. Central banks can print as much money as they want and sooner or later they will cause the implosion of the current world financial system. Get ready for the post Roosevelt New Deal.

Alex Joannou

Greece should follow the example of California: Pay salaries with state bonds

The situation with the Greek economy is particularly dire because even though the economy is in a state of contraction with a complete lack of liquidity, the Greek state, pegged to the Euro, cannot make the country ?cheaper?, thereby inducing investment and boosting the economy. Hence we hear that the only solution is abandonment of the Euro and a return to the Drachma. Perhaps there is an intermediate solution which I have not heard discussed much: Emulate the state of California.

California found itself in a similar situation (big deficit, inability to print money) and started paying its employees with state bonds. The Greek state could go the same way, the bonds serving as a substitute currency in parallel to the Euro; of course all prices will be still in Euros and the bonds will be traded in the open market for Euros. Obviously a 1 Euro bond will be exchangeable with only fraction of a Euro (50-70 cents?). Since bonds are not easy to handle, it will be imperative to resort to electronic transactions for almost all everyday financial dealings. This will have several advantages: 1. It will keep Greece within the Eurozone. 2. It will inject much needed liquidity into the market. 3. It will make all transactions transparent, reducing tax avoidance. 4. It will effectively increase the prices of all imported goods while making Greek products cheaper and more competitive, even while remaining within the Eurozone. 5. Allowing bank accounts currently in Euros to remain as such, it will avoid the ?run on the banks? that a transition to the Drachma implies. 6. It will give all citizens a stake in the smooth running of the economy since the value of their bonds will increase if the economy performs well.

With the Greek state budget being about 50% of its total economic output, making state payments to its employees and contractors in bonds rather than in Euros it will make such a bond as important a means of payment for products and services as the Euro. I do not know if there are legal restrictions to such an action. However, I do not see any other way of getting the economy to grow again, given the austerity restrictions imposed by the EU. Perhaps this way out merits more serious consideration.

Demosthenes Kazanas

Corresponding Member, Academy of Athens

Severna Park, MD, USA

Convincing Greek citizens

All is not without hope. For sure the political system in our country is broken and there is no doubt that the current crop of MPs lack credibility to govern. But we can take heart that this is not the first time Greece has had to deal with a lack of leadership. One could argue that politicians by definition are not leaders. They are more interested in staying in power than taking the oftentimes difficult decisions that are required in today?s uncertain global economy. This is how we got to this state of economic armageddon. In the end the will of the people will determine a country?s fate. The question we face as citizens is simply this — do we want to live in a free and civil society that is a part of the EU and the larger global community? If the answer is yes, then we need to elect leaders who will manifest that dream. It is likely that they will not be career politicians. Rather they will be ?ordinary? citizens that have worked for a living and know what it means to live within their means. They will not be able to raise the vast sums of money that are required to win elections but they will have something more valuable than money — character and ideas. Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It?s high time we stopped the insanity and began to look for and support a government with a new vision of Greece that will secure our present and provide a future for our children. Surely we do not need to be convinced of the alternative.

Jonathan Reynik

Coalition government — act of desperation?

Neither party has the confidence of the voters. Two minuses a plus do not make. The Greek public is tired of politicians, parties and the entire political system. They want to stay in the euro apparently but do they want an EU (read German) technocrat occupation in return for life-support? Do they want to exchange sovereignty for (temporary) survival? The question is no longer socialist, capitalist or anything in between, it is quite simply does Greece want to remain on life-support within the euro for generations to come, even were that possible, or does she want to take her chances outside of Europe as a 2nd or 3rd world country with the likes of Israel and the Middle East?

Whatever the political game being played, Greece?s resources are far more Middle Eastern than European. She can compete with her five essential economic resources (agriculture, fishing, food processing, tourism, shipping, and a very small mining and pharmaceutical sector) far better with Middle Eastern (and perhaps Balkan) countries than with European ones.

Once Greece and Europe emerge from the illusion of the euro into the reality of European incompatibilities, will the Greeks suddenly realise that they are far more a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern historical culture and economy than a European one? Europe was a beautiful illusion while it lasted, at least half the Greek population would like to cling onto it. At some point they will have to let go, whatever the politics, and look to their pragmatic destiny elsewhere than in Europe.

Philip Andrews

Puppets

The government of Greece has not only let down but it has humiliated the Greek people. This incompetent rabble has hopped from one knee-jerk decision to another, even a headless chicken has more control of its actions.

We see the true face of German and French politicians (not the populace) who are pulling the strings of the government of Greece akin to a seaside puppet show simply to protect their ill-conceived vision of a European Union which is close to collapse, their true faces can now be seen.

Sarkozy stated Greece should never have been admitted to the EU, but the French government was quite happy to accept dubious accounts to allow Greece in, just to help increase their little empire. Men of vision are required at the moment; unfortunately all we can see is those looking at the past. Are there no longer any real leaders in the world today, apart from within the banking system I mean?

Toly Baker

Corfu

On Papandreou?s perceived weakness

There?s a huge space — a chasm — between the acts of a democrat and the acts of a fascist. There is no bridge between them, though many think there is and they try to traverse it. They fall, of course, and they are destroyed, often destroying those whom they convince to follow them.

Greece was told she could follow the root of fascism; all she had to do was sign on the bottom line… of deviously worded loans and trade agreements. The word ?fascism? of course, appeared nowhere in the documentation. Just abstract words like ?economy? and ?unity? and ?happiness all round.?

The word ?debt? didn?t appear, either. The phrase ?loss of sovereignty? also didn?t appear.

The result is what we see: Greece has effectively become the protectorate of Brussells, squirming under the thumbs of Germany and France, and trying to catch its last breath.

Papandreou should have had this aborted referendum the very next day after he became PM. Immediately.

Or else, forget the referendum and go straight into default. Get back to Greece?s own currency, a currency she can manage as her needs dictate. Lower its value, raise it, do whatever the economy and the Greek temperament wants. Greece could never compete, nor work, with the likes of Germany and France.

One is reminded of Odysseus? effort to escape the draft to Troy. He yoked to his plough a horse with a donkey, an impossible couple to do the work because he was certain that Menelaos and Palamedes would be tricked into thinking he was definitely insane and unsuitable for the expedition.

A horse and a donkey yoked into the same plough is what we are seeing with this eurozone and with the euro. It?s time someone had the audacity to undo the ropes and let both go free.

The euro was not concocted to serve an economy but a political structure. It?s a political, not an economic plough.

Atomon Theodoridis

Extra property tax collection

Once again the burden of paying taxes falls on those who can least afford them. How has the tax been assessed on property that is rented? This is still property and therefore taxable. My fear is that the owners of these properties will go untouched. They are the ones who have extra money, or they would not have been able to buy or build buildings.

If our family pays this tax, which has been inflated, then we will not be able to pay our monthly house loan nor buy heating fuel nor anything else for that matter. I am not prepared to sacrifice any more until those who have evaded their tax bills are forced to pay.

Jean Diplas

Property tax drive starts with problems

Everyone hates change, and the way the new taxes have been imposed on the people of Greece is very unfair; however, as the saying goes (non-Greek saying) ?…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.? And unfortunately I have to say that all Greek people are responsible for their current situation. You can blame Goldman Sachs, the Jews, the French, the English, the USA, the CIA, the FBI, the Greek government, the Greek opposition, etc, etc. How about looking at yourself and showing the world that you can get back on top. I feel very sorry for the Greek people, but you only have yourselves to blame.

Vasilios Chrisant

Melbourne

Greek politics are an amusing mess

I hate to wade into the subject of Greek politics since there seems to be a plethora of overqualified experts in Greece but I humbly present my observations and questions.

How can one small country have 300 (paid) members of parliament that are so utterly incompetent and in many cases obviously corrupt or in conflicts of interest? Can one country be an economic, environmental and social disaster at the same time? Can the mistakes and incompetences of past decades of profligate governments hold the country?s future generations hostage? I think that any rational person knows the answers to these questions but I must defer to your masterful leaders since the answers are beyond our scope of comprehension. After all, only your sagacious leaders can possibly comprehend such weighty issues.

I take solace in the fact that I am only the holder of a humble Phd degree and not on the same lofty plane of cognitive function as your elected officials. That is why they have managed the country into such an admirable international position.

However, I do thank them for providing an endless source of amusement for people on the outside. Perhaps they could find jobs in Hollywood on the comedy circuit after the next elections. I am sure that they would be suitably qualified.

An unqualified observer,

Anthony Doukas

Toronto