OPINION

On German pressure, Greek debt and joining eurozone on false pretences

Multiple voices?

Mr Lygeros, I assume you read my article in the HuffPost that said exactly what you have said here? In addition to what you said, I also highlighted the impact of youth: «While the parents are still resisting rehab, the kids are packing to leave.»

Maybe multiple voices saying the same thing will get through to people? Hope so.

(Courting Disaster: Eight Addictions Preventing Greece’s Recovery http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vanessa-andris/greece-debt-crisis-_b_991829.html)

Vanessa/Venetia Andris

Blaming the Germans

While not wishing to disagree entirely with Peter Kates (“Please stop blaming the Germans?), I should like to point out that when the West Germans ?rebuilt their country,? they did so on the backs of the Americans, while the East Germans were still being punished by the Soviets for the terrible destruction they had wrought in Eastern Europe. The West German economy was built up by the Americans, in collaboration with the industrialists who had done so much to support Hitler, as a showcase of capitalism, deliberately designed to contrast favourably with the socialist East German economy.

John Tomkinson

Marousi

Re: ?German demons?

In reading your article I felt reminded of the old joke: An Italian, a Portuguese and a Greek go to eat at a restaurant, who pays? The German, and in gratitude the former three call him a Nazi.

Germany is what it is because of its experience but that does not convert Germany into the sugar daddy of the rest of Europe.

What Germany tries to ensure with its harsh conditions is being abused by Greece again, and I am talking about false statistics, shady financial deals and the complicity with certain banks to pull the wool over the eyes of the European Commission.

As far as I remember, nobody forced Costas Simitis to present false statistics, nobody forced the Karamanlis government to ignore finances in favor of popularity and certainly nobody has forced any Greek administration since Andreas Papandreu to ignore the capability of internal revenue to effectively enforce tax collecting.

Sorry, but your commentary is but a fastidious collection of self pity aimed at doing what Greece, every time it falls upon hard times does best, self pity. Your energy would be better utilized pointing out ways out of the crisis instead of blaming others.

And yes, if I were the German government I would not act any different, because 5% of Europe is hardly worth keeping in a position where it can throw 95% into a crisis. Which is what Greece is actually doing.

Alf Meier

Australia, land of hope

For well past a century Hellenes have been coming to Australia to live, to survive, to have a future. And most of us retain our Hellenism, with a little under 400,000 claiming/confessing to being Greek.

Add to that those who, for whatever reason, seek to hide their ethnicity and those who are second, third, fourth or more generations down, and the number swells way past the 500,000 mark.

The point is that we are in every state and territory, in every profession, in sports, the arts, the sciences, medicine, politics, engineering, the military (no, we do not have conscription in Australia) architecture… every sector of Australia society.

And many worked hard to convince the federal government to open the doors to our Hellenic cousins… to be able to migrate to a country where you will be welcome.

So consider the prospects. Do a Google or Yahoo search for jobs. Look at www.immi.gov.au regarding vacancies and employment areas. These include health, engineering professions and automotive, construction, electrical and mechanical trades. Nursing is another area in demand.

So consider the move and you will find that we retain our traditions, our culture, our love for our heritage so very much, while still enjoying more sports than you can imagine.

Ange Kenos

Australia

Re: German demons

Dear Nikos Xydakis, As a German, I could feel offended now, because your text is obviously intended to be as insulting as possible without shouting ?You evil Nazis!? (in all-caps).

However, I am more mystified than offended. You seem to think that the main motive behind recent German insistence on austerity is the wish to punish? Or some arcane drive for purity? No, I have to disappoint you (and Mr. hobby-ethnopsychologist Krugman). We favor austerity because we simply have learned that it works. Chancellor Schroeder?s Agenda 2010 is the main reason why our economy is still growing (a little bit) and our unemployment rate is stable, despite the current crisis. So, you do not need to dig as deep in history as you did. It?s the very recent past that taught us: Austerity works.

With regard to the typical German dislike of inflation, which explains much of our recent behavior, I also cannot agree with your interpretation, although digging deep in history is more useful here: We have experienced inflation and forced currency changes several times in the last century, making us fearful of these events. So fear is the motive, simply fear, not some arcane wish for purity or punishment of sinners. People here are buying houses, flats, and gold, if they are affluent enough, because they fear that we will be forced into a new great inflation very soon. But inflation would also hit the poor people, by making wages, pensions and grandma?s small savings worthless.

But in one aspect I agree with you: We, the Germans, would like to see you, the Greeks, to become more like us. But only with regard to one very specific point: To be more competitive, so you can stand on your own feet again, as a proud and autonomous nation in a world where it has become much more difficult to survive as an economy than it was 20 years ago. Eastern Europe, East Asia: Billions of people have entered the global labor market since that time, most of them being well educated and extremely motivated to work very hard for very small amounts of money. That is the situation we all are in currently. We Germans are struggling to keep up in this situation, our living standards have worsened in the last ten years (though less so than the living standards in Greece have deteriorated during the last three years). Nevertheless, we feel less strong than everybody else seems to think we are. Our state debt is 84%. That?s definitely too much for a country where the average woman gives birth to only 1.3 babies in her life. How shall the coming, much smaller generations cope with this mountain of debt, almost 2 trillion euros? Furthermore, east Germany has still not completely recovered from communism and still needs help from the western part of the country. So no, we do not feel particularly strong. Or hegemonic, for that matter. We would simply be grateful if our partner nations in the Euro-community would have political and economic systems that are functioning, so that we would not need to bail them out again in the future.

That is what we would like very much to see: the Greeks changing their dysfunctional political-economic system in a way that it finally works. Do this in your own style, but please, we beg you: Do it. For the sake of us all. Best wishes

Karsten Paul

Shipwrecked government

I recently came across a passage, written long ago by Bertrand Russell, that concisely explains why the Greek people find it difficult to follow their Government leaders during the current debt crisis:

“In a shipwreck the crew obey orders without the need of reasoning with themselves, because they have a common purpose which is not remote, and the means to its realization are not difficult to understand. But if the Captain were obliged, like the Government, to explain the principles of currency in order to prove his commands wise, the ship would sink before the lecture was finished.» (Authority and the Individual, 1949)

Governments (all governments) have the same problem addressing the needs of the people.

D.F. Warren

Crisis in Greece

Greeks cannot take orders from other nations. They should have their own currency like the Swiss that exchanges freely with euros, pounds and dollars. Greek voters can decide whether to back it with gold or to make it a fiat currency.

Bennet Cecil

How Greece did not fudge its financial status

Bull, stop glossing over reality. The Greek people need to get it so that they can save their country. Stop pandering to the masses that actually believe what they read. In order for the country to get through this financial nightmare, the people need the truth.

Aristea Kampitsis

Greece cheats

Of cource we cheated, its not possible to deteriorate this quickly without cheating, as far as lazy Greeks, I have to laugh, are you serious? I know very few Greeks working to get ahead, either working to tread water or living off others…..Thats just the way of life here, most people here are waiting for a government job or inheriting an apartment from parents or grandparents….PERIOD!!!

Jim Chibidakis

History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake

Yes! «Ulysses,» James Joyce! And how shall we ever return to our own home, its unforgettable beauty, and a life that we loved? The palace is full of pretenders ! And while it is now an aging population, and many youths are leaving for Australia, what breaks your heart is a girl of 30 who tells you she will never be able to have children… «Without any money, you see, it?s a generation lost!? At the same time, as another article notes, I see regularly in my numerous visits to Greek friends in Greece a great courage and very encouraging attitude by young Greeks who simply fight day to day for survival, asking you on occasion, «What do you think can be done?» I immediately first answer. You should be proud of yourself, you know, really proud! Simply because of this question!» On the other hand, I look at the village, half the restaurants have closed in the last three months. Construction of new villas has stopped and a few miles away I see Spetses looking like paradise. And it?s not at all true that there are no possibilities in the region I visit. I am half Italian, half Greek from Alexandria, Egypt. I know Milan by heart: It recently has been named one of the top five cities to live in, because of the inventiveness and quality of both furniture and fashion design. So here I have as a designer to insist on the fact that in the region of Granidi, close to Porto Heli and Spetses, I have never seen such quality in creative iron, wood or marble work… In other words, given any investment incentive from some sort of local rapid-decision authority (“authority» which all here describe as first, you would have to file endlessly your proposal to Patra, and then to Athens!), one would very seriously consider investing, uniting talents, exporting this or that manufactured item abroad, help start a business. All that is impossible. Can you imagine, having only found debts in the village coffers, Porto Heli’s deputy mayor has convinced one hundred young people to work one day a week totally of course for free just to keep the village as it should be… One time it may be a bit of road, or cleaning, or practicing firefighting: I?m refering to my friend Evangele Papasteriou. It?s too bad there is zero real communal power! Too bad the Greek administration feels a unknown «official» in Patra and — who knows? — a prophetic and honest seer in Athens will (never) decide what is best for a region they never visit of some ten thousand abandoned people… For if it were the opposite Greece, in all likelihood, would not be «a nightmare from which we’re trying to awake.»

Marc Sursock

Geneva

Lies

According to my knowledge it was the last ND government who brought this news. I hope based on updated statistics. The real problem Greece and countries like Italy and Spain are facing is their non-Protestant attitude towards financial related issues. And the consequences of this attitude for the eurozone.

Hans van der Schaaf

Solution to the eurozone crises

The bottom line is that to get over the Euro debt crises, Euro banks will have to be recapitalised by the ECB with state assets being privatised and liquidated at around 10% of the current market value, to the open market as a condition for ECB assistance, just as the US banks were helped in the United States in 2008 by the US Federal Reserve. The inflation fears of the Germans would be pacified as state assets are privatised and liquidated in a fire-sale. This action would make the Eurozone more market friendly, as a result of all these firesale privatisations. Then the Euro area would be able to recover faster on a more balance growth tragectory.

Gerry Mavris

Germany

There is no recent event more frightening and distressing as Germany’s deliberate humiliation and deliberately inflicted suffering on the Greek people. Greek people, listen to this: details of Ireland?s upcoming budget were released to the German parliament before they were released to the Irish parliament. Only a fool would deny what is obvious: Germany’s intended economic domination of Europe with its puppet state France. This rivals the economic imperialism inflicted on East Africa by the Indian state. That happened over many decades. The same is happening now. Wake up Europe, before it is too late! Can nothing be done to stop this? It is time to stand up as nations and say, «No.»

Roger Obrien