OPINION

On austerity measures, returning to the drachma and other scenarios

The fallacy of aggregation

Karsten Paul, in his letter, says that austerity works. True — if you are the only one practicing it. Not so true if we all do. Then it becomes a disaster. Austerity goes hand in hand with having an export-driven economy, like Germany’s. Deny your people the ability to buy things so that the only way to achieve growth is with exports. But if we all try to be like Germany and become net exporters, then none of us will be. And, ironically, not even Germany will be like Germany any longer. Instead we will have devastated our standards of living and ruined the middle class in our race to the bottom as we try to out-export each other.

Nick Kanellos

Cabotage to be lifted

It is never too late.

Due to ongoing troubles in Egypt, at least one cruise line has cancelled stops in Alexandria and added the ports of Chania and Rhodes to its 2012 summer schedule. This is in addition to the Piraeus stopover that was already scheduled.

Monica Lane

Florida USA

Hans van der Schaaf — lies

Protestant financial practices led to the financial meltdown in the US, that directly led to the credit crunch, that led directly to the Eurozone crisis. Let?s not perpetuate myth as gospel, and let?s look to the truth rather than the doctrine being spewed in the tabloid obsessed press.

Angelo Arvan

Slow-mo disaster movie made in Greece?

After all the comments are made, all the letters written etc. etc., we are all as spectators within and without of a slow motion disaster movie called ‘The Collapse of the EU’. The subtitle might even be ‘Greece in Drachma Free-fall’. It really does feel as if, once all is said and done, the process of the unravelling of the Euro and the EU is proceeding towards an inevitability that all the financial tinkering in the world cannot prevent. The image would be even more striking if we included a movie shot from ‘The Abyss’ (Director’s Cut) where Ed Harris is being shown by the aliens a film sequence where oceanic tsunami are raising up over the coast of the US ready to crash onto US coastal cities. Everyone is either staring and watching dumbfounded, or running hell for leather to try to avoid the inevitable watery death. This scene is so allegorical of Europeans in the EU who refused to accept the possibility of the demise of the EU and the Euro, even though they have made little progress in stemming the downward motion over four years or more of crisis. I’m still waiting for someone to begin to produce analyses and commentaries on Greece after the Euro, Greece with the drachma, Greece out of the EU and all the possibilities that may arise from these situations. I think this may be far more interesting, helpful and beneficial to the readership at large to have some idea of possible outcomes, than all the commentary, however well meant, on blaming and criticising the actors in this modern Greek tragedy.

Philip Andrews

Between Europe and Turkey

Having spent many years in Greece I can’t say I like the past actions of the Turkish state. I have seen with my own eyes too many instances of bullying. But let us not forget how powerful Greeks became within the Ottoman Empire, and how many today still bear Turkic endings to their names. I think the example of the seismic diplomacy might well indicate a more peaceful future, with effort from both sides. While the respective governments and pundits slip easily into bellicosity, the people seem to enjoy each other in an honest humane way. As for Europe, well, there exist more European fortresses in Greece than Turkish ones. The invaders from the north over the centuries mostly pillaged or carved out a duchy wherever they could. Europe often cast Greece to the wolves, surely as late as WWII, sending two broken tanks and walking wounding British forces to defend Crete, judging the defeat of Rommel more important. Since «joining» Europe, Greece has been pushed towards the concept of obeying law, which I feel they have not embraced with much more enthusiasm than they did under the Turks, with whom many fiefdoms cut their own deals, the richer ones bribing their ways to more freedom than the less wealthy ones. It was straight back to the ancient polis model, rather than a national one. A national model did not exist. If Greece should succumb to the return of the drachma, it could be a grand opportunity, as long as Greeks agree to the concept of Greece in benign law other than in sentimental song and poetry. It would require the rule of law, consensual law seen as benefiting all, which most Greeks have not truly supported since Solon and Pericles. I believe that many Greeks are pessimistic with their politics, which tend to oscillate violently, and those with money tend to relocate when times are uncomfortable. Given the history of the past 500 years in Greece, this is understandable. But for Greece to move forward, Greeks must stay home and work, and make more Greeks, rather than taking their resources offshore, to Switzerland and Monaco, and flying the Greek flag only during the years which are convenient. In order to do this Greeks will have to devise a truly democratic state and flush out the patriarchal tendencies which only contribute to the anti-democratic nature of modern Greece. They will have to develop national politics and find politicians the entire nation trusts and this will be an awfully difficult task, for even to begin such a discussion will start the recriminations and accusations. So, as a Greek friend once said to me, «perhaps we would be better off with the Turks.»

George Dillon Slater

Do political parties anywhere have a program other than getting elected?

Well, all parties anywhere in the world makes that reproach to other parties at election time! That in itself does teach us something. But what can we, as ordinary citizens, do about it, particularly at a time where countries? economies are so interlinked that sovereign power is everywhere losing half of its reality? What we currently therefore see is increasingly a necessary — you cannot deny globalization exists — top-down approach, from supranational institutions to our national ones. We have for instance the International Monetary Fund, the ECB, the European Parliament, and finally, according to each economy’s importance, a more or less independent and influential government and a form or another of parliament. What is obvious too here is that this complexity increasingly automatically breeds two realities: All local politics and politicians are de facto more or less forced to drive in the same supranational direction.

Sursock Marc

Geneva, Switzerland