As has been stated in the mainstream media for months now, Greece has in fact defaulted on its debt. The likelihood of a deal with the PSI is a bygone conclusion at this point as is our Finance Minister going back to the troika for even more loans, which will only add to our debt burden and in all likelihood trigger even more austerity measures, which will in turn further depress our economy and so on and so forth until what?
This self-destructive ?kick the can down the road? approach to managing our economic policy has completely failed and will not, cannot, make our economy more ?competitive,? as many economic pundits have claimed. In fact, it will only lead to widespread civil unrest as more citizens are forced to choose between eating, paying their rent or electricty bills and/or heating their houses. The social contract that Andreas Papandreou promised and succeeding PMs failed to deliver has financially and morally bankrupted our country.
Since we cannot devalue our currency, which history has shown to have also failed when we used the drachma because, in the words of the Bank of Greece chief, our politicians failed to grasp the consequences of their irresponsible fiscal and monetary decisions; and we cannot sell bonds at sustainable interest rates; and we cannot afford to borrow more money to pay our existing debts; that only leaves cutting unproductive government spending and repealing all legislation that prevents investment to bolster our economy.
It should be evident to all that raising taxes and lowering wages has only increases the length and severity of our years-long recession. In fact, continuing to follow this path will likely lead to a full-blown depression if steps are not taken immediately to lower taxes across the board, institute public sector wage and pension freezes at livable levels, and stop interfering in the private sector business cycle.
To be blunt, our MPs have created and handsomely profited from a Ponzi scheme in which they have taken their ?cut? and left us with a debt burden that we simply cannot pay provided they continue to fail to act and perform their sworn duty to serve us and our country. If history has taught us anything, it should be that we should not, cannot, expect them to risk their precious political careers or their personal ill-begotten wealth to put an end to this spiraling-out-of-control national crisis. So the burden of reform and change must come from us. To that end, we must exercise the rights guaranteed to us by our Constitution and demand, albeit peacefully, that our President and appointed PM do their sworn duty and dissolve the Parliament and appoint citizen legislators to the task of steering our country away from the brink of economic collapse towards a sustainable future in which democracy can flourish and crony capitalism and political nepotism are not tolerated. Period. No exceptions.
We can no longer afford inaction or worse, irresponsible and ineffective actions by self-serving elitists whose lives continue to be unaffected by their own self-serving decisions. It?s time they joined the austerity party and paid their fair share. To do that, we, as citizens, need to put their lives under a microscope to determine the extent of their deceit and grifting. I suspect we will find that our debt burden is not as severe as reported. Furthermore, that we do not need to borrow any more money to manage our nation?s finances into the future.
If not now, when? If not us, then who?
Happy to read about Mr. Boutaris? intentions to boost tourism in Thessaloniki. I was there last November, as a first-time tourist on the occasion of the film festival and I discovered a very charming city — where many features made me think of it as a sleeping beauty. The centre has one of the most beautiful perspectives I?ve ever seen by the sea with Aristotelous Street and Square, the Uptown is fascinating with its walls and old Ottoman-styled houses, the cuisine tradition is unique, and spending time at the agora is a travel experience in itself. So, yes, some changes need to be made in order to promote all these treasures, and many more, and some problems should be addressed, starting with the ridiculously overwhelming number of cars in the centre. Pity the interview did not address the issue of the metro, and pity as well that in the eyes of Mr. Boutaris ?it?s all about money?: Thessaloniki was not only an opulent commercial city, it was a crossroads of many intellectual influences and the birthplace of many artists and professors. I hope that Mr. Boutaris is not going to totally forget about that aspect — you don?t want Thessaloniki to become just a shopping centre.
Re: Embezzlement denial
Here?s a thought that would put some of our youth to work on a productive government project — why not give them access to the records surrounding this case and let them use their computer savy to follow the money trail and see where it takes them? If indeed the former mayor is telling the truth, then he has nothing to worry about. If, on the other hand, these computer sleuths do find the missing municipal funds, then turn them loose to work on other embezzlement/corruption cases and see what they find. Denial only works for the innocent.
Arrest of former mayor of Thessaloniki recommended
Everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty. However the money is missing and someone helped himself to it. A quick and thourough investigation is in order and the sooner the better.
If the mayor and his assistant are guilty, they should be locked up for a long time and all their assets returned to the public coffers. There is no excuse for such a blatant abuse of power.
On another note, warm congratulations to the 250 in the police force of northern Greece who investigated and arrested those involved in gangs of extortion and loan sharking.
There were ?important? people involved in that scheme, including members of the police force, but none of the 250 alerted any of the accused.
In the maelstrom we find ourselves in, it is heartwarming to know that some of those in charge of our security actually take their duty seriously.
Does Kathi have a pro-EU slant?
I enjoy reading Kathemerini English edition daily from my home here in Toronto. I?m half Greek and have family in Thessaloniki, and it?s nice to keep tabs on what is happening from a Greek perspective.
Forgive me if I have misunderstood the tone and writings of your journalists, but it appears to me that your paper is squarely pro-EU. Arguments don?t seem balanced in terms of what the Troika, Merkel, Sarkozy and Rehn are doing to Greece. You portray the exit from the Euro and back to a new currency such as a neo-Drachma as being an apocalyptic disaster. This is the rhetoric being dished out by all pro-Federalist eurocrats.
The head of the Greek government is an unelected Federalist EU puppet who is about to tie Greece into a ?fiscal compact? which will demote Greece to nothing more than an EU protectorate for generations, having its budget vetted and signed off by Brussels. Has it not occurred to anyone that when a country loses its sovereign authority over what it can tax and spend on, it effectively ceases to be an independent nation? This fiscal pact will continue to be amended over the years to the point that Greece becomes no more than a poor state within an EU Superstate, analogous to Louisiana in the USA. Where has the great pride of the Greek people gone?
Yes, Greece has experienced many years of massive corruption at all levels, from the humble shopkeeper to the heads of Government. Greece overspent, overborrowed and stole. That cannot be denied. But what also cannot be denied is that Greece is now quite literally trapped in a debt cycle fuelled by a huge competitive disparity with Germany — all because of the iron embrace of the single currency. In a few years, Europe will be analogous to a great luxury liner, with the Germans barking orders and piloting the ship, and the Greeks covered in grease, oil and sweat down in the depths of the ship in the engine room working tirelessly to eke out a living. All whilst the entire ship itself is heading for an iceberg.
Greece must exit the Euro in an orderly way, bring back its own national currency at a devalued rate, and trade itself out of debt and into prosperity. It will be painful at first, but one shining example is Iceland. Look at them to learn how it should be done. Iceland was a bigger basket case than Greece a few years ago in relation to its size. Instead of joining the Euro and being bullied by its creditors, it stuck two fingers up at them and started over — from scratch. It hurt, greatly, but they are working their way back to prosperity with their freedom in tact!