OPINION

On politicians, tips, statistics, salaries, sovereignty, the health system, tourism

On tourism drop, ceding sovereignty, politicians, changes

Re: ?Politicians fail their exams?

Dear Mr Konstandaras

In regards to your current article, it is a matter of what angle you see the problem Mr Konstandaras from.

From my view I see that the current political order in Greece is led by crook politicians that care for nothing except to serve their own financial self-interest in the short term.

They proceed along a long-established plan of their own that aims at enriching themselves and their cast by selling our country entirely to the crooks of the western world.

The terms of their plan were established long time ago.

The troika’s purpose is only to see that they (the political leaders of the current order in Greece) keep working for the bosses of the troika as agreed upon when they passed them the price of the deal — the money currently called sovereign debt — and the politicians lost it playing in the finance roulette of the western world as they claim.

The politicians in Greece use as an excuse to continue indenting our country that they need to continue supporting themselves in the same lifestyle that led them to sell our country in the first place. They never intend to go back to what is reality for them and this is the need to start living well within their means and find motives for the Greeks in Greece to start working hard as they used to do in the past before the agreed sale of their country to the crooks of the western world along the lines I described above.

Please put your efforts behind finding the right healthy Greeks that may care for their country to replace this corrupt gang of political leaders in Greece, as this is the only way for us Greeks to save our country.

Respectfully,

Vasilios D. Korovilas, MD

California, USA.

How to make Greece great again

The following five points should make Greece great again:

1) Transparency in government and the civil service. It should be made compulsory that upon entering and leaving office all politicians and civil servants should declare their assets and that of their spouses.

2) All the land registries should be computerised and linked to all the tax districts. The tax districts need to attach in turn the details to each taxpayers? reference number and records should be updated by writing once a year to each taxpayer with a warning that failure to declare assets would result in fines.

3) Corporation tax should be reduced to 15% and red tape cut to encourage investors. New businesses should be given a tax holiday for the first five years.

4) All Church property and income should be taxed.

5) All schools throughout the country should adopt the following motto to be written at every school entrance as described by Plato: ?As individuals we do not live for ourselves, we live to serve society.? Or another suitable slogan from Themistocles: ?Unity is strength. United we stand.?

Peter Attard

Re: Politicians fail their exams

?As time passes, we see more clearly how sloppy most of our politicians were with regard to Greece?s relations with its partners and creditors. As long as our partners were giving us money, we would declare that we would do what they wanted. We did not need to read the fine print — someone else would do that and, if thing went awry, we could always turn our back on the deal later.”

It’s not just the politicians… it’s the whole country. It is how Greeks do business. I could rant about the lawyers in the same manner: they are lazy and arrogant. The whole judicial system is the same. What is the saying? «Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.» We wait for everything and make others wait for everything, dragging out every little piece of work and or responsibility to our business associates. It’s shameful!

In this country we must learn that the whole is only as good as the sum of it’s parts. If the Greeks do not learn this good and quick, Germany and France will eat us!

Alexander Zavradinos

Re: Germany proposes Greece relinquish some fiscal powers.

Hello! Is anyone listening or paying attention?

We cannot take care of ourselves and as long as we go back for more handouts, they have the right to make decisions for us.

The party is over, although the guests did not realise it yet and still hang around.

There is nothing that has not already been said. The incompetent fools who populate the Parliament should do the honourable thing, gather their belongings and leave.

They managed to bring us to the brink and they do not deserve to remain now or ask in the future to be elected or appointed in any government office.

Every time something is being offered as a correction or improvement, there is a new entity created to address the issue. New acronyms, different initials and new plans while we cannot correct past mistakes. Even «correcting» computer bugs in the tax offices that collect taxes from petrol stations needed a law to be passed so the programs run smoothly.

It is unfortunate for all of us and should be shameful for those who have been behind this catastrophe.

How can an entire country like ours cannot find honourable, capable leaders and we have been going back all those years to elect over and over again the same idiots?

When the Germans come in to tell us how much to spend when and where, we will realise that we let this band of fools go too far but it will be too late.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Question

Greece’s appalling failure to get on with structural reforms stands out in relation to other affected euro economies. Can anybody explain to me why it would be a bad thing for the Greeks to be managed by an appointed EU Commissioner? Or by competent technocrats on behalf of an enlightened Greek military regime, for a defined period of time? I understand the generals now.

Milan Hladik

Re: Absurdities over Statistics

Over the last few weeks, National Public Radio (NPR) and BBC News has been reporting on the struggle in Greece over the statistics. Many are wondering how can the Greeks be expending so much time, energy and resources over an accusation that was fabrication: that ELSTAT falsified the data to appease the European Union.

Just as one begins to have hope that the Greeks will move forward and resolve the debt crisis, one hears of such foolishness and despairs.

Truthfully, as a Greek-American I do not understand and find it more and more difficult to explain the motives and behavior of the Greek populace to my friends and colleagues. They are quite sympathetic to the Greek crisis but are befuddled on the way Greeks are handling it.

Slowly, I fear, Europeans, Americans, Asians, etc. will become disillusioned with Greece and lose respect for a country that has given so much to the world.

Carol Manitaras

All Greeks must stand together and build the country

Well-educated citizens should not leave the country for better jobs but all Greeks must now stand together. It is possible to reactivate economic growth. When there is the faith in overcoming the crisis, Greece will overcome the crisis.

To all Greeks: There will come an unanticipated economic boom and the worst is already over. The future will be better than the yesterday and the today. You all will wonder how fast this crisis will be over!

Wolf Stephan

Why Greece?s intellectual bankruptcy dwarfs its financial bankruptcy

For the past four years the global economic context has triggered a reappraisal in sovereign risks and investment portfolios, as well as countries? debts being downgraded to reflect reality, with analysts zooming in on a more profound manner to grasp the soundless development and growth paradigms pursued by national authorities.

Greece not having major natural resources to rely on would naturally have been thought to embrace something else as its priority. Let’s start with the result: After three years Greece’s real growth rate has been catastrophic and despite months of living on the edge there has been no action stemming from the fact that fiscal policy and budget planning are more about politics and constitutional checks and balances, than about economics. So, you have to strike a balance.

Again in Greece, highly elitist, totally centralised in Athens, and unfair self-serving, basically suicidal for all short-term parties, politics and unions? deliriums have invariably prevailed over the real economy, essentially politicizing and mortally endangering forward-looking, pragmatic macro-fiscal economic decisions. As a result, capital contemporary infrastructures and broad-based strategic dynamics have been destroyed in all sectors of potential growth, including tourism; clusters of new trade industries that boost competitiveness such as solar and wind power, not to mention ?a la carte? independent regional developments have invariably not prevailed; and Parliament continues its huge self-discretionary spending and bureaucratic red-tape, rendering unfeasible all possibly bright private initiative!

No individual, communal or regional dream hasn’t been massacred in favour of the tyrannic black hole system that is synonymous with the crisis that led Greece to the edge of chaos.

First, Greece needs a new Constitution, and, second, a new Parliament that should mix half the number of the current politicians with representatives of the chamber of commerce (large, medium and small businesses equally represented). Three, sustained comprehensive policies must replace short-term palliatives. Four, all red tape must be unequivocally be suppressed to support free dynamic, private- sector driven growth in the Greek economy. There is no greater force than the drive and creativity of an individual who wakes up in the morning and thinks of how to best cater to a family. Five, simplify the tax system. Six, the Media must start acting responsibly and stop window- dressing reality, as it is still the case much too often, as if afraid of painting it as it is (black) and appearing unpatriotic (the opposite is true).

For again: Greece?s intellectual bankruptcy has initiated and still dwarfs its financial bankruptcy. No supposedly educated person can deny or be proud of that.

Marc Sursock

Geneva, Switzerland

Re: Troika insists on salary reductions?

I think the troika should firstly insist on constitutional changes regarding the size of Greece’s Parliament.

If Greece could shed at least 100 Parliamentary positions it would then give an example to all Greeks that the necessary changes required can be taken at the top.

Why does the troika shy away from this? Reducing the size of Greece’s Parliament would be a huge cost saving in salaries.

George Salamouras

Re: Counterproductive

It would be counterproductive if the EU were to curb the sovereignty of the country.

Greeks will win their morale back and get things done by their own work power. All Greeks will stand together and rebuild their country. And if the efforts they are making are done with faith to achieve it, they will succeed.

Wolf Stephan

Re: The end of Greek sovereignty

Another stellar day for our do-nothing MPs. In the 2+ years that this default scenario has been unfolding, they have done everything they can to forestall the implementation of the structural reforms demanded by the troika in an effort to maintain their job security. Thousands upon thousands of private sector workers have not had that luxury and are now unemployed as a result of their incompetence, recklessness, and inability to act. Worse, as a nation, we are being crushed by a tax burden that has not and cannot provide the revenues the Finance Minister has repeatedly promised, salaries and pensions have been cut to the point of being unliveable, and our national system of healthcare is on life support, in other words, it will soon cease to exist.

Given the above, it?s not surprising the troika?s patience has finally run out. Lest anyone forget, it is their money our MPs have been mishandling. Consequently, no one should be surprised by what can only be described as the complete loss of Greek sovereignty. From now on, our government must seek the approval of a European baby-sitter before it can vote on new legislation or spend even one euro. Adding insult to injury is the fact that our national assets will now be used as collateral to be sold in the event that/when we cannot meet the fiscal targets established by our new caretakers.

So here?s to our President, appointed PM, and the 300 self-serving MPs for this historical day of disgrace and shame. The citizens of Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain will soon be joining our ranks as EU outcasts since they too will be unable to meet the troika?s strict fiscal targets. Mind you this should not provide us with comfort. Rather it should serve as a ?eureka? moment forcing us to look deep inside ourselves, individually and as a nation and ask — is this what we really want or is there a better way?

For months now this forum has enabled people to express their opinions without censure and a majority have concluded that our government is irresponsible, ineffective, and self-serving to the point of being dysfunctional. Since a government is composed of people, it stands to reason that if and when those elected to serve fail to perform their sworn duty, they should be replaced. This is what makes democracy the most socially just form of government. So to answer the question — is there a better way? — there is. Replace the ineffective with effective citizen legislators. People who actually care what happens to our nation. Only by exercising our Constitutional rights can we expect to maintain them.

Jonathan Reynik

Re: Privatizations

Perhaps Greece should take another look at the EURECA project, which was proposed by a consulting firm several months ago.

In a nutshell: Greece would put state assets into a fund, sell that fund to the EU for 125 billion euros and the EU would commit to spend 20 billion euros to bring those assets into good shape. Then these assets would be privatized (time frame about 10 years) and privatization gains of 40-60 billion euros would be expected. These gains would go back to Greece.

Greece would use the 125 billion euros to buy back her own debt. Such debt currently trades around 30% of nominal. If Greece could buy back her debt at that discount, the 125 billion euros would be enough to make Greece debt-free.

The 20 billion euros upgrading investment by the EU would in and by itself already be an enormous stimulus for the economy. Add to that the new momentum which the economy would experience by being able to focus on future potential instead of worrying about past debt all the time and you can expect a steep recovery.

Is there a catch to this? Not really. Well, there is one minor catch.

That minor catch is that the government will no longer have control over a rather large sector of the Greek economy. It will no longer be able to use the resources of those companies for political purposes. That is, of course, very sad for the government. On the other hand, the government will no longer have to pay for the deficits of those companies and that, in turn, is very happy news for Greek tax payers.

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Re: Tourism in 2012

I think Greece has to anticipate a major decline in tourism in 2012. The reason is that many potential visitors don’t want to be confronted with the chaos of a default and/or the introduction of the drachma. When it is not 200 percent clear and sure this will not happen this year tourists will choose another destination. And they decide where to go in 2012 around now.

Hans van der Schaaf

Re: A commissioner in Greece

Greek politicians can’t run their own kitchens at home. It’s time grownups who are capable and not crooks, and who have a plan and a vision take control. Greece’s politicians are just karagiozides. Nothing else.

Lionel Luthor

Re: Drop in holiday bookings

Maybe this is due to the perception, abroad, of the unreliability of taking holidays in Greece. We have lived here for several years and know people who have had severely disrupted holidays here and will not come again: delays due to striking air traffic control, ferries to the islands blockaded, no petrol for their hire cars. Most of the time, it all works very well but why take the risk?

David Wardle

Selia, Crete

Re: Health system has one year left

Mr Loverdos, if I am to believe his CV in Wikipedia is an educated individual who has been well accomplished in many areas. I will not hold against him the fact that he is a trained lawyer rather than a scientist leading the Ministry of Health. However, during his short stay in Boston to study here, perhaps he had the chance or need to learn how the system works here in terms of generic or brand name drugs.

The only thought that comes to mind in this mess and getting a daily news item about this plan or other falling apart in Greece again is greed.

Another tale of the tail wagging the dog. One can only surmise that the doctors are being paid handsomely by the pharmaceuticals to prescribe brand name drugs, although generics treat or manage the disease the same way.

On one hand I can understand the dilemma of the patients to agree to generics if the out of pocket expense is the same either way. I can even understand the doctors trying to capitalise on this to the full extend they can, although I believe it is unethical.

However, Mr Loverdos, a minister who has been trained to argue a case, could address the Greek public and explain that generics are not inferior drugs but in most cases drugs manufactured by the same companies as before, after the patent expires.

He can also explain that the coffers are empty and the co-payment for brand name drugs will be 80% while for generics will be 10%. It works in the USA and it could certainly work in Greece. It should be obvious that most people would prefer to have access to medication they need even if it does not come packaged in a fancy wrapper.

If this does not work, they can pay more out of pocket but at least the majority of the patients will still be able to depend on the system, however flawed it may be.

Monica Lane

Re: Ceding budget control to EU: Time for men of true grit

Greece is truly caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. The sad truth is that the EU works fine in good times but is a terrible model for times like these. And the reason has always boiled down to the sovereignty issue and the inability to manage a member state like Washington, say, could manage New York. While its hard to be objective when your national pride is at stake, it?s not unreasonable to understand that lenders really do like to get paid back.

It boils down to deciding on the lesser of three evils: (i) losing sovereignty, pride, etc., getting bailed out, more austerity and its impacts and perhaps an extension of time until the European economy turns around and the nation somehow holding out until then; (ii) leaving the euro, defaulting, old currency, huge losses to banks and value of savings becoming nearly worthless but being able to chart your own destiny in a 1930’s Great Depression-type of economy with much higher unemployment, or (iii) turning into a Marxist state, becoming Bulgaria by the sea and disappearing from the face of the earth for the next 50 years until you return to your senses.

No fun either way. I would take option 1 as its the only real option, as terrible as it may be. But I’m not an expert and, most importantly, I’m not Greek. And then your leadership needs to transform the economy and the mindset of unions, excess government employment, lack of wealth generation, antiquated corrupt inept tax system, etc. into a dynamic mercantile self-reliant economic force with no vestiges of socialism except for those poor souls unable to help themselves through no fault of their own.

It will take a miracle — but miracles sometimes happen when everyone is on the same page and cares more about country than self. Greeks are smart, tough people who know how to generate wealth and take care of themselves, but now is the time to put the country first. And in the interim, put all of the window-breaking, brain-dead anarchist nut cases in chains and put them to work cleaning up the tourist areas.

May God bless Greece and give it a leader of true grit they desperately need in these terrible times.

John Luciano

New York

Re: Hotel bookings down? It’s your own fault Greece.

With all the strikes, who wants to take a chance visiting Greece?

Last summer, the cabs were on strike and people were carrying suitcases down the streets.

Buses don’t run, taxis on strike, no wonder bookings are down.

Tourism troubles are self-inflicted. It’s too chaotic. People can’t relax if they are worried about how they are going to get around. Very few Americans who don’t have to go back because of family, look at Greece now as a third world country.

Why does Greece keep shooting itself in the foot?

John Sherman

Texas

Great example from Balkan zone to think about

15 years ago, both Bulgaria and Romania went through rampant inflation linked to a financial crisis. Bucharest narrowly avoided the collapse, but Sofia was less fortunate and experienced a meltdown of the sort Greece is currently trying to prevent.

The central bank in Bulgaria was subsequently stripped of its powers as the country entered in a «currency board» agreement with the IMF and other international lenders in July 1997, with the lev being pegged to the German D-Mark, which was replaced by the euro in 2001. Aimed at lowering inflation, boosting national reserves and restoring market confidence in the country, the currency board nevertheless seriously dented Bulgaria’s sovereignty. But it has worked. And still working really well.

Dion Dion

Re: Drop in tourism

This should not come as a surprise. This newspaper has covered, in detail, the self inflicted wounds (strikes, corruption, riots, urban squalor etc.) Greece’s politicians and people have inflicted on the image of this country. The only thing the tourist industry can do is to implement a policy of damage control.

Let us start with advertising. In short, a policy of regional tourism must be emphasized over a national one. The terms Athens and Greece must be removed from any tourist ad campaign since these terms have become radioactive. For example, google the terms Greece and corruption and you have an idea on how this country and it’s capital city are perceived internationally. «Come to Greece» should be replaced with «Come to Crete» or many other island and mainland destinations. Any campaign must emphasize direct air communication between the place of departure and the island or mainland destination. This means not stopping in Athens. This is paramount since the term Athens has become a touristy byword for hell (taxi and ferry strikes, riots, migrant squalor, crime, riots, tourist site shutdowns etc.). The island of Rhodes, which has seen arrivals skyrocket, and many other Greek islands, is a great example on how this approach can work.

When people go on holiday, dependability is paramount. As a whole, we have failed at this task. On a regional level, we have a better chance at succeeding.

John Athans

New York City

Re: Absurdities over statistics.

It never ceases to amaze me, when individuals, not having firsthand knowledge over an issue are certain that things are either black or white.

The commentary suggests that the questions raised and statements made about ELSTAT are a non-issue, nothing out of the ordinary happened, everyone is innocent and the only people involved in this were an ex-official of ELSTAT who said absurdities and a financial investigator who had an agenda.

Now that all and every aspect of our political elite is under attack, now is the time to look into every aspect and either clear those under suspicion or bring them to justice.

Suggesting that we cover this along with other irregularities because it is not the proper time to have those outsiders getting more surprised by our acts is absurd.

We did not arrive at this point because our politicians were honest, the findings crystal clear and the billions spent accounted for.

We have a system that is totally broken. Those who contributed to this breakdown must answer the tough questions.

When all the questions are answered and the proof is evident, it will be up to us to decide who was absurd and who was just making noise.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Re: Hotel industry is worried by low bookings 2012

I love Greece but the strikes are too much to deal with. No airport buses, no ferries, no taxis, no this, no that. Downtown Athens is chaos and everything is overpriced. If Greece wants to be in Europe it needs to bring its prices down. Greece is more expensive than Paris is for holidays and that is just a huge negative.

Greece should leave the euro and be Greece again.

Elroy Huckelberry

Eleven million slaves. How Sweet.

“Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws.» Mayer Amschel Bauer Rothschild (1744 -1812), Godfather of the Rothschild Banking Cartel.

Imagine what it would be like to ?legally? own 11 million slaves — forever — slaves who earn an average monthly income about $2,500 per slave. That?s a total of $27,500,000,000 a year. All owed to a new class of slave-owners called ?International Lenders?. Baron Rothschild, apparently, is still at his desk. Pretty sweet. For him.

And why do the slaves owe all of their wages to the new slave owners? Because some ?bankers? conned the slaves? ?government? into selling the slaves into eternal debt. Pretty sweet, again. And did the slaves know about it? Nope. Surprise, surprise.

Well, if the slaves don?t like it, they can all leave. If they can. But where will they go? Iraq? Pretty sweet, one more time. And if the slaves want to eat, well, too bad, ?ole Massa? gets his first. Always and forever.

So, 11 million Greek slaves are now owned by a little club of ?International Lenders?. How sweet it is. For them. And the US sheep are not far behind. Baron Rothschild is breaking out in song.

Sam Welch