OPINION

On the Greek Church, the Marshall Plan, Papandreou’s promises and the Greek healthcare system

Mistaken identity

To the editors, I did not submit the following comment: Re: Justice Minister calls for public prosecutor action.

In most cases, investigators want someone under arrest to cooperate because they are after bigger fish, so they agree to a lesser sentence with the one who will «talk.»

Sometimes the information is valuable and sometimes not. However, if this «businessman» has in his possession tape recordings which will prove beyond any doubt that Parliamentarians have been involved in these extortion schemes, these tapes must be made public immediately.

We are talking about national elections in the coming weeks, we are talking about an overstuffed Parliament and a do-nothing group of handsomely paid fat cats.

Before we go back to the polls again to vote for anyone, we need to know who did what, when and how.

Jonathan Reynik

Church and the cash

Greece builds hundreds of huge new churches all over the country. I wonder how many billions went to the church this past 10-20 years.

Petros M.

Excellent article, but here?s a suggestion

Excellent! Finally a well-understood analysis of what and how to resolve the situation in Greece. I would only add that the asylum granted to political officials be lifted and accountability for the current situation be criminally prosecuted.

Joana Tsinonis

Church objects to austerity measures

Maybe the good father would consider easing the burden on the Greek people by deciding to pay his employees from the vast amounts of money the church has, instead of getting the taxpayer to cover this business expense for him. Then he and his corporation could pay taxes on the massive property portfolio (including churches and monasteries — they are revenue-making sites after all) he controls. We the people would appreciate him paying his company’s fair share over blessings and cheap publicity stunts such as the one mentioned in the article.

Theo Mitsouras

Greece should be excluded from the EU With interest I have read the comments from the church leader. It is interesting to note that a) the church in Greece has never paid any taxes though they have the largest real estate ownership in the country; b) the EU has committed to helping Greece, but Greece is not able to reform itself — no progress on privatization, tax evasion, streamlining and efficiency enhancement of the public administration; c) there seems to be no civil sense in this country — rich Greeks have bought London property or transferred money to their Swiss bank accounts; d) to talk of national dignity is ridiculous — Greeks have taken the money from foreign creditors without even bothering how to repay it. This is a shame! e) Germany is right to demand oversight over Greek budget — Greeks have shown to be completely incapable of managing the budget! f) the opposition against minimum wage cuts etc. is ridiculous and the unions are responsible for the state the country is in. Supply and demand should be in balance. No wonder no foreigner wants to invest in your country. All in all, I am appalled by Greece, Greek politicians and the lack of contribution and commitment from the Greek people to honor their debt, stop cheating and regain their independence. I will never spend my holidays in Greece as I am fed up for a lifetime!

Tom Baum

Marshall Plan or EU package 1987-2007?

Dear Dr Kritikos I really loved this article. It is the most intelligent, realistic, comprehensive argument for how to rescue Greece that I have read in the last three months of reading this newspaper almost every day. I truly wish that it would work. Everything in it is logical, rational, insightful and realistic on the material and mundane level. For that reason I very much wish it would work. The Marshall plan succeeded because it was applied to mostly Western European nations that had a sufficient level of modern socio-economic development, especially institutional and infrastructure development, that they were able to put the resources of the Marshall plan to good use to rebuild countries that had before the war been relatively prosperous, relatively institutionally functional and relatively infrastructurally developed. Most countries receiving Marshall aid had relatively developed economies, relatively developed socio-economic and educational systems, and had mostly taken part in the great movements of European socio-economic development and enlightenment over the last 500 years. The exceptions to this rule would have been Portugal, Greece and Turkey. Of these three it was Greece that had the least developed systems of all, due to incessant conflict over the last 200 years. In effect, was not the financial aid given to Greece by the EU as part of her membership package an equivalent of the Marshall plan? During the Marshall Plan years: The original Marshall Plan spent a different amount per person in all its sixteen countries… Three percent of Marshall funds went to Greece: $366 million out of $12.7 billion total. That’s about $50 per person for Greece, or $400 adjusted to today. [http://cup.columbia.edu/media/5022/hubbard-aid-excerpt.pdf]. I would recommend reading this; it is not unsympathetic but is very realistic. From 1986 to today the EU spent 58 billion euros on Greece; that’s 5,300 Euros or 7,000 dollars per person in Greece. [Bloomberg Business Week; How much does Greek growth cost? Ben Vickers Nov 7 2011] It could be argued that Greece has already had her modern Marshall Plan.

Philip Andrews

Re: Former premier defends record

What arrogance from the former PM Mr Papandreou. Two years ago he promised the world and instead delivered the wrong medicine to the economy, more businesses closed down, unemployment went up to record levels, more illegal immigrants came in, the crime rate soared, and now PASOK is into single-digit figures. Papandreou needs a reality check. Blaming ND is not the answer as PASOK has governed most of the time since 1974. And finally, for a leader that cares so much about Greece, he was last seen in Costa Rica, Israel and who knows where tomorrow. He has been an absolute failure in every sense of the word. I hope this is the last of the Papandreou dynasty.

George Salamouras

Church head calls austerity ‘deadly medicine’

In general I do not approve of the church interfering in politics. Here I do believe it was time to let its voice be heard. Archbishop Ieronymos has a very realistic view about the deteriorating situation in the country. These austerity measures which are already in force are strangling the country?s people. Still more austerity measures will be decided on. The economy will completely disintegrate! Where are all those clever economists with their (usually contradictory) ideas? Talk is cheap in good times!

Barbara Oskanian

Beirut, Lebanon

Unions and employers reject wage cut

I can understand that they reject a wage cut. Unions always want the workers to earn more and more. But the trouble is that Greece is more expensive than Paris is for a person having holidays. I’ve stopped going to Greece for that very reason. I love Greece but it has become too expensive.

Elroy Huckelberry

The mask in question

The mask is a Guy Fawkes mask. Guy Fawkes tried to blow up the British parliament in 1605.

Daniel Sussman

Athens

Therapies for the Greek healthcare system

I agree it is better to prescribe generic drugs, rather than expensive brand-name alternatives. In my country a doctor has to give evidence to the insurance company if he did not prescribe a generic drug. (Sometimes they have to because of the side effects of the generic drug or because of its interaction with other prescribed drugs.) This policy prevents a lot of insurance costs. But there is another therapy necessary here in Greece. I’ve been around in healthcare in Greece so I know what I’m talking about. First of all there is the high consumption in Greece of drugs. And you can get almost everything without a doctor?s prescription. And in another reaction to this newspaper I mentioned the fact you almost stumble over the pharmacies in Greece. It’s about four times more than in my country. And (so) they get paid four times more for doing their job. So when Greece wants to reduce the costs of medicine I think there are some other potentials: Make this sector effective and efficient. But one major problem Greek healthcare has is the absence of an integrated primary healthcare system and the coordinating role of the general practitioner concerning therapies. Especially important when a patient needs therapy for more than one problem. Like many old people. In my country about 95 percent of the problems patients present to this system, and they have to go to this system first of all, is handled by this system. For 5 percent of our healthcare budget. So we have a lot of money left for other necessary services. And the patients are very happy with this system. So in my opinion Greece is wasting a lot here. Concerning quality, effectiveness and the costs of healthcare. You?d better change that.

Hans Van der Schaaf

Greece needs a Marshall Plan

It’s been discussed many times. Whenever a European country is in need of help, some say that a grand Marshall plan could do the trick like it did 65 years ago. Marshall-type help looks very interesting and promising. After WW2 the US gave Western European countries low-interest loans to rebuild their countries. It was not only a Good Samaritan act of the US — they hoped that their domestic industry could benefit from the surging European (German) industrial growth. It was only in the early 1980s that Germany repaid the last installment of the Marshall Plan. The main difference (and therefore this will not work in Greece’s case): The Germans had a history of inventing, manufacturing, and producing high-tech goods. The Marshall plan only accelerated this process. Greece never had an industrial base. Another disadvantage of Greece lies within its geographical limits. Greece is surrounded by nations that are all poorer than Greece. So help will never come from its neighbours but far away from Brussels. And Brussels at the moment has got neither the money nor the leadership to come out of the cave. What Greece must do is focus on its strength and decrease its dependence on cheap European money, and instead unlock its human capital. History has shown what the Greeks are able to accomplish.

Hans Worst

Distomo decision by UN

I’m glad to see this was finally settled. From conversations I have had with Greeks about the Germans and their responsibility for paying War reparations, my understanding was that the US Marshall Plan provided much more than war reparations from Germany for many countries, including Greece, and superseded Greek and other claims in the future against Germany should they agree to the US Marshall Plan from the 1950s.

Ralph Landry

Re: No more dodging the hard stuff

Mr Papachelas, for the first time since I’ve been reading K online, I do not agree with your comment. It seems to be more of a dig against Mr Papandreou/PASOK than anything else. He was not the first, and will certainly not be the last, Greek politician to hide the truth from the public. Do you seriously think all the promises Mr Samaras is making now will come to fruition if/when he/ND wins the next election? Is he going to snap his fingers and save Greece from absolutely everything bad overnight? Did he and his party always only tell the truth? Mr Papademos and his provisional government may not lie, but they also cannot fix Greece’s problems in the short term given to them. So, in the not-too-distant future, another bumbling, corrupt government will take over and start ruining your country from scratch. You (as in the Greek people) are still expelling the truth and will continue to do so by voting for the same faces in the coming elections. Simply because it’s easier to do so than question them and show your anger by not voting en masse. And I mean not one person voting for anyone. Like throwing a party and nobody turns up. No, they won’t end up in an inferno, they’ll continue earning their princely salaries whilst their people spiral further and further down into third-world status. You do not have one single person in Greece who could have fixed in 2 years what took 40 years to ruin — the blame is shared between the two main parties. I spent some time in Athens last week, and then on an island and spoke to many people. The two things that were common throughout all the angry venting were that the people are afraid of their future, and that they want just one politician to tell them the truth, regardless of how bitter and terrible that may be.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

Greece, Italy a bad comparison

Greece should not be compared to Italy. It should be compared to Portugal. Why is nobody in the North despairing about Portugal as they are about Greece? Because the Portuguese have understood the situation they are in, have understood what irresponsible policies got them there, and understood that they have to undergo hard cures to get out of their mess. In Greece, by contrast, people protest against the cure. Where were their protests when successive governments were wrecking the Greek economy? Instead of protesting they sought to get their particular little parts of the non-existant cake which was distributed. Cutting down spending — a deadly medicine, as some say? Well, what is the alternative? Which money do you want to spend? Obviously not the money of your rich elites and tax dodgers. Only the money of Northern Europeans?

Stiller Heinz

Switzerland

Greece needs a Marshall Plan

I agree a «coherent innovation policy» is absolute if Greece is to «right itself», move forward and one day prosper as a contributing member of world society. Greece must reinvent itself from the core. This will require sacrifice, from all levels. It will take decades simply to get everyone on board and moving in unison! Yet, consider for a moment the extreme alternative: Greece defaults, goes bankrupt. Leaves the Euro. Jobs are lost. People go back to the land. Eat less, move more. Heart disease declines, etc. The country goes off the grid and becomes self-sufficient within two decades.

Pericles Creticos

Canada

Greek crisis

I have been visiting Greece faithfully every year since I immigrated for a better life. The present crisis verifies that the Greek political and administrative system was not working. I was comparing that system of governance with the system of my adopted country and the system of other countries and any chance I had I pointed out the faults and the differences. Now is the time for radical change. There is a silver lining around the dark cloud. Greek should look at other successful and progressive countries and copy their system. It is time to shake all the old trees. It is high time everything changed. With love for my country,

George Trigylidas