OPINION

Politicians, the euro, tourism, change, taxes, values, predictions

I follow the Greek and German press quite regularly and what surprises me is the total absence of reports about the situation in Germany in the Greek media while the German newspapers are full of reports about Greeks.

You can find intereviews and reports on all kinds of topics and with all kinds of Greeks in German newspapers.

From the poor grandmother that is suffering on her small pension to the architect that lost his job and moves with his family back to his father?s village, as well as leaders of unions, town majors etc.

In Greek newspapers I have seen almost nothing like that which would allow common Greeks to put themselves into the shoes of the other.

Germany is more or less reduced to the following highlights: Merkel, Nazis, Rich, Mercedes etc.

In addition to that, Giorgos Trangas for example claimed on the TV that ?Germany doesn’t care that 3 million pensioners are going to die here,? while Stathis Anestis claims that ?in Germany no one has a clue of what is going on here.?

Well, let me ask you then what clue do the Greeks have about the situation in Germany?

Do they know that:

– 12 million people are living on or below the edge of poverty?

– 20% of all kids grew up in poverty?

– ten thousand people that work full-time cannot support their family with the money they earn and need state support?

– 1.2 million people work for less than ?5month (in some call center cases 2-3 euros)?

– that Germany has more than 2 trillion euros of debts?

– that hundreds of communities have to close down public facilities (pools, sport fields, youth centres) due to money shortages?

– there are areas with unemployment rates up to 20% (e.g Gelsenkirchen, Dortmund)?

– tax rates are still much higher than in Greece?

– that every German still pays a 5.5% solidarity tax to cover the costs of German unification?

– that in Greece, 80% own a house or flat compared to just 40% in Germany?

– that since 1991 the public sector in Germany has been reduced by more than 2 million people while in Greece it went up from 300,000 in 1981 to around a million by today (no one knows exactly obviously)?

As you can see, there are millions of people in Germany that live under very harsh conditions as well.

These people carry now the financial risks of the ongoing bailout packages and with the implementation of the PSI they will already start paying since some private banks went de facto into public hands during the bank crisis (HRE, Commerzbank etc).

Next time you go and burn German flags and call Germans Nazis because you are not able to look across the borders of your own small world, put yourself in the shoes of those people.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Official prediction

They?ll formally wrap up a bailout of Greece by Monday or Tuesday.

They?ll formally wrap up a bailout of Portugal, Ireland, Span and Italy within six months, probably sooner.

Every country on the list will default under the terms of the amendments to the Eurozone Treaty that allow for the bailouts within two years, at most, and many will default in well under a year.

Every PIIGS nation is already now in recession if one were to use an honest GDP metric, and these recessions will deepen post bailouts, which will make it even less likely they can significantly make good on the core requirements of their bailout provisions.

Germany will see the largest number of incumbents voted out of office in its post WW-II election history, with anti-EU legislators being elected in massive numbers.

The ECB will have to print a minimum ?2.5 trillion to ?3 trillion over the next 18 months just to recapitalize the Eurozone member banks for a long enough period of time to prevent governments from running out of funding. On top of this, an additional ?3 trillion will have to be printed during the subsequent 12 months in order to float social programs among PIIGS members during what will be a period of highly contractionary economic activity to avoid having another public Eurozone debt crisis forcing the types of negotiations and the process we?re seeing right now, prior to mid-2014.

Inflation will run so high that it will bring about constant ?no confidence? parliamentary votes throughout the Eurozone member states for the foreseeable future.

The Eurozone will either be dissolved or dramatically shrunk by 2015.

The US will see a credit contraction at least as large as it saw during 2008, and the U.S. investment banks will suffer huge losses as a result of the European crisis even given that the ECB is going to print a minimum, aggregrate 5.5 trillion euros (that will mostly flow to try to recapitalize EU banks and support PIIGS social program spending) over the next two-and-a-half years, as unhedged losses run deep.

Stephen Dawdry

Police officers stage protest rally

Tell me my calculator does not work properly. Please.

The officers are threatening strikes and demonstrations because they run the risk of losing about 30% of their salaries, which is according to the article about 500 euros a month.

If I still remember what I learnt in math class, this makes the current average salary about 1,700 euros a month.

If we go back 10 years and convert this amount to drahmae, it comes up to more than 535,500 drahmae a month.

Although it is quite clear to all that the police and firemen work in a dangerous occupation and deserve a decent salary and pension, who decided that the country can afford this exhorbitant salary to be paid per officer?

How much were they earning before we joined the euro and how was the salary converted when we did?

Are the union members the only ones protected from cuts, reductions in pay and benefits?

If we are to suffer as a nation because of the mistakes we made, why should some be excluded from the pain while others are left to make do with the crumbs?

Monica Lane

Immaterial values

A very well-written article Mr Iordanides. Congratulations.

It is very true that those who fled from PASOK have been disappointed in it since the rhetoric of the politicians did not match their acts. It is not surprising to those who never believed, since La La land does not exist.

I suspect they fled to the extreme left-wing parties since it makes no sense that they would join ND or any other right-wing leaning party.

It is imperative that they understand that promises are one thing and reality something totally different. The promises being made now by left-leaning politicians may sound like all one needs to do is vote them in so we can arrive at the promised land.

We have heard promises before. What we now need is actions and honesty and open communication.

Hitching our cart to a left-wing party post could bring us to a worse place than we now are.

Let us not forget that no one died trying to escape the West into a communist country.

What we need is to pull ourselves up, dust ourselves off and unite with the sole purpose of keeping our country a sovereign nation and its citizens free of all sorts of oppression, whether financial or political.

Perhaps this newspaper can start ?airing? each and every politician?s past and present for the electorate to decide on what is best for the country.

We currently have in the US a Republican primary that seems to be running for months. However, each and every debate gives the voters more insight on who each candidate is and what he plans to do. Even after we discount 90% of the blah blah we can still figure out who we would prefer to emerge as the one to run in the next general election.

We have been governed by prejudices, fears and passions for too long. Let us open our eyes and ears next time and choose the one who is worth it rather than the one who thinks he is.

Monica Lane

Florida US

Immaterial?

May I respectfully suggest that the use of the word ?immaterial? in the article by Costas Iordanidis is a somewhat literal but confusing direct ?translation from Greeks?. If something is immaterial, it is unimportant, irrelevant, of no importance. My reading of the article suggests he has an alternative meaning in mind. There is always a problem with a translation by dictionary ignoring idiomatic English. In the context of K. Iordanidis?s usage I think he wishes to imply that the decisions had no materialistic or concrete reasons behind them, they were purely altruistic.

Problems arise if you translate directly with a dictionary from Greeks to English. Master?s degrees have been failed as a result of this.

It would make sense in the following context: ?Plato and Socrates made many references to eternal forms that are immaterial or incorporeal.? It is clear here from the context as to the meaning of the word immaterial, as it refers directly to eternal forms, incorporeal.

Isn?t it refreshing to be discussing English grammar as opposed to the rather more predictable Greek economic situation!

John Foss

Athens

(Alumnus of Harrow School, Alma Mater to Churchill and Byron, to name but two of many distinguished Old Harrovians!)

Greece fails to collect tax penalties

It pains me to read, watch on ANT1 and listen to ridicule by foreigners about my home country?s failure to get to grips with reality that the ?picnic? is over. How long will Greeks allow a bunch of self-serving politicians to ruin what?s left of their life and survival, not to mention of the pride of being a Greek? The whole world is laughing at us. Let?s all unite in a single message to the EU: You will not distroy us, ever. Keep your money, we are out.

Stefanos Lukas

Hope

Greeks should start to look more intensely at other countries. So, after the new deal reached in the first week of February, Greeks? minimum wages will be lowered to the Portuguese level. Of course, the lowering of unsustainable living standards is a shock; Greeks had come to the point of enjoying a standard of life statistically similar to that of South Korea — but with its economic base being a far cry from that country?s level. It should have been very clear that this situation is untenable. Look at former Eastern Bloc countries, the economies of which collapsed completely after the end of the Soviet Union. The Czechs, the Bulgarians, the Poles had extremely hard times, too. And no help in any way comparable to the support Greeks received and still get. Most of them have managed to get out of the slump by discipline and hard work, without looking for foreign scapegoats. Poland has even become something of an economic powerhouse.

Take the Polish way as a blueprint and start rebuilding your country! Demonstrations and protests will get you nowhere.

Heinz Stiller

Berne, Switzerland

Collection of ideas for the Greeks future

A wish for the English version of Ekathimerini (and hopefully also the Greek version) as well as for Greek society as a whole is the collection of ideas for a Greeks future.

As an interested foreigner from a land not always popular in Greece, I can see the deep actual crisis — for me it is comparable to the Eastern European economic breakdown and rebuilding of the 1990s — as well as the protests against the required savings, but I cannot see any alternative proposals for how to rebuild the country.

These proposals, how the future Greece should be working and prospering, can be made only from the Greeks? country, if they should have a chance to work in Greece — European or German proposals will be — logically — blocked and be avoided by the proud and stubborn Greek society as we have learnt.

So, how can Greeks get out of the hole they are in today?

What are future proposals?

Never mind if Greece is going bankrupt officially or just inofficially — which ways do you see to rebuild their society and their economy, which ways may fit with the Greek culture and mentality?

It is quite easy to protest toward Europe and Germany for their demands of cost cuts. But even if Greece should declare bankruptcy and refuse to repay any debts — is the country at least at the level to simply pay the actual demands (e.g. for salaries, pensions) with the tax income?

After going bankrupt, for some time nobody will lend money to Greek society.

Greeks have to rebuild the new country with their own ideas — and Europe may help if it can see a realistic Greek future path, but it cannot build the path for the Greeks.

So please start a collection of ideas, how Greece should and could recover, and rebuild the country. This is how the future will be made better.

Alex Stintzing

Germany

Tourism and investors

You will need a lot of luck to restore trust. I personally know people who say they will never again travel to Greece, where they burn our flag and offend our politicians. Furthermore it isn?t really attractive if tourists don?t know if they can catch their flight or their ferry or bus or if they have to wait until they work again. The same thoughts are common amongst investors. I don?t think that the Greeks know what damage they are doing to their country every day.

Rosemarie Berger

Spineless

Instead of burning German flags, the revolting masses should burn their own flag.

How long will you stand for these spineless con artists that you call your politicians?

This will end in default and you know it. You just want to squeeze each euro before that and make excuses.

Pekka Peitsi

Finland

Euro or drachma?

It has always been possible/acceptable/legal for the sovereign state to print the money that is required to fund the government of the state.

The UK has always refused to join the eurozone and asserted the right to manage its own currency.

Nevertheless, most governments choose to borrow money from banks and pay interest on the loans. This means that the taxes that we pay as citizens are used to pay off the interest. In effect we pay the bonuses received by the financiers. For Greeks at the moment they are required to pay loans+interest. It is this total that is so crippling.

If Greeks withdrew from the eurozone, and abandoned the euro, there is no reason why it could not manage its own currency, and print the money that is required.

Of course it would not resolve the euro debt payments.

To have its local currency would mean that it could not operate as an international entity as nobody else would accept the currency. It would be excluded from all central banks. But it would not have any debts. It would not be necessary to pursue ?growth?, for all money would be printed according to need. To work, it would be essential for the citizens to accept, exchange and value the currency.

Of course it would be a real puzzle as to whether the politicians and civil servants could be trusted to manage the funding of the government. But at least it would be the responsibility of the citizens to regulate the state and the currency.

Kelvyn Richards

Trikala

Greeks in the euro

The EU says publicly that it wants Greece in the Euro, but only on the condition that it will not cost them a cent in the future. That means Greece has to balance its books. That means austerity for the next decade. Is Greece willing to go through this austerity for the next decade? It is wiser if Greece swallows the pill and leaves the Euro and gets the drachma and full employment again I thnk.

Elroy Huckelberry

MP resignation

Koutsoukos is ?accusing the IMF of ignoring the impact that the measures would have on the deep recession in Greece.?

Is he kidding? The Greek politicians have ignored the Greek people for generations. To blame the IMF is laughable at this late stage. Greece is broke because of the elite politicians making promises they knew they could never keep.

Enjoy the fog!

Mike

USA