OPINION

On the euro, capital flight, unemployment, politicians, Roubini

«The euro is more than money.» You’ve got that right. The euro is a symbol of a New Europe controlled by bankers and Germans, where you can be fined for calling the German chancellor a tart (so much for freedom of speech) and where an elected government can be replaced by a banker appointed puppet regime. Greece’s «place in Europe» is guaranteed by history and geography. Leaving the currency zone will not rip Greece out of Europe or change history. Greece is western civilization — fitting that it should start to die there.

Kevin Gerard

MP removing money from country

I just read the article on the MP removing over 1 million euros from your country. Where does a MP get that much money? This person’s name should be publicized and there should be a public, transparent and quick investigation of where these funds came from. I am certain that this wasn’t saved from his salary. Who has this person done business with and at what cost to Greece? If he is guilty of financial crimes, he should be prosecuted immediately. Until public servants become honest and work for the people of Greece, it will remain a mess. The fish rots from the head first.

Michael Hayes

USA

Youth unemployment

You can read in several European news media that the real worry for the future is youth unemployment. And all EU countries have a large percentage of unemployed, barring Germany perhaps, with our country and Spain showing nearly 50%.

The big worry is twofold. First the social exclusion of the young unemployed versus the «safely» employed. The second is the loss of the often educated young who have the talent and energy and who would be paying for the health and pensions of the older generation.

A lost generation some say. How do we remedy this? My suggestion is to change the labour market rules, but who can when you see ADEDY and GSEE taking to the streets for anything that may threaten their self-interests?

Why not offer a lower starting salary for the young and simultaneously lower the salaries for those in their late 50s or early 60s before they start collecting their pension? In both cases you do not have the same needs as those at the age of starting, building and paying for a family with children.

Labour laws for firing people should be amended. Today people who have worked for a long time in a company can hardly be fired as the cost of letting people go is too high. How often do we hear «I wish they’d fire me so I can collect my redundancy money”? And in the meantime this person is not productive for the company; in fact he may hurt it financially.

In some countries you have the firing of personnel on a last-in-first-out basis, which is not always fair.

To help the situation for this large and important group for the future, simplify rules and regulations in this country in order to release the pent-up energy of the young!

Gosta Lindstrom

Athens

The Battle of Greece — probably lost!

I remember the 2009 election campaign. The face of a loud, well-fed ruling Prime Minister was on TV all of the time and I kept asking my wife where his opponent was. Every so often, she pointed to a quiet face on the screen. I told her that this man would never win an election. Mr. Papandreou won the election, nevertheless.

With Mr. Papandreou, I became a champion of the «Greek Cause.» Perhaps it had to do with the fact that we both had been formed at the same university but, still, for once, here was a serious face with a serious demeanor and a very smooth and gallant way of handling himself. On one of his visits to Germany, I watched him in the company of Angela Merkel and the President of the German Chamber of Commerce. That president was the typical German professor; Merkel was the «Mutti»; and Mr. Papandreou showed class.

Perhaps showing class was all that Mr. Papandreou could do. There is ample evidence to that effect. However, whatever positive image he as a person could build up of his country, that image is gone. The price for having lost that image is something which future generations of Greeks will experience.

There are masses of Greeks who are going through extremely dire straits these days. There are, surprisingly, quite a lot of foreigners, sort of modern-day Lord Byrons, who are discovering their passion for the Greek people. Perhaps a cult is being born.

But politics and finance are no places for sympathy and emotions. It’s the hard facts which count in order to make money move. This is no time for romantics.

The hard facts are that Greece has, justifiably or not, totally lost credibility and reputation. «Would you buy a used car from a Greek?» — how do you think Europeans would answer that question today?

Forgiveness of about 100 billion euros in sovereign debt? That is an amazing number! I have no facts but I would guess that never before has so much debt been forgiven to a country in such a short period of time! A country of the First World, that is! This could be a world record which future Greek generations will, sadly, often be reminded of.

The impression sets in that EU leaders have given up on Greece; that they have had «enough of Greece». Give them one more (final?) shot of oxygen to gain time for the stabilization of banks and the ringfencing of Greece (and perhaps the French election) and then move on to more important matters.

Anyone with experience in banking knows that it takes time to build up credibility and reputation, but both can be lost in a short time. Once lost, they are gone for a long time.

I see no way how the Battle of Greece can still be won without a complete change of pace and scenery at the leadership levels of the country. Not only for the benefit of foreigners. Above all for the benefit of Greeks. I just can’t imagine that there is still a majority of Greeks who feel that their leadership is properly representing what Greece is all about.

Is this the call for an «Orange Revolution”? No, it is not. If anything, it is the call for a «Blue Revolution»; «blue» like in sky and sea of Greece. Should the rioters of the streets of Athens be the leaders? No! The leaders should come from those decent, hard-working, friendly and open-hearted Greeks who, hopefully, still represent the majority of the population.

But the far better way would be for Greek leadership at all levels to act like the Japanese do. When Japanese leaders fail completely in their duties, they bow their heads and apologize to everyone they have caused damage to, and they leave office. Some even commit suicide. I am not pleading for suicides but I am definitely pleading for the Greek leadership to step aside and allow a completely new generation of Greeks to attempt a new beginning for the country!

In my view, this is the only way to keep the hope for winning the Battle of Greece alive!

Klaus Kastner

Austria

One million euros

Never mind that this MP took one million euros out of Greece; the question is, where did he get it from?

Francis Cotton

Leaving the eurozone: question of when, not if

All the logic of the present crisis points to the failure of the bailouts. None of the euro defenders have presented a credible scenario where Greece escapes the spiral of depression and debt under the troika regime. Roubini is absolutely right. Default and expulsion are inevitable. That so many Greeks continue to harbor illusions in the euro is truly amazing. The tragedy is they will learn that the price of default and return to the drachma now is far preferable to doing so later. The lesson will be a truly harsh one, but it will come.

John Stathakis

Will the president raise the issue of cutting Parliament in half?

It was very noble of President Papoulias to slash his yearly wage. Will the President raise the issue of cutting Parliamernt by half? The 112th US Congress has 535 members for a population of 308 million. Greece has 300 Parliamentarians for 11 million. Why should ordinary Greek workers take the lion?s share of job cuts and wage cuts when Parliament is not slashing jobs? The Greek media need to start challeging Greek political leaders on this.

George Salamouras

Australia

Euro exit extreme but the fast-track solution to growth

As a call centre agent on a minimum wage who has always wanted to see your treasures in Athens and surrounding areas, one thing more than anything else puts me off. The thing that puts me off coming to visit your great and historic country is the prices.

I love the idea of having a «Mamma Mia» like holiday, in such a beautiful part of the world. However I have not holidayed in the eurozone since its creation, reason being that in the old days the most expensive part of a holiday would be booking the flight and hotel/apartment, and the spending money would be the last thing on your mind as the last month?s pay could be used for this. Now I have repeatedly heard from people coming back that costs for meals alone are the same as here, which puts me off as I want to know that not only with value in goods and services purchased I am getting a bargain.

If Greece thinks of tourism as a serious growth area, then it needs to devalue; also currency exchange can in some cases be a good thing as it allows Northern Europeans to feel they are getting a lot more for their money. In the current economic climate if you are in a massively overvalued currency union and the global stagnation where most people are not confident about the expense of holidaying you as a country need to look at it as a company needs to look at rivals. Just look at it like this: If I want to fly for around 5 hours I could go to Northern Africa or Turkey where package deals are similar to those for visiting Greece and they would have the advantage of being outside the euro and thus having a more competitive currency exchange. Also in a global village tour operators have destinations over the world. I?ve been to Kuala Lumpur for around ?­600 package price in an exotic country where even McDonalds have stores where I can get a meal for the equivalent of just over a pound when it costs around ?­5 here.

Sorry for being harsh, but as a country, one way of getting back to growth and good times would be for Greece and other southern European countries to exit the euro soon. Do not be afraid of ejection from the EU — no country would allow this as it sets a cataclysmic precedent for other eurozone countries.

The unabashed politics and vanity of your politicians got you here, it?s going to take radical free-thinking politicians to get you out of this or an «Event» that derails the current children being born in Greece still paying for the missed attempt to gain full control of all financial controls and thus sovereignty that there great/grandparents have placed upon them.

Kevin Diamond

United Kingdom

Roubini and others debate staying in the euro

Sad that no Greek has the intelligence to see that the entire matter ultimately rests in Greek hands, that it is very easy to blame the (indeed too quickly built) EU construction while totally sweeping under the rug two obvious facts:

1) The economic situation of Greece is infinitely worse than elsewhere as a natural result of its failed political system, with the worst Constitution in the universe and beyond. One cannot vaguely compare the help Portugal has received with the massive amount of help Greece has received. The Greek government after that humongous help still runs a 6-billion-euro-a-month deficit to cover bills concerning about 2 million working for the over-sized public sector. The 300 MPs? (again a ridiculously oversized number mirroring the suicidal public sector) total monthly real spending with all their perks represents, of course, an impressive part of that sum.

2) It is the Greek Constitution which allows all the problems, from the over-centralised backward all-powerful PM and government (it is not a modern federal democracy) to not limiting the size of the public sector or MPs by law, so as not to asphyxiate the private sector.

All other attempts to explain the Greek disaster is as hypocritical or moronic as it gets, for if the entire government and system is a losing machine, no one will invest in it whether in euros or drachmas. That is the challenge. The rest is badly thought out, nonsensical bla bla bla. To liberalise an economy you need first to liberalise a system — China is proving it daily.

Marc Sursock

Geneva, Switzerland

Re: ?Show yourself?

Hmm, let me guess!

This is the only MP who transferred money abroad, right? I doubt it.

It is probably a member of the opposition and the grandstanding is part of the masquerade so we convince those who are watching that we are doing something constructive.

If we could only rope in all those who mishandled public funds, received bribes, enriched themselves and their cronies on the backs of the average Greeks and thumb their noses at all of us. If we could, I wouldn’t mind if we keep them anonymous as long as we got the loot back.

Monica Lane

Florida, US

E-business

It?s sad really. X-rays and Stool samples to open an online store? Forget the Greek economy. We’ve lost this game.

Nick Papadopoulos

Re: ?Race to pass bailout legislation?

Could we please stop referring to it as a bailout? Greece is not being bailed out and the Greeks will not benefit one iota from any of this.

The banks and speculators will get part of what we already borrowed and there is not one piece of this law that will create one job vacancy in any sector.

The can has been kicked down the road. More taxes are coming and although the private sector’s minimum wage has been cut, effective immediately, the public sector adjustments will come in increments, gently, in the coming months.

Anyone who is following this unfolding and has no dog in this fight has realised that the inevitable will happen. The bureaucrats with our politicians enabling them have managed to give more time to those who need it to better adjust for our default, which will come while plunging us deeper in debt. The rest is just political theater.

Monica Lane

Florida, US

Ha ha ha ha ha, pathetic, pathetic

Now suddenly, PASOK and ND want to ‘finger’ the ‘dishonest’ politician who moved his cash (where he made this amount from is another question altogether) to a safer country than his own, begs disbelief! It was these same bungling, corrupt, lazy, incompetent politicians that have brought Greece to utter despair, it was these same crooks who have destroyed the confidence in the market, in consumers, in the local banks (not that they were ever any good, but still) and it is now these same karagiozides ‘demanding’ — demanding (one can only laugh at these antics of Greek politicians) — to show him/herself and all the while dozens of Greece’s politicians have amassed vast personal fortunes illicitly, illegally and tax free! All banked in offshore accounts.

The Germans are right, and so was Pangalos for saying what needs to be said: Our political ‘elite’ are too incompetent, corrupt and incapable of ruling this country; this is why we’re here after all, isn’t it?!

So bring the technocrats from Germany, France and anywhere else we can, to save us, the citizens,from the sheer and utter uselessness of Greek politicians.

Enough.

Lionel Luthor

Re: William Hague?s comments on tourist registering

Perhaps we should ask Greek nationals to register in the UK, a far more dangerous place.

Zaid Hussein

Greek leaders’ sickening lack of integrity and principle

It seems to me that Greece truly has no hope until it somehow flushes its current crop of MPs down the pan and away for ever!

Just a few days ago both ND and PASOK shocked us in the West by expelling about 20 MPs from both parties because those MPs simply insisted on a free vote, insisted on their right to vote according to their consciences regarding the important matter of whether Greece should go the way of the second bailout and its conditions.

And, now, only a few days later, we hear that Samaras may welcome back into the bosom of his party all of those 20-odd MPs whom he has only just expelled provided they agree to do as they are told by him and vote to implement more austerity measures and assist Samaras in his ambition to become the next Prime Minister of Greece.

It’s laughable. Greece is laughable. There is no integrity. There is no principle. Dramatic decisions and dramatic gestures are made — only to be proven utterly meaningless and worthless.

I love Greece passionately. But the behaviour of those who are currently at Greece’s helm is causing me real despair. I’m talking mental depression. And yet I am not even inside Greece. I am only a Philhellene living outside Greece. So I can only imagine how the behaviour of Greece’s current 300 MPs must be driving Greek residents up the wall.

Come on! There must be some sorted, Western-educated, single-minded man or woman of integrity to lead Greece out of its piteous corruption.

His or her first action must be the simple and immediate passing of a law making every MP as answerable to the law as the lowliest citizen of the land.

Without this first action, everything else is meaningless. Without accountable MPs only corruption and futility can be the stuff of Greek political life.

Edward Bentley

London

Re: Economic reforms

With the current events and the bailout given to Greece it is interesting that only the Austrian above had something that sounds like a good idea. If the Greek population remains unemployed, who is the government going to tax to raise the money for the repayments? In all the things I have read about austerity measures there is nothing to encourage investment back in to the country. Without this investment what will the unemployed be looking forward to? Some of the best educated young people in Europe remain unemployed.

I totally agree that the public sector needs to be reduced to manageable sustainable levels and to be more efficient. However there needs to be investment in the private sector to create jobs and therefore give the Greek government an opportunity to collect taxes. The economists of the Troika know this very well but are looking to such shortsighted solutions they should not be surprised when the situation gets worse across all EU states.

Greeks changed the world with the introduction of democracy so long ago… I am wondering how history will see this in a couple of thousand years….

Nik Inglezos

Stefanos Manos and Drasi

I was hopeful for Stefanos Manos and Drasi about 6 years ago, when I first heard of them — but they have been almost invisible since then — inevitable, given the mercenary nature of the Greek media. It is good to see Manos’ justified and accurate criticism of the coalition parties and of the other parties, and also that Drasi will ‘participate’ in the upcoming elections. But this is an exceedingly modest intent! He needs to come up with a morale-boosting programme and a positive message for the voters; and then to broadcast it loud and clear (not just via the excellent Skai and Kathimerini), but entering the lions’ den, the moronic cacophony of the other media, ready to stand up for his ideas, ready for their dirty tricks, to shout them down and expose them for what they are, ready to dismiss the mud-slinging about the past and offering instead some positive and realistic ideas for the present and the future.

It seems to me and many others that a good proportion of the Greeks are waiting for such a lead, and are more than ready to support it. I hope he is also actively seeking to attract some like-minded and strong-minded support, from all sections of society. Shrinking violets do not prosper in the Greek context!

Robert Skailes