OPINION

On the Greek medical service, corruption, bureaucracy, unions

Generosity

Just to clarify the amounts we are talking about, when discussing the Marshall plan: The Marshall plan is said to have covered 13 billion (some say in addition to 12 billion) US dollars given to countries in postwar Europe. Of these 13 billion US dollars, Germany received a little less than 1.5 billion US dollars. Of these 1.5 billion US dollars (which correspond to about 9 billion US dollars or 6.5 billion euros today), Germany had to repay almost 1 billion.

Klaus K

At last, a sane opinion

Briefly put, but totally correct. When will anyone in government mention the ways they plan to help ‘anaptixi’ [growth] of the economy? So far, the words ‘help for small/medium-size businesses’ all keep cropping with no mention of exactly how this is supposed to happen. We need incoming foreign investment. Is there anyone in government who has any idea how to achieve this? So far I haven’t heard anything useful from any of them. How do those with experience and practical thoughts ever get a hearing here in Greece?

Diana Giannoulis

Corfu

El-Erian: Greece sacrificed to protect Italy

Yes, there is a true aspect to this. Because it has become common knowledge that Greece cannot be saved within the Eurozone, but should be kept within so that there is enough time for the ESM to build and Italy to refinance itself (more than 300 billion needed this year). Of course, this is why you hear many nice words by Monti.

But what should Greece do? What is in your interest? Well, we in Switzerland are currently running a «white money» campaign, designed to change our banks’ business model from criminally absorbing foreign black money to doing normal banking business.

Our newspapers have been asking for weeks, in big black catchlines, why Greece obviously shows no interest in Greek accounts here, which amount at least to some 200 billion euros. We would have been cooperative with you, if you had tried to get into contact with us.

Just now, when, because of our white money campaign, Greek money finds its way out of Switzerland to Singapore, e.g., your government starts to contact us.

Is it easier burning other people’s money and flags than to do the obvious and try to get the money of one’s own rich people?

Some journals have maintained that Greece has not turned to the Swiss government in this matter because Greece lacks the expertise to negotiate the contracts concerning flight money.

If this is meant to be a joke, I cannot laugh at it. I am very sure that Greece has the experts to do this. And, if not, when you wanted to cook the books, you were able to find the phone number of Goldman Sachs. GS can do legal things, too, believe it or not.

Think of the minimum 200 billion. And check what «financial repression» means.

Mr. Papademos is an outstanding expert in financial matters like this. Of course, he cannot act in the interests of the Greek people because he is dependent on the corrupt political class.

Where is the Greek grass roots revolutionary force trying to help him or some other person to tackle these problems?

Or are you just too busy painting Nazi pictures of Angela Merkel, who is the sole person who keeps you above water?

Heinz Stiller Berne,

Switzerland

What to do about Greece

We have several facts:

1. Absolutely corrupt politians that have robbed the country broke.

2. Educational system that produces parrots only.

3. Bureacracy that makes the Ottoman Empire look amateurish.

4. No industry whatsoever.

5. Democracy with no brains behind it and no limits and respect.

6. Enough for now, but I am sure the list can be exhaustive.

What to do:

1. Get rid of the politicians and the judicial joke you have in this dying country.

2. Educate at a world level, and stop producing non-thinking emotional ninnies.

3. Get some industry working in your country.

4. Get serious about growth.

5. Get serious about making Greece great again.

6. You might have to give this duty to an outsider at first, for you have proven that you cannot do it.

It is your choice, Greece, either revive to survive or lie there to die.

James Garland

Victory in the East

This is a grossly simplistic account, likely to counter the claims of recent Muslim work and highlight the Western Europe is out to abuse Eastern Europe mind-set that is now topical.

Anyone interested in the concept should read «Victory in the East» by John France, 1994. The 1st Crusade lasted about as long as WWI, and hundreds of thousands of Western Europeans became casualties while freeing many Christian-populated cities from Turkish and Muslim rule.

Bohemond was a Norman, who controlled southern Italy, and had already fought a prior war against Alexius. He was one of a half dozen major leaders, including the son of William the Conqueror, and many other Frenchmen of noble or royal blood. These were men who fought constantly, including against their own flesh and blood, for conquest and control of resources.

It is amazing that the Pope could even get them to go on such a perilous crusade.

These men didn’t treat the Greeks or the Muslims much differently than how they dealt with each other under normal circumstances. I am sure there were many, many atrocities, but the Turks didn’t just show up and take Anatolia with kisses and roses. Remember, the population was mostly Greek, Christian, Armenian, etc. Not Turks. The locals greeted the crusaders as liberators in many cases.

Palestine was an obvious exception, but the severe casualty rate and attrition due to disease and starvation likely mixed with religious zeal to foment a deadly mix. Many had been fighting for 3 years by the time Jerusalem was taken.

Pat MM

Greece: Wonderful country, wonderful people

I fell in love with Greece while living in Brooklyn, NY from 2007 to 2009. My landlord and his sons were Greek, wonderful wonderful people, work, work, work. I contributed to a local charity, run by a Greek lady whose children grew up in the USA: a lawyer, a doctor and a pharmacist. In the backroom were candles lit to Our Lady. She invited me to sit and meditate and reflect. I felt that day I was Greek too.

My prayers are with you. Don’t listen to the haters. They want to incite chaos so everyone will become «down» and bend their necks. This is the history of humanity when the evil people get into power and the ordinary people decide to submit. Do not submit to hatred!

Barbara M

Roanoke VA

Audit

Corruption is a big part of the problem.

Maybe some of the Greek companies, like the ones sponsoring the Greece Is Changing campaign, can set up an auditing system, whereby companies can volunteer their books and business practices to an independent auditor, yearly, and upon passing, be accredited with a compliance certificate, similar to the ISO 9000 scheme. Then people and other businesses could seek to only do business with other certified businesses, as a means of stamping out corruption.

Mat Buch

Re: Mr. Baum’s letter

Mr. Baum should try living in a country ruled by the military, perhaps his opinion might change.

Also, he should reconsider his statement that the Greek people deserve their fate, and sweeping statements about high pensions levels, high wages etc., which apply to only a tiny minority. He should differentiate between the people, and the politicians, and whilst I am of the opinion that people generally elect the government they deserve, and the Greek people have been very misguided in their choice of politicians, the vast majority are extremely hard-working, and definitely do not deserve the disaster brought upon them. An extremely small amount of pensions/wages were high, the vast majority were ridiculously low, and are now even lower, barely subsistence in many cases, hence the opening of many soup kitchens and stores offering free food to people who are literally on the bread line.

I am, of course, devastated that Germany went through hard times for five years, but it bears no relation to what is happening in Greece. If Germany wants Greece to stand on its own two feet and stop what he obviously considers to be scrounging, they should encourage Germans to come to Greece on holiday, and contribute to the Greek economy, so that the Greeks stop ‘sponging’ off the poor Germans!

Diana Giannoulis

General query

It would be great if readers could leave comments under each article so a public discussion could follow.

Paris Katras

There’s life in the old dog yet!

The Greek medical service is not dead yet.

The night before last I had a fall in my home near Rafina which resulted in my severing an artery in my knee. The amount of blood which drenched the kitchen was sufficiently dramatic for Annie to call 191. An ambulance came from Athens, and the medical team improved upon my homemade tourniquet of kitchen roll and scarf, though this had been the correct action to take, they said.

They took me into the centre of Athens to Erithrou Stavrou in Panormou, where I was dealt with efficiently and quickly. I was X-rayed to see if there was any glass in the wound and given an anti-tetanus injection. The only problem was that I had left home so quickly I hadn’t had time to get my belongings together, apart from my passport.

So there I was in the centre of Athens at 11 pm with no money, 30 kms from home. This is where one of the Greek gods must have been smiling down on me from Olympus, because I staggered to Panormou Metro, hoping they would let me on, and a train for Pallini soon arrived.

The new Metro does explain some of the Greek debt and it is a magnificent achievement. Perikles had the Parthenon built at a time of economic crisis. Clean and efficient. Something to be proud of. However I still had to get home, and there was a never-ending stream of buses displaying ?Out Of Service? notices flowing past.

As luck would have it, there was a young couple waiting for a bus as well, and I had asked them if I was on the right side of the road for Rafina. Yes, they said. We’re going there too. After a couple of minutes they decided they would take a taxi, and asked the driver if she would take me as well. I must have looked in need of care and attention — a stroke has limited my movement, which added to the dramatic effect. I explained that I had no money, but they told me not to worry about that. In the true tradition of Greek ?Filotimo,? both they and Merope, the taxi driver, took me to my front door and made sure I was safely inside before leaving.

And this is the reason I love Greece.

John Foss

Athens

Union walkout

Isn’t it strange that we only hear these voices uniting when they stamp their feet like naughty children to get what they want, i.e. better working conditions, higher salaries, better benefits, protected jobs, etc etc. And now, after years of stampy feety, the country is in ruins, thanks in part to the politicians in the unions’ pockets or vice versa.

But do we hear these voices unite to improve anything in the current crisis? Any bright ideas how they can save or create jobs? Encourage investment in Greece, get rid of bureaucracy so that it will be easier to do business and grow the economy? Of course not, all they know is to stamp their feet, demand, complain, and strike or walk out.

Patience has run out with Greece, but the tourist season will soon be upon us and it’s the one industry which could actually bring in some money. Let’s see how they mess those jobs up too; keep striking, dear unions, destroy the little that’s still left and could still work for the country. Turkey, Spain and Portugal are just as close for the rest of Europe. Love of Greece may not be enough anymore.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Zurich

Greek unions staging walkouts as part of Europe-wide mobilization

Another silly and useless act instead of getting down to work. The Europe-wide mobilisation only exists in the heads of union illusionists.

Yoss Neuman

The Greek debt puzzle

A fascinating description of the negotiations designed to solve the Greek debt puzzle.

And it reveals clearly that the situations of the Greek people were far from the minds of the negotiators.

It was enough just to look at the demonstrations from a window in a luxury hotel in Athens or via a television screen.

It is in the nature of the negotiations that the participants become obsessed with the problems of the debt puzzle, and determined to balance the books according to the agreed criteria, and of course to keep the debtors on the straight and narrow, and make sure they pay the price!

The Greek governments of the last 10 years have allowed themselves to become embroiled in loans and debts that they knew were ruinous, and so did the creditors! What did they all think they were doing? As far as I can see the creditors had their eyes on the profits of the deals. A national debt of 345 billion euros will generate intererest payments of E1.46 trillion over 20 years. The politicians were grateful that banks were willing to lend them the monies they required to modernise the country, in the wake of the historic Olympic Games.

J.Kelvyn Richards Trikala