On suicide, immigration, investors, Papademos

Greeks and Austrians

Philip Andrews? frustration with Greece and Greeks comes about because he expects more. Like any parent who wants their children to excel and cannot understand underachievement, many of us have the same ambition for Greece.

The past generations have seen absolute trauma that can reduce one to tears. Even one loved person on reaching a German concentration camp in 1943 thought she was better off than her mother had been at her age in Greece. She survived with nightmares, but with an ambition to live.

In the last fifty years the basics of a modern civilised society should have been bedded down. Everybody who can read knows that a democratic state without petty tyranny is easier to rule and functions more economically.

Alas, Greece does not function as well as it should. It was worse a few years ago, when you had small villages divided, depending which colour one voted for.

When compared to the rest of its neighbours, Greece excels in every way.

The ?land of light? looks dim when compared to other small countries of Northern Europe.

There are Greeks everywhere who are creative and excel in many fields, but they are rarely in Greek streets. It may be the political and public system is so debauched in Greece that those with abilities keep out of the way.

Philip Andrews may be right in some ways about Greeks in general, where we stand.

It reminds me of a client with a very complex legal and engineering problem. He approached me to take on the job of solving his problem. I asked him why he contacted me when he had the ability to chose the most eminent companies in the city.

His reply: ?Because you are very Greek?, ?Did you see any other Greeks in my building??

?I sacked every Greek that ever worked for me, because they do not listen and have an opinion about every part of the business; that is why I only have Chinese and Indians working for me. You tell them to do something and they do it, without questions.?

?When I have a problem that needs a different way of thinking and persistence to talk to people over and over again to sell an idea, I look for a Greek?.

There is not a Greek Centre for Excellence, as excellence needs other people to support it; Greeks are about the individual. Greek universities that are without logic and allow political ?barbarians? to roam the campuses, are very much like the super-clean interiors of Greek houses and apartments that are surrounded with rubbish-filled streets and smelly rubbish disposal bins, and, countryside streams filled with sewerage. Greeks must say the apartment belongs to me and the rest of the world is of no concern to me.

There are no little streams with clean water flowing amongst Greek houses and neighbourhoods anywhere. No one owns the streams so they are used as sewers.

The Greek mind is not one that finds socialism attractive. Every Greek that I have met with strong connections to Communism was inevitably a capitalist millionaire, with ambitions to send his children to private upper-class schools and the best universities, and live in substantial houses. Self-sacrifice that socialism needs is anathema to the Greek mind.

The Greek mind can never embrace Christianity, other than the superstitious ritual, as Christianity in part is about sharing and minimising the individual for the good of the whole.

There has not been any leader in Greece that would attract trust and connect the citizen to the State. The distrust and holding back from commitment is not new. More than fifty years ago, when an Australian headmaster was asked how he finds the new Greek children in his school, he replied that they were eager to learn and were very courteous, but they believed nothing about anything they were told. They laughed and scoffed about historical and scientific ideas, until the teachers could provide more evidence.

Historical events that shaped the Greek mind may mean we will join the dinosaurs if we do not adapt to the new world.

Consider Pericles? Funeral Oration, what he said about Athenians, and, today?s Athenians; what a contrust.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Political deadlock

Since K. Papademos came to power we have had blissful political peace. Can he not be persuaded to hold on to the post of Prime Minister? Yes, it would involve Constitutional soul-searching and manoeuvering. But it could be done!

John Foss


Foreign investors sniff out opportunities in Athens?

Nice try, but your story on investors? interest is massively overblown. The potential investors I have spoken to are coming for ?look-see? visits, since there are some new institutional players to meet, especially on the state asset management side. They collect some business cards, and if they don?t have an inside person (who they know most likely will change after elections), they decide to consider scheduling a return visit for some future date, if things get better. We can always hope, but let?s not mislead readers into believing the Greek investment climate has miraculously improved and that the public-sector bureaucracy has been tamed. PSI is more or less resolved, but huge questions remain and most structural reforms have only been approved, not implemented.

Alec Mally

Paleo Faliro

Pensioner, 77, commits suicide outside Parliament

Mr. Christoulas? death is definitely a tragedy, and his sacrifice was absolutely a protest against the government?s austerity program. There have been many more suicides related to the austerity measures in Italy as well. But unfortunately the people responsible for the Greek austerity measures are the Greek politicians, not Germany, as Mr. Chistoulas hinted. We Greeks have found it easy to always blame foreigners for our travails, but at some point we must take responsibility for the Greek governments? corruption and financial mismanagement that has brought Greece into a new ?katohi.?

The worst thing for Greece has been that after we became independent from the Ottoman Empire, the Greeks remained glued to the bad habits of the Turks, such as: a) fool somebody and take his money, and then brag about without shame, and feel good for outsmarting and defrauding probably a good-hearted and trustful man; b) Use ?rousfeti? to get a ?government job,? doing little or nothing and brag about because it is socially acceptable as a sign of intelligence, but this kind of ?free-loading? sank Greece to where it is today.

The Wall Street Journal reported on April 3, 2012, that Zakynthos had 700 people who were receiving ?pensions for blindness,? but 500 of those pensions were fraudulently obtained. Well, that kind of corruption is what has brought Greeks into an abject poverty. And it is not the fault of Angela Merkel or Germany. It is their fault! But fraud and outsmarting doesn?t last forever, especially when fraud is paid with foreign loans that must be repaid back!

The Greeks will do well to cut off themselves from the bad cultural habits they inherited from the Turks, and start living honestly and responsibly. They have had ?free lunches? paid by foreign investors for about 20 years, and now came the payback time. No more free lunches, no more foolish ideas that they can outsmart foreigners. The Greeks will have to keep their belts tight until the Greek debt is paid, but I hope they get a lesson from their current financial breakdown, and they won?t repeat it in the future.

The adage: ?Be careful what you wish for (the free lunches and living on foreign debt); you may get it!? They didn?t heed the warning, and they got it! Now they know that they didn?t outsmart others — as they thought until now! They have just fooled themselves!

Nikos Retsos

(retired professor until elections arrive and the ?red necks? get hostile about the ?black? faces in their streets.

Greece has failed to use a resource of a million people who could have created a competitive exports. Illegal migrants are better than having slaves — they cost less to use and you do not have to buy them. It?s sad but that is the real world.

When I go the supermarket and I want the best oranges at the cheapest price, I buy Californian oranges grown by illegal migrants. The local Australian farmers cannot compete with price or quality. Californian cherries are cheaper and better than the local supermarket cherries, but land on the market six months apart.

The heartbreaking thing about the illegal migrants in Greece is the shocking treatment they receive from Greek employers. If I did not witness a few incidents myself I would never have believed Greeks can be such mean, disgusting animals. In a country where nearly everybody?s grandparents and even parents were refugees, I thought that they would be more understanding and show some ?Christian? charity.

I have met Christians from the Middle East who became refugees after their Sunni neighbours raped and murdered their children, and, on landing in an empty apartment in Athens given to them by the Church, the Greek neighbours immediately bought them food and blankets and helped them find jobs. They were accepted into Australia as refugees later.

They speak highly of their former Greek neighbours in Athens, and every Greek they meet they show a true fondness and generosity.

The recent way of the world where countries are made up of one culture, language and colour is not sustainable. The mixture that was the Ottoman Empire will be coming back very quickly.

It?s amazing how many people call themselves Greek when their true origins are Slav or North African. I know I am Greek because I spoke Greek to my great grandfather and he spoke Greek to his great grandfather.

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos

Cross-checking software sits idle

The hardware was purchased ages ago and most is sitting in basements, never been used.

The software was purchased months ago but there is no personnel available to test them or learn how to use them. We boast 1 civil servant for every 10 citizens and we still do not have personnel available to do the work.

Billions of euros each year are left uncollected because no one can do the cross-checking.

From where I sit, it is not mere incompetence, it is dereliction of duty.

The ones in charge of the Ministry of Finance and the tax offices should be fired en masse for dropping the ball. There is no excuse, unless again there is a reason why employees are thumbing through piles of papers rather than hitting a few keys on a keyboard and actually finding out who owes what and how much.

How else could taxpayers amass billions of due and unpaid taxes without help from those who are supposed to be in charge of collecting them?

Monica Lane

Greece boasts its first Bond girl

Who said there is no good news to report?

Headlines inform us that there is a widespread diesel adulteration scheme and billions are lost while trucks are filled with questionable quality fuel.

A pensioner commits suicide in broad daylight at a central square because he has been driven to it by health and financial problems.

Foreign investors sniff out opportunities in Greece — also known as bottom feeding. We are desperate to sell off anything of value while running the risk of becoming the waiters and chambermaids of foreign investors in our own country.

Software purchased to track down tax dodgers cannot be used because we do not have personnel to learn how to operate them.

But we got our sultry Tonia to have a walk-through role at the latest Bond movie.

Now this is news we can hang our hat on and let our hearts soar with national pride.

Monica Lane

Shrimp-farming brand!

One of the most noxious foods one can eat is farmed shrimp.

Creating a ?brand? for noxious foods is like saying we have our own brand of food grown in sewerage but worse. Old people who are step away from the grave can eat farmed shrimp once a month without much harm, but for younger people, it?s the way to an early death.

Eating farmed fish and shrimp is like fishing for apple pieces in the local sewerage ponds.

No matter how much you wash the apple pieces, the sewerage is engrained in it.

There are better ways to increase the natural fish supply in Greek water without fish farms.

The fact that Greece is resorting to fish farming shows how far the country has gone in losing self respect. What is next?

Here in Australia, after many letters and talking in people?s ears for thirty years, our local supermarkets that sell farmed fish now have a sign on them: ?Farmed Fish? and ?Wild Fish?.

They still manage to sell farmed fish but I notice it?s the poor and uneducated who buy them, because of the cheap price.

I am hoping the Australian Government will soon have laws requiring the level of contamination to be shown at the point of sale for farmed fish. The consumer should know what he is buying.

To avoid damage to Greek children, please place this letter in your site.


Charilaos Lithoxopoulos