OPINION

Wanted: A truly European Greece

The entire endeavor to keep Greece in the eurozone is kind of pointless unless corruption is torn out of the system. There is no point in further reducing salaries and pensions if Greece continues to be pillaged by state suppliers, weasels who sell protection to foreigners trying to invest in Greece, cartels that keep prices at ludicrously high levels in vital parts of the economy, and a party system that uses state-owned enterprises to buy favors and support. Greece?s remaining in the eurozone makes sense only if it has the right institutions and rule, free competition in vital sectors and equal opportunities in the private sector. The sacrifices made by the Greek people will acquire meaning only if after all these cutbacks in salaries and in the standard of living, the parasites that lived off the state are swept into a corner, and Greeks who want to start up new businesses are given the chance to do so.

Unless these changes are made, Greece would do just fine as a land of the drachma and oligarchs: It would be a closed, poor economy with gangs sharing the power in different sectors, a state-dependent nomenclature of entrepreneurs and banks that provide money exclusively to their guys.

Our foreign creditors and peers have diplomatically expressed their dismay at the abysmal state of the country but have held their tongues when people accuse them of being interested only in slashing salaries and pensions. Maybe it?s none of their business. Oh, but it is. They can?t on the one hand show an interest in the liberalization of the taxi sector and on the other show indifference to where the money, provided by their taxpayers, is going, nor can they be indifferent to the phenomenon of consumer prices remaining at high levels when salaries and costs are being cut.

We want Greece to stay in the eurozone, but we also want it to be completely European, not the nouveau riche, poor excuse for a European country that it became when it entered the common currency.

There are, of course, certain Greeks who pillaged and robbed and had a merry old time in the good days, who now like to say that Greece has no other option but leaving the eurozone. They might be right from their own cynical point of view, and especially if they have managed to put away a few million euros outside of Greece ?just in case.? We ought to take their calls out of the equation if we want to see the talent, creativity and love for their work of the those who are ready to strive for a better life to shine in this country, without being pillaged by people who have political protection.