OPINION

Lost and found

As a general rule, regimes in Greece are overthrown by military coups. These days a political meltdown can be caused by a memory stick, which in the present case contains the names of Greeks with large deposits in a Swiss bank.

It no longer really matters who they are and whether they have been taxed. This is overshadowed by the abominable behavior of two former finance ministers and two successive heads of the Financial Crimes Squad over who is responsible for the list being ?lost? for so long.

The impression is that it is all a cover-up aimed at putting the burden of Greece?s ?salvation? exclusively on pensioners, civil servants and property owners. The credibility of the Greek political system has been irrevocably damaged at a time when harsh new sacrifices are being demanded of the people.

Foreign leaders who have been witnessing the inertia of a succession of Greek governments have made their impressions clear. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently said that her heart bleeds for the sacrifices of Greeks as the rich squirrel their money away abroad. The troika has been calling for measures to clamp down on tax evasion from the start, but its efforts are in vain. Recently it criticized the unacceptable situation of the continuing prevalence of cartels.

The impression that everything is being done to safeguard the rich at the expense of others is beginning to gain ground.

The survival instinct alone should compel the three-party coalition government to take immediate steps to restore a sense of fairness. As the rage against privileged public employees is becoming blunted by measures that will affect them too, it seems that the troika now has its sights on the higher social strata.

At the same time, it is clear that Europe does not want Greece to become a social battleground, as violence spreads in the ailing countries of the South, especially Spain and Portugal.

If the government does not expand the tax base quickly, in as arbitrary a fashion as it went about slashing the salaries of middle and lower income earners, the entire situation will spin rapidly out of control. The least it should do is stop kidding itself that there is any more room for negotiations with our creditors and nurturing the illusion that even if Greece does manage to secure the next tranche of bailout funding, this 31.5 billion euros will be funneled straight into the market and the real economy. The point is not for the government to survive for a few weeks using this ruse, but for Greece to exit the crisis, which is something everyone must contribute toward.