National benefactors

In the 19th and early 20th century, although the economy was weaker than today’s and the assets of the wealthy comparatively smaller, there was a group of national benefactors who made sizable contributions to Greek society. People such as Georgios Averof, Panaghis Vallianos, Evangelos Zappas and Andreas Sygros left an indelible mark on the country in key sectors ranging from health and welfare to defense. Any comparisons, on the occasion of yesterday’s Finance Ministry event in honor of Greece’s benefactors, are sobering. The majority of modern-day tycoons have chosen to abstain from this noble tradition, even though their well-being may largely be attributed to their dealings with the state, unlike in the past, when fortunes were made from private trade or business activities beyond national borders. The public expects to see more donations on their behalf. It is a moral dictate.