OPINION

When the penny drops

I sometimes wonder what we as a society will do when the international economic crisis really hits us. Once the first signs of the crisis, which we have not even begun to feel yet, become apparent, what will happen in that moment of truth? What is happening now is amazing – even before people lose their jobs and their homes are repossessed, the government and opposition have embarked upon a contest of populism. Public Power Corporation’s chief Takis Athanassopoulos says no jobs will be lost, no loans will be taken out and no prices raised. National Bank Governor Takis Arapoglou also says no one will be fired, loans will be given out to those who are able to pay them and no institutional foreign investors will be driven away from what is virtually now a privately owned bank. That is, politicians of all hues want to fit a square peg into a round hole. But that can’t be done. The problem is that none of our politicians wants to talk about actual facts and tell people the truth. The country is overindebted, at risk of not being able to obtain any more loans or forced to borrow at very high rates. The average person has begun to realize that something is wrong when he sees the health system at the breaking point. On the other hand, no one has prepared us for the truth – that the country must tighten its belt, stop the waste in crucial areas and become more productive and competitive, even if that means not maintaining the current artificial standards of living. The government, however, has exhausted all margins for political tolerance and its economic officials have lost their credibility. The opposition has no desire to call a spade a spade. Add to that the Greek media’s inability to avoid populism and simplification, making the situation even more difficult. People who know the true situation are deeply concerned and have drawn the conclusion that the country needs a credible economic manager who will tell the truth, even if that must include an expose of the recent tragic mistakes and omissions.