OPINION

Time for truth and courage

Someone needs to tell the people of Greece the truth about the economy and then ask them to make sacrifices. The only question is, who? The ruling party paints a bleak picture yet fails to take the necessary measures. The leader of the main opposition party, in turn, has settled for committing to as little as possible. It is not easy to tell an unruly and reactionary people that they need to give up much of what they have become accustomed to, or even that the goods they produce and the services they offer are too expensive and not always of the desired quality. A large segment of Greek society has settled for a rotten system that produces wealth but no development. Corruption has become a great mechanism of wealth distribution that works in favor of civil servants who couldn’t otherwise «make ends meet» and local authority employees. European Union funds have for decades been making their way into certain people’s pockets as the country’s islands remain without new port facilities and biological waste treatment plants. And all this when we know that the country’s only real comparative advantage is its unique natural environment and the draw of its glorious past. But we can’t even protect our monuments. We see the Acropolis being closed to visitors because no one has resolved a problem that has been festering for years. Whoever becomes prime minister next will face exactly the same set of problems, the same mentality that has made Greece a country that lacks dynamism and ambition. The sad thing is that Costas Karamanlis sees the problem but has not – yet – dared to bite the bullet and introduce bold reforms. PASOK leader George Papandreou, in turn, needs to realize that this country will be a handful to govern, especially in the current international climate, a task that will be even tougher if people do not know the truth. What we need are politicians who will tell us that the system as we once knew it is now collapsing and offer a blueprint for real change.