Divorced from reality

A large number of Greece’s politicians seem to have taken a vacation from reality, as they fail to grasp the magnitude of the crisis facing the nation. Some are actually celebrating the bailout deal and others have already stated that the worst is behind us. Such backward optimism should trouble any serious observer. First of all, we must realize that the country is bankrupt. At home, the state is not paying value-added tax rebates to exporters nor can it pay its suppliers – not even fuel for the army and the police force. Abroad, it’s questionable whether Greece will be able to draw money from the markets that are pushing the EU-IMF package. The government would like to avoid this, for it knows that economic aid is not philanthropy. On the contrary, it’s clear that both the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund will impose a series of conditions before they will grant the agreed-to loans. Ministry staff are feeling the heat from IMF officials and are trying to hide their dysfunctional mechanisms and unchecked state spending, disguising their incompetence behind fluff about national pride. Greek bureaucrats are fearful because they are not used to being accountable to anyone. Only a few serious people see the IMF staff as professionals who can help Greece heal its substandard state apparatus. Everything seems to indicate that Greece will default unless it manages to drastically reduce its bloated state, salaries and prices. There is no alternative. We have to learn to live on what we produce. Some believe that we can get over the crisis by borrowing at a heavy price, without shock therapy. They underestimate the size of the debt. Others claim that we can take the aid without other painful measures. Only realists hold that we will need both the package and the IMF straitjacket in order to achieve what our politicians have long failed to. For the time being, we are like a seriously ill patient awaiting some magic pill. But there are no magic pills.