OPINION

The Greeks are also to blame

It is with great regret that I read and see evidence of the decline and economic problems that are besetting the cradle of democracy. I feel very deeply for the millions of people that are going to suffer great hardship in the immediate future after already paying high prices and receiving low wages. The citizens of Greece are living in a country which has a cancer – and, like all cancer patients, they are going to have to suffer more before things are better, just as millions of people who have a real cancer do. There is no way that this can be avoided. There is no magic bullet. Just as bodily abuse does not help a person with this medical problem, abuse of the country will not make things any better or speed up the process of rehabilitation. The sooner the unpleasant medication is taken, then the sooner the patient recovers. Strikes, protests and other abuses against the state, although understandable, do not hasten the recovery. One of the sad things that I have found about Greek culture is that it honestly believes that it is always someone else who is to blame. Many people cannot accept the fact that they were responsible in any part for what happens. The blame is placed on banks, government and others, but who is responsible for these institutions? Banks act as investment conduits for people, each person wanting maximum profit, while governments are elected by the people. We choose what to do with our money (to make money) and who we wanted to represent and govern us, no one else. If the Greek governments over the last decade have failed the people, then the people who voted for them are as responsible as anyone else. If the banks are seen to be greedy, then it is the shareholders who are as much to blame. It is often heard that everyone is working very hard and that other people are enjoying the rewards that should be theirs but is that the complete story? What about the tax which is not collected from individuals as well as businesses because of less-than-honest declarations of earnings? How many citizens have paid or received «black» money? What about the needless strikes and protests that have sapped money and achieved little else? A case here is of the prelude to the Olympic Games. Instead of being proud and showing the world how well Greece can do, there were deliberate disruptions and it was like a feeding frenzy by sharks; everyone, from the contractors to the workers, were trying to get as much money as possible while producing the minimum. Why is there an afternoon siesta wasting valuable international working time? In the past, before air conditioning, it was understandable, but not now. Money, your money, is being wasted air conditioning empty offices shops and factories while the workers are enjoying air conditioning at home. Many hotter countries than Greece do not have siestas. Those that do have them are generally poor and less developed. Why are motorists allowed to flout the law? If taxes were paid, defects remedied and crash helmets worn, millions of euros would enter the economy. When I see the tourist infrastructure, I see many partially finished projects. EU money has been taken but marinas etc have not been finished. Clouds of acrid, toxic smoke from burning rubbish dumps drift from islands, driving away people who should be enjoying the wonder and beauty of Greece; what about the recycling of materials and energy instead of pollution? Many people in tourist areas believe that they have a right to receive money for doing very little – once, when sailing to the island of Symi, I was asked for payment by a passer-by for placing my tether line on the quay! For the first time in many years, Greece appears to have a government that is at least honest enough to admit that there has been massive fiscal discrepancies in the past, and that they will not join in the lies, deception and fiscal rape that has happened in the past. Just as a doctor who declares that a patient is dying is not popular, it is not necessary to love the government nor its treatment but do not blame the physician for the illness when a big part of the problem has been the patients’ lifestyle. Take the medication that has been offered and, when fully recovered, say, «Never again will we allow this to happen to our country.» I look forward to the time when people will say, «I am Greek and I have a good reason to be proud of it and my country.» Greece is not the first, nor will it be that last, to take unpalatable actions, but pride alone will not feed your children. Working hard together selflessly will. DAVID JACKSON, Via e-mail