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The "lazy" Greeks myth... The "lazy" Greeks myth...
by Christos Mouzeviris
2012-02-24 07:46:40
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From the start of this crisis, the global media started a slander campaign against Greece, calling the Greeks lazy and corrupt. The saddest thing about this, is that even Mr. Papandreou the former elected Prime Minister of the country, was one of the most vocal critics of the people who gave him, his father and his grand-father so much power over this nation! Talking about ungratefulness! It is up to the leaders that are being voted by the people to lead the country, to change the system and reform, modernize and above all lead by example. If the Greeks are unproductive, then perhaps it is because their leaders are the lazy and corrupt ones! The fish stinks from its head, a Greek saying tells us! Perhaps the Greek elite needs to keep that in mind.

Lets examine a few facts about the working conditions in Greece now, shall we? The Greeks, as the following statistics map by EIRO (The European Industrial Relations Observatory) shows, work among the longest hours in the EU! On average 40 hours per week, while on the bottom of the map we see the richest nations of Europe, like Germany, France, Holland, Norway, Belgium and so on.

 Figure 1: Average collectively agreed normal weekly hours, 2009 Figure 1: Average collectively agreed normal weekly hours, 2009
Source: EIRO.

The Greeks do not get an hour long lunch breaks as they do here in Ireland and the U.K. For lunch you get about 20 minutes break, just enough to eat your meal. Never mind the morning coffee break and the evening tea break, that the Irish and the Brits are so used to. And of course nothing like the siesta time of Spain, when banks and public services are closed for an hour for lunch and "siesta time!"

There is no life long Social Welfare in Greece as it exists in many richer states. In Belgium they provide social welfare to their youth as soon as they leave college, until they find a job. Then when you get unemployed you may be able to be on social welfare for the rest of your life and then receive your pension too! Of course the benefits are being cut the longer you stay on the dole, but that is not the issue! In Greece after one or two years maximum you receive nothing from the state. You got to keep working in Greece, even if it is on-off to receive social assistance! What makes Belgium and many Scandinavian and other northern European rich states so rich to be able to provide social welfare for life to their citizens? Ok Norway has its oil; what does Belgium have?

In Ireland they give families social welfare for life too. There are people who have been on social welfare all their lives, plus their parents and so on. There are sections of the Irish society that live off benefits without ever having to contribute. They have never worked. They are being given social welfare to keep the crime down; instead of stealing to get money to buy their drink and drugs, the state provides them with an amount, to prevent them from committing crime! According all the above, who are the most lazy in Europe? The Greeks, the Irish, the Belgians or their other fellow Europeans?

My sister's ex-husband lived and worked in Germany for a while. The Germans back then during the '80s and the early '90s were turning down jobs, that according to my brother-in-law they would do "by wearing a suit!" By that he meant that they had so many rights and benefits as workers, that everything was so standardized that you needn't sweat too hard in order to do your work! Yet the Germans were turning down those jobs and wanted better paid ones, leaving those jobs for the Greeks, the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Turks and the Serbs. I am not so sure about the current working conditions in Germany, but I mentioned the above as another example of the working ethos of the Greeks. We are hard working people, and everywhere we set foot we prosper! 

But why can't we achieve this in our own country? Simply because it is the Greek system's fault. "Greece devours its own children" says a Greek saying, and my God this is so true!  But isn't the Greek political elite's responsibility to correct this failed system and create a competitive development country? Of course it is! But why aren't they doing it so far? And since they do not, why do they blame and slander their own voters as lazy, when in fact they are the fat cats? Now why they are not doing any reforms, I will explain further down.

To begin with, the only blame I will put on the Greek public's shoulders is their tolerance of the current political elites. Since the Greek Civil War they have been divided in two major camps and they vote according to family traditions rather proposed policies! Instead of going to their MPs, grab them by the neck and demand hospitals, schools, universities, roads and development they go and beg for a position for their sons and daughters in the ever growing Greek public sector!

But what can you expect from them, since there aren't many other industries set in Greece? If you do not work in the tourism industry, farming or construction there aren't many other industries flourishing in the country. All industrial activity in Europe is absorbed by Germany and other rich European nations and what was left was either left for China, Bulgaria and other countries with cheaper workforce. Or even worse, they were bought by other European multinational companies and were sold off or broken piece by piece, destroying many jobs in Greece. So the only secure career prospects you have in Greece is to join and work in the (ever growing) public sector. 

And that is a pity; because Greece has en educated and multilingual youth. Most of my friends speak at least English and many of them more than one foreign languages. Yet after their studies they have no chance in finding a job in their field of studies, simply because there are no investments and no development, no positions to absorb this vibrant workforce into employment. So they either have to migrate or join the tourism industry, working as waitors.

One has to study the recent history of Greece to understand why the Greeks became so idle politically! After our numerous wars with other Balkan nations and the former occupier of the region, the Ottoman Turkey the people of this country dreamed stability and prosperity. Yet the European powers had other plans for the region. Having betrayed us so many times, playing the Balkan nations against each other at our expense according to their interests (they made promises of lands and regions to either Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria, making us go at war with each other, while they were just serving their geopolitical interests for the Balkan region), they started two World wars that they made sure of getting us involved in. The Greeks were being killed by either the attackers or dying by the embargo of the allied forces on food resources, to weaken the Nazi army.

Then, after they have divided Europe in half, Greece "fell" in the Western capitalist part with 90% British influence and 10% Soviet Russian on the country. But because of strong links between Greece and Russia and the strong socialist mentality of the Greek public, Greece had to endure a civil war that saw British forces actively participating and then a police terror state to make sure that all communist element was eradicated from the country. With the slightest suspicion that you were a communist you were interrogated, perhaps jailed or if proven that you had communist links you were deported and your property was taken by the state. That is how eastern Europe that was under Soviet rule saw its Greek communities being established.

It was so bad, that my mom in my early years in school always advised me not to write with a red pen in class, because it could be seen as a sign of our political convictions. That of course was long gone by the time I went to school, nevertheless it left a deep mark in the Greek public psyche; you kept your head down, you did not express your political views, you always supported the Government or else! That is how the generation that is now over 45-50 has grown up and that is why they never attempted to change anything. A perfect mind control machine, forcing the Greeks into obedience!

Then the '70s came and some Greek youths started getting reckless, demanding more freedom! What happened then? The Americans supported a military junta, forcing another Greek generation into conformation, censorship and instability. The fact is that Greece never recovered politically from the western/European/American meddling in its affairs, the civil war, the junta the world wars! The European and American elites, in order to keep the country under their influence they financed some political elites to be established in the country. The money were pouring in the country, in support of those elites to keep Greece "democratic", "free" or simply capitalist. Much more they are doing right now in the Arab world, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem is that this elite that they helped to be established, got addicted to European/American/Western money. And this phenomenon exists to this day. No, it is not the Greek public who tax evades, who does not work and who is corrupt! It is the rich Greek political elites that got spoiled by Europe and they are using their connections to keep receiving those money, but not for the betterment of the country of the people; just their own! 

One of the reforms that Europe demands now in order Greece to secure the next loan, is to catch the tax evaders and make them pay! Yet so far only 1% of the taxes have been collected and these were from the ordinary people. Simply because the tax evaders are the rich fat cats of Greece, including the political elite and their accolades! How can you tax the ones who support your political campaign and they were providing you with millions in order for you to stay in power.

And how can you convince the Greeks to swallow such measures when they see the rich getting away with it. A popular singer of the 50s and 60s, Mr Voskopoulos has refused to pay up the millions of euros he owes to the Greek state! His wife of course is a former MP and he has good connections withing the Greek political elite. So if he can refuse to pay and get away with it, why should the poorer Greeks bare the heavy weight of this austerity? He just got away with it. In any other country he would be jailed and his property confiscated! Not in Greece!

And of course not to mention the German company that has built the new Eleftherios Venizelos airport in Athens, that has not paid a penny of taxes to the Greek state! They prefer to give money to the corrupt Greek elite to turn the blind eye! How can they now go after them and ask for the money? So you see the Europeans love to do business with us, because they are able to do business with our corrupt elite and avoid taxation. Then who is more corrupt in this story? The richer and the more powerful a country is, the more corruption exists, that is a fact.

Recently we saw a scandal in Germany that led to the resignation of the German President. Last year it was the corruption of the British MPs claiming public money for their personal expenses plus those of their spouses. The French political scene is also full of corruption, with current French President Mr Sarkozy being accused on numerous occasions and former French President Mr Mitterant even being convicted.

And this crisis is a huge fiasco! The Greeks are being forced to pay up and save the European banks and the toxic debt they have accumulated over the years due to their exposure on American toxic debt! How to heal this situation? Make the weaker states pay; Greece, Ireland, Spain, Portugal and Italy. We are being called to pay and cover this debt out of our taxes, and we will be paying this debt for decades to come, while northern Europe will be able to recover and keep developing. Our elites, having received so much money from Europe all those decades, have agreed to sell us out to the IMF, the Banks and the current toxic capitalist system!

So there is no salvation for Greece. After having offered so much to Europe and the World, we are once again called upon to save the day with huge sacrifices, like we did back in WW2! And we are being slandered for it, in order to convince the European population that what is happening right now is righteous; well I have only one thing to say...You might be next! 

My generation that has studied abroad, traveled and has dreams and a new vision for our country, the generation of mid 30s is the worst hit. The generation that is during its most creative years, that have new ideas and are more actively involved in Greek and European politics are having their wings clipped and are forced into a new financial junta imposed again by Europe! So how can you expect Greece ever to recover when generation after generation is being crippled and forced into poverty and deprivation? Then it was the wars, now it is the economic crisis. I wonder, does Europe really want to have a rich and prosperous Greece in its club?

So you see now why no reforms and progress are being made in Greece. Because it is not in the interests of both the Greek and their European counterparts. The first ones just want to keep receiving funds for themselves, the second ones to have some second class citizens in Europe to clean up the mess they are creating, not to have every country in Europe being rich, stable and prosperous. Now will you tolerate that?
 

*************************************************************************

Christos Mouzeviris is the writer of the blog: The Eblana European Democratic Movement 
 

     
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Anastasios2012-02-24 21:35:43
Christos, you have my congratulations for this very realistic article, in which you managed to describe so well the players and why we are stuck in this hostile turn of events. You should send this article to the major newspapers to educate some completely and utterly disgusting commentators/analysts. I was watching an idiot a month ago in CNN who so abrasively identified our homeland a third world country. Apparently the moron had never been to Greece, never exchanged a word with a citizen there. The fact that his own country is overloaded with financial toxicity, where the middle classes are driven to extinction, and where ghettos are fatally dangerous war zones, apparently are not a sign of third worldism.

Good job Christo!


Christos Mouzeviris2012-02-25 13:14:36
Thank you Anastasie... I am glad that this article is proved to be very successful so far..I did my best and my part to educate people.. Since I wrote it, there are people who visit my blog from "googling" questions such as: "why are the Greeks so lazy?" Can you believe that? That anyone would search for such a thing on-line..?? The only weapon we have is our voice, since our leaders won't defend us! And I am using it! Thanx again!


North European..2012-07-29 03:16:12
C'mon. 55, and then retirement. Only in Greece. And the long working hours, yeah.. doing nothing behind the desk.


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