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The Greek economy and my friend Giorgos
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-06-30 08:03:18
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Listening on the Greek radio the latest news from Athens and all about the clashes between the people and the police I got a mail from a friend contributor saying: I’m very concerned about what is happening in Greece right now; my best thoughts and prayers are with you and yours and your lovely, historical country. And this minute I really, really hope that my compatriots read that one more person's, from the other side of the globe this time, thoughts and prayers are with them.

The last few months every time my telephone rings and I see a Greek number, every time I get a mail from Greece, every time I read the news about Greece my heart beats a bit faster and even though I have the right mind to understand what’s going on, the reasoning behind and the consequences of decades mistakes; still the faces of my family and friends cloud the logic and what remains is the sadness and the worry.

My friends never stole a penny, my friends worked all their lives very hard to have a life with dignity and be able to offer to their kids the same sense of dignity. My friends always paid their taxes and they were always there when the country needed them. Some of them had to fight dictatorships through exiles and torturing but they were always there fighting. My friends – and I hope you will excuse my confidence but I know them for decades – always helped the needed and they never hurt anybody at least not consciously. My friends paid their share for the state, they did their national service, they fulfilled every single obligation they had, even the ones they didn’t agree consciously. Even when they are abroad they always pride for their roots and background feeling the weight of somebody who is constantly an ambassador of their country. Most of all, all my friends lived with dignity and pride and this is what is stolen from them this minute; dignity and pride. And you know, I can hear that on the telephone-calls and I can read it beyond the letters in their mails.

The German chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel said that the southerners work less than the Germans and that’s why their countries are in trouble. My friends worked all their life hard and their kids today work harder and they do that for 600 Euros a month and they work sometimes a whole day because the ghost of the unemployment stands constantly next to them. Would any German ever work more than his eight hours a day without overtime ending with a salary of 600 Euros a month (not a day) and Ms Merkel would still be the chancellor? Mr. Katainen, the new Finnish Prime minister said that he was satisfied by the Greek parliament’s decision to approve a new austerity program for its citizens. And he said that in the name of his citizens? How the Finns would feel if they found out that their parliament for their good had decrease their income the last months for more than 30%? Wouldn’t we have riots in the centre of Helsinki?

Of course all of them talk about corruption, the politicians the mistakes, the wrong decisions. But my friends are not corrupted, they never got a bribe, they never did any deal with German or Finnish companies – is funny how the one who takes the bribe is a criminal but for the one who bribes is just business  as usual – and they paid their taxes always on time. Some of my friends in their late fifties they are in danger in the next few months to lose their jobs because the companies close one after the other under the weight of the dramatic recession that has hit Greece this minute. How does Ms Merkel or Mr. Katainen think that they are going to find a job again and the situation with most of the Greek institutions this minute not able to pay even their basic obligations; how do they think these people are going to live?

It’s easy to say that the Greek politicians are corrupted, but what about the people? If Mr. Katainen proved to be corrupted should the Finnish people pay for it? Collective guilt and punishment? So because a Greek minister was bribed from a German company that manufactures submarines and the Greek state bought these submarines ten times their price enriching this man’s bank account in Switzerland my friend Giorgos who lives in a small apartment in Athens should lose his job? Most importantly should he see his dignity vanished in Ms Merkel’s talking about lazy southerners?

And I continue listening to the radio and the riots in the centre of Athens continue and the people are in the streets demanding back their dignity and the EU president Herman Van Rompuy said that this vote will help Europe’s future and escape from the euro-crisis. But Mr. Van Rompuy, Mr. Katainen, Ms Merkel, Mr. Sarkozy, Mr. Cameron all of them talk about Europe’s good, about Finland, Germany, France, Britain and nobody, absolutely nobody of them gives a damn about my friend Giorgos. Actually they don’t give a damn about Frank, Pekka, Hans, Jacque and John. They need an extra 20 million, they vote a new austerity program and share these 20 millions to the people ignoring the fact that Giorgos, Frank, Pekka, Hans, Jacque and John might not have the money to pay their share. Actually they don’t give a damn. What they give a damn about is the survival of BNP, Deutsche Bank, Lloyds and I don’t know what else …for the good of the people.

And because I also heard from Jean-Claude Trichet, that Greece should be saved in the name of her history; this moment I would prefer when you think about Greece not to think about Plato, Aristotle, Sophocles or Sparta but about my friend Giorgos who’s in his late fifties losing his job with a little hope to find any other soon, who has two unemployed kids and lives in a small apartment in Athens endangering to lose this after having lost all his savings the last few months. And yes, every time my telephone rings and I see a Greek number a miss a heart beat from my worry for the news I’m going to hear.

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Andreas2011-06-30 09:49:10
Unfortunately, as time goes by, the phenomenon of Nimbyism (Not In My Back Yard)in democratic countries is growing more and more around us in many aspects of life, society-wise, humanity-wise and not only.
As perfectly described in wikipedia, "NIMBY is also used more generally to describe people who advocate some proposal (for example, austerity measures including budget cuts, tax increases, downsizing), but oppose implementing it in a way that would require sacrifice on their part."
And it looks like many of the decision makers are becoming good only at making decisions, no matter of the cost.
I dont know much about politics, I always found it difficult to read between the lines of the politicians' words but i receive all these as signs that democracy is losing its cause, because the rules of the games are favoring the banks, the power holders and the decision makers.

Emanuel Paparella2011-06-30 17:51:48
Twenty four hundred years ago Plato uttered this statemen: poverty has nothing to do with how much or how little one has but with how big are one's desires.

The ones who have understood that statement and have acted on it are not our midget political leaders but the bankers, the financial planners and the capitalist merchants. Via advertisement they foster on us what we want and don't really need. In the end we end up bankrupt in more than one way, especially in the spiritual sense. Perhaps St. Francis of Assisi had a point in marrying and remaining faithfull to Lady Poverty. He seemed to be happier than most gready people around him, not excluding his merchant father.

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