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Survival Guide
Greek Edition
On growth, euro exit, the far right, civil service, democracy

More growth with more debts

In a lot of comments and articles I read that austerity without a perspective on growth will not work and that Mrs. Merkel therefore should correct her position. What is wrong with that equation is that Mrs. Merkel has never said there should be austerity without growth. There are just different ways and opinions on how growth should be created.
Basically we have two main trends in the moment. Growth created by debts or growth created by liberalization and deregulation. Mrs. Merkel clearly belongs to the second group and I think in large part she is right. Since the EU was founded in 1981 and the Eurozone in 2001 we have witnessed a dramatic increase in debts in almost all member states of the EU.
Since several people revert to Keynes, I would like to bring up the thesis that the last 30 years have been nothing else but a badly managed and uncontrolled version of Keynes’ concepts. Growth created by debts and subsidies controlled by EU states. So instead of calling now for Keynes we have to realize that we may have reached already the end of Keynes.
The EU (and that means all member states and not just Germany) has failed to set up an effective control system and continually stands still, rewarded with generously granted subsidies.
Let’s take agriculture as an example. A lot of EU subsidies are spent on agriculture all over Europe. Subsidies were obviously calculated and granted without being double-checked so that a lot of farmers (and controllers) could make a nice living on that without the urge to increase competiveness. Instead of investing in new machines, methods and distribution concepts, the money was spent on lifestyle. This could only happen because there was no control and money was granted year after year without pressure or decrease. If a product needs to get subsidies for several years and there is no chance that it will ever be competitive, subsidies need to be stopped.
If we take a look at the public debts in Europe and the comments around, one could imagine that all those debts were created by the banks themselves and that everyone else is a poor victim of an international money conspiracy aimed at enslaving the people.
That is nonsense since most of the debts have been manifested in state expenses like salaries for public workers, military, useless infrastructure projects, Olympic Games etc. This has allowed people to build houses, buy cars, consumer electronics, travel etc. And this goes not only for Greece but also for Germany, France etc. Germany has 2 trillion Euro of debts but useless 6-lane highways in East Germany that lead to perfectly renovated historical cities where no one lives anymore since there are no jobs around.
Therefore the basic conclusion is that right now any debt-driven growth program will create nothing else but more debts since we will feed more money into a dysfunctional system that led us into the current crisis in the first place.
Before we should make more debts, create a ‘Marshall plan’ for growth or even talk about ‘euro bonds’, all EU countries have to agree on and implement an investment-friendly, deregulated and liberal policy framework.
Furthermore EU bodies must have the right to access and control all financial data of member states. If a member state fails the targets or does not implement EU Regulations, EU bodies must have the right to control, correct and limit state expenses. That means states will lose sovereignty towards the EU.
On top of that, EU subsidies must be effectively controlled and the mindset of the receivers must be changed towards competitiveness and innovation.
I still haven’t seen any solid program concept or idea from any of the big Greek parties on how sustainable growth could be created in Greece. It is your politicians and elites that have to detect areas of growth, tear down all of the red tape and ask the EU for funding and assistance. If you are able to name just one successful example that was based on the initiative of Greek politicians, I will dance naked on the Acropolis.

Sebastian Schroeder

A 'pre-arranged' Greek euro exit?

There is something very disingenuous about EU officials namby-pambying around the issue of 'is a Greek exit possible?'... if not downright deceitful...
When President Papoulias met with the Greek Generals recently, it wasn't, as one might say, to discuss the price of fish.
Of all the ifs, buts and maybes of a Greek exit, the one surefire way of ensuring that exit is to create conditions of economic collapse accompanied by political impasse leading to a situation of ungovernability. I think that if SYRIZA does anything like as well as the polls are suggesting in June, this will be the outcome.
Once all these conditions are produced, as seems likely, Papoulias will have no choice but to declare a state of national emergency and bring in the military, quite legally and legitimately. Once he does that, Greece will be obliged to exit. End of story.
I think this has been planned from a long time ago.
Of course I may be imagining all this, and everything will work out in the end, and pigs will be given wings and little engines...

Philip Andrews

Far-right victories in Greece a far-wrong

Rejection of austerity has pressed a growing margin of Greek voters to support, with audacity, a political party which swears by "Mein Kampf" and offers up Nazi salutes as a send-off during political deliberations.
The sudden resurgence of the «Golden Dawn Party» is casting a dark cloud over a nation which has been labeled «The Birthplace of Democracy."
The financial crisis rocking the cradle of Western Civilization in the Aegean is slowly giving place to marginal views which not only refuse to rescue the state from massive bankruptcy, but have also decided to target the hardest-working in their country: the growing immigrant populations from Asia and Africa. Despite the questionable assurances that the Golden Dawn party has moderated its views, the slow ascent of extremism in a country fraught with deleterious options should not allay legitimate concerns.
Will the rise of the far-right now transform Greece into "The Graveyard of Democracy" in Europe? The diminished major parties that cannot cobble together a working coalition with their minor counterparts; the population's refusal of harsh but necessary economic remedies for Athens; and the breakdown of law and order in the streets: these dangerous phenomena are eerily reminiscent of the political and economic conditions that plagued the Weimar Republic in Germany, before another far-right figure came to power, one who advocated cracking down on immigrants and building labor camps for deviant populations in the country. Do we see a Greek counterpart of Adolf Hitler in the squat and sanguine demeanor of Nikolaos Mihalolaikos?
Golden Dawn's anti-immigrant platform -- complete with vigilante thugs harassing minorities, immediate arrest and expulsion of immigrants of undetermined legal status, and the outrageous policy of forced labor camps for immigrant criminals, could not be any more revealing or repulsive than a Nazi parade wrapped in stripes of blue and white marching through the Parthenon, complete with goose-stepping troglodytes dangling Swastikas from high-reaching poles.

Arthur Christopher Schaper
Torrance, CA

Greek politicians and civil service

I dare dream that every politician ever elected to the Greek parliament be barred from being a candidate for election and that the first order of business of the new government be to force the resignation of every civil servant... with the invitation to apply to positions in a totally restructured civil service. Make that happen and Greece and Hellenism will survive.

Paul Vlahos
Toronto, Canada

Greece has lost its most important possession!

Throughout history governments have controlled their money supply, [which is why] they have their own printing press. You can argue that all the other countries in control of their own money are printing too much. They are. But when a crisis happens (even war), all governments must have control over their money. With it, you decide to inflate or deflate to cope with a crisis. I have hated the idea of the Euro since it was invented. You need a larger influence, more liquid currency for commerce and a reserve status. Fine, dual currency with the Euro, but always keep your own printing press. At this point though, I have no idea how you put the elephant back in the bottle.

Joe Smith

Greek democracy

As a Greek, Mr Tsipras should know the meaning of the word democracy. But it seems that his pocket calculator is not functioning properly either. 16.8% doth not a hundred percent make.
He's in the political spotlight for 5 minutes and already he's claiming to represent 100% of the Greek people. He's prepared to accept the outcome of the "anti-austerity" votes, i.e. to him the large majority, but he's not prepared to accept the voices of the people who voted for Chrysi Avgi. No matter what we feel about that party -- and it has raised some pretty strong feelings -- it is part of the democratic process, the voice of people who are incredibly frustrated with politicians not listening to their problems (the same as all the other fragmented votes!).
All Mr Tsipras is doing is stamping his feet at any suggestion, to force new elections and gain a majority (he hopes) so that he can start his own rockstar style of kleftes generation and drive what's left of Greece into the ground.
He wants to show the middle finger to the rest of the world, write letters to all and sundry -- letters on behalf of the Greek people which he does not yet represent. His coalition may have won 16.8%, but he is not yet sworn into parliament. How dare he presume to represent everyone, even those who did not vote, and want to decide their future for them?
What concrete plans, solutions, strategies do he and his coalition have to save Greece, preferably overnight, and fast? Where is he hiding his piggy bank that he's going to open to save his country? Or doesn't a workers' paradise need any money? How is he going to find employment for almost a quarter of the working population, to say nothing of half of the youth? How is he going to stimulate the economy, get people to pay taxes, stop people from being corrupt? I don't hear any answers yet. I am not a fan of the troika or the euro, but other than a messy default and economic catastrophe, I do not see a way past bailouts for Greece, or honouring their commitments.
Hypocrisy is another Greek word that Mr Tsipras has caught onto with lightning speed.

Mary-Ann Faroni

Warlords lambs & sacrificial lions

Nick Konstandaras summerized Greek history well.
We Greeks are heroic as individuals but not as a mob.
We must be all descended from the 2,000 monks that lived alone on the 2,000 Aegean islands and procreated with the shipwrecked women, who ran away with the first passing ship.
This may be the reason for the endless running away and the endless search for another corner for Greeks to live alone. In Melbourne only Greeks are so geographically spread out in the city. Most ethnic groups stick to certain geographic areas.
When every Greek village on a hill still looks on the village on the opposite hill as strangers and enemies, it’s not a good basis to form a united society. In any discussion in multicultural Australia we remind each other we have more that unites us than divides us. I do not see the connections between the villages in Greece.
Are Athenians living in adjoining apartments like brothers?
The different Greek political groups do not seem to owe any allegiance beyond their immediate sphere to anyone, let alone the country as a whole.
Greece may need to go back to creating a society where the Government is almost non existent. The mistake in Greece is we are attempting to create a society that mirrors tribes who obey the leaders, and, even jump into fires when asked to, like North Europeans.
We may need to disorganize Greece to suit its natural inclination. The people who want order and someone to hold their hand may need to migrate to very distant shores.
What we have been seeing with the "fakelakia" (envelopes with bribe money) may not be wrong.
It’s only wrong if you are a "Christian" and you believe it is your duty to care for all others. Greeks are the most "Christian" free society in Europe, but celebrate Christianity in the most spectacular and beautiful ways.
"Fakelakia" may be the most natural inclination to one of the oldest trading cultures in the world. It’s really all about "how much do you want for a sack of olives."
Do we look down on someone whose tree produced a good crop of olives and wants a top price for his olives?
Greece must abandon the foreign concept of socialism and Christianity, and those that need it, as they are not Greek. If every one knows there are no rules, there cannot be disappointments.
Greece may lose the one third of its weaker members at once, but what will be left is the strong ones that can look after themselves.
It’s time we united Spartan and Athenian philosophy!

Charilaos Lithoxopoulos , Tuesday May 15, 2012 (19:45)  
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