Saturday, June 16, 2012

On the eve of the 2nd Greek Election

I keep reading how everyone wants Greeks to continue to vote for the harshest austerity program in living memory, with the exception of World War II.  Greeks are very familiar with WWII.  They suffered greatly at the hands of Germany.  And those who tried to protect themselves, found they had condemned their friends and families to an immediate and brutal death.

Well, now what's on the table is a slow death for all.  Not for people like me who live here as expats.  I can always "escape" back to the US.  I won't have the same life there, but I will be guaranteed a life.  I know that Greece is in many ways, extremely responsible for the dilemma in which it now finds itself.

But there are several things the EU could have done before this point:

  • At the beginning, every state's books should have been reviewed.  On wouldn't take on a new business partner without doing due diligence, so why do this which is so much more?
  • As it became abundantly clear that Greece was simply borrowing money with no real ability to use much of the EU funds for either the  needed reformation of the society and/or strengthening of the economy, the banks continued to loan Greece money until the "Global Financial Meltdown" (related t the Global War on Terror).
  • Then when the Troika determined to "assist" Greece to pay off its debts, instead of using the harshest terms as a means of keeping other countries from reaching this point (as if this tactic has ever worked!  Ask your mother, she'll tell you it a recipe for failure!!), the EU merely gave Greece numbers of people to fire (but no real mechanism of determining if these were the right people to fire - even I a long term visitor of only 9 years, knew that some workers were working, while others were merely at work).  But that wasn't enough - the decision was also made to kill the private economy as well by reducing the minimum wage!  But then there was insult added to the injury; not only would Greece be deeper in debt as the result of taking this "bailout(!)" but the country was forced to buy more military materiel as if Greece were currently at war with Turkey or Albania (the enemies of Greece). So the end result is higher debt, lower employment, and a ruined economy.
  • The steadfast refusal to make some changes to the austerity program, even in the wake of hospitals and pharmacies closing, people having to leave their children in orphanages, the rush of money leaving the country, lagging tax receipts (hard to pay taxes without a job!), and a rash of public suicides (this in a country where suicide was nearly unheard of, let alone doing it out in the open), has led us to this point.   
The protesting public unions which have fought reform in all of its incarnations, helped to kill the one industry that Greece could depend on - tourism.  Of course, the weak government played its role to perfection too.  Continuing the game of passing laws it has no intention of ever implementing.  Seems to me, if you're already in the sea, you might as well swim; otherwise you'll just sink.

So, I won't be surprised if Greeks decide to vote for an end to the never ending payments (the debt is several times larger now than it was at the beginning and there is no end in sight for a small population of 11 million people). 

What would you do?

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