And here is my comment on the letter.
You recently published a letter by Fanis Koliopoulos from the UK under the above title. That was a rather brilliant description of those Greeks who could benefit from the euro-party of the last 10 years. Correctly, it also pointed out that there are other Greeks who didn’t benefit much. It think it is important to differentiate between these two prototypes.
Clearly, a large part of the Greek population is suffering terribly these days. Nothing which I say below should belittle in any form or fashion that fact.
I must comment, however, on the other Greeks who are not suffering at all. We spend about half the year in Greece. Given the location of our apartment and our circle of friends, we would see nothing of a crisis if we didn’t watch TV or read papers (or talked about it). On the contrary, I see a lifestyle and living standard which exceeds that of Austria (where we spend the other half of the year).
We shop at the nearby Gran Masoutis which is more impressive than what we have in Austria. Some of the products are also more expensive than in Austria. And yet, the place is full with shoppers all the time.
When we go to places like IKEA or Hondos, we see crowds of shoppers who are actually buying things. When we go to the huge Mediterranean Cosmos Mall, we see something which has no parallel in Austria. We also find it hard to find parking even though they have hundreds if not thousands of parking lots.
The streets of Thessaloniki are jammed with SUVs when gasoline costs about 20% more than in Austria. The cafes and bars are full with people of all ages during daytime. It seems like everyone has at least one smartphone. The coffee costs as much as in Munich and a small glass of ouzo sells between 5-10 euros. We eat quite normal meals in quite normal restaurants and hardly every pay less than 15 euro per person (drinking only water). When we go to the movies, we pay 9-10 euros per ticket.
I knew Greece before money started flowing into the country as EU-subsidies and/or cheap euro-loans. It was a relatively poor country and quite cheap. If a poor man hits a jackpot and decides to spend it all on consumption, he may live well for, say, 10 years. When the money is spent, he has to return to the standard of living of 10 years ago. Much worse for the Greeks because they did not hit a jackpot but took up debt instead and that debt is still there.
Sorry, I miswrote. It is not much worse for all Greeks. It is very, very much worse for those Greeks who had little fun at the euro-party and who now have to foot the bill for it. And the other Greeks who have their money stashed away (tax-free!) will continue to live very well, much better than tax payers in Central Europe can ever imagine to live.
Greeks like to play the victim role. Yes, Greeks have been victims but they have not been victims of foreigners taking advantage of Greeks.
Greeks who are truly victims today are the victims of other Greeks who have taken advantage of society for individual benefit in dimensions which remind me of nobility and peasants in the Middle Ages. In dimensions which one might expect to find in some third world banana republic but not in the EU.
All this stuff about Hellenic grandeur and Classic Greece is for the birds if a large portion of today’s Greeks act and behave like people in a third world banana republic. And, I might add, it is also insult and injury to those Greeks who are not like that. To those Greeks whom Central Europeans remember as the guest workers with the best reputation. To those Greeks whom we meet in Greece today who are decent, industrious, most friendly and open-hearted people. I would guess that the latter still are the majority. Even if not, it is about time that they stand up against the other Greeks and be counted!