Please allow me to quote Nikos Tsafos from the Greek Default Watch blog: “Greece has changed from being a fat kid that was going on a diet to a fat kid that wants to sue the candy company. In the end, the fat kid may get a check – but will he get any thinner?”
And here is a Greek proverb which I picked up recently:
“Any fool can throw a stone into the sea, but once he does, a hundred wise men can’t pull it out!”
I rest my case.
Don’t rest your case quite yet. Thinking of a country as one person, or kid, is unhelpful and dangerous (you would not like it if I thought of Germany as one person; for that person would probably be hideous to you, if verging on the ‘representative German agent’). I know lots of Greek children who found it damn hard to survive in Greece during the ‘good’ times. Who worked during the day in garages and restaurants and went to night school. Now, they have to pay the price of austerity. Be careful Klaus. I expected more from you.
I would not have seen anything offensive in Nikos Tsafos’ quote (BTW, I consider his as one of the best blogs on Greece!) but if others did, I apologize. Actually, I was under the impression that economists like to use metaphors like “fat kid”, “minotaur”, etc. and I, for one, find metaphors useful. As per your request, I won’t rest my case there and since you expect more, I will deliver more.
Your statement that some children did not have a party during the party years triggers deep feelings on my part. Indeed, not all Greek society had a ball while seemingly all Greek society had a ball and, indeed, those who had less of a ball then (or none at all) have now been asked to participate unduly and unfairly in the repair cost of damage with which they had little or nothing to do!!! Yes, today misery is over segments of Greek society and financial stress and emotional strain over a large part thereof. BUT: there is, in my judgment (and remember that I spend close to half a year in Greece), quite a large part of society which even today is having a very, very good life. And I am not thinking of the ultra-rich Greek families. I am thinking of the “smart and clever ones”.
The Gran Masoutis nearby is packed with shoppers (and prices are no less than 3-4 years ago if not higher, and many are higher than in Austria). Whenever I stop by IKEA, I hardly need to move on my own. People traffic carries me with it. On weekends, the parking lot of Cosmos Mediterranean (the largest I have ever seen) is full and the place is packed with families paying the same prices for fast food as in Munich. As the weather gets better, the weekend convoy from Thessaloniki to Chalkidiki is getting under way again (I just returned in bumper-to-bumper traffic). I could go on.
And then I read that a young couple living on a teacher’s salary has to get by with 588 Euro net every month! Nice guys finish last? Well, there are a lot of nice guys in Greece but there are also a lot of fast movers who are not paying their traffic tolls. In my judgment, one part of Greek society has taken the other part for an unbelievable ride since the EU and particularly since the Euro.
And here is my case now: who can/should fix all of this unfairness in Greek society? The Troika? The EU? George Soros maybe? Only Greeks themselves can fix domestic issues within their own jurisdiction and exactly this is what Greek brainpower should be concentrating on. Leave the Eurozone’s problems to Eurocrats. They will fix them or not (I lean towards the latter). But take on Greece’s problems and suggest ways how they could be solved!
I could give you an endless list of issues which Greece could/should tackle on its own. My blog is full of them. Just take the decline in the Euro as one example. Here the Euro (including the Greek Euro) has declined versus the USD by about 25% in a reasonably short period of time. Presumably also versus other currencies. Now if that is not a window of opportunity for increasing exports to non-Euro countries then I don’t know what a window of opportunity is. I am not even sure if Greece’s policy makers have noticed that exports have increased but they certainly have not done anything to “make a killing” out of such a window of opportunity. Attracting tourists from non-Euro countries might have been a smart idea at a time where Eurozone tourism is tanking. Etc., etc.
Now to Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA. I have sent you links privately. Here is my post after I read the Economic Manifesto.
To recommend not to read a party’s manifesto but recommend to still vote for the party is not my idea of responsible voting recommendations. I would very much recommend to read the manifesto because I think it is a very interesting document which deserves a lot of credit for certain things.
I myself could not vote for SYRIZA because a vision where the predominant role of the state provides for happiness of the people is not mine, but I can see why others would have a different vision. But I am getting to the point where I think that it may indeed be best if the next Prime Minister with a stable majority would be Alexis Tsipras.
Best for the Eurozone because it would force EU-elites to either fish or cut bait. And best for Greece because it will tell Greeks how much the Eurozone likes them (or not). At least, all this meandering of the last 2-3 years would be over. But then again, who am I to say that, with Alexis Tsipras, the meandering would be over???
If there are more instalments to this exchange, I will insert them here.