When a populist is demonized by establishment forces, one generally makes the mistake that one demonizes ALL of him. Put differently, if an idea was first mentioned by Alexis Tsipras, it has to be a bad one because of coming from him. Populists wouldn’t get as many votes as Mr. Tsipras did (and so quickly!) if they didn’t have good ideas, too. The establishment forces in Greece are well advised to take on Mr. Tsipras’ good ideas. His best ideas are his soundbites about a new and modern Greece, and Mr. Samaras should copy some of them. His worst idea is how to achieve such a new and modern Greece and no one should copy that!
The key soundbite is that Greece needs a National Plan for Reconstruction and Growth. The key mistake is to think of such a plan as a misunderstood version of the Marshall Plan where foreigners would dump more money on Greece in the hope that Greece will spend the money wisely. The Marshall Plan was not help per se; it was help for self-help. Greece needs help for self-help. If self-help is demonstrated, help will come quickly!
One often gets immersed in pro/con-argumentations while forgetting what one’s original idea was. As I reviewed the evolution of my thinking over the last couple of years, I noted that two of my principal themes had been the following: first, stop using Greece’s balance sheet (and tax payers’ money) to bail out banks and call that “help for Greece”; and, secondly, develop a long-term industrial development plan for Greece.
In addition to the many articles which I have written, I have also made the attempt on several occasions to write to policy makers. I will list below the letters which I had written to Greek policy makers last year. Some of their content has meanwhile been superseded but I still stand behind the gist of them.
June 17, 2011 – Letter to Finance Minister George Papakonstaninou
The general idea of this letter was to come up with a plan which holds the promise of developing Greece into a value-generating economy and to use that plan as the “bargaining tool” to “call the bluff” of EU-elites where they argue they are helping Greece while actually helping the banks.
June 23, 2011 – Letter to Mr. Antonis Samaras
A short version of the previous letter to Mr. Papakonstantinou
June 26, 2011 – Letter to Mr. Antonis Samaras
Basically advising him that he should act as a statesman and not as a populist.
July 24, 2011 – Letter to Prime Minister George Papandreou
Basically the same theme as in my previous letter to Mr. Papakonstantinou
August 22, 2011 – Letter to Prime Minister George Papandreou
Warning Mr. Papandreou that the people seem to “have had it” and if he didn’t drop a “positive bombshell soon”, he and his government would find out that they had had it, too.
September 25, 2011 – Letter to Prime Minister George Papandreou
Reminding Mr. Papandreou that HE was the one who had to come across like calling the shots; not the Troika!
November 2, 2011 – After Cannes
Realizing (sadly) that Mr. Papandreou was more the “son of the father” than a Mrs. Thatcher.
So, by and large, I have been making a similar case as some of the “radicals” are making today: don’t allow yourselves to be driven but, instead, drive the show! There is only one little point which today’s radicals refuse to understand, namely:
When you want to drive the show, you have to bring something to the party. A nuke is never the right present for a party. To use the words of the Godfather: you have to bring something to the party where the others cannot refuse to go along with you. And what could that “something” be? You are right —
A Long-Term Industrial Economic Development Plan which aims at developing Greece into a modern, competitive and value-generating economy (and thereby creating the framework where the younger generation wants to stay in Greece instead of leaving it!).