Three brief Greek summer tales

2013-08-01 20.23.09As a child, I was fascinated by my mother’s, and her mother’s, tales from the 1940s, and in particular their stories about life under the Nazi occupation. It is perhaps not a coincidence that children’s books used to be replete with grim tales of murder, dismemberment and assorted horrors.

Most of those tales were desperate attempts by my family’s women to convey to a young, spoilt brat the awfulness of their experiences, the value of bread, the memory of solidarity and resistance in an environment of crushing fear and loathing. The winter of 1941 was thus etched on my mind, almost complete with black and white images, that mother’s narrative had occasioned, of horse-drawn carts doing their morning rounds in the streets of Athens, collecting the corpses of those who had died of hunger the night before. Out of this tapestry of woe, one tale stuck out.

What made that particular tale stick out was not some act of inconspicuous heroism or unspeakable treachery (they were plenty of those in the other stories), nor a tragedy that the young mind found extraordinary. No, it was a simple tale of a week spent on some Peloponnesian beach, in the summer of 1943. My mother’s bother had been ill with TB and my grandmother thought it would help if he spent some time near seawater, away from the cesspool of grief and disease that was occupied Athens. My mother’s lyrical stories of the small pleasures that they enjoyed on that sunny beach, despite their empty bellies and the darkness enveloping the nation, took on a significance in my own childhood’s imaginary that is still with me.

August 2013. I am spending, as I write this, the last summer days, before returning to the United States, at Aegina – our Greek island sanctuary. It is not 1941, nor 1943. The restaurants are buzzing with their usual midsummer buzz, the sea is as blue as ever, the ferry boats carry fleeting tourists. And yet, Greece is in the grip of a calamity that those who lived through the 1940s had thought they would never have to live through again. But I must desist. For this is not the place for analysis and argumentation about our contemporary Greek catastrophe. This is a piece of brief summer tales. So, allow me to relate three such stories.

Confiscation

Dimitri is an Aegina boat builder who makes a living by servicing and looking after small boats. He is our own zodiac’s guardian angel, which we moor at Aegina harbour next to his magnificent speedboat; a super-slick, super-fast 8m vessel that his meagre earnings could never buy him and which he effectively built up with his own hands. Yesterday I met him on the quayside. Less jovial than usual self, his face invited me to ask him “what’s wrong”. “It’s the coastguard”, he replied. Two days before they confiscated his boat temporarily. Why? Because the coastguard’s own speedboat would not start, as it had not been serviced for two years due to lack of funds. So, they took Dimitri’s boat to speed into the horizon, armed to the teeth, in response to some report of an act of piracy between Aegina and the island of Poros. They returned two days later, empty-handed and, to Dimitri’s despair, empty-tanked. Five hundred euros worth of high octane petrol had gone. “Did they not reimburse you?”, I asked naively. “Don’t be silly”, came his reply. “How could they reimburse him when the Aegina’s coastguard’s budget cannot even afford to buy an air pump for their own inflatable?” Dimitri, it was abundantly clear, bore no resentment toward the coastguard officers. His sadness was a mere reflection of the average Greek’s sadness at the sight of a bankrupt state which is forced to expropriate what little its citizens have been left with.

Poseidon

Speaking of fuel, for the past two months Aegina’s petrol stations run out of petrol regularly. For days and nights on end, tourists approach them in anticipation of filling their rented vehicles’ tanks up, so as to be on their merry way, only to find that the pumps are not pumping. Even worse, leased yachts sail into Aegina harbor, carrying tourists who paid thousands of dollars per day for the privilege of sailing our blue waters, only to find that the quayside diesel pump is dry. The first time it happened to me I imagined that some labour dispute was responsible; of the petrol pump employees, of the petrol tanker drivers, of some trades union along the chain of distribution. A few days later someone explained the actual reason: “It’s the crisis, my friend”, he said, clearly enjoying the fact that he was about to explain something about the crisis to a seasoned ‘crisis commentator’. What happened is that the larger of the two shipping companies that share the Aegina-Pireus franchise (Hellenic Seaways) has reduced the number of vessels it keeps on the route from eight to three. One of these, the majestically named ‘Poseidon’, is meant to carry fuel tanker trucks to Aegina once a week, as part of a deal with the state (since state regulations prohibit the company from carrying passengers when it transports large quantities of fuel). Off-season this deal is a nice little earner for Hellenic Seaways and the Poseidon keeps Aegina fully fuelled up. But, during the two summer months when tourism picks up, the company makes more money ferrying noisy tourists than ferrying fuel tankers. So, the weekly fuel run becomes a bi-weekly, or even a tri-weekly, ritual; starving the island, and its tourists, of essential energy supplies. When I questioned an official on the rationality of the situation, he retorted: “No one stops you from using the Poseidon to take your car to Pireus where there are plenty of petrol stations to fill it up.” Tragically, instead of cursing him, I began to discern a point in his counsel…

Hellenikon

Readers of this blog need no reminder of the human emergency in Greece’s public health system, following the bankruptcy of the state apparatus. Nor are they innocent of the corruption that plagues our health service. What you may not have heard of, however, is the story’s ‘other side’; the heroic one. (Yes, there always is one!) Hellenikon, meaning ‘Greek’, is a southern suburb of Athens, the locus of the old Athens Airport. In Hellenikon one can encounter the benevolent face of the crisis. Several public health doctors, nurses and practitioners have established a medical centre where they spend their free time, for free, providing free medical services to all-comers. The centre is gaining a reputation fast for excellent medical care and for a true humanist spirit. Coachloads of Greeks, migrants, locals and people from other cities come to Hellenikon for treatment, medicines that they cannot otherwise afford, solace even. Remarkably, even though the centre seeks support from anyone willing to assist, it refuses point-blank cash donations. If you want to help, they will give you a list of the pharmaceuticals they need; they will post online a request for toner for their photocopier; they will ask people to help transport patients in their cars or perhaps to lend them a mini-bus. But they will not accept cash as a signal to the world that theirs is a form of untainted act of pure solidarity. The doctors and practitioners responsible for this miracle of humanity are, nonetheless, deeply rewarded. One of them told me, almost in tears, of a phone call they had received. It came from a woman whose husband had just died of cancer. Her request? That someone from the centre goes to her home to pick up his chemo drugs. “He would not want them to go to waste, when so many cancer patients cannot afford them”, she said.

50 thoughts on “Three brief Greek summer tales

  1. Looks like some things never change:

    „Schlei-Bote“, in der Nummer vom 17. Mai 1897:
    „Der griechische Staat ist arm, das ist nicht seine Schuld, aber schlimmer als seine Armut ist die schlechte Finanzwirtschaft, die im Land herrscht. Wie die Ministerien auch zusammengesetzt sein mochten, im Geldpunkt haperte es stets. Millionen und aber Millionen, die zur Verwirklichung von großen, dem ganzen Land nützenden Unternehmungen verwendet werden sollten, sind in ganz andere Taschen geflossen als in die von Ingenieuren und Arbeitern, welche die Arbeiten ausführen sollten; so sind beispielsweise bei dem Bau des berüchtigten Kanals von Korinth 80 Millionen spurlos verschwunden … Nach der Abtretung von Thessalien an Griechenland durch die Türkei zum Beginn des vorigen Jahrzehnts bis zur Vermählung des Kronprinzen Konstantin mit der Prinzessin Sophie von Preußen haben die griechischen Finanzminister es verstanden, eine 100-Millionen-Anleihe nach der anderen einzuheimsen; große Bankfirmen im Deutschen Reich, in Frankreich und in England übernahmen bereitwilligst die Vermittlung, und alle diese schönen Beträge, die heute schon zu zwei Dritteln entwertet sind, gehen nun vielleicht ganz und gar verloren, wenn kein ernster Machtanspruch erfolgt.

    http://www.preussische-allgemeine.de/nachrichten/artikel/mit-erschrecken-und-mit-wehmut.html

    • What is this, are we at a stage of finding pieces pointing to state money mismanagement throughout history? To prove what? Why don’t you look back to the history of the economic development of your country and find out how the industrial-financial complex of Germany for example was formed and the cases of corruption that accompanied the rise of the various Krupp’s and Siemens families. For a history lesson, try this: In the case of Greece the vast amounts of debts accumulated through its history was mainly due to wars the country had to fight in its early formative years. Loans that were granted with outrageous terms and interest rates but due to Greece being in a life or death situation fighting at first for its independence and then constantly until 1945 in numerous local and two world wars in order to safeguard its national interests, these terms had to be accepted.

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  5. Greek government instead of dismantling public health system must provide and secure jobs for public health doctors and others experts working hard in public health sector but also spending their free time to create and support such a center like Hellenicon that is helpig unable people who have no acces to the bublic health sustem… this awful situation put our government to shame…

  6. Yani, of course ERT is not functioning…….but as a pirate station, without having to toe lines of government propaganda & pressure, the news & views improved so radically it became a joy to listen to. And I don’t mean the ERT crisis related news. That is what I meant by functioning properly.

  7. Thank you for these stories, Yanis. They are also, I think, important for to be told in Germany (especially to those now slightly more silent ones who all the time came up with their “I met that greek man at the beach with his little stand and he didn’t pay taxes, so you see what the problem is” – people.)
    I come from an old jewish family, and the Nazis killed some of my ancestors. Yet I doubt many Germans know enough about the Nazi occupation of Greece. Nobody did tell me about, when I was a child, for example.

    @Tasos, I often try to explain to people in Germany what tax avoidance is, and what you so rightly explain here once again. (Many praise Apple for being “intelligent” yet always shout until they are blue in the face that “the” greece people do not pay…and so on, and on…).
    I don’t think this is so very difficult. I rather think many don’t want to understand it.

  8. Tragic. What I still don’t get is that the many, many rich and very rich Greeks successfully refuse to pay their fair share to help their fellow Greeks who experience such pain.
    Instead, supported by an apparently thoroughly corrupt tax authority, they enjoy luxury, may it cost the other Greeks and the whole society what it wants.
    You should really revolt.

    • You still don’t get. They do not refuse to pay their taxes. They do not have to pay them. They avoid paying them through perfectly legal means like offshore companies or transfer pricing. If Starbucks and Apple can do it, what makes you think that everybody else would not do it, Greek and German alike? The color of money is everywhere the same so enough with the fairytale of tax evasion. It’s tax avoidance and it’s happening on a pan-european scale with the blessing of all E.U. member states.

    • Tasos, the means you describe are open only for very rich individuals and large multinational corporations. Not for the SMEs, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs of all sorts who made and make a lot of money w/o paying taxes. Or are you believing that the tax collection rate and system in Greece is fair and efficient?

      Anyway, apparently you can not or dont want to accept that 1st and foremost the Greeks themselves, mostly their ‘elites’, have caused the national tragedy Greece is experiencing.

      And thus you’ll never accept the simple and unalterable truth that it is 1st and foremost in the power of thr Greeks themselves to vhange things.

      Some people never grow up, never face reality.

    • @VSS

      I cannot understand WHY you follow this blog since you haven’t taken on board one single thing that Yanis says. Nor do I understand why you as a german continue to bother commenting here, unlike Klemperer and some others. This blog is about understanding the euro crisis and correcting it, not a cheap morality game.

      No VSS. Our greek elite caused problems inside Greece, but the reason why the Meditteranean countries are where they are today is to do with the incomplete architecture of the euro, and your northern banks flooding the south with money and irresponsible investments. Pay attention, it is just as much the north’s responsibility and ‘fault’ as any internal fault of the south.

      As for morality, it takes two to tango. Greek politicians accepted bribes but who offered them? Germany’s corporate corruption is certainly up there with the best!

      So I can only assume you are paid to blather on as you do….

    • Tasos, the means you are talking about ar available to large multinational companies and very rich individuals.

      But not for the doctors, lawyers, architects, owners of SMEs and so on. Who made and make heaps of untaxed profits.

      But feel free to continue to defend even the ones who caused the Greek desaster: your very own ‘elites’. This side taking tells more about you than you might believe.

    • I am facing reality. Let me explain to you what reality is. Reality is the fact that for the vast majority of people in Greece not paying their taxes is not an option, their taxes are deducted at the source (wages, pentions, capital gains etc). Reality is that free profesionals have to pay taxes as well through a system of “objective criteria” regardless of their actual income. Reality is the tax reduction incentives that were and are in place for receipt collection. Reality is the fact that tax avoidance techniches are nowadays accesible and affordable due to globalization, it is extremely easy to set up an offshore company in Cyprus or a holding company in GB or Luxemburg. Reality is the fact that the problem is not the receipt not issued by the owner of a souvlaki shop for the price of a few euros (a problen that is goobt to be obsolete very soob through the inevitable adoptation of e-payments) but the millions lost every year in the grey and perfectly legal network of intra-eu transactions. Reality is the fact that we know in Greece that those responsible for the racist fairytale of “Greeks not paying their taxes” (at least its rich Greeks now? I would call it progres) are our own politicians layong the blame again for their faults on the average Joe on the street. Why point out the faults in the common market system when you have the “Greeks not asking for receipts when the buy souvlaki” solution? Hey, it must be true, Papandreu said so on Bloomberg. The reality is that this is complete bullshit and the people that believe in such fairytales naive to say the least. We know that we are on our own when it comes to rebuilding this country, we know where the blame primarily lies for previous mistakes but no we cannot change EU market laws on our own that are the true reason behind widespread tax evasion. We can and we will do our best to reclaim our country from the EU, it is our responsibility and dismantling the myths that keep the public in all countries in a state of populist hysteria is a very good start.

    • According to statistics I am on the Greek 1%, not the 99%
      All these years I didn’t steal a penny from the state, although I could.

      This year’s tax-bill is about 130% of my income thanks to a fiscal system and back-annotated property taxes, and I will join the long list of non-payers and I will be in the go-to-jail level.

      When Apple pays 1% tax they are tax-efficient, when they ask me 130% I am the reckless guy…

      So, when you hear about people not paying, it is good to know how much are these taxes.

    • VSS I agreed with most of what you say until now. These schemes are also open to SMEs, as Long as you have people you can trust in tax optimal countries. I have 2 companies like that myself and I am much poorer than the rich Greeks.

    • Yes it takes two to tango. A story you might have heard with a different spin: in the 1990s a company known today as Cosmote invited the usual suspects for bids to build/extend the 2G network.

      As the offers were analyzed and the Q&A rounds commenced, a message was given to all bidders that a certain percentage of the total price would have to be set aside on top for, hm, special purposes.

      It was also made clear that this demand was not driven by the straw man in Cosmote, let alone by the BOD, but by two then Greek government ministers.

      The companies who refused to play along were kicked out, even if their technical part and the commercial T&C
      were better than those of the supplier who bagged at the end most of the contracts.

      So no offer of bribery and subsequent accepting of it by a hesitating Greek, but exactly the other way round.

      How I know this? I’ve been a core member of the team of one of the bribe-refusing suppliers.

      But pls. feel free to keep on entertaining the view on things that doesn’t hurt as much as reality does.

      Btw, the sum for the bribe takers was a high double-digit million euro figure.

    • It’s interesting that while when these stories surface they are presented as almost common knowledge among bidders, suspiciously they do nothing about it. One would think that it would be their obligation to report such practices whenever they encounter them. After all, they are damaging the spirit of competition within our common EU market. Could it be that simply they choose to accept this, file it as the cost of doing business, perform cost/benefit and risk analysis and either choose to pay the overprice or move on? Could it be that they simply choose to not rock the boat and adopt a holier than thou attitude afterwards, lamenting the fact that they simply could not afford the asked price? Maybe it will be them that are going to be the faster ones, the well connected ones or the ones with the fattest wallet next time around. It seems that way since the fact is that there are very few (and that is an overstatement, I have not heard of a single case) official whistleblowers in the world of corporate competition while one keeps hearing all kinds of stories through the grapevine concerning all aspects of business life in Europe ranging from football manager taking their cut to promote players for transfers to insurance companies providing free sex parties for their agents as a bonus incentive. It takes far more than two to tango and everyone involved has their share of the blame.
      .

    • Tasos, you do really not understand how such games are being played.

      And that whoever makes the demands for bribes public violates the inofficial NDA and will forever be banned from selling anything to this company anymore. Nobody can afford this.

      You really have not the foggiest notion about the rules, possibilities and no go stuff. And since I can’t change this I leave it at this.

    • @VSS

      So you point out that bribing is a worldwide phenomenon (thus whoever goes public about it will get excluded forever) yet you are consistent with ranting about it as an exclusively Greek “sport”.

      Your consistency on having double standards and exposing yourself to this fact is remarkable.

    • Of course I understand. I think I gave a pretty accurate description that in fact coincides with what you are confirming. I know how the system works, globally I might add. I have some insider experience so this does not surprise me. What you wrote is what I have been told before many times, word for word I might add. Of course I understand why corporations do not want to rock the boat or why individuals refrain from whistleblowing because they too will be banned for life and ruined. I just tried to make the point that the problem with commission bribes whether to political parties or individuals within corporations is found everywhere and unfortunately it is very difficult to address. In the case of Greek public spending, or any public spending for that matter, the only solution is to control total costs within reasonable market terms, whoever gets those contracts afterward at least would not damage public finances. This control should be in the hands of an independent commission and if the state was part of an economic union, other members should also have a say through board members. The only good idea that came out of this crisis, and it is something that needed to be implemented in the first place instead of the 3% rule, is to have a very strict no structural deficit rule and possibly allow some leeway only for public investment projects that would also have to be centrally approved. I think that is a probable solution, set a fixed sum for a project that is reasonable and have the sharks fight it out among themselves in a controlled damage environment.

    • “will forever be banned from selling anything to this company anymore. Nobody can afford this.”

      Looking at it now. It might have been better for many companies, not selling/investing in Greece during the boom times. So being banned would have protected from losses, since one invested Euro during boom times was equal to a German Euro and now it is only equal to a Greek Euro.

    • @SM
      The contracts these companies signed with the Greek state are denominated in euros period, not German, or Greek or whatever. They are being paid in euros and in full as experience in the case of foreign pharmaceutical companies and military equipment providers has demonstrated these past few years. So no damage for them whatsoever.

    • But the assets are invested in Greece. If you sell them now or after either (a) the reintroduction of the Drachma or (b) the North Euro, you will have a loss.

  9. In a civilized Europe , uncivilized things are happening! So tragic! An what is the answer of Greek people to all this? None! Maybe it’s time for revolutionary ideas to emerge if only to shake Europe’s head!!! The case of the Hellinikon centre is clear , if we can all cooperate , we will and can suceed!!! A revolution of mind, heart and soul is needed! And we needed , if only to survive! If not slow death is imminent!!! The choice is ours!!!

  10. YIANNIS GDAY
    I AM A FOLLOWER OF YOURS GOING BACK TO YOUR AUSSIE YEARS.
    I AM HAVING MY SHORT HOLIDAY BREAK IN ERMIONI ARGOLIDA .I READ THIS ARTICLE AND CANNOT SIT BACK AND CONTINUE MY FRAPE LOOKING AT THE
    AEGEAN SAILING BOATS AND BYPASS THIS ..
    PLEASE SEND MORE INFO ON THIS MEDICAL CENTER.
    AS SOON AS RETURN TO ATHENS WILL ASK SOMEONE FROM MY OFFICE TO CALL
    THEM AND MAKE A CONTRIBUTION. ACCORDING TO THEIR NEEDS.
    GOOD ON U MATE.

  11. Thank you for a reminder of what all this means to the people suffering the consequences of the current european elites’ decisions.

    It’s a shame that the politicians who still want us to believe that austerity will save Greece and the other deficit countries of the eurozone can’t be compelled to spend their summer vacation on one of these Islands and talk to actual people instead of listening to the white-washed success stories of government officials.

    I wonder what would happen to the prices of fuel or pharmaceuticals, both of which I presume are mainly imported products, if Greece actually left the Eurozone as many people, including on this forum, seem to regard as an ideal solution these days.

    • Greece has a healthy and vibrant pharmaceutical industry. The percentage of imported pharmaceuticals actually increased after the euro was introduced at the expense of domestic industry as was the Greece’s dependance on oil imports that increased and is among the highest in Europe. Back when Greece had a national currency there where no shortages and the country imported its necessities using its available foreign currency reserves. The situation is quite different now. There are serious shortages of some pharmaceuticals due to multinationals limiting their “exposure” to Greek market also for some time oil importers had to pay hard cash instead of using credit. I imagine prices would go up if a national currency was introduced but life would go on and the market would adjust accordingly. It would be manageable and it would create significant opportunities for domestic companies that would have to fill in the void of foreign expensive products.

    • The big mystery for me is that prices of pharmaceuticals have been moving steadily downward the last 2 years in Greece.

    • Eleni:

      I think the pharma cost is going down because the entire Greek health system has been asked to switch to generic drugs to the maximum extent possible. Which means that many German pharma firms, which have been milking Greece for decades, would lose their sweet profits. So guess who is more resistant to chance: The supplier network or the supplier?

    • Dean, please Name the “German” phama firms! Maybe you mean the Swiss, UK and US firms and one German firm.

  12. In Yanis’s tales you see heroic acts of survival by Greek people during economic crisis but where are the new funds spent by private sector to create growth in Greece.

    No, these are tales of just bare day to day survival. The destruction of Greek economy should be a major embarrassment to EU. But no, they are asking for more destruction (less spending). According to EU, Greece is on the road to recovery. How can EU look at present situation in Greece and make such idiotic statements? Are they living in their own fantasies?

  13. A little beside your point perhaps, but relevant to your Modest Proposal;

    Your suggestion to use the EIB and the EBRD to invest in the region in general and Greece in particular is good.

    However, you could also add some other sources: The German KfW (successor of the Marshall Fund I believe), the Nordic Investment Bank (with a slight adjustment to the mandate), the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global (assets in the range of €550 billion, to be invested around the world) and the EEA grants (eeagrants.org), which are projects financed by Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein for the benifit of the less affluent EU countries. The aim of the grants is to reduce the economic and social disparities between the regions (EEA Agreement part VIII, Article 115), and the grants are based on Article 116: “A Financial Mechanism shall be established by the EFTA States, to contribute, in the context of the EEA ….., to the objectives laid down in Article 115”.

    Further, if these grants were increased substantially and were focused mainly on energy efficiency in the building sector and local renewable energy, especially to reduce energy poverty – mainly based on products made in the region – this could reduce unemployment and also strenghten the various trade balances by reducing the need for imported fossil energy. This would also contribute to the EU 20-20-20 goals.

    A win-win-win.

  14. Last year where I go to holiday there was no petrol quite regularly. It was because the Petrol company wouldn’t supply a drop save for ‘cash’ – no credit. So between having enough cash to buy a new supply often the tanks would run dry.

    The Chemist had not been paid for 18 months and had it not been for a group of us (I mean foreigners) who stumped up a decent loan there would be no Chemist. And yet at the last election there was enough cash for the political parties to get a wedge of cash and for each MP to get x number of staff. Says it all really.

    • Right Andy – and don’t forget to add: nor do MPs make a move to cut their 90% untaxed minimum +7000€ monthly salaries, (x 14? x 16? doses), plus perks that almost double the value.

      And while we are distracted by the smoke & mirrors of the Lagarde List – a snapshot of bank accounts 14 years old in one branch of one bank only – Venizelos deposited the names of 45,000 greeks who sent over 1 million EUR out of the country before just PSI-1, with each member of the Vouli (parliament). Since then the issue has gone dead, make your own guess why.

    • The issue has gone dead because this is nothing more than a German led conspiracy theory against the very honorable and of course duly tax paying Greek elites.

  15. Thank you for these stories. I too was brought up on my mother’s stories of the German occupation of Athens which were indeed very grim. Nevertheless with your last story of the doctors at Hellinikon you did indeed bring up this other side, that was perhaps even more prevalent under the occupation. There is this humane side, but beyond that I think it also points to something else. I have read that when the Germans left Athens, in the time period between their departure and the arrival of the Greek government from the Middle East, the city functioned beautifully, smoothly in every way, on its own, with no government there. And what about ERT? The TV station. These people have been operating the TV station beautifully at a very much higher level of quality even though they have been fired and are not getting their salaries.
    When we organize ourselves we do it impeccably and in a spirit of offering. When governments are involved everything goes sour, corruption is rife and selfish greed reigns supreme.
    Perhaps we are fundamentally true anarchists, in the literal meaning of the word. Or perhaps the powers that be should stop the reign of terror and continual threats and appeal to the Greek “philotimo” which is very strong, instead. However, this would imply that the government did have some kind of plan some design to get the country out of the crisis, which the population could relate to.
    Unfortunately this is not the case.

    • A moving story of ordinary people dealing with extraordinary circumstances – we always try to find some meaning in our suffering & our common humanity

      Thankyou Yanis!

    • What a cathastrophic conclusion you bring up there.
      When Germans left, you say that city functioned beutifully “without” official government. Then who organized such functioning then onoficial government without leaders who arrived later?
      The fact that there were no visible representatives of the government does not say that there was no government. But, your willingness to blame government while at the same time praising it is astonishing which just shows how the problems were allowed to arrive.

      What the government is then selforganizing of a huge populations? You can vote to chose your representatives or visible faces of the government, but there is a huge machinery under such visible government that makes thing work; things like utilities, keeping order and future planing on upgrading of utilities.

      WHat do you think what was used during the time of lack of official government faces in the city? People were using all utilities that were pllaned and build before they left ahead of German army. It is easy to keep allready bulit up infrastructure and use it for quite some time, but if you reduce planing and maintenance al the infrastructure will crumble within 10 years. Anarchy without official government would form new government soon as bigger problems appear and needs to be solved and selforganizing would restart evolution of government, in the end to end up in the same place as we are now.

      Large groups can not function without organizing an united solving of problems, Bigger gropus theat are organized at the common goal can solve bigger problems that appear.
      The fact that you can not see that and then blame government because you did not pay enough attention to what they were doing (you were abandoning your civic duty) and then blame somebody else for your own fault is the reason we came to this spot in the evolution of government and human reasoning which acctually repeats itself all the time with new generations and new places.

      Please, stop short attention span thinking and blaming an institution that is providing for your comfortable life and join selforganization that will make you learn how to be a good citizen and good naighbour. Such institution is doing a bad job at the moment but as soon as people that choose government realize what really needs to be done, that institution will soon serve you and make your life even more comfortable.
      Stop blaming someone else and get up your axx.

    • “However, this would imply that the government did have some kind of plan some design to get the country out of the crisis, which the population could relate to.
      Unfortunately this is not the case.”

      Sadly you are right. There is no plan – and once the government is involved in an enterprise or institution, it immediately degenerates into the usual nepotism and lining of pockets.

      ERT is finally functioning as it should because there is no longer any government interference. That is the simple truth.

      In the case of private sector it functions well when there is no oligarchic interference.

      I think greeks are perfectly capable of running the country honestly and well and creating wealth for all. We were actually once known for our honesty and business proficiency lest we forget. Our problem is the mafia that has gripped the state for too long: politicians / oligarchs / cartels. The particular group today are mostly junta era products. Philotimo is an unknown concept to them.

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