I would like to thank the German people (a letter to Germany)

The Greek and the German government have been both complaining about a propaganda war that is obstructing the truth and makes the successful conclusion of negotiations difficult. Talking to a German friend today, I realised that what is considered obvious on the one side, is far from clear to the other. I thought therefore of laying out my personal take on Greece’s recent history, in the hope that this will give the German public a different narrative from the often hostile rhetoric of Greek media and (many) politicians.

AGOUDIMOS LINES - Ionian Spirit

AGOUDIMOS LINES – Ionian Spirit

The Greece I grew up in was a very different place form the one you see today. I will not bore you with statistics that you can easily see elsewhere, but I can tell you this: It did not feel like Northern Europe. Things were basic, but progressing steadily during the 1980s, and despite the occasional hiccup, people got progressively richer and life was gradually becoming easier.

Still, the best thing you could wish for your kids, was a job with the state. Why? Because in a sluggish economy the steady salary, permanent employment offered by the state was the best insurance against poverty. Were Greeks opting for state jobs because they were lazy? No, they were opting for state jobs because permanence made up for boring bureaucracy and modest salaries. This is a pattern explained by historical factors in states with weak institutions making the transition from agrarian to city economies.

Pasok-better

The political system both exploited and bred the desire for state jobs. Nepotism and clientist politics were the norm. There is nothing surprising about this, as a wide literature on emerging economies suggests. Local politicians made careers by finding jobs for their supporters and the state mechanism was closely connected with the party political machine. While things were not exactly ‘soviet’, there was no such thing as an independent civil service.

simitis-Tsoxa

The 1990s brought with it some maturing of the political system, but also a deepening of corrupt relationships and backslapping cozy deals. Kostas Simitis embarked on a project of modernisation and Europeanisation of the country aiming to make Greece part of the ‘core’ European states, with the ultimate aim to join the planned Eurozone. Of course modernisation in this context in the mid-1990s meant a particular type of oligarchic neoliberalism that imported some semblance of modernity, yet entrenched elites and a deeply corrupt political establishment.

Volkswagen Polo (3)

This brings us to Germany and her role in all of this. This is all well documented, but the Euro created the following situation. The South of Europe (Greece in this case) by joining the Euro was able to borrow at a much cheaper rate than was previously possible. Who lent them and what did they do with the money? Northern European Banks (many of them German) were happy to lend money to the new markets in the South. What did the Greeks do with the money? They spent it on goods produced in the North, primarily German goods. Indebtedness in the European Periphery is the mirror image of industrial success and growth in the North. This is what people mean when they say that Germany benefited from the distortions of the Euro area, both when its banks raked in profits, and when its industrial production found willing buyers close by.

KARAMANLIS

The Greek state for its part, masked the lack of real economic growth, modernisation and progress by borrowing cheaply and allowing tax evasion to mask stagnant real wages. Who would complain about their salary not being enough to buy that Volkswagen, when they could subsidise their teacher’s salary with the undeclared income of a few rent-a-rooms by the sea?

Would this go wrong? Of course it would and we knew at the time of the Athens Olympics that something was up. Sudden wealth spread across the country, large infrastructure projects were being built everywhere, there was a consumer boom and a lot of conspicuous consumption. How could all these young men drink coffees at 7 Euros a cup in the middle of the day, apparently not working? And it did go wrong, it went badly wrong. It took a worldwide financial collapse to expose the rotten core of the Greek economy, but the party came finally to an end.

papandreou_0412

The question is what to do now? The Greeks are not lazy scroungers any more than the Germans are cold-hearted capitalists. Germany benefited in the same way as Greece during the boom years and now there is trouble for both, albeit Greece is ahead on this one with a depression more pronounced than the Great Depression that has fundamentally changed many lives already.

help

It is worth thanking Germany for their support and the German taxpayers for funding that support (for two bailouts already). We all need to realise however that at a time when the ECB is creating billions and pouring them into the European economy to fight deflation, it is a morally repugnant thing to ask Greek pensioners and workers to suffer more cuts in their incomes. This problem is not a problem for faceless markets, it is a problem for real people. How would you feel if your salary went down 10% or 20% or 40%? How would you live? How would you explain to your kids the change in lifestyle? Would you say it is the fault of ‘governments’ so its ok that YOU pay? Can the German taxpayer really say that Greek families need to pay for the faults in the design of the Euro, the manipulations of Goldman Sachs, the actions of predatory elites foreign and domestic?

feelings

There are many things wrong with Greece, and many things wrong with the Greek leadership at the moment. Yet, in a rotten system, rotten policies like the deflationary, recessionary austerity that the German government is insisting on are not pointing to a path of prosperity and peace for Europe. Blame not the Greeks for the current troubles and allow some of the money printed out-of-thin-air by the ECB to actually invest in the real economy, as opposed to making profits for financials. Greece needs a change, but families do not deserve to suffer for historical and institutional failures. Why are the workers of Europe blaming each-other instead of the machinations of elites?

Thank you for keeping an open mind.

@iGlinavos

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55 thoughts on “I would like to thank the German people (a letter to Germany)

  1. Randall says:

    It is interesting to me that the portrait you paint of Greeks seeking the security of state jobs is very similar to the story of my father growing up in New York City in the 1920s, before the Great Depression in the US. My grandparents wanted all their children to get civil service jobs for income security. Very often those jobs were only obtained by those personally connected to the local political machine — which often was the same machine that ran illegal petty gambling operations and local smuggling. My father landed a job working as a messenger boy for John F. Kennedy’s father, the super crook who ran the Securities and Exchange Commission. The idea that creditors are “pure” and those scrambling for money are “irresponsible” is always false, wherever you look, wherever you go.

    My father’s family were Irish immigrants to America, but I have a German-born grandmother, and while she worked very hard as a lowly nurse’s aid in a government hospital, the only reason she did not live in poverty was she had her husband’s pension, which she received without fail every month for more than 50 years, since he died a young man in the war.

    So it is a shame that people have been encouraged to believe that ordinary working people are somehow responsible for the financial mistakes of the most powerful people in the world.

    Liked by 2 people

    • klemperer85 says:

      I fully agree, Randall. And, after reading this nightmare of thousands of german media-comments since 2010 (it was nearly the same content from the formerly green-leftist “taz”, long a conservative paper, to our yellow press) it is a bit hard to see how one could “the german people”. Even if I understand what you mean, iGlivanos, your article is balanced and would have been a good read in Germany since 2010.
      Apart from the fact that “the” Germans don’t exist, still 90% of all one asked here were wrong informed, nearly brainwashed. So there is no reason to thank those, believing what mainstream media and the parties from CDU to green told them.
      It is bizarre in Germany right now. 70% think the kind of politics that make the poor people and the working people responsible for financial mistakes in our economies is utterly wrong. Yet 78% think that Mrs. Merkel (if it gets loud she always manages to hide, so we talk mainly about Schäuble these weeks, but she is the powerful voice), who stands for this kind of thinking, was great in all her decisions.
      Think about that! People don’t even wake up to understand that they cannot possibly think contradictory things at the same time as “being good”.

      A little addon. How bizarre the misunderstanding is can be seen if you read this lot of articles not even trying to pretend they would actually deal with the horrible problems in Greece. Not with the horrors that follow austerity.
      Take (there are others) this horrible niveau of some Spiegel-reporter named Jurek Skrobala. http://www.spiegel.de/kultur/gesellschaft/griechenland-giannis-varoufakis-in-der-stilkritik-a-1017026.html (sorry, I did not find an english version, maybe they feel a bit more ashamed than german Spiegel-readers do^^ – any online translator can help).

      People who read such an unbelievably low niveau (the Spiegel has 6,3 millions of readers every week) don’t care about how poor greek people are. They prefer “a style-analysis” of Yanis Varoufakis, they ask themselves if “it is cool to wear” this or that. This might be one of the worst article of many bad ones I ever read, yet it sums up well what a majority of german people really thought since 2010. Any basic scientific information did not reach them at all. There was not uproar against such a Skrobala-fashion-talk in Germany. Stuff like this was in the headlines for quite some weeks after the greek elections.
      I had thousands of talks in Germany. To assume a majority would have cared for greek fellow people or even criticised the one pro-austerity opinion that was hammered into people, is a misconception. Nothing to thank Germany, really. There is a small minority, yes, who always was against such austerity measures and their results, but they, well, we, were a small minority.
      Anyway, thanks to both of you, iGlinavos and Randall.

      Like

  2. Tom59 says:

    Adapting the lifestyle to the available income after unemployment, an investment gone wrong or a divorce, is happening with individuals, families all the time -all over the world – and yes it is tough. And with some effort and luck friends and relatives may open their purse to avoid a crash landing. But never ending subsidies… how in the world can you expect that?

    Like

    • Georgia Pappa says:

      I believe there’s a fundamental difference. A country is not an individual nor a company. And it’s not “subsidy”, it’s loans. Visualize: you lose your job, you leave in a city where you can’t find another one, you lose your home and most of your family and friends has exactly the same fate. One family member who does very well (by handling all of the family’s money) denies to help you saying you’re the only one to blame for your misfortunes, unless you sell him your silverware. What would you do? How easily would you recuperate?

      Like

  3. Liane says:

    “Germany benefited in the same way as Greece during the boom years.”

    Sorry, but this is simply not true.
    Greece costs Germany and the German tax payers WAY more than it ever benefited us and we did not really have boom years at that time.
    On top of this the constant insults (instead of a thank you) I hear from the Greece government really killed my motivation for wanting to see any more help (= money) flow to Greece. It is sad but apparently the old saying “money kills friendships” is still true. This is why I would like to see an end to the Euro (for all countries). To safeguard peace on our continent. So every country is again responsible for its own finances and won’t blame us (Germany) for all their problems anymore.

    By the way, we did go austerity ourselves in the 90s. It did help our economy and did also help to deal with unemployment rates. But wages are not anymore comparable to were they have been in the 80s.
    And not surprisingly home ownership in Germany is down to 53% (Greece 76% — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_home_ownership_rate).

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    • C. Sarantakis says:

      Sorry Liane,
      you are wrong about Germany benefitting. Germany relies on the trade deficits of the other countries. As Germany’s wages have been rising less than the other EU countries’ wages it has developed a big export surplus. How is this export surplus financed? It is financed by the other European countries’ debt.
      So in reality Germany benefits from the other country’s deficits.

      Like

    • Georgia Pappa says:

      1. “we did not really have boom years at that time”. You did have boom years (and still do). Just your goverment decided not to share the wealth with citizens.

      2. When you say “constant insults”, I suppose you mean the Nazi references. Take a moment to think about it.

      3. “This is why I would like to see an end to the Euro (for all countries)”. I presume your chancellor and economical elite would beg to differ. But your suggestion is correct.

      4. “It did help our economy and did also help to deal with unemployment rates”. Please elaborate since I fail to see how both things can happen at the same time. But then again I’m not an economist. Austerity creating jobs? How? Could it be because of the industrial production? Could it be because of the exports achieved by demolishing the competition?

      5. “And not surprisingly home ownership in Germany is down to 53% (Greece 76%)”. Well that’s a huge cultural difference. Western Europeans have savings, we have homes (most of which are inheritance from our parents, grandparents). A mentality shared by many of your compatriots who have been coming for years to Greece to buy homes. My next door neighbours are German and though being quite polite, they fail to understand that because we own a home that doesn’t give us the right to do anything we please and keeps parading… naked (they’re both over 60). Hm, coming to think about it, how come they’re pensioners?

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      • Liane says:

        To Georgia Pappa:

        1. Yes, our government did not spend it all and then went around and expected other countries to pay for it.
        2. So you are saying that giving money to Greece, together with 18 other Eurozone countries, and yes, not for free and without strings attached, equates to the holocaust and the killings and destructions the Nazis brought about? Maybe you should think about. In reality it is just a simple way of finding a scapegoat (yeah, the Germany have always been Nazis and we are their innocent victim…).
        3. I guess we agree here.
        4. Cutting incomes opens the opportunity for companies to employ more people and to better compete internationally. Not hard to see, actually. And yes, Greece of course cannot survive by constantly importing more than exporting. No economy can in the long run. But instead of demanding from German companies to stop exporting, how about boosting your economy to better compete on the world market? There is more than just the Eurozone you know.
        5. Western Europeans have saving? Some I guess, but certainly not the majority. Me and many of my generation (in their 30s) would love to have houses (no cultural inclination to constantly live for rent), but simply cannot afford it.

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  4. Tom59 says:

    Liane, understand your frustration, but Europe and the Euro is a huge asset in a globalised world.
    Without, the best we can hope for is to become sort of Disneyworld for Chinese tourists. Think 50 yrs from now: English is the official second language in all EU memberstates, people move cross border to where work is availabe. Talents can develop their skills irrespective of origin. No national development program can achieve the benefits of such a culture.
    Now for Greece, fully agree. They need to loose the benefits from Europe to learn to appreciate them and then earn them again. And this time without doctored financial figures.

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    • Liane says:

      That is what I once thought and why for long years I was in favor of the Euro and supported it.

      But never in my life (that is since the 70s) have I seen such animosity against my country as in recent years.
      That would have never happened without the Euro.

      So far at least the Euro brought anything but peace.

      And the trade-off simply does not make it worth it for me anymore.

      Like

      • Hello Liane and other readers,

        As it happens, I have been informed by a very reliable source how the Euro came about. West-Germany wanted to reunite with East-Germany. France was very much against this, as it feared the influence Germany this way would get within Europe. Germany was at the same time completely against participating in the Euro. Unlike France, they were (and are) against expansionary fiscal policy. Germany did not want to sacrifice its strong Dmark. How to solve this problem? Both France and Germany swallowed hard. France accepted the reunification of Germany. Germany sacrificed the DM for the Euro.

        Peace (and reunification) comes at a price. The price is that well to do countries have to (continuously) share part of their wealth with countries that are doing not so well. More and more people seem to forget this.

        Our (former) political leaders have made huge mistakes with regard to the introduction of the Euro. Countries with, in northern Europe’s eyes, loose fiscal policy, should not have been included. The EC should have expanded much slower and take possible geopolitical consequences into account.

        I have big problems with Germany currently being blamed for the “inhuman” MoU. The Dutch (I am a Dutch citizen, but feel more like a European citizen, having worked close with amongst others Germans for several years) and most other Euro states can equally well be blamed. That said, I hoped that mrs. Merkel would set a positive example, by reacting in a positive way to the Greek No-vote and to push for funds to help the part of the Greek people that have been hurt most.

        What I am missing in this blog is (what I understand) the fact that Greece has only to a limited part honoured earlier agreements, and that a part of that has been unmade by the current Greek government. This is something that has severely undermined the trust of other EC member states and its citizens.

        The ordinary citizen in Greece, nor in any other European country is to blame for this Greek/European crisis, except for choosing the wrong leaders. This and other recent crisis are the consequence of nearly all our leaders failing to see that they have put way too much faith in markets and self-regulation and not taking the measures to make the necessary changes.

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  5. Pancho says:

    Liane, I’d rather say that the German government and its supporting public majority has done about everything to fully deserve all this animosity and anti-German sentiment. And rest assured, this animosity wouldn’t simply go away with a Germany embarking on another full-fledged Sonderweg outside European integration.

    World history shows a lot of precedent of countries struggling for regional domination. Disgusting enough, these policies have sometimes proven successful and become somewhat accepted. German obsession to dominate Europe to the point of full submission, looting and exsanguination, however has a record of pushing the continent into two World Wars and counting. One way or the other, the German agenda will be stopped again and a peaceful Europe reconstructed. Hopefully this time without a nation-state called Germany.

    Like

    • Joshua says:

      This is such nonsense. Everybody says Germany this, Germany that. Completely forgetting that out of all the European states there are not even a hand full that support the current Greek government views on the situation. The Scandinavian countries don’t want to support, Netherlands, Belgium Poland, Austria, all Eastern European countries, Brittain is against using their invested money in ESM, IMF wants nothing to do anymore with this whole mess if it can help it.

      It’s not just the Germans who feels the Greeks are behaving completely irrationally. It is most of Europe that does so. Believe me, if Greece shows good faith the rest of the European countries will have no problem writing off the debt. But if it is written off now Greece will just go: “see, all you had to do is write off our debt and everything is fine again!”. Instead of going through the reforms that will actually make Greece a somewhat viable economy that isn’t suckling on the tit of the rest of Europe.

      The country is corrupt to the bone and shows no need or will to improve its behaviour. Pure victim mentality, it is everybody elses fault, it is the fault of Europe, it is the fault of the banks, it is the fault of the elite, I am innocent for I am ignorant. I completely disagree with the stance that the common Greek citizen is not responsible for what happens in their country. This mentality is just wrong, everybody in a country has shared responsibility for what happens in their country. You’d think that a communist/socialist country would at least see that they have this shared responsibility. The Greeks show enough backbone to hold demonstration and point the finger at Europe, but not enough to have some sort of inner dialogue and reflection on how they got themselves into this mess.

      And then Greeks start whining about the 2nd world war. It irritates me too no end when they do this. ALL of Europa was a victim of the second world war. So sure, Germany is an easy target here, you have found a weak spot, good for you! But keep in mind that Europe isn’t just Germany, and the other countries are paying a lot as well. The Dutch are relatively paying the most of all the European states, what kind of historical debt do the Dutch supposedly have with the Greeks?

      How do you explain to a Dutch citizen that we are giving enough money to Greece to keep our entire higher education system running for over a decade, or we could use it to improve the situation of the elderly, which has become quite bad because of our own needed reforms. Money that will never come back.

      So we are supposed to show more solidarity with the Greek people than with our own elderly or the education of our own children? It makes little sense, but we go along because we believe in an united Europe. So we give the money (and it is giving, we are not delusional to think it will ever come back, we just want history not to repeat itself 10 years down the line). We are not out on the streets protesting against Greece.

      What do we get in return? Being spit in the face, being called an invader, our politicians being called dumb and ignorant for trying to show Greece a path to a brighter future. It is ridiculous, just because the politicians in Greece are untrustworthy fools doesn’t mean they are in the rest of Europe. Model your political system after that of the Netherlands, Germany, or the Scandinavian countries, you will be happier people with a more secure future as a result.

      My worry is that there are no trustworthy politicians in Greece, that there is no room for reflection and improvement in Greece and that in the end the situation in Greece is hopeless because there is no chance for it to grow to the level of maturity of other nations. This mix of incompetence and arrogance is keeping Greece small and childish. The current leaders are a testiment to that, just look at the blog of Varoufakis. This man seems incapable of seeing the point of view of others. A vital component of a politicians and the only way to reach a valid compromise, obviously he was kicked out. But he is still shouting his toxic radical views that have no basis in reality. I fear he is not doing it for the greater good of the Greek people, but just to keep himself in the spotlight until his next bookdeal is secured.

      What, he is showing solidarity? Has he sold his motor cycle to support the Greeks? Has he moved to a smaller house and used the value of his luxury appartment to support the poor? What were his personal sacrifices for solidarity exactly? Did he ask to half his salary like some leaders in Africa did to fight corruption? How are the Greeks showing solidarity with their own people? By moving all their money out of the banks out of the country? By not paying taxes to support each other? Greeks seem to hardly grasp the concept of solidarity if you ask me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joshua,

        I also read Yanis his blog. Like you, I have a lot of problems with the way he presents things. On the other hand, he does bring some valid points forward as well. But in my opinion, you are being a bit too hard on the Greek people and on Yanis.
        I appreciate this “letter to Germany”. It is good that Glinavos tries to communicate in this way to us. Let us not forget what is happening, whomever is to blame. Suicides going through the roof, medicine supplies drying up, half the youth unemployed. Talent fleeing the country, because there is presently no future for them.
        Let us also be honest. Although I feel a lot of solidarity with the people suffering on our planet, I am not sacrificing my lifestyle for them. I am not selling my car, or moving to a smaller house, even though I am willing to share a small part of my wealth with them.

        Like

      • Sylvie says:

        Well, after spending much time reading many articles from a wide variety of sources and trying to understand the Greek dilemna and form an educated, as objective as possible, opinion on the subject, I am afraid that I generally agree with this broad analysis. But it is a complicated issue and many played a role in this disaster (for instance, the FMI was very slow to react to the crisis). Ultimately, it goes back to the faulty vision of leaders at the creation of the EU. De Gaulle was against any broad federal system, he wanted to preserve France’s sovereignity. By just adopting a common currency, leaders put the cart before the horse, so to speak…

        Like

      • Sotiris says:

        Joshua I agree with your views on Greek people being responsible for the situation in the country. I also agree that our political system is toxic and needs to be demolished and rebuilt. I also agree that people like Varoufakis did extremely bad for my country. But on the other hand the way you present things shows that you yourself can’t look at things from another;s point of view. Our argument is not on whether Greece needs reforms – it certainly does – in order to become viable but on the completely wrong harsh austerity imposed on us. See my post below if you want to have a debate with arguments and please refrain from general comments such as “Greeks not paying taxes”. Myself and all of the people I work with in my company (about 600 people) declare all our income to the Greek tax authorities. I pay 50% of my gross salary to taxes and social security contributions. You think that it is not enough and I should pay more? It is time that the stereotypes you and Liane use be stopped. Yes there are more Greeks avoiding taxes than in the Netherlands or Germany and yes, this has been our mentality for the last generation or so and again yes we need to change this. But all this take time to bear fruit and we need Europe to support us to change. So I think you should stop pointing your finger at us and really help us reform if you are honest about believing in a united Europe.

        Like

      • Joshua says:

        Not sure how to place my reply at the bottom.

        To Paul: I am not sure I agree with you that you are not willing to change your lifestyle for the good of your country if there is a true need for it. I think many people are actually willing to make big lifestyle sacrifices for the good of their country, some sacrifice their lives for it. My grandfather’s father in the second world war went into poverty with his business because he kept giving away all his goods for free to help people survive. They also took incredible risks for survival, almost getting shot, some deported. If Greece is in the horrible state that Varoufakis sketches then surely giving up this motorcycle, luxuries, or part of his salary. I know I would. Strong symbolism is important for Greece, rich people sharing their wealth and investing in their own country, people in Greece being optimistic that they can improve it, not just in talk but in action, the rich and powerful making considerable sacrifices because they can, not because they are forced.

        To Sotiris: I think that the Greek people make a mistake in thinking that Europe doesn’t want to help. I think the countries in Europe all want to help, everybody in Europe, especially the elite want Europe to be a success, and for it to be a success we need success stories. Greece obviously is not in that category yet, and it would be a big victory for all Europeans if we can overcome these problems. But it is hard to help a country that is actively feeding the Eurosceptics in other countries creating an ever smaller platform of goodwill across Europe.

        I agree with you that people say horrible things about the Greeks when it comes to how they work, I know the Greek work hard. But..your argument about paying tax doesn’t hold. Just because you pay tax, doesn’t mean there isn’t a large group of people in Greece that isn’t. This is exactly the kind of denial that you need to confront in Greece. You might be one of the good guys, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of bad ones. You should be angry at your own country for having you pay these high taxes. You are paying these high taxes because someone else is refusing to pay them. On top of that your taxes are being used in an inefficient manner, poured into an inefficient bureaucratic system. This is what you need to address in Greece, if everybody contributes and if tax is used efficiently, you all will need to contribute less and achieve more.

        And specifically to this:
        So I think you should stop pointing your finger at us and really help us reform if you are honest about believing in a united Europe.

        Don’t you think Europe wants to? If Greece would ask Europe for help with the reforms, Europe will make large investments and send expertise to do so. But Greece is a sovereign nation, even if it says it isn’t. The rest of Europe can’t just come in and do anything in Greece, and it clearly doesn’t want “foreign invaders” helping with reforms. I truly think people in Greece underestimate how willing the rest of Europe is to make it a success.

        Like

      • Oliver says:

        Joshua,

        the problem is Greece had gotten already a lot of money lent. Lenders are also interested to kickstart the greek economy if they don’t want to lose a lot of money. So sometimes is cutting the debt makes it sustainable and is the best for both … lender and debtor.
        As you can see it is a complex task.
        I don’t have the time to talk about the original lenders (private banks) who are out with profit of this criminal game …and so on and so on …there is sooo much what went wrong!

        I agree with you … there is a lot of corruption in Greece. But show me a state where it is not!
        We have corrupt politicians and predator capitalists eating up the cake of life. ordinary people have not much of a chance to influence the trajectory of this path.

        Our enemies are not German people or Greek people … no. Our enemies are corruption and criminal activities vested as capitalism. And these things are independent from nations and colors.

        We have to be very careful not to fall into nationalism or any kind of extremes. This is exactly what makes us easy to manipulate and divide.

        Oliver

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      • Sotiris says:

        Joshua I read your last comment very carefully and I find it much more balanced and to the right direction than your initial post.
        Just a few words:
        I agree with you that we have a lot of corruption and I also agree that me paying my taxes doesn’t mean that the majority does so – I wrote this myself. This exactly is my point in my previous response to you – we need reforms more than we need harsh austerity. And believe me, things have started to change slowly but steadily here in terms of tax conscience.
        I also agree with you that I should be angry against all those avoiding taxes and I am more angry than you can imagine.
        The point I disagree with you is about EU not able to impose reforms on us because we are a sovereign country, EU has already imposed austerity, we did not choose to have it. All the loans we got come with prerequisites that if we don’t fulfill we don’t get the money.
        What I am saying is that up to now most of the prerequisites were aimed at fiscal discipline so as to ensure to the maximum possible that our lenders will get their money back. Instead of that I would expect that these prerequisites were mainly focused on the reforms we need to make. The last deal (the agreekment as it is called) has some promising reforms as prior actions among the harsh fiscal measures. If this recipe was used since 2009 then maybe our situation would be better now.

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  6. Liane says:

    Never read so much nonsense.

    What have we done? Tried to help Greece (and other countries) when it was about to default.
    If that was so bad, then why take our money to begin with? And the current behavior of the Greek government is just totally unacceptable.
    They want free money without any conditions whatsoever.
    Well, NO country in the world is currently prepared to give it to them (wonder why).

    But of course, it is all Germanys fault. Makes life simple to have a scapegoat, I guess.

    Like

      • C. Sarantakis says:

        I am sorry Liane, Germany did not try to help Greece.
        1. Germany forced upon Greece an austerity policy which many people knew it could not work. Even Germany itself used deficit spending in the financial crisis. You surely remember the Abwrackprämie.
        2. Why was it necessary to save the banks by indebting the countries? Why had Spain to lend the money in order to give it to its banks? It was foreseeable that the more indebted countries would get into trouble after this move.
        3. Why is Germany against strengthening its interior market and thus importing more from it’s European partners? Would wages rise in Germany significantly, countries like Spain or Greece would be able to fight their trade deficit and thus repay the loans they got in the past.
        As long as Germany insists on its own domestic austerity policy, which in essence means living from the loans of others, the situation will stay horrible in Europe.

        Like

      • Liane says:

        To C. Sarantakis (not sure how to make my comment appear below his – there is no reply button):

        1. Greece needs reforms in order to get back on its feed. Spending more than you have certainly does not help, but austerity does not only mean spending cuts/higher taxes. The Greek government could have come up with plans to get their house in order by themselves. Instead very often they halted necessary reforms and procrastinated.
        2. If banks go bankrupt, the bank accounts of ordinary citizens are being whipped out, their pension funds, etc. If the banking system collapses the whole economy does. It is not like banks were save for the sake of some rich bankers. That is just leftist propaganda.
        3. a) Interior market: B/c most of our competitors are outside of the Eurozone and we simply cannot afford it.
        b) “domestic austerity policy, which in essence means living from the loans of others” – what? Where did you come up with this – sorry – nonsense. Greece is currently living from the loans of others. Spending guts would prevent this.

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    • razormy says:

      Liane,

      ignorance in the politics of German dealings is evident in your comments. I do have sympathy for you in a sense that you are an average citizen that is bombarded by media sound bytes and propaganda. The comments you make are exactly what one would make given the information from various media. I am hoping that you can be a little more open to seeing past the media propaganda and see what your country is/has been doing to dominate EU.

      I am a Greek living in the U.S. While I enjoy the benefits of living in the U.S. , I hear comments like yours constantly relating to anti-us sentiments. In the same respect, U.S. Citizens are blinded by what the U.S. Is doing to provoke such hatred. ” oh why does everyone hate us so much?” Please know there are reasons why these comments are being made and U.S. ‘s hands are not always clean.

      The current measures that Greece is voting on tonight are absolutely astounding if passed. This deal was crafted at the hand of a German and nothing will stop the media from making things worse for your country in terms of negativity and bad publicity. Greece cannot sink any deeper and its people have already endured so much for the past 5 years. Yes they need to change their mindset as a nation to better themselves and grow but not in the way Germany wants.

      I do agree with you that Greece should get out of the eurozone and face their demons, else they are facing another demon which is currently trying to dominate and humiliate them.

      Like

      • Sylvie says:

        “They need to change their mindset…” – it it was that easy. The country needs a complete overhaul of its institutions or even the creation of a functioning democratic state apparatus accountable to its citizens. It will take a generation to achieve that.

        Like

  7. Diddleydoo says:

    Greece has been living significantly beyond its means for a long time. So have other countries in Europe like Portugal, Ireland, Spain, Italy….. Some of these have already been through austerity measures with very heavy oversight by Troika and so on. Why on earth should Greece have it any different? What makes them so special?

    Tsipras and co. are out of their league, and they’ve been shown up for what they are, amateurs. I have utmost sympathy with the greek people, but I have no sympathy for the greek state.

    It’s time Greece (the state) grew up and got a job.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting article and comments too. My two cents;

    – No-one thanks people that bail them out when they are in financial difficulties. You might think it’s ingratitude, but actually it’s human nature. Calling those that do so blackmailers and Nazis is going too far however. And not sensible when you want a further advance.

    – While German (and other) companies may have been opportunistic in selling to corrupt customers in Greece, I don’t think you can say there was a direct transfer of wealth from Greece to Germany.

    – No-one else will sort your problems out for you. You can only do that yourself. Not unique to Greece. That means willing the means to sort out the problems. The proposed third bailout comes with a number of required actions that are mostly sensible and ones that Greeks should be doing anyway as part of their path out of their problems. If you want to improve, embrace them yourself instead of having them imposed on you and don’t resist or try to negotiate on them (We will only collect taxes if you give us €x billion bailout. No, you should be doing that anyway).

    – Realistically there are two options available to Greece: (1) a miserable time in the Eurozone with bailout 3 and resentment on both sides; (2) taking your chances on a Euro exit and a clean slate through inflation. I would previously have gone for the bailout, but with all the mistakes recently, I am not sure that the exit isn’t better. But heartfelt good luck whichever way it goes.

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  9. Deutscher EU-Austritt says:

    “Blame not the Greeks for the current troubles and allow some of the money printed out-of-thin-air by the ECB”
    So you don’t want the Drachma in your own country, but after faking your economical data in order to join the Euro you want to turn the single currency of 300 million people into a similar trash currency by breaking ECB rules and EU laws. If you want to print money, print your own instead of ruining other peoples’ savings and making their fuel and other imports more expensive. What you write is an insult to people in Germany, Austria, the Netherland, Eastern and Northern Europe. You are a racist. Illegally joining a currency of others and then telling them to change the rules for the hijacker – even someone who abducts a plane wouldn’t be so lunatic.

    “are not pointing to a path of prosperity and peace for Europe”
    Mhhh-mhhh and hijacking the ECB and truning the Euro into some kind of Weimar Republic hyper inflation curreny is most likely, as history shows, a path to peace and prosperity? You blog post merely proves that Greece, like an illness, weakens the Euro and spreads the Greek philosophy of failure to 300 million other people. You have neither a respect for laws nor for people in other countries, highlighted by the fact that you don’t even mention them and suggest it’s all about Germany, and the Fins and the Dutch love to throw their money into that black hole of a failed state.

    Well, I am German and the EU is a French invention to rip off Germany (they first tried it with the UK before they invented the so-called Franco-German friendship: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco-British_Union#Frangleterre_.282007.29) and the Euro was invented to shackle a reunited Germany by the same people – note how enthusiastically the French try to stop a Grexit. So far, the rule-beaking transfer union works well while there is no money left in Germany to care for refugees and our broken NATO army.
    You Greeks, on the other hand, will suffer as long as you are in the Euro, an overvalued currency for you that you should never have joined. (Any devaluation of the Euro will benefit the German industry, against which you’ll never compete.) You have lost a lot of tourism to Turkey because of that, and with the VAT rises you will lose even more. You have lost your best and your brightest people who emigrated, and your birth rate is collapsing. Many people, especially in the last weeks, have commented that Greeks are living in a fantasy world as they are supposed to be unable to grasp that they can’t stay in the Euro without reforms. The truth is that every Greek who clings to the Euro is living in a fantasy world as Greece will perish inside the EMU in the same fashion as Hitler intended it with the Polish nation. That’s nothing special. Virtually all of Europe has no future; it is a dying continent and the only shrinking trade bloc (especially thanks to the Euro) and just like the UK, the German people will have to learn that in a global world and an age of information, a bloc from the last century is a hopelessly out of date dinosaur and political museum. “Europe” (the EU) is just a big stone hanging around the neck of the German people who sit locked in a sinking ship. But more and more people are realising it, they are realising that the EU is a racist community with an insane mixture of Germanophobia and white supremacist eurocentrism in its DNA.
    Any Cent paid to Greece is an insult to the German people. I do not blame anyone in Greece but the rabid anti-German gang in Berlin. If the Greek people contribute to bring this regime down, freeing the German eagle from the chains of the dying continent of Europe and allowing it to join forces with Latin America and Asia where the future is, they deserve the thanks of all German people, even if the Greek people decide to commit suicide by remaining in a Euro that won’t surive and an EU which Germany will leave (like the UK, the bastion of democracy and freedom) once the ‘war guilt bank’ generation has died.
    So thank you again. You gave the world democracy and Germany something it lacked – the flame of eurorealism. That you are willing to sacrifice your own country for that is stunning but in some way very Christian. I do hope that the EU will collapse before it’s game over for the Greek nation, and we are working very hard to achieve that.

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    • I am sorry to hear that you are working very hard to achieve a collapse of the EU. What are you presently lacking? You have no food, no shelter, no clothes, no education, no healthcare? You want to work for 100 DM a month, or maybe a week? I do not think many other Germans are interested in joining Asia and/or Latin America. Why don’t you go there and try for one year to make a good living. Germany cannot flourish outside the EU and the other way around. Be careful what you wish for.

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      • Liane says:

        “Germany cannot flourish outside the EU”

        Why not? We did pretty well before. Actually we did much better than now. Income was higher, taxes lower and our money was worth something instead of the trash currency we currently have.

        I agree with “Deutscher EU Austritt” that Germany needs to leave the Euro and even better the EU. We do nothing but pay for both clubs, while our wealth declines each year, no more money for our streets and schools – even a tax raise in order to finance the Greek bailout has been suggested by economists and politicians in Germany.
        I was very willing to pay higher taxes when former East-Germany reunited with the West. I am totally unwilling to pay higher taxes for a Greek government that not only shows no gratitude whatsoever but insults us on a daily basis and blames us for all their problems.
        (- But at the end of the day the money that the Greeks won’t be able to pay will come from European tax payers money anyway. So we will definitely pay for it at the end.)

        I really want it to end now – therefore I want out.
        Something I would have never said a couple of years ago and something I hear more and more people say who would have never said it before.

        Like

      • Hi Liane,

        I appreciate your time and effort to reply to me and others and explain your point of view. For years I have intensively worked together with German colleagues. I also hurts me when I see the way many people respond to the German policy regarding the Greek crisis. At the same time I am hurt by the fact that many Greek people suffer and even commit suicide, because of the state their economy is in.

        Your reaction “I want out” is one that indeed many other people say. You refer to the EC and the Euro, but basically I think you are, like in my opinion most of these other people, saying that you work hard, but have difficulty making ends meet, let alone realise things like buying your own house, and you do not see a brighter future ahead of you, if things stay as they are.

        Since I was about 10 years old, I was interested in politics and became interested in macro-economics. For that reason I also studied macro-economics at the university and was lucky to be an intern with the IMF for 3 months. I am 55 now, and all these years I have followed what is going on in the world, both politically and economically. The last ten years, I feel like just now understand what is really going on and it is not a pretty picture. Fortunately, wise people are now pointing in the right direction with regard to what has to change, namely our ruthlessly exploitive capitalist system, which is advertised as the free market. The result is that we are poisoning our planet (I have been told that there is no fish in the ocean that does not have plastic particles in it), disrupting its climate, and enlarging income and wealth unequality. The climate researchers, economists like Thomas Pickety and recently the Pope are right.

        You are seeing no improvement in your purchasing power, eventhough you work hard. This is due to companies not investing, but turning their money over its managemant and to stockholders. The big companies and the people that can afford it, evade the taxes as much as possible. But somebody has to pay taxes, right? Its those that cannot escape taxes, like you, who carry all the burden.

        Our political leaders will not change the economic system, unless the people force them to. They are caught in group thinking with the elites of our world, the wealthy, the managers of large multinationals and banks. Several of them, like the head of the ECB, worked for these companies or banks. And the elites are also the ones that profit most from our current economic system.

        You are wrong blaming the EC. I think you are right, if you say the Euro (as it was introduced) was a mistake. Instead of supporting Deutscher EU Austritt, you should support movements that try to defend our planet, try to limit the power of multinationals, fight for a better sharing of wealth and vote for a party who wants a more just economic system.

        Liebe Grüsse,

        Paul.

        Like

      • Liane says:

        Thank you, Paul, for your comment. A lot of things you wrote I totally agree with.

        But upfront I would like to mention, b/c I see this reference to Greek suicide rate a lot – are you aware that the suicide rate in Germany is actually higher?

        http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com

        Not saying this makes it right of course, it just comes across as if sometimes people think it would be all sunny and rosy over here.

        You are right, that I do not like for example that despite the fact that me and my husband both have full time jobs we cannot afford to buy our own home. But this is not the reason I want Germany out of the Euro. I know there is no guarantee that things will change for the better for me personally, just b/c Germany goes back to the D-Mark.
        The only reason I want Germany to leave the Euro is that before we had a lot better relationships with countries like Greece for example and since everyone was responsible for their own finances we were not the scapegoat for everyone else. The Euro was sold to us as something that would bring peace to Europe, unite it in a positive way – but the opposite happened.
        While on the one hand it feels like we are paying for everything and everyone (and our wealth has declined significantly) I on the other hand have never ever seen such animosity against my country as in these last years since the Euro crisis.
        I do not understand were all this hatred is suddenly coming from and I certainly do not want it to continue.
        By no means is the Euro worth all this hostility.

        I do agree with you on our capitalist system not working very well for ordinary people. And that things need to change.

        But unfortunately Syriza has totally disqualified themselves from being an ambassador for the people in Europe (which probably wasn’t their plan to begin with).
        They just demand more of our tax payers money, including bringing up reparations for the bad my country did when our grandparents where still kids and after having received billions from Germany not only through bailouts but also through EU funds.
        They request solidarity from everyone else except from the rich people in Greece it seems.
        How could I possibly see them as an advocate for any good?
        Being a leftist party they could have introduced themselves as an advocate for the people (not only of Greece but of the Eurozone as whole) against the capitalist system. I would have seen them with totally different eyes then – but that is unfortunately not, what they did.

        Like

      • Lieber Liane,

        My compliments for the way you write and reason. “The Euro was sold to us as something that would bring peace to Europe, unite it in a positive way – but the opposite happened.” Indeed the opposite happened. Also in my opinion something has to be done about the Euro, because continuing this way will only result in more hardship and animosity. It is a pity, that Greece could not easily return to the Drachme. And the EC also needs a big overhaul. Our political leaders have been way too ambitious, but turning back the clock will be very difficult. But Deutscher Austritt is not the solution, as it will mean a total collapse of the EC and amplify what divides us, instead of what binds us.

        Thanks for the link with regard to world life expectancy. Reference was ofcourse made to the strong increase in recent years. The sky high unemployement rate of the youth would have been a better argument.

        Yes Syriza, and particularly mr. Varoufakis, has been clumsy and missed an opportunity. However I hope that from all the sound they made, people within the EC start realising that together we to start handling matters differently. When thinking about the situation we are all in, I think about the need for a new political movement best described as “New Perspective”.

        I am not going to further comment on this blog, but if you or someone else wants to get in contact with me, and maybe wants to contibute to this “New Perspective”, please email me at pgm@nelber.nl

        Best Regard, Paul Nelissen.

        Like

  10. Sotiris says:

    This post tries to answer some of the issues presented by Diddleydoo and Liane.
    First of all let me say that I am a middle-aged Greek senior professional living in Athens. In this sense I have lived in my skin both the good times up until 2008 and the bad times (austerity) from 2009 till present. I am no supporter of SYRIZA or Tsipras and have not voted for them in the last national elections. I also voted YES in the last referendum where NO got 61.3%. In this sense I am a political opponent of the current Greek government.
    Diddleydoo you are absolutely right saying that Greece has been living beyond its capacity in the last years. But you ask why is Greece different from the others. The answer is simple: Greece is the only country that suffered a 30% decrease of its GDP in 5 years time, the hardest adaptation in modern history. This led to poverty large numbers of Greeks, SMEs shutting down by thousands every year and an unemployment rate of nearly 30% overall and 50-60% among the youngest.
    All this happened because both the IMF and Eurozone made vast mistakes in their calculations on how austerity would affect the Greek economy (see recent article by Dominique Strauss-Kahn the IMF General Director at the time the first austerity measures were imposed on Greece six years ago). Taking all this into account it is obvious why the Greek people voted for SYRIZA and believed their lies although I strongly believe that SYRIZA was not deliberately lying, they just thought that they could change Europe’s current Calvinistic approach of harsh austerity .being the only medicine for our financial problems. They were obviously misguided, misleaded, misinformed, you name it.
    What would be more appropriate to my view is lighter austerity spread along more time in order not to suffocate the real economy, investment plans from the EU to compensate for jobs lost and technical assistance from EU and IMF in order to reform our dysfunctional public sector. Instead of that all we got is austerity, austerity and more austerity. This recipe was wrong as everybody admits now but Germany-led Eurozone.
    Liane sorry but you are absolutely wrong in your positions. First of all Greeks and Germans are long-time friends. Myself and most people in Greece love and admire the German people because you are very organized and you managed to create a financial wonder from WW II ashes. But you must not forget that apart from your capabilities and mentality, what helped you create this miracle is the abolishment of 60% of your external public debt in 1953. You must not forget also that this treaty was also signed by Greece as a gesture of solidarity and good will in order to help the ruined Germany (ruined by its own mistakes – the same as Greece at present) to stand strong and face a bright future, The same attitude Greece expected from Germany now. The spirit of solidarity and generosity that our Europe’s values dictate. And yes, you should impose hard preconditions to Greece aimed not at financial austerity alone but on reforms that would create a modern state,
    Instead of that, Germany is exploiting its superior position in order to impose its Calvinistic financial approach to all other countries of the Eurozone. This approach, as someone else mentioned here, has a tremendous benefit in the German economy because your external trade surplus feeds on other countries external trade deficit,
    Even IMF yesterday suggested that Germany should take measures to strengthen domestic demand because your current policy leads to suffocation of the weaker countries.
    Finally, I want to tell you that we do not hate Germans, in fact we love and admire you but you should play the role of the loving parent in Europe and not the role of the punishing priest.

    One last comment in this long post (although I could argue a lot more on the mistakes both Greece and Europe-IMF have made in the past and how we could avoid making them again in the future):
    I fully agree with Romano Pronti’s comment that if Europe continues to make decisions based on the interests of each country and not Europe as a whole then it is doomed to fail. Although we were discussing about strengthening our union there are voices now urging for the opposite. UK is threatening to leave EU and the Belgian Foreign Minister today said that Belgium would agree to transfer more responsibilities from EU Commission back to the countries.
    If this happens then I think it is the beginning of the end.

    Like

    • Sotiris, thank you for your well written and balanced comment. I almost completely agree with you. In regard to the last lines, I differ in opinion. The UK carries a lot of the blame of the current tendency to push national interests before the interests of the EC. It would probably be good if they leave. Also I think Belgium is on thinking along the right path. Because the EC has grown too quickly and too large, the intergration should be dailed back, to allow each member state enough breathing room. Otherwise nationalism anti-European sentiment will get too much power.

      Like

      • Sotiris says:

        Very interesting opinion Paul. I understand your point and I cannot say I disagree, My only concern is that if we start stripping EU Commission from its responsibilities then this might not be reversible.
        Anyway, you do have a strong point there.

        Like

    • Sylvie says:

      Sotiris, you last paragraph is absolutely on the mark, but I am not sure — the world and people being who they are, with their own cultures, languages, geography, resources, etc.. — this is achievable. It feels like a pipe dream, I am afraid to say, at least at this moment in time. The pull of nationalism is very, very strong…maybe part of nations’ DNA…

      Like

    • Liane says:

      Thank you, Sotiris, for your comment.

      I think you are honest and want to come across as balanced. I understand what you are saying but sorry to say your view is biased as well (yes, mine might be too).

      One thing that always disturbs me (and not only in your comment, it is something that seems to be very common among Greek people) is to pretend Germany (and other European countries) did not already show a GREAT DEAL of solidarity.

      Your country would have been bankrupt 5 years ago. Do you really think you would have been better off without the bailouts?

      We send BILLIONS of our taxpayer money (that could have been used in Germany instead – it is not like money grows on trees here) to your country – and yes, everybody knows we will not get all of it back. We already hardly get any interest (and no erasure) payments, which we would have gotten if we had invested the money somewhere else (with more guarantee to see it back).

      And yes, Germany had around 7 billion Euros cut in the London Conference of 1953 (about half of its debt) and then used that debt relief to rebuild its economy.
      Greece has had TWO packages of debt relief and still has not managed to reform their totally dysfunctional state structures.
      And I guess you know that Greece at that time got three times as much per capita out of the Marshall plan than Germany?

      Furthermore Germany does not only pay for Greece through the bailout money, but also through the EU funds, to which again we are the greatest contributor/payer and Greece a net benefiter.

      Honestly I do understand why many Greek people voted for Syriza. They do not see an alternative and want austerity to end. In that situation I would probably feel the same. And I would have a lot of sympathy for their situation if it were not for the constant insults and name calling while we were trying to help. I can see no appreciation whatsoever. This actually hurts. And is – as I see it – an totally unacceptable behavior.

      I hope you are right, that there is still some friendship left between the German and the Greek people in general. It just very often looks very different. For the most part I just see a blame game going on.

      Which I want to end – therefore I rather see Germany outside of the Eurozone than Greece actually.

      And btw, I totally would not mind (of course as an immediate benefiter) if Germany would take measures to strengthen domestic demand as you write. Problem is that most of the countries we compete with (and export to) are outside of the Eurozone like USA, China and India. If we only look at making it comfortable for weaker countries within the Eurozone we will lose here and this is where most of our wealth is coming from (I guess those countries including the USA [IMF biggest sponsor] would not mind too much). So this is a biased argument.

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      • Sotiris says:

        Hi Liane,
        Sorry for the late reply but I was occupied and did not find the time to answer.
        I agree with most of the things that you say but a few.
        First of all Greece had only one debt relief and it was the PSI (Private Sector Initiative) in 2012. in this PSI we had 50% of the privately-held debt cut-off. This means that money was lost by international banks (very few as the debt they held was already replaced by EFSF debt), social security funds (most of the bonds was held by Greek funds) and hedge funds. The public sector (meaning the EU countries) did not pay a cent in the PSI.
        Second thing is that for the last 4 years or so we are not living on your money. All new loans go to serving the accumulated debt and interest. Our budget is balanced and even has a small surplus meaning that we do not need foreign aid to run our country. In this sense all new loans go back to the ECB, IMF and EFSF,
        Third, I have shown to you that I do not want to scratch on old wounds but you should be very careful when mentioning that Greece has got aid from the Marshall plan and is asking for WWII reparations.
        The Marshall plan tried to relieve Greece that was devastated by the Nazis (we lost the largest percentage of our population among all other countries in the labor camps and all of my country’s infrastructure was demolished).
        Also the reparations we may be asking for is not for the war atrocities. Most of it is for the compulsory loan that Germany forced my country to give and has never been paid back. This is hundreds of billions in net present value. So if you claim that you are giving us money that we will never pay back you have to ask yourself if your country has done the same to my country in the past.
        Anyway I don’t want to confront you. Our friendship with the German people is strong at least on our side. A visit to Greece for summer vacations will prove this to you.
        There are no hard feelings, there is just politics, I do not agree myself with the Greeks that voted for SYRIZA (I did not) and I know that with the elections we have lost a momentum for our economy but I also do not agree with Mr. Schauble’s dream of making Germany the governor of Europe. I think that your previous governments (at least Schmidt and Kohl) had a much more balanced view of Germany’s role. Your current government (more Mr. Schauble and less Chancellor Merkel) believe that they should make Germany the ruler of Europe and they do not treat other countries as equals within the EU but as subordinates.
        Your country definitely has the financial power but claiming also the political power in EU is another issue. If this should change back to how things were 15 years ago then Europe would definitely be a much better place.

        Sorry if I have tired you with my long post.

        Like

  11. Joshua, maybe you are right and I would make real sacrifices if my country was hurting. The fact is I do not know, because I have not been in that position. My grandfather also did the right thing when my country suffered (I found out after he died). However he was an exception. It is only natural to think about yourself and your family first. I agree that it is important that leaders set a good example. So Tsipras, his cabinet and his party members could for instance cut their salary, in line with those depending on state pension.

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  12. thios account is a fake says:

    1. Germany forced upon Greece an austerity policy which many people knew it could not work. Even Germany itself used deficit spending in the financial crisis. You surely remember the Abwrackprämie.

    The greece economy was dominated by the public sector. Increase of servants between 2002-2007, with high wages. This increases wage pressure on the “production-sectors”, leading to a wage increase here to. (real wage increase in Greece by 35% between 2002-2007). This is fueling consumption (greek people are buying more products that are not produced in Greece). Unfortunately higher real wages destroyed the competitiveness of the Greece economy (the entire cotton production went bankrupted). Even agriculture products produced in greece are now more expensive than products from the netherlands that are grown with the electric sun. This gap in productivity pushing greece out of the game and make it even more import dependent. Only problem this spiral just works as long as you get cheap loans. If you dont, the system collapses.
    What is needed to give the greece economy a chance to grow is the ability to compete with other nations to reduce the imports to a sustainable level. So how do we increase productiviy? Only short run mechanism available? Reduce the labor costs in production. That is what austerity does. Check out the labour productivity since the bailouts. it has increased by almost 30% and is closing to the level of Spain. As soon as production of agriculture in greece is as expensive as it is in the netherlands, greece will start the production by itself rather than importing everything. Only problem with this approach? this comes at tremendous human costs. Theses costs are devistating and higher in greece compared to ireland portugal and spain since the greece starting point was way worse.

    2) Why do we have to save the banks? Think about what would have happened without the banks. Greece banks were bankrupt (and still are today). If they fail, every pensioner in greece fail, peoples savings are gone, international business relations can be paid, businesses that need loans fail, banks cant buy greece government bonds anymore, a lot of banks in france fail, a lot of banks in germany fail, this is just the game over for everyone in europe.

    3) Why is Germany against strengthening its interior market and thus importing more from it’s European partners?
    Germany is working on this (it launched a minimum wage this year (!), the Bundesbank is pushing the labor unions to be more aggressive in wage bargaining). But you have to consider that more than 50% of germanys export is sold to countries outside the EU.So we compete in high tech products with the USA, and low labor cost countries like China, India etc. In order to be competitive in theses markets we cant push the labor costs a lot.
    But different approach. Why not increasing the productivity in greece and import just a selected variety of products?

    So how do we increase the productivity. Well reduce labor costs. But as mentioned above this comes at tremendous human costs. So can this be the only tool? hell, no. What else can we do? Strenghen the institutional quality in greece to make it easier for the economy to recover. Institutional quality? How long does take to open and close businesses? How costly is it to find new workers or to lay them of if the business has to shrink? How easy is the law enforcement? How easy is it to deal with the tax system if I run a business? How sustainable is the governments policy? How long does it take to get a loan at a bank for a business? How often will I loose money if people are striking? How educated are the workers (greece does a extra ordinary good job in this one 😉 )?
    How efficient is the public service and what does it cost?
    All this determines the likelihood and speed of a recovery from a recession and the attraction of foreign investments. Unfortunately greece is in most of this categories in the bottom line of Europe. Therefore the entire system has to be overhauled. This is a huge job and it wont pay off immediately but is necessary to give greece a chance to be successful in the long run.
    What can Europe do to minimize the human costs and “buy the time” that is needed for all these reforms?
    Show solidarity, cut the debt, dont increase taxes any further, send humanitarian aid for those that suffer, provide investment fund to improve the efficiency, point out problems that should be tackled, restricted privatizations just to the level that is needed…

    What can ordinary greece people do? I feel very sorry for them. Unfortunately history tells us that the biggest part of the bill will be paid by them rather than by those that fucked up the country in the first place.

    What can the greece government do? Admit the structural problems pointed out above, add corruption and tax aviation and start to tackle those problems rather than blaming the imperialists. If they dont change the system, they are steeling greeces future as a prosper country! And it really should start to work asap since the good will and money in other countries is running out and the support within europe is decreasing. This could end the entire EU project.

    What can germany do? For once it should stop behaving like an asshole. Cut the debt, offer a helping assistance for reforms, respect the national proud of other countries, stop pushing to harsh, check the corruption reports of german companies in greece and support tax authorities in punishing those.

    What can everyone do? Stop being nationalists! Start to feel as Europeans!

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  13. Why is it that Greeks can only understand this crisis from their own perspective. They seem like the Greeks only entered the Euro to steal hundreds of billions from the other Europeans. Greeks are not genuine Europeans… they have their own church and don’t get along well with others. I think Greeks are more like Arabs. Lazy, untrustworthy, dark. Let’s face it, you borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars so everyone could retire at age 50, and you stopped paying taxes because you thought you could live off of black-mailing Europe… but when it came time to repay your creditors, you can’t even run your own government because you have no money. If you had collected taxes, maybe you could still pay the government workers and your retirees. . . but instead you all built swimming pools at your homes and expected to live a life of luxury -no work, free money. Is it true that over 40% of Greeks “work” (doing nothing) for the Greek government? If you’re too lazy to start companies and have a real economy eventually people are going to stop giving you money.
    Varoufakis is an idiot! You’re 320 BILLION euros in debt and you come to the negotiating table DEMANDING more money and DEMANDING that your previous debt be erased. How stupid can you be? When you borrow money from your neighbor and you never pay him back and then you demand more money, you have a mental disease. This is Varoufakis (and now Greece) in action.
    Grow up. Be adults and stop acting like a tired 2 year old. It’s time Europe kicked you out of the house to make you start to earn your own living.

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  14. A German worker says:

    Randall – you ask Why???

    I can tell you why. A German worker suffered from the Euro since its introduction (compare salary and cost of living please). We never had the luxus as described for Greece and this is simply why we don’t suffer more now than some years ago. We simply never lived that well. But just because we never had a 30% salary raise and never lived over our standards this does not mean that Greece can’t now be reduced to our level. Do you compare income and living cost of a normal worker in Germany and Greece? We are not better off!

    And why do always the Germans get blamed although many European countries do not agree with the Greek way of driving their country? The UK is not willing to pay anything.

    Why shall we give money to people who insult us, name us Nazis again,..?

    Why shall we pay higher taxes for Greece when there many people still don’t pay any taxes?

    And why do you think that we profited from introducing the Euro in Greece? German export rates did not raise significantly so I don’t understand how you can honestly say that Greek people do now only have these debts because they were purchasing German goods.

    That’s all too easy in my view. How about first helping yourself and then ask for the help of other countries? And please don’t play the moral card when not following these rules yourself…

    Everybody who knows better – please take over. Why is the US not giving money to Greece? Asking for German money and then blaming us for our conditions which are by the way also applicable to every German debitor is not fair!

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  15. Sotiris says:

    Again the same stereotypes by both Dan Cobb and German Worker.
    All you say is just repetitions of things said before.
    If you care reading the full comments posted here you may get some answers.
    But now I can see how Bild and the other tabloids have distorted your minds and prevented you from being free thinkers.

    Like

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