Greece is the all-weather scapegoat of EU: A never ending humilation

Today EU threatens Greece over border controls! As a draft report of the European Commission says:  Greece has “seriously neglected” its obligations to control the external frontier of Europe’s passport-free Schengen zone.

Some days ago at the ‘Annual Team Building’ of the Elite  at Davos, the Chief Accountant of the EU, Mr. Schauble  with his linguistic games referred to the democratic elected PM of Greece as an idiot!

As anyone can understand, Greece’s humiliation has no limits! Of course, this humiliation is reinforced by the strong opposition inside the country from the partisans of the left/ right wing and  ala Greek style neo-liberals(an interesting amalgamation of right wing people).

One thing is the common truth and the curse for the Greeks, they are not able to see themselves as an entity and being accompanied by their notorious low self esteem they are blaming each other (an ongoing attitude) for any governmental action.

The above combination is an easy target for the failed leaders of Europe and their politics.

Last year Angela Merkel, as formidable Hegemon of Europe -in terms of financial power only- announced without taking consideration the rest of the European countries  and mainly the countries that are the  entrance of the refugees-such Greece, which at the moment is an impoverished country- the acceptance of the Syrian refugees. Consequently, quite a few Europeans (Poland, Czech republic, Denmark, few German states, Britain) either closed their borders or started seizing the valuables of the Refugees (Denmark, some states of Germany…).

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It was a matter of serendipity by seeing the above two artefacts at the Victoria Gallery in Bath the other day and so ironic at the same time. The two figures represent Europe and Asia. Europe as an emancipated intellectual woman proud of the great achievement of the Enlightenment being accompanied by Asia, who is holding her ‘valuables for better or for worse’!

At the beginning of the 21st Century Europe’s leaders are trying to set aside their responsibilities by finding their all times scapegoat, Greece! The values of the Enlightenment have been replaced by the motto ‘show me the money’ for better or for worse.

 

 

 

 

 

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The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday

In his new book ‘Purity’ Jonathan Franzen writes “I think it helps to start with people who are in an unstable, untenable position, an anxious making or a stressful position, because then you know that something has to change”. Exactly this is what the Greeks did after five years of hardship, crisis and humiliation. They elected a new government. Purity was what they needed mostly and subsequently a bit of breath from the harsh austerity measures.

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Καλημέρα Μιράντα /Good morning Miranda. Central Athens,Greece.

Obviously, the European leaders (see German) needed a change but they were based on what Prince Tancredi, a character in the Leopard, a famous novel set in 19th century Sicily, reckoned “if we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change”. In Creece a lot of things have changed since the start of the Greek crisis. The new Greek government had a new proposal in order to tackle the crisis inside the Eurozone but nothing was enough for the Eurogroup and European leaders who were guided by the supreme (German) leaders. The new Greek government(the change) had to follow the same 5 years program and to confront the same problems. Athens still cannot repay its debt and it is in a deeper recession and neither the eurozone and the European Union as a whole find any resolution as bailout follows bailout.  Merkel and Schauble are repeating the magic word “rules”  to their electorates in whatever concerns the Greek crisis, which of course these rules and laws can be bend and be quite flexible behind the doors of the meeting rooms in Brussels where there is no recording of any discussion. As consequence, the euro’s future itself remains uncertain.

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Marathon Bay. Marathon, Athens, Greece

It’s interesting to quote Ernesto Gallo and Giovanni Biava in their article about Greece and Europe “The Greeks have been often derided as “lazy” or “corrupt” when the key responsibilities lay elsewhere. The current EU has benefited from extremely low interest rates (still 0.05%), but will hardly survive without a political union. In addition, the rest of the world is moving fast. The United States has promoted a much coveted deal with Iran, also with the support of Moscow, as President Obama has recognised. Russia has hosted the summits of the BRIC states and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which is opening to Pakistan and India. The European Union, not the Greeks, is as usual on holiday.”

In my recent visit to Greece, one week ago, the misery was depicted at every turn in the Athenian roads. The banks were under capital control with maximum withdrawal amount of 60 euros and big queues of old people in front of the ATMs. Most of the shops in the high streets of central Athens were closed down with the only survivors the Chinese “one euro” shops. And my compatriots, I think, are beyond any horror, terror, humiliation. They are tired and subdued. They had enough, they voted “no” to the austerity measures because they are in the same stage as the character in the scene of the film Network – Mad as a Hell- who says: I don’t care about the depression and the inflation and the Russians… The air is unfit to breathe, the food unfit to eat… I’m human being, my life has a value!

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Greece is in disintegration. But it’s always the sea, the sea and the sun will soothe my compatriots for a while…

Greece and the Propaganda of Fear

Greek crisis is  at its worst at this moment that I’m writing this post. Last Friday Tsipras rejected the disastrous offer of the eurogroup and  later that day announced a referendum of NAI/yes, OXI/no in order the Greek 2000people to decide by themselves if they want or not the austerity measures of the eurozone. The latter question is exactly what must be answered by the Greek people on the Referendum on July 5th. Manolis Drettakis, politician and  professor of economics, explains the issue of the referendum and the interference of the creditors-manipulation of the questions and spread the fear – in the internal affairs of Greeks  at his article  at

http://www.efsyn.gr/arthro/pragmatiko-noima-kai-oi-synepeies-toy-nai-i-toy-ohi.

Prof. Drettakis’ article makes obvious the staggering misinformation and manipulation of every Government act throughout this six months of its governance. This astonishing phenomenon of  propaganda doesn’t happen only lately and only from the creditors side but from almost all the MME in Greece which belong to the Greek oligarchs and they are in threat from this new leftist government. This propaganda against the government started days if not months before the election of  Alexis Tsipras’ government. The first day of Tsipras’ election, I remember, there were websites belonging to mass media Oligarchs portraying Tsipras as a traitor of Greece? He was never part of any corrupted government in the past – the main cause of today’s disaster. The same vicious war is against  the finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. I assumed their only fault was that they were fresh people in the government, not corrupted and they were trying to dismantle the old ruling class and the corruption which has  penetrated  every level of the Greek ruling class/elite.

The Referendum is looming on July 5th and Greece is in default as was announced by the IMF which didn’t extent the days by providing liquidity to the Greek Banks in order the Greek people exercise their democratic rights without fear. Now they were pushed against the wall, they are frightened of not having any money-only 60 euros per card/day is permitted. Tsipras encourages them to vote ΟΧΙ/NO and argues that with NO he will be able  renegotiate the austerity measures and to ask the haircut of the debt which isn’t viable something that IMF accepted with a letter ( see :  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jul/02/imf-greece-needs-extra-50bn-euros ) yesterday.

The atmosphere in Greece is far from normal. There is Dihasmos/Division among Greek people and a lot of animosity among them. The NOs and YEs are half and half as the polls are predicting so far.

My thoughts are every minute with them and hoping for the best resolution. I know that the Greeks are resilient and great fighters and they will survive as they always do throughout the centuries.

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P.S. : There is a lot of support for the Greek people at the moment –

– A British man, Thom Feeney launches crowdunding campaign to pay Greece debts at  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/briton-crowdfunding-campaign-greece-debt-thom-feeney.

– A lot famous academics such as Prof Stiglitz, Thomas Piketty as I had mentioned in my previous post at : https://pinelopi.wordpress.com/2015/06/06/a-plea-for-sanity-greece.

A lot of American-Greeks such as  Nia Vardalos,  Arianna Huffington and more to come support the Greek people.

Nia Vardalos was sharing a letter by the Greek government at

http://wire.novaramedia.com/2015/06/in-defence-of-greece-6-myths-busted/

Arianna Huffington posts on her timeline the following photo which  is worth a 1000 words

German Debt Agreement of 1953, when creditors, including Greece, forgave much of German debt.

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A Plea For Sanity : Greece

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Honoré Daumier’ caricature of the king as Gargantua.

Yesterday, 26 economists with established world credentials signed the following letter and sent it to Financial Times. It is mainly about this very frail concept of our times called Democracy in Europe.

“We believe it is important to distinguish austerity from reforms; to condemn austerity does not entail being anti-reform.” Six months on, we are dismayed that austerity is undermining Syriza’s key reforms, on which EU leaders should surely have been collaborating with the Greek government: most notably to overcome tax evasion and corruption. Austerity drastically reduces revenue from tax reform, and restricts the space for change to make public administration accountable and socially efficient. And the constant concessions required by the government mean that Syriza is in danger of losing political support and thus its ability to carry out a reform programme that will bring Greece out of the crisis. It is wrong to ask Greece to commit itself to an old programme that has demonstrably failed, been rejected by Greek voters, and which large numbers of economists (including ourselves) believe was misguided from the start.
Clearly a revised, longer-term agreement with the creditor institutions is necessary: otherwise default is inevitable, imposing great risks on the economies of Europe and the world, and even for the European project that the eurozone was supposed to strengthen.
Syriza is the only hope for legitimacy in Greece. Failure to reach a compromise would undermine democracy in and result in much more radical and dysfunctional challenges, fundamentally hostile to the EU.
Consider, on the other hand, a rapid move to a positive programme for recovery in Greece (and in the EU as a whole), using the massive financial strength of the Eurozone to promote investment, rescuing young Europeans from mass unemployment with measures that would increase employment today and growth in the future. This could both transform the economic performance of the EU and make it once more a source of pride for European citizens.
How Greece is treated will send a message to all its eurozone partners. Like the Marshall plan, let it be one of hope not despair.
1.Prof Joseph Stiglitz
Columbia University; Nobel Prize winner of Economics
2.Prof Thomas Piketty
Paris School of Economics
3.Massimo D’Alema
Former prime minister of Italy; president of FEPS (Foundation of European Progressive Studies)
4.Prof Stephany Griffith-Jones
IPD Columbia University
5.Prof Mary Kaldor
London School of Economics
6.Hilary Wainwright
Transnational Institute, Amsterdam
7.Prof Marcus Miller
Warwick University
8.Prof John Grahl
Middlesex University, London
9.Michael Burke
Economists Against Austerity
10.Prof Panicos Demetriadis
University of Leicester
11.Prof Trevor Evans
Berlin School of Economics and Law
12.Prof Jamie Galbraith
Dept of Government, University of Texas
13.Prof Gustav A Horn
Macroeconomic Policy Institute (IMK)
14.Prof Andras Inotai
Emeritus and former Director, Institute for World Economics, Budapest
15.Sir Richard Jolly
Honorary Professor, IDS, Sussex University
16.Prof Inge Kaul
Adjunct professor, Hertie School of Governance, Berlin
17.Neil MacKinnon
VTB Capital
18.Prof Jacques Mazier
University of Paris
19.Dr Robin Murray
London School of Economics
20.Prof Jose Antonio Ocampo
Columbia University
21.Prof Dominique Plihon
University of Paris
22.Avinash Persaud
Peterson Institute for International Economics
23.Prof Mario Pianta
University of Urbino
24.Helmut Reisen
Shifting Wealth Consultancy
25.Dr Ernst Stetter
Secretary General, FEPS (Foundation fro European Progressive Studies)
26.Prof Simon Wren-Lewis
Merton College Oxford”

The Economic Man

Who cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?  Katrine Marcal’s rhetorical question and her book title give her the opportunity to challenge and illuminate the economics in relation to feminism and by extension to the weaker group of people and societies.

She writes that Adam Smith told us the story  of why free markets were the best way to create an efficient economy. The self-interest of one and all ensures that the whole comes together.  It’s not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their interest. You can trust self-interest. Self Interest is inexhaustible, this is  the ‘Invisible hand’ which looks after all.

With this notion the economic man was born into the new age. Just like Robinson Crusoe, economic man was a modern entrepreneur who freed himself from old, irrational oppressions. He determined his life and let others determine theirs. He was highly capable. Work has no intrinsic value, but if you’re going to get anywhere, you have to do it. He makes goals, fights to achieve them, ticks them off and moves on.  The world’s resources are limited. And he admires those who succeed.
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Emotion, altruism, thoughtfulness, solidarity are not part of his character. For economic man there’s no childhood, no dependencies and no society that affects him. Rational, selfish and divorced from his environment. Alone on an island or alone in society, it doesn’t matter. There is no society, only mass of individuals.

 Since Adam Smith’s time, the theory about economic man has hinged on someone else standing for care, thoughtfulness and dependency. Economic man stands for reason and freedom precisely because someone else stands for the opposite. The world can be said to be driven by self-interest because there’s another world that is driven by something else. And these two worlds must be kept apart. The masculinity by itself. The feminine by itself.

If you want to be part of the story of economics you have to be like economic man. You have to accept this version of masculinity. At the same time, what we call economics is always built on another story. Everything that is excluded so the economic man can be who he is.  Somebody has to be emotion , so he can be reason. Somebody has to be body, so he doesn’t have to be. Somebody has to be dependent, so he can be independent. Somebody has to be tender, so he can conquer the world. Somebody has to be self-sacrificing, so he can be selfish.

Somebody has to prepare that steak so Adam Smith can say their labour doesn’t matter.

But Adam Smith only succeeded in answering half of the fundamental question of economics and it was quite convenient  answer for the economic man of our days . He didn’t get his dinner only because the tradesmen served their own self-interest but because his mother made sure it was on the table every evening.  Today the economic is not built only with “invisible hand” but also it is built with “invisible heart”.-

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The economic man show emotions!

Greece Repatriates Democracy in Europe

In Greece there is an air of hope and I think at the moment the hope is more than the fear.  The new elected government of Alexis Tsipras, leader of the leftist party Syriza  which according to my opinion is not so radical as the mass media wants to portray it, has already started to give signs of hope not only to Greeks but to all Europeans who are contemplating about the notion of Democracy in Europe. The French PM Francois Holland made the first step to attract the solidarity of the leaders to support free speech, one of the most important tool of Democracy and Alexis Tsipras has awakened  the Europeans about another very important issue of Democracy which was deliberately forgotten.  

Alexis’s  Tsipras  “left” hand,  the highly eloquent and more flamboyant personality,  the finance minister Yianis Varoufakis made the first step of repatriating Democracy in Europe. He stopped negotiating with Troika – a team of bank administrators of IMF, ECB and EU Commission- and made clear that he was rather seeking direct talks with the individual governments and IMF than negotiating with Troika. This first step of negotiation is the most significant for the European Union as a democratic Institution.. 

 The supervision of the UNELECTED Troika-IMF, ECB and EU Commission- of the Greek government implementations was deeply humiliated not only for Greece but for all the European countries.  It destroyed Europe’s integrity and respect for sovereignty  much needed in Europe at the moment.  

But as  Paul Krugman has often pointed out, ‘economics is not a morality play… in which virtue is rewarded and vice punished’.  The debt has to be paid  and as Thomas Fazi at The Trokia saved banks and creditors-not Greece writes “unfortunately economics is never just about economics: whether we like it or not, morality and culture shapes people’s attitudes to economic issues, and nowhere is this clearer than with the issue of debt (private or public). It would be fair to say that the common man’s prevailing stand on the issue is that debts incurred have to be repaid”.

But at the moment, someone doesn’t need to be leftist or member of Syriza to see that Greece’s debt cannot be fully paid  (roughly $270 billions) without driving Greece and its population into  extinction.

Therefore European Union has to bring to the surface the forgotten core values of this Union, which except economics , is Democracy, Unity and Solidarity. Tsipras and Varoufakis’ struggle is in progress towards achieving this target.. 

P.S : After so much humiliation and despair for my country, I really feel proud of its leaders  for showing to Europe the right direction without being cheap.

  

 

 

 

 

Stay angry, don’t fall asleep and try to change the world

“Stay angry, don’t fall asleep and try to change the world” Matthieu Pigasse, the enfant terrible of French finance(CEO of Lazard).

I found his words so refreshing and somehow motivated me again to have a second look at the aftermath of the financial crisis mainly in Greece and consequently in Europe.

This Sunday, the Greeks are voting for local mayors and  representatives in the European Parliament. The leaders of the two major parties have excelled in rhetorics. Tsipras  (Syriza) says that he will end the burden of the bailout programme….(the most appealing lullaby) and Samaras bullies the voters by using the two magic words “last chance” to carry on with the programme… 

There are some other parties/movements more towards the political centre with no real leaders, the  Communist Party KKE,  which plays the Wendi’s (Peter Pan) role in the people’s conscience  and the  nazi party Golden Dawn, which is rising dangerously and unsurprisingly.  It is  quite common in the countries of high corruption, the people lose all their belief in politics and political persons (see rise of Islamism) and start behaving badly in an extreme way.

But again, the solution of minimising the above danger is in the hands of the more well off people, the elite. They will be able with their vote and their influence  to enforce the uttermost and desperate need of Greece, at the moment, which is even more important than the financial upheaval, the establishment of strong Institute of laws. This will stop the series of puppetry behaviour of the government concerning the announcement now and then of various  taxes and changing property laws. This will be the only way to protect themselves from the angriness of the more vulnerable, uneducated milieu with instincts of that of wild animal as well as enforce the repatriation of the lost Democracy.

Therefore, today all of those of you who are in the opposite side of the extreme parties, stay angry, don’t fall asleep and go to vote whatever party suits you best, but don’t forget the real target is to force your parties to establish the indisputable Institute of laws in Greece. This is the first step towards repatriating the country’s respect in the whole world.

Happy Sunday!

 

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