Happy Here and Now!

Today’s zeitgeist dictates that everything should be interpreted in economic terms in order to make sense in our times, even the term happiness! Walt Whitman, the American poet, tumblr_n80a60dyn91qdsu1vo1_1280 wrote “happiness, not in another place but in this place … not for another hour, but this hour”. This quotation is going hand in hand with  the economist Maynard Keynes’s belief that it needs  immediate actions whatever concerns the economics:

“In the long run we are all dead”.

This year, except the never-ending economic crisis other awful things happened in Europe and around the world – Ukrainian, Syria… and religious terrorism. But again, we’ve  noticed people react and  show an unprecedented courage and resilience when there is the right leadership to support them. The obscure and weak French president Hollande had shown amazing leadership skills by inviting all the leaders in Paris to march along with 3.7 millions of people in the name of free speech.  The movement of “Je suis Charlie” has more connotations other than in the name of free of speech that had  been analysed extensively on the media.  In this occasion, I fully agree and support what Woody Allen said :

“Life becomes so painful at times that there’s a need to slip a barrier of comedy between you and it”.

Returning to the issue of economic crisis which has swept away the last trace of happiness from the Greeks and the rest southern Europeans, there is a glimpse of good news.  There is a big movement “pro Greece’ in Europe and  in the circles of intellectuals and economists who have studied  history in depth and they are in position to compare  the past with the present. Gillian Tett(Columnist of the year 2014) referred to the conference she had attended last summer, where the economist Benjamin Friedman gave a  brief history on debt forgiveness without mentioning at all the word Greece, but obviously all the attendants knew very well what he meant. He said :

“Germany was one of the greatest beneficiaries throughout the last century: on multiple occasions (1924,1929,1932,1953). There is no economic ground for Germany to be the only European country in modern times to be granted official debt relief on a massive scale and certainly no moral ground either. In Europe, the mood is so punitive that is akin to the 19th century retributive philosophy that created debtors prisons. Default is deemed immoral.” (A debt to history? by Gillian Tett, FT weekend magazine 17/1/15)

She added that officials from Europe’s periphery nations were even more indignant.To them, Germany faced a moral duty to help places as Greece, given the aid that it had previously enjoyed as Friedman mentioned above.

Therefore, there is a bit of good news for this year since the crucial election in Greece looms and things and changes can happen.The support exists, what Greece needs is a good leadership to make the most of this support. Francois Hollande showed the way : When there is a good cause everybody follows. The Greeks and the new government after the elections on January 25th,  have to show to the world that they can tackle the corruption and the rest will fall into place.

When there is hope there is happiness! Happy New Year to all!

 

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Leadership and democracy

sailing boat

antique boat1

Καθώς πλησιάζουν οι Ελληνικές  εκλογές  και διαβάζω το βιβλίο ‘ Why Socrates died‘ by Robin Waterfield by  faber and faber,  παραθέτω μερικά αποσπάσματα έτσι για τροφή στη σκέψη.0903-Bunker

“Τhe incompatibility between the Athenian democracy and government is brilliantly imagined by Plato, in an extended ship-of state metaphor

‘Imagine the following situation on a fleet of ships, or on a single ship. The owner has the edge over everyone else on board by virtue of his size and strength, but he’s rather deaf and short-sighted, and his knowledge of naval matters is just as limited. The sailors wrangle with one another because each of them thinks that the ought to be the captain, despite the fact that he’s never learnt how. They’re for ever crowding closely around the owner, pleading with him and stopping at nothing to get him to entrust the helm to them. They think highly of anyone who contributes towards their gaining power of showing skill at winning over or subduing the owner, and describe him as an accomplished seaman, a true captain, a naval expert; but they crititicize anyone different as useless. They completely fail to understand that any genuine sea captain has to study  the yearly cylce, the seasons, the heavens, the stars and winds, and everything relevant to the job, if he’s to be properly equipped to hold a position of authority in a ship. In fact, they think it’s impossible to study and acquire expertise at how to steer a ship or be a good captain. When this is what happens on board ships, don’t you think that the crew of such ships would regard any true captain as nothing but a windbag with his head in the clouds, of no use to them at all?’

“Α Socratic leader : his first purpose would be the persuasion, by rational argument, of as many of the citizens in his care who had ears to hear, that the focus of their lives should be on improving their souls, and his second purpose would be the establishment of the correct legislative apparatus for achieving his  goal.

The only qualification on his call for true statesmen was his belief that perfect wisdom is unavailable for any human being, in any sphere of activity”

P.S   Η Δημοκρατία είναι δύσκολη, ακατάστατη, ανομοιογενής  και αντιφατική αλλά την ίδια στιγμή δημιουργεί ελπίδα και απελευθερώνει το ανθρώπινο πνεύμα  για να γράψει να  μιλήσει και να ψηφίσει, κάτι που θα κάνουν σχεδόν ολοι οι Ελληνες αύριο όσο και απογοητευμένοι αποθαρρυμένοι νάναι από την παρούσα κατάσταση κάπου η ελπίδα είναι κρυμμένη μέσα τους

What the foreign media say about the Greek election

Greece’s electorate looks hard for inspiration

Despite its corrupt past and a lack of credible policies, opposition party Pasok will probably win Greece’s snap election

by Matina Stevis Guardian 8/09/09

  • Like a lover who has been indifferent and unfaithful for far too long, but asks for a final opportunity to make things right, Greece’s prime minister of five and a half years, Kostas Karamanlis, has called for early elections, again. Karamanlis has been unable to complete a full, four-year term in office; he was elected in 2004, only to cut his own term short in 2007. He won then, to yet again ask for a third term two years before the end of his second one.

A mere 26 days away from this new electoral battle (set for 4 October), his promises remain the same as in 2004: fight against corruption; smaller, cheaper and less sclerotic government; tidy-up Greece’s notoriously messy public finances spearheaded by a war on tax evasion; a better educational system.

Karamanlis’s decision to call for early elections has caused a major rift within his own party, Nea Dimokratia, for the simple reason that they are most likely to lose. Some claim that he has made a behind the scenes agreement with another prominent member of the party – many site ambitious Foreign Secretary, Dora Bakoyanni – to step down upon defeat and hand over the leadership. Whatever the case, the latest polls, published in the Sunday papers, show a 5.7-6.7% lead for the Pasok opposition.

This comes as no surprise. Karamanlis’ government has been overwhelmed by scandals involving even his closest associates. He was in charge when two of the most catastrophic fires in modern Greek history ate away at the country’s remaining forests (in 2007 and again a few weeks ago). It was on his government’s watch that the murder of a teenage boy by a police officer culminated in dark days of urban unrest and destruction in the capital of Athens last December. He was at the wheel while the public debt skyrocketed even before the financial crisis hit, putting the country under European Commission probation for excessive debt for the second time during his premiership.

Karamanlis is blaming his decision to call for early elections on the opposition. He argued, in a nationally broadcast address last week, that opposition party Pasok’s vow to cause early elections in March was going to drag the country into a painful and prolonged pre-election period of political tension, which would only harm the economy.

On Sunday, at a major press conference in Thessaloniki, he assured his party’s electoral base that he is feeling combative as ever. He then went on to announce that, if reelected, he plans a two year freeze on pay and pension increases, among other measures, in an attempt to bring the public deficit under control and slow down public borrowing. He apologised for past mistakes and swore this time would be different; he would try his hardest ever, just as unfaithful lovers do.

Yet the other suitor vying for the Greek vote is no knight in shining armour. Opposition leader George Papandreou has led Pasok to several electoral defeats. He is well-liked at home and abroad, but regarded as lacking that certain je ne sais quoi. Papandreou’s American upbringing and his frequent linguistic slips, his obsession with a rigid work-out regime, his apparent lack of decisiveness and aversion to making specific policy proposals are just a few of what most regard as his faults.

He has been demanding early elections for a few months and despite the fact that his party is well ahead at the polls, it is yet to prove that it has a consistent plan to steer the country away from the economic trouble that it’s in. Moreover, Pasok’s governmental record is also riddled with corruption scandals, a thorn in the hearts of Greeks who are asked to pay dearly for an ailing economy while they have been watching their governors get richer for decades.

As Karamanlis struggles to rid his party’s candidate list from the names of those involved in scandals in an attempt to prove he is a reformed man, Papandreou strives for the words and specifics that will convince 39-41.5% (required to form government, varying depending on the performance of smaller parties) of Greeks that he knows what he’s talking about. Pasok is likely to have a hard time, under existing electoral law, to gather enough seats to form a government on its own. However, it is aided in its endeavour by an ailing left and a shaky opponent…….

P.S Για την Rits μιας και ξεκίνησε κουβέντα για τις εκλογές   από το προηγούμενο ποστ