Greece. The reality behind frustrations and the (wrong) solution of the problem
The majority of Greek society fades away…
For decades, some jobs in Greece were held by specific social categories. For example, the cleaning personnel in the men toilettes were always ladies around 50 – 60 years old. They were cleaning without paying attention to what is happening around them, always looking like people with a difficult life to share with you. But the economic crisis changed this “taboo” and tens of others. Nowadays you can see young girls doing this job, or even young men.
The Greek hospitals have seen better days for sure. During the last period there are many rumors that patients are asked to bring their own bed sheets (!) from home. At the same time it’s not news anymore that bandages and important medicine are missing from several Greek hospitals.
Paying very high contributions for many years, Greeks were used to a healthcare system which was covering, at least, 75% of their medicine cost. Not anymore. The Greek pharmacists, once considered wealthy or rich, are on strike since last week. If you want your medicine, you should pay the whole amount in cash, as the State has not paid them for many months and they cannot handle this situation anymore. You will get your money back after 2 months’ time.
Greece has a workforce of about 5 million people (more or less the same as Romania, which has double the population). Not only unemployed persons tripled in just 3 years’ time, from 350.000 to 1.100.000, but thousands of more are added to the list every single month. Professionals that used to be envied, lawyers, dentists etc., prefer to stop their economic activity, due to the very high standard costs that they have to pay.
The income tax has tripled this year, while in the last 2 years 7 new taxes have been imposed on the citizens’ properties. As of June, Greeks will have to pay one big tax per month, just to keep their house. If the owner of an average apartment in Bucharest pays 50 – 100 Euro per year (or less), in Greece this cost is 600 – 1.000 Euro.
More than 2.000 suicides have occurred in the last 2 years, casualties that are usually the result of a war. Tens of thousands have emigrated, many more are preparing to do the same.
Healthy companies enter into insolvency, while the Greek State owes them more than 8 billion Euro.
While salaries have been cut off by an average 30 – 50%, a visit to a supermarket will convince you that Greece remains the most expensive European country, if you compare prices of the same products and brands.
Millions of Greeks have to survive without an income, in a country that imposes taxes they cannot pay, just to avoid firing public servants.
These are just a few of the signs proving that the Greek economy and society is dying. At the same time…
A minority continues spending
A minority continues spending money, as it used to do. Many shop owners “forget to give you a fiscal receipt” for their products / services, complaining about the high taxes they need to pay.
Indeed there are still many people spending their time in the central cafés of important Greek cities, but this is probably less than 20% of the country’s population.
Preparing for the final battle
Last year in August, I wrote an article explaining to you that very soon there will be no more than 2 different approaches to the Greek problems: The populist and the conscious one. All the parties define themselves by their proposals towards the agreement with IMF and the rest of borrowers.
(remember this article and check if I was right)
After the May elections, where no clear result was reached, Greece is preparing for the final battle on June 17th, the “judgment day”. The country is practically split in 2.
– Populists are mainly gathered behind Syriza and Alexis Tsipras, an extreme left coalition of small parties, which includes a wide range of opinions: From modern politicians who are pro Europe, up to fans of Mao Zedong, Iosif Stalin etc. Tsipras’ supporters consider that Europe is lying, as it is not good for anyone to let Greece collapse. They consider that the country will not be abandoned, even if all foreigners say the opposite. Tsipras promises billions of Euro to the people, restoration of cut salaries etc. Hundreds of thousands of citizens have joined this party in the last months, for different reasons: Public servants are afraid of losing their jobs, while many other people consider that “since we lost everything and all we have left our debts, we have nothing to lose except the chains”.
– The conscious approach are usually found close to the New Democracy (conservatives) and Pasok (socialists). Most of them do not really believe in these parties due to the mistakes of the past. But they consider them the only solution for the country, if they want to remain in the Eurozone and the European Union. Unfortunately none of these parties has presented a clear plan on how to rescue the country. They just talk about the need to renegotiate the agreement, without leaving the Eurozone. They are expected to be stronger than in the last elections, due to the fact that a part of the society is scared by the communists.
There are more parties that will take part in the June elections, but these 2 poles are considered the most important ones. Their supporters swear at each other with extremely vulgar words. Try to write something on twitter or facebook against Syriza or simply pro Europe and tens of comments will appear, cursing you, your family, calling you “a piece of meat sold to the enemies of the country” plus many more. At the same time the pro Europe supporters start with “lunatic left party” and develop their own impressive list of insults against Syriza, Tsipras and others.
The country is split in 2. Like it used to split just before major tragedies that defined the Greek nation’s fate.
But is this the solution to the problem?
Wrong solution, useless fights…
All these happen without a reason. No matter who wins the elections, they will find the national treasury empty and the real economy in a very bad state. Even if all Greeks try to pay their (huge) taxes, there is no easy way out. The solution cannot come from Greece anymore, only Europe may resolve the problem.
Growth, growth, growth
Last year in November, when everyone was saying that Greece found the solution to its problems by writing off 50% of its debt (which was less than 20%, as I proved to you here). I insisted that the solution is far beyond any new package of measures.
Greece needs growth NOW. Its economy is like a body without oxygen anymore. Gradually all blood is concentrated around the heart in order to protect it, but if the body will not inhale soon, death could not be avoided.
Let’s agree that Greeks are guilty for all their sins (like the Spanish, Italians, Portuguese, Irish and more). But by killing them, no one wins. The country needs growth. New investments and a major restructuring program, so as to be able to breathe again. This is something that only the leaders of Europe may resolve, Greeks are unable to do it anymore by themselves.
And the question is just one: Do they want to save the country or to use it as an example of punishment for the rest of European citizens?
We will find out during this summer, the most important one in the history of European Union.