European media having been showing photos and reporting on the state of Olympic Games stadia in Greece. All are falling apart and/or are not maintained. Millions were wasted for two weeks “glory”. This games played a role in the current economic debacle in Greece, which was obvious but ignored. Of course, many made a lot of money in bankrupting the country.
This made me wonder about hotel bookings in Sochi. Millions—perhaps billions—were spent for a few weeks glory for Russian. I am certain that many hope for a bright future with tourists flocking to the “resort city” on the Black Sea. Rich and powerful from Moscow will continue to occupy their villas, but foreign tourists will surely avoid this city, because they have so many alternatives not tarnished by crazy politics or filled with ill-mannered Russian tourists.
If one is aware that most actions are “all about the Money”, most headlines are easy to decipher.
With this in mind, I understand why the US Government has started a campaign of character assassination of Germany. Success cannot be tolerated, especially if someone sees a way to make money from other’s success. American capitalists have managed to slaughter all the golden geese and now must seek new ones to exploit. Germany has successfully copied American capitalism, but still employ workers to make things, thus making money. American capitalists have shipped most manufacturing jobs to foreign countries, thus killing former export surpluses. Any country with a trade balance is a target for criticism and exploitation.
Greece is much better off. They let investment bankers saddle them with debt, thus earning huge bonuses, and now expect thrifty countries to bail them out. Of course, Germans are guilt-ridden enough to let Washington polemic move them to make stupid moves...
Media are reporting that German Chancellor received a hostile reception in Greece. That’s the thanks she and her country get for helping to prevent total collapse of that country’s rotten economy. What better proof do you need of the veracity of the say All good deeds will be punished?
I do not understand why Greek citizens do not demonstrate against their fellow citizens, who do not pay taxes or deceitful politicians, who led the country into this mess with lies.
This is not a live blog, but I want to comment on something that is happening as I write.
I’m watching the Germany-Greece game in the Euro 2012 quarter finals. The first half has just ended. The score is Germany 1-Greece 0. The score should be Germany 8- Greece 0.
This game is a metaphor for current life in Europe. German is dominating the game; Greece is worthless. A key statistic proves my point: corners for Germany 5; corners for Greece 0. Greek players are as good at soccer as Greek citizens are at paying taxes. The Greeks try of thwart any move by the Germans--in soccer and in saving the European economy.
No matter how the game ends, Greece does not belong in the quarter final round. Holland, Sweden, and Russia were better teams. Even Poland, Ukraine, and Czech were better.
Greeks hate Germans. This is a classic case of good deeds being punished.
Germans dislike Greeks and cannot understand why they must use their hard-earned tax money bail out a nation that refuses to pay taxes. They cannot understand why Greeks want to retire at 55 or 60, when the retirement age in Germany is being raised to 67 (perhaps to provide money for the bailout and to support Greek retirees.)
It just goes to show that diligence, hard work, honest tax paying, and being German are not rewarded. Children will learn that it is better to be profligate...and ask Germany for a handout. All one must do is remind the world of the Holocaust (which, according to Wikipedia, derives from Greek words) and Germans become contrite and generous.
With news about Greece, headlines always talk about “budget cuts”. Rarely, if ever, does anyone mention increasing revenue to solve Greek economic problems. It seems to be taboo to point about the Greek peoples’ aversion to paying taxes.
I read one article awhile back about a professor, who was hired to find ways to help improve tax collection. He developed an effective method and presented to the government. Nothing happened, so he quit. But, he did inform foreign journalist that his plans were thwarted by politicians and bureaucrats, whose main interest was maintaining the status quo, ie. tax evasion.
It seems that is easier for Greece to borrow money and default on payments, as well as demand assistance from the international community, than it is to demand honest payment of taxes. At least there is a slight parallel to the United States, except that no one is demanding payment from the wealthy, only little guys. In every country, those are the folks to suffer at the hands of power and wealth...which are interchangeable.
There is a saying, the source of which I do not know: beware of Greeks bearing bonds. It could be Shakespeare...or it could be Groucho Marx. It came to mind while reading in last month’s Vanity Fair. My copy arrives late and it takes me a month to ramble my way through the articles, finishing just about the time the next issue arrives. It is usually my breakfast reading, and I do not linger long over that meal. Each article can take days to finish.
The article deals with the European economy, and its biggest hero and worst villain. After reading this, I feel that the saying should be revised, as a warning to anyone working in a position of authority in the Brussels maze, aka the European government. It must read: beware of Greeks bearing numbers. Anyone believing financial data delivered from Athens should be relegated to a position counting coins collected on a street corner in the plastic cup he or she holds to support themselves or the value of empty bottles he or she finds in trash cans.
There will be hell to pay—not just Greek debts—when the majority of German taxpayers discover how much of their hard-earned money is being used to subsidize past, present, and future Greek fiscal recklessness, tax delinquency, and indifference. Many are already not happy about having to support a folk that enjoys inflated salaries, early retirement, and weak work ethics. Something has to give...and not in the sense of the word that the Germans are already doing.
It is impossible to avoid reports from or commentary about the Greek economic situation. I cannot help but notice parallels with the US economy. Both governments (well, at least Republican politicians in the US) want to cut public services, government jobs (teachers, police, fire, health, etc), and pensions. In both cases, the wealthy are being excluded from sacrifice or making a contribution to the economic and social health of the country. Taxes are being reduced or not collected at the top, while sacrifices are being demanded at lower levels of society. No one is making a case (except those with no voice) for solidarity at times of trouble (Greece) or the continuing long slide (US) into economic trouble. Protesters are being made into villains, while the real ones go unpunished.
Other parallels are the lack of government financial discipline and the role of banks in both countries’ troubles. US debt has been financed by China, while foreign bond holders support Greek’s lavish spending and corruption. Guess who’s made, is making, and will continue to make a lot of money. Politic discussions in both instances focus on saving the banks “investments”, more than on what is good for citizens. Politicians bend to the wishes of powerful and wealthy pressure points. No wonder the Greeks are rioting; Americans still believe in “the Dream” and their own fault in the crisis. They do not notice that the government allows corporations to move jobs overseas (destroying their jobs, livelihoods, and communities), make huge profits (carried on their balance sheets and boosting stock prices: again helping stockholders and traders), and avoid taxes (not a luxury afforded individual citizens living in foreign lands).
There is a good column is today’s Guardian by the incomparable Simon Jenkins on Greece.
Some may have noticed that folks are demonstrating against the government in Greece. This could be a sign of things to come in the United States, when no one pays taxes and government borrowing has grown even more geometrically. That seems to be what Republicans are working towards.
Traditionally, Greeks avoid paying taxes, retire early, and enjoy government benefits. They are also proven liars, since they provided false data to gain entry into the Euro currency group. (Good explanation, for anyone interested, in the Vanity Fair article: http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/10/greeks-bearing-bonds-201010).
Of course, having little tax revenues, the government was forced to borrow money for years to pay for the election promises that kept the Socialists in power. Naturally, they turned to US investment banks to help them dig the hole, not realizing that those guys always win. Now, the country is facing default, if they do not clean up their act.
Germans, who are said to be thrifty, hard-working, and honest tax payers, have led the charge in Europe to bail out Greece (oh, by the way, they were holding a bunch of worthless Greek bonds). In return, they have asked Greece to clean up their act, become more frugal, and collect taxes. Certain politicians have also pointed out that Germans retire at 67, as opposed to 60 in Greece, so voters might be upset about paying for the Greeks’ foolish fiscal practices and retiring early at their expense. (Polls have proven this to be true. The average German does not speak kindly of Greeks). Now, it seems, Greeks are upset about having Germans telling them how to run their affairs. Even worse, they do not want to be told to save, have the government cut back on their easily earned benefits, or work hard and beyond 60. That is why they are demonstrating in the streets.
Greeks are angry. Germans are angry. But, investment banks continue to milk the chaos for all it’s worth...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.