Sunday snippets: sink or swim

sink or swim Greek crisis

The Greek ship of state

Greece has voted (again). Exit polls show the main parliamentary contenders are neck-and-neck, with no party having a clear majority. When the dust settles this week, we’ll all have some idea of what the future holds for the country itself, for the Euro, and for the EU itself.

(Update: The conservative New Democracy party is projected to win between 27.5 and 30.5% of the vote while the anti-bailout radical left Syriza party may get 27 to 30%.)

The blame game will, no doubt, continue. The Greeks accuse the ‘austere’ Germans of imposing on them; the Germans, who play probably the most important European role in this crisis, can’t keep on diverting their own tax-payers’ money for ever. The Americans are grumbling; the Chinese urge more unity. Everyone, it seems, has a view on the subject.

But, so far, no-one has managed to come up with any practical (or affordable) solution to the Greek crisis (never mind some other ‘wobbly’ Eurozone member states). It’s worth reading the views of ex-PM Papandreou in this context. [1]

One thing’s for sure: whatever the final result of this Greek election, voters there are for more, prolonged misery. While one feels sympathy for the ‘ordinary man or woman  in the street’, one also notes the years of living way beyond their means.

Over-stuffed government structures; inefficient civil servants paid 14 monthly salaries per annum; sloppy tax collection; low work productivity despite putting in some of the longest hours in the EU; the (verifiable) list of  festering problems ignored for decades is almost endless.

Speaking of tax and evaders: Christine Lagarde recently stirred it all up with her derogatory remarks about Greeks not paying their taxes. She may have been too sweeping in her statements, but in January this year, the Greek authorities published a ‘name and shame’ list of citizens who owed more than €150,000 to the state.[2] The list contained 4,152 names, and the grand total owed was a cool €14.877 billion! (A sum that, as I recall, represents about 7% of Greece’s GDP). The biggest offender who had ‘neglected’ to pay his dues, owed €952 million. His profession? Accountant.

So, in the next few days, the whole of Europe is going to discover whether we all sink or swim together. Why do I feel somewhat pessimistic?

[1]: BBC online

[2]: Digitaljournal

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