Seven things I know about Greece

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I’ve never been good at Maths. From the earliest days, the world of the isosceles triangle, let alone sines and co-sines was a world of impenetrable mystery. Which is why much of world economics passes over my head. I don’t know why Iceland went broke and is now back revving on most if not all cylinders again. I don’t know whether or how Britain is managing very well outside the euro. And I have only lately discovered what the  word GREXIT means. But there are a few things that even a mathematical dolt like me can grasp.

1. For the past five years, the EU has put its knee on the chest and its fingers round the throat of Greece. In this way it was able to insist that Greeks follow a course of austerity, so it  could pay back its debts and become a good little country for investment.

2.  The Syriza party was elected on the promise that it’d open the window and yell that the Greek people were mad as hell and weren’t going to take any more.

3.  The EU response to this was ‘Oh, yeah?”  It insisted and is insisting that the Greeks will not get any more money except they continue with a hair-shirt economy where a nation already on its knees will be punished until it’s face down in the dust.

4. Greek unemployment is running at 27% and among young workers at 60%. If you continue a programme of knee-on-the-chest austerity, it’s impossible to see how you’ll stimulate growth and get all these people back to work.

5. The EU is not an association of equals. If you’re rich, you’re powerful and call the shots (Hello, Germany); if you’re poor, you do what you’re told (hello, Ireland).

6. Sometimes the devil you don’t know is better than the devil you know, if the devil you know is promising to save you by having you hang yourself.

7. The Irish government – particularly Enda Kenny’s Fine Gael – are praying that the Greeks are forced to vote Yes next Sunday. If they say No  and are ejected from the eurozone, Ireland’s policy of forelock-tugging to the troika will look pretty stupid.

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43 Responses to Seven things I know about Greece

  1. George June 30, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    There’s a few more things about the Greeks that you missed Jude. They all retire at 32. The payment of their taxes is, apparently, optional. They prefer to do deals with that noted humanitarian and civil rights champion, Vladimir Putin rather than the evil Mrs Merkel. They borrowed 50 squillion euro from the rest of us and are not planning to pay it back anytime soon. Oh, and there are a lot of cats on the island of Crete.

    • Jude Collins June 30, 2015 at 9:41 am #

      I think you’re right about the cats, George…

      • Lúc June 30, 2015 at 10:18 am #

        The cats and not much else.

  2. cararua June 30, 2015 at 9:52 am #

    Jude,

    I have every sympathy with citizens of Greece facing austerity and think the Government of Greece should default on all of its debts and turn around to its creditors and say “well what do you expect if you lend money to an economy with a debt which is 1.7 times the total value of its domestic economy and where the value of its imports are twice the value of its exports and where there is absolutely no reasonable prospect of repayment”.

    It is about time these international hedge funds, speculators and investment fund managers took the hit for risky speculative lending without governments bailing them out.

    If you lend money to someone with no income in order to generate a profit then you deserve all you get!

    Defaulting on the debt will not solve all Greece’s problems because the government will be forced to live within its means which will mean huge cuts in government spending, increased pension age, reduced imports, high inflation, public dissatisfaction but at least the economy would not be leaking billions in servicing debt and balance of payments adjustments!

    • Larry Murphy June 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm #

      Austerity is not working, but left to its own devices it is all that Greece can afford, in or out of the EZ and/or the EC The pre- austerity relative affluence of Greece was nearly entirely funded by borrowed money. Greece needs substantial properly focused investment to create self-sustaining jobs and wealth. But the economy/financial/business sectors are a basket case and until there is meaningful reform, it would only be throwing away more money ..!!

      • Larry Murphy June 30, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

        It is my opinion that the Toika are primarily motivated by desire to see Greece established as a stable and properly run country and not by a greed for repayment of of the the many €Billions they have loaned the country. Hence their insistence on reform before any more money is advanced.

        Let’s be quite clear Greece unlike Ireland, Spain and Portugal did not go bankrupt because of a property boom and bust, but because of decades of living far beyond their means, which of course required massive borrowing. A process which was facilitated (with the aid of Goldman Sachs) by falsifying the true state of the Greek economy. In other words by fraud.

        As to why the Troika is so insistent on reform. After five years of bailouts and many promises of increased efficiency and modernisation, this is how economist David Blanchflower sees the present day Greek economy.

        “The reality is that Greece has a highly uncompetitive economy and no credible tax collection system. The problems mostly are in the product, capital and housing markets that remain unaddressed. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings, Greece ranks 61st, just behind Tunisia. Greece is 155th in the ability to enforce contracts, just ahead of Laos and Botswana. There has been no reform to speak of. Greece is characterised by endemic tax evasion, a poor tax collection infrastructure, parochial patronage policies, corruption and huge delays in the administrative courts dealing with tax disputes. Greece also has deep structural problems, mostly in product markets with oligopolies in almost every industry, closed professions, administrative and bureaucratic impediments to entrepreneurship alongside barriers to trade and exporting, none of which have been addressed”

  3. Sherdy June 30, 2015 at 10:06 am #

    George,
    The difference between GB and Greece is that in the former, only the rich can retire at 32 and pay their taxes if they wish – but none of them do wish to. If you belong in any way to their so-called aristocracy you cannot retire because you never started to work in the first place, and their ‘country piles’ are subsidised by paupers like you and me.
    As far as ‘preferring’ to do deals with Putin, they only looked at that possibility when Merkel and Schauble were tightening the rope around their necks.
    Jude,
    The economy and austerity are quite simple to understand:
    When a country is in financial trouble it may use austerity to reduce costs and thus grow the economy.
    But that theory is like someone wanting to light a fire. But they have some know-all removing the kindling and telling them it will light much better.
    Simple!

  4. Larry Murphy June 30, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    Well Jude
    Coincidentally I have been doing my best to follow events in Greece for the last few months and while I have some sympathy, they are the architects of their own problems.

    You do know that they falsified their financial position to con their way into the Euro Zone
    Also to fraudulently sell €Billions worth of bonds.

    However to deal with your first point “austerity’. Here is a slightly different perspective from
    ‘Greece Watcher’ Peter Lim

    “Even if Greece is at fault for this mess, the Troika’s insistence on austerity has made things worse, so it owes a duty to clean things up – Nope, again. The Troika set up budgetary targets for the Greek government to meet, and left it to the Greeks to propose solutions, which the Troika would then approve. It was the Greek governments that proposed meeting the targets almost exclusively by slashing jobs, cutting pensions, and scaling back services. Why didn’t they crack down on corruption and tax evasion instead, so that the cutbacks wouldn’t have to be so deep? First hand accounts from those tasked with fighting tax evasion indicate that Samaras & gang actually put pressure on them not to prosecute their friends. And we all know about the “Lagarde list” being “misplaced”. So in short, it wasnt the Troika. It wasthe Greek governments who on the one hand puts forwards proposals to meet the targets by hurting the middle/working class, and on the other then claimed they were being bullied into accepting austerity.”

  5. Jim Neeson June 30, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    Perfect Comment

  6. alex June 30, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Was in Crete a couple of weeks ago. You are correct about the cats.

  7. Iolar June 30, 2015 at 11:13 am #

    One cannot help but admire the fact that democracy is alive and well in Greece. Every Greek voter has a difficult choice to make on 5 July, however, at least they have an opportunity to make a decision and live with the consequences. The Greek electorate has also been influenced by the 2011 Corruption Perception Index which measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in different countries throughout the world. The message from the bureaucrats has a resonance in Ireland,

    “Tighten your belts, do not do what we do, just do what we say.”

    The electorate in Ireland did not have the luxury of a referendum in relation to the bank bailout and many young Irish people had no choice other than to leave home in order to become economically active. Fine Gael and the Labour Party have burdened the Irish nation with a regime of austerity produced by the corruption and greed of politicians and entrepreneurs. Some contemporary politicians had the temerity to saddle an Irish cyber horse full of austerity policies for the Greek people. At present the Greek climate does not appeal to this particular horse.

  8. ANOTHER JUDE June 30, 2015 at 11:37 am #

    Whatever your grasp of maths Jude I can guarantee it is a whole lot better than mine, as the saying goes I have to take off my trousers to count to twenty one. I don`t understand economics either, how can someone like Gideon Osborne be a Chancellor of anyone`s exchequer when he has no economics qualification, it`s almost as if he got the gig because he was a buddy of the Prime Minister. What is the difference between Greece`s debt and the debt owed by other countries including Britain? Personally I am a supporter of the EU and fully intend to vote Yes if given the chance but whatever about the Greek attitude to taxes, they should just say sorry, we can`t afford to pay you back. As another old saying has it, you can`t get blood from a stone.

  9. Belfastdan June 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    In Ireland’s case Ireland was forced to go down the austerity road because of the exposure of the German and other countries banks and financial institutions after they over invested in the grossly over valued Irish property market. The same has happened to Spain, Portugal and of course Greece.

    Now if you and I were tempted to invest in a particular financial product we only have to look at the small print to be informed that the value of you investment may go down – meaning you could get a lot less out than you put in, or very possibly you may get nothing at all. Of course you would have no come back for were you not warned that this may be the case.

    However this obviously does not apply to the big institutional investors and those who run them. They always win, always get their inflated salaries and bonuses and of course go on to get the plum jobs in the EU, IMF, ECB etc.

    The Greek crisi is not about Greece paying its way; it is all about power and maintaining the status quo. For if one country can tell them to Foxtrot Oscar so can any country and that is what they fear most of all!

  10. James June 30, 2015 at 2:47 pm #

    To Belfastdan, full marks for a spot-on comment.

  11. Perkin Warbeck June 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm #

    Wouldn’t beat up too much on yourself if one were you, Esteemed Blogmeister, for suffering from a little deficit in the dismal science of economics or indeed a certain shortfall in the Department of Greek.

    Taking the second one first: look at Shakespeare and give him a nickname, like, say, The Great Shakes. See what tumbles out? What Ben Johnson, his contemporary, described as: ‘small Latin and less Greek’. That was nigh on 400 hundred years ago.

    And it took till last month in the pages of record of The Unionist Times for the articulate and exhilarating drama quintet – ‘he do have the brains of five, surely ! – Fintan O’Toole to complete that quote:’small Latin,less Greek and even lesser Hiberno-English’.

    Thankfully we have his great theatrical midsummer’s wet dream, DruidShakespeare to put that deficiency to rights:

    -But, look, the top o’ the morning itself
    In russet mantle clad
    And it to be after walking on the dew
    Of yon high eastern hill entirely,
    After the long night of Samhain, be dad.

    Shur, tis never too late.

    As for the first dearth you alluded too: to do with the dismal science. Even less to worry about there. Before the Celtic Tiger lost its geiger counter (that is, the ability to count on the toes of one FOT) the studios and columns of the purchased press and bought broadcasting companies in Dublin were alive with the sound of economists as they rhubarbed merrily on.

    -Hubbub, glub glub glub and rubadubdub of the cosiest of cosy clubs.

    Economists? So, called for their extreme economy with the forecasts of gloom, doom and the Diocese of Tuam. (The latter is mentioned because whereas most of the former were indeed blueshirted Fine Gaelers the red-topped Pet Pat from a parish of said diocese, harmonised their rhubarbing with his own distinctive motor mouthing of a barb-shaped Dail: rabbiting on. And on. And on.)

    Did their failure to forecast Armagh-geddon do the dismal scientists harm? Divil a bitteen, as we say in Hiberno-English here in the Free Southern Stateen. Turn your knob on any given dismal day and there they are still, even more economical than before.

    Just as the Mohawks from the reservations of the Mid-West are born without the vertigo gene (which guarantees them high-paying gigs on the skyscrapers of Wall Street,cleaning windows and attaching aerials to the roof tops) so also are the Economists from the dismal swamps of Belfied born without the embarrassment gene.

    This guarantees them, of course, wheelbarrows of dosh rhubarbing the Olympian height of fecal s. on matters fiscal, monetary and financial itself, going forward.

    Where one would,however, enter a caveat, E.B., is with your singling out the bluechip Blueshirts in the current Partition Government in the FSS, to the detriment of the Redline Redshirts.

    For one has a distinct recollection of the Cassandra of Killeshandra herself badmouthing the Greeks for their tactless ‘bullyboy in the schoolyard’ tactics. The Yawnaiste (for it is indeed she !), while forming one half (the taller half) of a partnership at home with Dame Enda is also part of a, erm, Troika on the Continental Shelf itself: along with those other rudderful formidable females, Christine Lagarde and Angela Merkel.

    Speaking of Hun Parties, one Henry Kissinger once famously opined (or, at least, his spin doctor did): ‘Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac’.

    Oh, ja ?

    How come then, that above named Troika of Thatcherites does not exactly float the boat (if one is to believe the generally accepted rumours currently at large, Sweat and Matt) of the male of the species, whether singly, as a twosome (to be gruesome about it) or indeed as a (gasp) Troika itself unless said male has a bottle of Power’s on board first? Gold label, of course / ar ndoigh.

    Three Handmaidens of the Handbag, indeed, but whither Mighty Aphrodite?

    To paraphrase the Mighty Woody In the fillum of that name: ‘Achilles only had an Achilles heel, Mayo has an Achill with a high heel, and tis not Dame Enda’s neither’.

    To conclude, this Grecian urn has had its turn of gloom and foreboding but tis able too to come up with the ability to crack wise when required.

    Perkie was reminded of this on hearing the rare ould tyme Dublin accent of the last standing customer of the, erm,James Joyce Oirish Pub in downtown Athens being asked, on RTE. For ? For his tuppence halfpenny bridge worth of comment on the gathering clouds of economic downpour.

    -Lookit, any city which can celebrate as its own Day of Days – the Twelfh of Never – by calling it ‘Doomsday’ will never be truly on Skid Row.

    He then went on to explain that Leopold Doom is the central character of their municipal book of books – Cuchullain – based on the story of the most significant hero of the other most ancient mythical literature of the Eurozone, that of Hiberno-England.

    And that the plot is the ulimate in Anglo irony: a quality which particularly appeals to the Panagoitos Stinks and Manoussos Mudds in their midst. For the novel is a celebration of self-loathing which expresses itself in the Chorus Line of Anglicised Athenians who are heard to chant a mantra: ‘Self-respect ! Self-respect ! Self-respect !’.

    A concept which died the death (and debt) with Cuchullain in the GPO: farewell, feinmheas.

    In the background to this cameo from the Cyclops Chapter of ‘Cuchullain’ one could just about make out the sounds of fumbling in a Grecian till.

    • Jude Collins June 30, 2015 at 6:49 pm #

      How do you manage, Perkie, to ALWAYS make your last line soar even higher than what went before? You’re a man of wit and cynicism, but then as the man said you have a lot to be witty and cynical about. Btw, did you know that Enda has set aside a goodly sum of party funds to be used for the purchase of blessed candles, to be lit in thanksgiving if the Greeks get pounded into the dust. If they don’t, he may fall back on devil-worship…

      • Perkin Warbeck July 1, 2015 at 8:47 am #

        That mention of d-worship, Esteemed Blogmeister, certainly adds an extra dimension to the old phrase: ‘Mayo, God help us !’.

        There is a track record in that green and red county, of course.

        Back in the grey and dismal (allegedly) Fifties the old cloven hoofer was on one infamous occasion sighted in the ballroom at the village of Tooreen, twisting the night away,. Which caused something of a stir at the time. Even though the Twist was still a ways away. But then, Old Nick was always ahead of his time, being the divil of a trendsetter that he is.

        But this stir was nothing compared to the kerfuffle his second appearance caused in the Sixties in the same soft-shoe shuffle of a county. This time the stir had to do with the increasingly blurred lines between, erm, Fir agus Mna / Men and Women.

        Mayo, not for the last time, was to prove something of a trailblazer in this particular field. The field of play in question might even have been located the same village of Tooreen. And occurred during the course of the county junior camogie final.

        With the seconds ticking away in the final moments of extra time in a tight, tense struggle both teams were locked in a draw: a replay beckoned. Till one of the teams took a rabbit out of the hat. This sub’s name might well have been Rabbitte as this is a not uncommon surname in the county. Though, as it happened, in this instance, it wasn’t. (see below).

        With her very first puck of the sliotar and the very last puck of the game, the super sub pointed from an unreal sixty nine yards !

        Alas, the bousouki strings of joy which this rookie had set a-strumming in her team-mates’ hearts, proved to be false. The loinsman, oops, the linesman saw to that. For in the execution of the winning stroke the sub’s pert skirt was sufficiently disconcerted to reveal more than might be normally expected on a camogie field.

        The name of the substitute turned out to be ‘P. Bliss’, the P.in this instance standing for Patrick rather than, erm, sitting for Patricia.

        Or, as the ref (who just happened to be an Elvis fan) put it in his oft-quoted written report,in that famous fall of 1963: ‘He looked like an angel; he walked like an angel; he talked like an angel but I soon got wise, on the advice of my loinsman (sic) that she, in fact. was a he, the devil in disguise,oh yes, he was, the devil in disguise’.

        The point was not only taken, but actually taken away from the winners (alleged) and awarded to the losers (equally alleged).

        So, it is not off the boreens of Bohola that Dame Enda is picking up this notion of d-worship.

        For, it must also be remembered, that as the Boy-band looking Father of the House in the Parliament of the Free Southern Stateen was brought up listening to the lilting soprano of Eileen Donaghy (mom of the Beach-boy looking Plunkett) crooning ‘Moonlight in Mayo’ .

        And that he has always longed to put his own, as it were, shtamp on his theme/ team song, having inherited his seateen in the first place as an under-achieving Boy-band looking baby of the FSS Dail after the sudden passing over of his over-achieving father, the hand baller/ footballer Henry. Such is the theory, anyhow.

        Talk about the shtuff of Greek drama.

        He longed to belong to a bigger entity, did Enda, one that would not go easy on the Mayo, as it were. When along came the Euro. And so were heard the first tentative strains of the continent-wide, all-inclusive ‘Monolith in Mayo’

        And so, the Greeks can go to Hellespont in a hand-cart.

        And so the Greeks can go to Helespont.

  12. Mary Jo June 30, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

    Belfast Dan, a very succinct analysis of exactly what went wrong in Ireland. As Irish Labour is just another conservative party bent on robbing the poor to enrich the already rich, our only hope for relief will be Sinn Fein and the independent alliance, Ireland’s version of Syriza. We’re lucky to have a sizeable radical party. The UK has none, unless you count the SNP.

    • George June 30, 2015 at 10:34 pm #

      Everyone here seems to forget that Governments have no money of their own – only taxes they collect from those who work. Banks have no money of their own – only the deposits of savers and investors that they use to lend to those who need it. If Governments and Banks lend money and they don’t get it back, the system of lending to those in need collapses because it is not their money that they are losing, it is mainly the money of ordinary people who pay tax and save.

      And if savers and investors think they are not going to get their money back, they will not save and invest anymore and those big bad banks will have no money to lend people to buy houses and to grow businesses. This profit motive thing might be all very distasteful to you Mary Jo but the Greek situation is not about power and the further enrichment of the already rich, it is about the prevention of the descent into chaos.

      There is, of course, an argument that the money should never have been lent in the first place to a country with no discernible economy and no hope of ever paying it back. However, that argument goes hand in hand with the argument of why have we tried to force such disparate economies such as Greece, Romania, Germany and France together in the plainly ridiculous pretence that they are a single European state. They are not similar in any shape form or fashion and never will be.

      Sinn Fein, like Syriza are an out and out Marxist party and tell me one instance, just one, where that genuinely very fine theory that Karl Marx came up with has ever translated into a workable solution for any economy anywhere in the world.

      • Jude Collins July 1, 2015 at 7:24 am #

        I guess you could have asked your final question of William Wilberforce when he was preaching against slavery, George…No?

        • neill July 1, 2015 at 7:42 am #

          Sorry Jude that has to go down as a ridiculous question. Read what George has said it is completely spot on he has a good grasp of economics.

        • George July 1, 2015 at 11:25 pm #

          Thank you Jude for proving my point. Some ideologies translate well to the practical level. Slavery could never be justified morally, economically or politically so the argument for its abolition won through.

          Marxism / Communism is great in theory but doesn’t work on the practical level. Working for the common good and the redistribution of wealth seems an unquestionably fair principle doesn’t it? Only problem is that it creates no wealth so there is none to redistribute.

          Imagine the Greeks wake up to a No vote and Marxist Syrizia still governing them. What policies do they have to grow their economy? Where are they going to get the money from to invest now? What are they going to produce and export to the rest of the world other than Feta cheese, yoghurt and windsurfing? How are they going to maintain those incredibly low retirement rates now? Where will they get their tax revenues from if no one is working?

          On a human level, I do feel very sorry for the Greeks to see them in such a subjugated position. But they benefiited from over 332 billion euro in loans and unpalatable though it seems, they now have to be prepared to take personal responsibility for that and make the economic reforms necessary to carry on getting financial support. Karl is not the way to go.

          • Jude Collins July 2, 2015 at 12:30 pm #

            Very well, George – I’ll leave the intimate details of what Greeks do and don’t do to you. But I think you’ve missed my initial point: because something has never been established in practice doesn’t mean it’s not worth striving for. Christianity would be one example springs to mind. I’m sure that the Greek state and people have many flaws (what state and what people haven’t?) but you’re wrong to talk about ‘Marxist Syriza’ – the Greek Marxists are a separate lot. Final point: the redistribution of wealth occurs at some level when people pay taxes – as most do. So as an idea it’s soundly based on reality. What you’re talking about is the level of distribution. I’m open to correction but you sound as though you may be a devotee of trickle-down economics. I do hope not. You seem a nice man…

      • Wolfe tone July 1, 2015 at 10:15 am #

        George, I think you will find that the government and banks have bypassed what passes for capitalism by just printing money when required. The banks in theory are about lending via savings and investors but now they simply nudge the government for a bail out when the need arises. Lending money to people to buy houses or grow business isn’t really their agenda anymore. They are only interested in lending if you buy into the inflated unrealistic manufactured property prices aka bubbles.
        The system is in chaos already. The champions of capitalism turned to socialism when their way of life and assets were threatened ie bail out. Now that they have retrieved their assets they now turn back and laud capitalism again. Chancers the lot of them. China has the right idea in dealing with this corruption.

        • George July 1, 2015 at 11:40 pm #

          China? Really? You want us to be like China?

          • Wolfe tone July 2, 2015 at 1:18 pm #

            Well all those who embraced socialism and then returned to capitalism when their assets were saved have a fondness for China too. The whiff of supremacism at the very mention of China by you says all I need to know about the character you are. I for one wouldn’t object if governments in Europe adopted the same policy that China uses in dealing with corruption. Especially those who were responsible for creating the mess in the first place. If we had some culpability then people wouldn’t feel we are being shafted. People would at least believe ‘we are all in this together’ lol.

          • George July 2, 2015 at 3:04 pm #

            Let’s not bring character into this Wolfe – I know nothing of yours – you know nothing of mine.

            China has probably the worst oppressive human rights and corruption record record on the planet with the possible exception of North Korea (you remember – that place that straps an anti-aircraft gun to you and fires it for nodding off at an army parade). There is nothing that China can teach the rest of the world about almost anything yet you want to model our appraoch to corruption on theirs.

            There’s this thing called the World Corruption Perception index (who knew? – Wikipedia is a marvellous thing!). The UK come in at 14th position and Ireland at 17th. China weigh in at number 100 on the list. My point is that if you wanted to pick out a regime that could preach to the rest of us about dealing with corruption, you could have chosen any one of 98 better examples than China.

            You do know that it is Chinese money buying up most of London at the moment? They are the very definition of the worst excesses of the Capitalism you despise but they make you think they are Communists. 🙂

          • Jude Collins July 2, 2015 at 5:40 pm #

            I thought it was those bloody Russians whose das and grandas were commies…

          • Wolfe tone July 2, 2015 at 5:52 pm #

            Aye I didn’t laud China’s economic system I praised their way of punishing the corrupt that’s all. As for league tables on human rights records etc don’t make me laugh. The supremacist attitude of people on these shores is laughable, you would swear the Europeans showed the rest of the world how to treat people?…..oh wait they did lol. As for North Korea? What do you really know about the place? I would hazard a guess we only know what we are told by corrupt news agencies?
            I am guessing George you are one of those people who claim the royal Windsor cabal are an asset to the UK economy rather than a burden to the squeezed tax payer? Lmfao!

          • George July 2, 2015 at 7:02 pm #

            I take it your not including yourself under the term supremacist Wolfe? Just everyone else who doesn’t agree with you. I know you would love to pigeon hole me but I’m not letting you. I have no time for the monarchy. I cannot stomach the privilege they have inherited by accident of birth regardless of how much they contribute to the UK economy as a tourist attraction. Confusing isn’t it?

            Might I venture to suggest that we are going slightly off the topic of Greece here? Before you know it we will be arguing about Brits and the IRA such is our propensity in this part of the world to take any topic you could care to mention and make it about us. Not going there.

    • neill July 1, 2015 at 7:44 am #

      I am intrigued what exactly will do for the poor oppressed masses a good idea might be to look at Northern Ireland at the minute…

  13. Greertoronna June 30, 2015 at 6:06 pm #

    If there is one thing we can be thankful to the Greek government for it is that they have bargained hard. In doing so they have remained faithful to their electoral mandate and they have prioritized the needs of their people over the wants and logic of the markets, represented by the EU, the international institutions and banks. The structural flaws in the Eurozone have been laid bare. Unlike federations such as Canada or the US, funds cannot move purposefully from surplus to deficit regions in the union. Shamefully, other European governments have chosen to punish the Greeks further rather than suggest a weakness in their own bargaining or tackle the shortsightedness in their economic arguments. For Greece very difficult times are ahead no matter what, but if I had a vote in the referendum it would definitely be NO.

  14. Cal June 30, 2015 at 9:17 pm #

    To quote our very own, Brian Cowen, we are where we are.

    Right now, Greece has a debt that is simply not payable. In any type of business, if a creditor can’t pay, you write down the debt.

    The fact the disintegration of the EU seems more palatable than a debt write down, is indicative of who really runs the EU.

    • neill July 1, 2015 at 7:45 am #

      Sorry that is completely wrong Cal completely wrong

    • Larry Murphy July 1, 2015 at 11:26 am #

      Yes Cal

      One way or other, Greece’s debt burden will be reduced. Maybe through a trade off in which They get debt relief for economic reform. Or they could simply say Foxtrot Yankee Mike and default from their debts and exit the single currency, but I don’t think so. With no money and consequently few friends it could be a harsh and cruel world that the Greeks are ill equipped to face.

      So they will cut a deal and promise reform in exchange for more money and massive debt relief. Of course their attempts at reform will be less than rigorous and they will continue living beyond their means demanding/needing more handouts and whining about how harshly they are being treated.

  15. Séamus Ó Néill July 1, 2015 at 6:53 am #

    Defeated in two world wars , Germany’s prime objective was and is to control Europe.After the disaster , of the Second world war , I believe a plan was formulated to take Europe by stealth.beginning with the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) in 1951.A European Defence committee , ( rejected by the French )was proposed along with a European Political Community eventually leading to The Treaty of Rome in 1958.. Along side this in 1954 ” The Bilderberg Group ” , a secretive collection of politicians and industrial leaders from around the world was formed ..Although their objectives are allegedly known only to themselves ,I believe they are the driving force behind the Troika and thus the woes of Greece,Ireland ,Spain etc. I also believe they are the prime instigators of the TTIP, TISA and TTP which if implemented will be a complete catastrophe .I urge everyone to read what is proposed…..if we are being led by the nose and have little sovereignty now , it will disappear completely

  16. neill July 1, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    So Seamus you take all the benefits of the European union and you don’t want to take any of the negatives nice!

    Who got Ireland into the mess look closely now

  17. Séamus Ó Néill July 1, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Neill ,yes there are benefits in the EU , I don’t dispute that…..but it’s top heavy….it squanders billions each year…..I haven’t time to go into it now but video conferencing would save millions instantly. The mess that you refer to in Ireland was not caused by the working class….nor the middle class but by unscrupulous money-grabbing bankers and speculators and thanks to a Gombeen , self serving , brown envelope mentality in the government ,it’s the poorest in society who have to pay !

    • George July 2, 2015 at 11:25 am #

      I don’t know the figures for Europe, Seamus but in the UK, the top 1 percent of highest earners pay almost a third of all income tax. Yes, a third. Saying that “it’s the poorest in society who have to pay” is a great sound bite that plays well to those of a socialist leaning on these forums but it isn’t actually true.

      Nor, for that matter, is saying that video conferencing would save millions instantly. In theory it might seem like it would but everything has a cause and effect. I am no fan of Europe and the bureaucrats that run it but if MEP’s and their retinue of staff aren’t travelling around, meeting each other and staying in different cities throughout Europe, that has an effect. It means less jobs in hotels, restaurants, shops, airlines, car manufacture and construction. Surely that would hurt the poorest in society even more?

      • Jude Collins July 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

        George – another way of framing your first sentence would be “There are a small number of grotesquely wealthy people in the UK”. Sort of swivels the whole perspective a bit, don’t you think?

        • George July 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm #

          On this we agree Jude. It is grotesque.

          But as a pragmatist rather than an idealist, I believe that no one has, so far, found a better way of organising the complex affairs of developed countries. Unlike Gordon Gekko, I don’t believe that greed is good. But for some, the pursuit of personal wealth is the motivating factor that drives them to set up and grow great job-creating companies. And they are not all bastards either – they can be philanthropic with all that dosh they have made. Look at that Bill Gates fella! Far better to let them give it to good causes directly than trust the Government with it I say.

          So maybe we could strike a compromise and re-frame my first sentence as follows? – see if you can buy into this: “If it were not for the taxes generated by a very small number of grotesquely wealthy people in the UK, all of whom I despise with a passion you can only imagine, we would have no National Health Service, no benefits system and no final salary pensions for public sector workers” You must agree with that surely Jude?

          • Jude Collins July 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

            Ha ha George – you should be at the negotiating table. Almost there but not quite cigar time. “If it were not for the taxes generated by a very small number of grotesquely wealthy people in the UK, all of whom I despise with a passion you can only imagine, we would have to devise a different system so we could have a decent National Health Service, benefits system and final salary pensions for public sector workers”. I like that better…

          • George July 2, 2015 at 7:04 pm #

            Ok Jude. A bit of idealism never hurt anyone. I’ll sign up to that manifesto.