Can Greece Survive in the Eurozone?
If Jesus was born in Greece and the three wise men were four they would have brought, in addition to Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh what Greece has always needed the most ... reason.
It can, provided it changes itself from a country where reason is not in shortage to one where it is in abundance.
In Greece a boy participating in a demonstration turned rough was shot dead by a nervous policeman in December 2008. The day of the boy’s death has been faithfully commemorated in the years that followed with demonstrations of sorts that invariably turn violent, to honor what? What did the boy do that was heroic, commendable? What do the Greeks honor on the anniversary of the boy’s death? Violence per se. The boy’s family apparently condones violence. If it did not, it would have come outand asked that the boy’s death be commemorated in a constructive manner, like the planting of trees somewhere, or at least a silent march. But in Greece violence is one good way to commemorate a useless death. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe?
Come November 17th and Greece celebrates what was the beginning of the end of the seven years rule of the military junta that had governed Greece, from 1967 to 1974, after a bloodless coup. The celebration is sprinkled with some violence, to provide an identity, and culminates to a march from the Athens Polytechnic to the US Embassy (the country which openly supported the junta). The seven years military rule was, generally, peaceful. This, presumably, gave the Greeks a sense of guilt and so they celebrate November 17th, to commemorate that day in 1974 when students, in an open challenge to the junta, had barricaded themselves in the Athens Polytechnic demanding the freedom that only Democracy can offer. The Greeks celebrate the triumph of democracy, which, when firmly established in 1974, was grossly misused thereafter, by all.
There are no celebrations for the end of the civil war, started at the end of W.W.II, which, if the Communists had won, would have made Greece a Soviet “satellite”, kept at a level of opulence alike that of the former Soviet satellites.
No celebrations for the end of the Nazi rule the fall of 1944. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe?
After the restoration of Democracy what did the Greeks do? Did they put in place a modern state? One that is friendly and supportive to private enterprise, well administered and able to lead the country to Economic Development? Did they ensure that its judicial practices are attuned to contemporary needs, swift and efficient?
Did they modernize its tax codes and system to eradicate tax evasion and make the system supportive to business endeavors? Did they endeavor to create a state mechanism with no institutionalized impediments to economic development, like a notorious bureaucratic mentality and anachronistic practices, a mechanism immune to corruption, capable of making life better for the Greeks in their fields of endeavor and in every day life? No to all the above, yet they pursued and won inclusion to an elite group of countries that the Eurozone is. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe?
Did Greece ever have a development plan, articulated with objectives and strategies? Did it ever have Budgetary Controls and assessment of the effectiveness of public expenditures? No. It borrowed to throw money at the people and thus attain an unsustainable level of affluence. One could think that the loans were, to the eyes of the politicians, donations, with the interest paid a return of favors. Was the excessive borrowing used to finance development? No. It largely bought support for the ruling parties, in conjunction with excessive concessions to various interests, often against economic reasoning. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe?
Now that Greece is in a pit did the Government negotiate its “salvation” tactics, like the Irish Government did? Did it use common Economic sense? No. It plunged the country to a very deep recession and very high unemployment, with no developmental antidotes to create the revenues to reduce debt. Did it start a rationalization of public expenditures, to the last Euro? Did it start reorganizing the bloated and grossly ineffective state mechanism and especially its procurements practices? Did it tackle the archaic tax system and practices? Did it design tax incentives which encourage jobs creation? Did it create an environment conducive to I n n o v a t i o n? Did it open up the Economy, which resembles a soviet style economy with all sorts of impediments to business, innovation in particular? No. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe?
Greece was blessed with a brilliant, capable, technocrat who heads a Government of third rate individuals, inept and unwilling to do what they are meant to do. Can such a Government stop the skid, turn the country around and put it on the road to recovery and growth? Certainly not. Greece is therefore doomed, unless : 1. The Prime Minister replaces nearly all those political pygmies who compose his Government with about two dozen technocrats who, devoted to duty, talented and effective, can assure the survival of Greece in the Eurozone.
2. The New Government puts the emphasis of its creative work on business start ups to a) create the jobs that are lost, daily, from the daily shrinkage of the number of businesses operating and b) replace the outmoded businesses that are dying, with new ventures addressed to current and future economic realities. This means : Immediate opening of the Economy, deletion with one stroke of the pen, of all the existing laws and regulations regarding business and their replacement by new clear, simple, legislation which encourages the creation of businesses, so that Greece can make a huge jump up the ladder, from being 109th in the world in the ease of starting a new business to, number one, why not (?) This will attract Foreign Investment and of course Greek investments. It will also provide a very strong incentive for the bright young Greeks of the diaspora to return and contribute their talent and knowhow to the Greek Economy and will, most certainly, unleash the Greek innovative thinking and business dynamic.
3. The New Government declares the Exclusive Economic Zone of the country which, by law, borders that of Cyprus and invites American Companies to explore and, if the findings suggest, to develop the energy resources on Greek Land and under Greek Sea beds, thus gaining the potential which experienced American companies can bring and at the same time the American Government protection from the problems Turkey is likely to create.
4. The New Government can present to the International Business Community the appropriate plans and seek partners with whom to exploit the very great Economic potential that is lying under the Greek soil. The Mineral Wealth of Greece alone can, if appropriately exploited, turn Greece to a Rich country.
All the endemic problems of the Greek Economy, from tax evasion to outmoded business practices and, indeed corruption will thus be eliminated, because the “renovation” of business legislation will render redundant, not only the practices but also many of the people. The gigantic public sector will be replaced by one composed of a reasonable number of capable people in the appropriate positions and the hundreds of thousands of redundant public employees will be re-trained and given assignments of social work. The resurrection of Greek business will produce taxable incomes which will create public revenues with which the Government (of technocrats who can make every euro of Government revenue go a long way by eliminating waste and instituting efficiencies) can thus finance social services, from a better educational system, designed to provide for current and future National needs, to a better health system, efficient and contributory to the country and it can provide services currently unavailable in Greece.
Such a Government can show to Mrs. Merkel and her near sighted cohorts, as well as to the EC and the IMF, that Greece may be, presently, a third world country because it has been “taken for a ride” by the unscrupulous politicos who degraded it to one, but that the Greeks, when alerted to a healthy opportunity and just profit by an enlightened, capable Government which paves the way for NATIONAL progress, are as good as the successful people of the Eurozone and therefore the “one size fits all” good for third world countries measures imposed on Greece are not appropriate, for Greece. Such a Governmnet can demand and gain a new, realistic plan to stave off bankruptcy through development, not austerity alone.
Conclusion. Greece can not stay in the Eurozone because it lacks a political system that is in tune with the Eurozone outlook and there is no reason to hope that it will get one … pronto. Time is running out and with it Greece to the exit door of the Eurozone.
Smart grids and the appropriate electricity consumption meters in all public buildings could save Greece 120 million Euros a year, but who cares. Makes sense? In Greece yes. In Europe No, but Greece is not Europe so it will slip to what it is, a part of the so called third world, out of the Eurozone. A third world country in mentality can not survive in the Eurozone and its expulsion will bring a revolution, alas too late to stave off the inevitable.
Trully, the country is with one foot out of the Eurozone, because it has done nothing to materialize its commitments and its partners are loosing their patience. The Papandreou Government with its refusal to serve the country, to avoid the political cost of the measures, putting party interests above those of the country, has committed a crime against Greece, perpetuated, it seems, by the present “service” Government. Too bad that the brilliant career of Mr. Papadimos will end in shame, unless he acts at once to save Greece. If reason is not dead in Greece, he will.