Πέμπτη, 26 Ιανουαρίου 2012

Dear Neil

  • I know it was just a joke, but I also know that within each joke there is a little pain hidden, so that it won’t hurt so much, just like a smile: you show teeth but you don’t mean harm. I also know that, if you depend on your mass media, then you are most certainly misinformed, so I am about to attempt to give you a brief account of how things really are.
    • First of all, Greece has been in constant war for an unbelievably long time. To put it into perspective: Palestine has been in war for fifty years, Iran and Iraq for something like a decade and Greece, including the civil wars and internal power struggles between American and soviet-supported groups, has been in successive and very cruel conflicts from the moment it was freed from the Turks in 1821 until 1974 when the last dictatorship ended. There has never been a period of peace long enough for the Greeks to live like you might consider “normal”. The only peaceful period was from 1974 when the dictatorship ended until now, forty years altogether, after a 150-year-long bloodshed.
    • No one deserves that.
    • Yet, even in this context, Greece has achieved two great things: to keep up business and to keep up cultural standards in the Balkans, which I must tell you are not easy things to do.
    • The strange thing now is that Europe, faced with a country so rich in soil and production, instead of making the most of it, forced greek governments to sign contracts which destroyed that production. For example, Greek farming included everything, from grains, olive trees and saffron, to cotton and tobacco in a way which was in accordance with local capacity and demand. It was even enough to export.
    • But Europe knew better. They asked us to change that wise arrangement and only gave loans to the crops they approved of, as part of a pan-european crop plan which would favor producers from France, Spain and other powerful countries, I suppose. On top of that, in order to encourage “co-operation” between European countries, Greek governments got paid quite handsomely to sign treaties which allowed European companies to import their goods without paying the taxes that they would normally have to pay and that Greek producers continued (and still continue) to pay.. This meant that imported goods were much cheaper than Greek goods.
    • As a result, the balance between production and demand was interrupted, Greeks could no longer support themselves. Exports dropped, Imports soared. Greek producers were forced to bankruptcy.
    • Another funny fact is that those imported products that we are forced to buy are especially priced at higher prices than all the rest of Europe, while still cheaper than Greek products. Once again, our politicians, bribed by practically everyone, have done a good job.
    • The moral here is that us “lazy” Greeks have to work twice as much to buy half the things that EU won’t allow us to produce ourselves. Those things include cars (there have been many attempts for greek-produced cars by private companies that have been quickly choked to death) agricultural products (we are now left with no other choice than to import dairies, fish and even olive oil from turkey and spain) and energy.
    • And now Europe wonders what to do with us.
    • Now you say we are lazy.
    • We are not lazy, we are unemployed because “wise” Europeans thought they knew better.
    • The Greek lifestyle which is now being criticized is not lazy, but balanced and this is the only reason we are still better-off than northern Europeans. We work longer hours (this is a fact!) but at the end of the day we can meet friends, have long discussions and keep up our spirits.
    • We have many holidays because this is how it should be, because we never stop work as the weather allows us to be active all year round, so, yes we actually need those long weekends and bank holidays. Those holidays never prevented us from being productive until the Europeans came around.
    • We are many things, but we are not lazy.
    • Multinational greed and capitalistic liberalism only approve of work, not rest and recreation. It has led people to alcohol abuse which is the only kind of abuse which allows you to sheepishly slumber to work the next morning. To be “productive”.
    • We are otherwise.
    • And we pay for it very dearly.

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