Will Greece Fall?  Of course, not! OXI

Below is the most gratifying comment I’ve ever written! In response to The Absurdist Tragedy of Greece now  – 

(The Final Act.  Scene I)


See? Democracy works. But if you just sit on your ass, glued to soap operas and reality show nonsense, instead of getting out on the streets and making your voice heard (It’s hard work, dammit!) and then you elect a government that reflects the nation’s angst … someone outside the Tower of Babel, concedes that common sense must prevail, instead of the yahoos who keep squeezing and saying, “MORE austerity. More!” What is it that they refuse to see? That it’s been an abysmal failure? A humanitarian disaster?


As for those former ministers – Samaras, et al – who now have the nerve to challenge the current government, they failed miserably. They were squeamish about standing up to those EU ministers, and thus, they played an active role in the present state of the nation.

Of course, the people will once again say – as they’ve said many times before – OXI. Enough of this Absurdist Drama. But you can bet plenty of material will be there for Satirists, both high-brow and lo, to feast on for generations and generations and …

Good work, Boys!

TRANSLATION: On Pensions “… Straight to the grave …” by Γιώργος Δελαστίκ (George Delastik)

I thought it would be worthwhile to translate an article written by a Greek thinker on the critical scope of the Greek Economic Crisis, its vast implications, as illustrated in the imagined solution of pensions, as perceived by the EU and IMF and now their subject, Prime Minister George Papandreou.  The author, Γιωργος Δελαστικ, speaks frankly about the implications and consequences of this facet of the rescue plan to stabilize Greece.

To read the article in Greek please click on Mr Delastik’s blog here:  http://ethnikonthematon.blogspot.com/2010/05/blog-post_26.html

Many thanks to Economists Vassilis Sardounis and Litsa Sardounis for their indispensable support and attention to the nuances of language and the many hours required to translate this piece.  I have done my best to maintain the integrity of the author’s thoughts and have modified rarely those phrases which would help illuminate his position and structurally adjusted some sentences for coherence to accommodate the drift from one language to another.

Social Cannibalism

The Greek nation has fallen victim to “social cannibals” from the moment Prime Minister, George Papandreou, decided to subject Greece to the regime of human cruelty— as implemented by the IMF and EU—and slavery. Having transformed the government of Papandreou into a puppet to implement their mandates, the representatives of this ostensibly civilized EU and known professionals —”social executioners”  — of the IMF have propelled with their measures the standard of living of the Hellenic nation many decades backwards and into a chasm.  Not even the most malicious and ill-intentioned  enemies of PASOK could not have imagined what type of unprecedented nightmare would evolve for the working class through the governance of George Papandreou, who in a tragic stance remains president of the International Socialists Organization, the weak of the planet who expect social protection and an albeit somewhat more just society! To the degree … that now widows and orphans are under the scope of the savages of the EU and IMF, and they dare to cut the pensions of the dead father, even though the children are minors!  It sounds unbelievable but it is real.  The EU wants to transform widows and orphans into beggars!  This does not fit easily in the mind of people in the year of 2010.  “From work straight to the grave” is the dogma which totally steers the decisions of the cannibals of the EU and IMF on the theme of pensions.

This uncovers their decision to grant full pensions after 40 (!) years of work and to deduct 6% from a pension for each year worked less than that.  In other words, whoever experiences periodic unemployment and today collects their pension, having worked a total of 30 years, will receive a pension at 40% its full value, (i.e., losing 60% of the full pension.)*  Woe to whoever who should become ill, to whoever is a student of higher education, and therefore delays entry into the workforce, to whoever falls victim to increasing unemployment rates among youth.  Young scientists, for example, who have difficulty finding work in their fields with assurance of some form of insurance rights, and who often don’t settle into a job until around 30 years of age, and later, will have to reach … 70-75 years to get their full pension!  But what employer in the private sector is able to keep one employed until 70 or 75 years?  But also in the public sector, what can employees of this age contribute?  Will a teacher 75 years old teach the children of primary school?  We’re not talking about a few thousand whose experience as top management might have some value — though even this is uncertain since the quality of their knowledge and its value may be diminished considering the rapidly shifting trends of progress and current of thought — but hundreds of thousands of workers who will be threatened with total social wretchedness.  And beyond this though will no one be found to stop the crime being designed against the young by the cannibals of the EU and the IMF?

Will we allow the establishment of a society where the old occupy a myriad of positions in the work force, and the young will remain on the outskirts of continually shrinking  job prospects?  What kind of future does such a society have that voluntarily deprives itself of the vigor and creativity and vision of its youth, whilst parallely throws the aged into … the social Kaiada** of unspeakable poverty and suffering — once positions are vacated — and are granted a pension whose value is worthless, and will not allow one to survive with dignity?  This type of society has no future.  The diseased brains of the EU and IMF who thought these things should by no means be allowed to integrate this act of theirs.  Finally the bookkeepers should stop directing the fate of European societies before they drown us in chaos, and into catastrophe, and we tear each other to pieces.

THE DOGMA:  From work to the grave.  The representatives of the EU and the IMF would have been more sincere if they had immediately said that we would prefer to … exterminate the aged instead of giving them pensions— some type of “social Auschwitz” — since this way the deficit would shrink.  But as part of the first phase, however, they want to transform us into beggars and then we’ll see what comes next!  But in Greece we have other customs and sensibilities, thousands of years old now.  In this land we respect our elders, we love them, and we take care of them.  We consider Kaiada a form of barbarism for over 2500 years now.  The position of the EU and IMF toward pensions has immense significance for us.  Let us at least save our civilization.

*(40 yrs = 100%; 39 yrs = 94%; 38 yrs = 88%; 37 yrs = 82% … 30 yrs = 40%)

** Kaiada.  A gorge in Ancient Sparta where the weak offspring were dropped from to ensure the strength of the nation.   Also used to dispose of enemies and prisoners of war.

Somewhere Between Aristophanes and Aristotle

Sometimes when the weather is cloudy it is difficult to discern what is exactly behind those clouds.  Clouds have a way of obscuring what needs to be brought to light but often cannot.  Such have been the past few days, and I have found myself wandering among strange places, not knowing my precise location, helpless.  For last week I heard of a dog who needed to be rescued…  And I offered him a place to stay until he could find a permanent home.

There is a tiny niche here in Athens, composed of people who hate to see animals suffer, and who tend to them, offer them some sort of shelter and food.  No one pays them, of course, to do these things.  It’s an instinctual response to suffering—especially that kind of suffering that comes from the hands of humans toward animals.  Now we all know how capable humans are when it comes to treating one another, how humane we are towards our brothers and sisters…  But animals…  Why?  Why do some humans treat animals with spite and hatred?  What have they done to warrant such a response?

Zephira who rescued three dogs had found them beaten and abused and starving.  It took the dogs over 2 years to recover.  Today they are beautiful, loving and gentle creatures.  Because of Zephira.  Because of the kindness and affection and nurturing she has shown them.  If only humans treated children the way she treats her animals…  We would be proud to call ourselves by that name.  But most do not.  And along with abandoned animals are children mixed in as well.  And these thoughts are troubling.

When Nikos first showed me a picture of a dog who had been mauled by other dogs in the shelter outside of Athens in the woods, he had a peculiar-looking face, and I searched for the right name for him.  Turns out he simply is not photogenic.  You should see him in person!  So handsome.  And smart.  And polite.  And disciplined.  He is irresistible!  But before I had seen him in person, the picture I saw of him was comical.  He looked as though he had a bulbous nose on the tip of his snout, and well, kind of silly.  And so I named Aristophanes, because he made laugh.

Not more than 18 months old, Aristophanes had been living with a pack of other rescued dogs, left to their own resources during the day and night, except for the feeding times when Nikos and Maria visited them, and spent some time with them, playing and socializing them.  Now why the other dogs turned on Aristophanes is a bit of a mystery.  But we suspect it had to do with establishing dominance, and Aristophanes was eager to show his virility, which the other dogs, all male, apparently did not appreciate.  This is part of their nature, of course, to establish dominance and control of the pack.  For these animals don’t claim any intellectual honors for themselves.  They go by their instincts alone.

Anyway, after a trip to a veterinarian in Agia Paraskevi, who is drawn to abandoned animals and helps those who help them by significantly reducing his fees, Aristophanes was shaved, for he had a beautiful coat but it was difficult to determine the extent of his injuries, neutered, his left ear was stitched, and placed on antibiotics, and he now lives with me.  And what a fine companion he is!  Highly intelligent, he learns at the speed of lightening, and never intrudes on your space, but watches and learns from your behavior and responds accordingly—a role model worth noting by humans.  I fell in love with him instantly.

But on our return trip from the vet Nikos said, “Wait and see.  Now with all the problems we have here in Greece, the streets will be flooded with dogs again, abandoned by those who can no longer afford them—”  (Besides those who simply abandon them when they are done playing with them.)  “Do you know what the wages are of someone entering the workforce today?” he said to me.  “500 Euros a month.”  Let’s see now.  What can 500 Euros per month buy you?  Maybe an apartment?  If you’re lucky.  But most likely not.  Probably enough food to survive.  Besides expenses associated with working—clothing, transportation, etc.  That’s about it.

And so Greece continues to be one of the poorer nations, while others—the other dogs—attempt to profit from her poverty.