Greece: Death of a nation

Ex IT Guy, ex Project manager in Digital signage project from Greece, that emigrated in Germany due toe the Finance Crisis. Blogger in numerous Greek blogs, like politics and my hometown Thessaloniki

Two Sundays ago the Greek parliament voted for the new austerity measures package that would lead eventually our country to the new salvation package which is called PSI+. In few hours probably we will get it and Greece would officially become a dead zone.

Our prime minister, which held the position after our old one decided that he couldn’t cope with his wrong choices since 2009, would officially sign the package that saves the banks and contemns the people, the same people that the majority of the Germans and probably citizen of other countries, think that they are the laziest people in the world and getting their pension when they become 40 and they depend on corruption for their surviving. The fact that our Prime Minister is a banker is just a coincidence.

Since 12/2 the lower wage for people under 25, in Greece, is 390€ and for the rest 450€ net. In a country where there is no social care at all and where the unemployment benefit is 454€/month for one year and the official unemployment rate is over 20% and still rising, its not a surprise that more than 1/3 of the population lives in poverty.

I was visiting, last Wednesday until Saturday, the city that I grew up, Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece with a population over a million. I saw my pensioner father who is now 76 and he went on pension 11 years ago after 35 years working as teacher. His pension had a 30% cut and his taxes more than 15% rise. In his house lives my brother, 47 years old who is unemployed 3years now and there is no possibility to find a job. His other son, me, at the age of 47 emigrated last September in Germany, while being unemployed for 6 months after 21 years of continues work as self-employed or as employee in private companies. His daughter, my sister, with 2 kids and a husband still has a job that she could lose at any time.

The winter was harsh this year, maybe the worst winter since 1988 and that means more money for petrol and gas. The number of homeless people in Thessaloniki has risen exponential, in a city that was and is not prepared for a situation like this. The new elected Mayor, a charismatic 68 years old wine producer, uses its charm for attracting more tourists from Israel, Turkey and west European countries, while his city becomes dirtier with garbage overflowing the garbage cans from where the “neo-homeless” are trying to feed themselves.

Still, through this misery that our politicians, together with businessmen friends of theirs, brought to our country, people are trying to find a light through this labyrinth that they are in. Last Thursday was Fat Thursday and the Greek tradition wants people to go out celebrate and eat meat. This year half of the bars of Thessaloniki had parties with the owners grilling meat and giving it for free to their clients, something that for years goes on in the city.

People tried to have a party; there was also a street party from the bicycle club of Thessaloniki that was held for the third year in a raw. Young people were drinking and dancing, trying to forget there misery by fighting it with the best way they can, trying to forget that there is no job for them, just politicians that care to be reelected at any cost.

The city was celebrating the day, because Greeks live for the day when other Europeans die for the future. There is not right or wrong in this way of thinking. Its a different way of life. That is what EU hasn’t understood. You can’t have Greeks behaving as Germans and you can’t have Germans behaving as Greeks, Each one has its purpose, but both are suffering in order that the banks won’t suffer.

Today my country will be executed by a bunch of people who think that numbers are better than humans. Tomorrow I will probably go there with the “occupation army” of people that want to exploit the situation in Greece, as a part of their working force. Nobody wants to hear other voices or paradigms that saying or showing that there are also other ways to confront with the crisis and the banks.

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7 Responses to Greece: Death of a nation

  1. Vishal says: February 21, 2012 at 11:46 am

    Lovely article, Tom! Very touching indeed!

    And a great point where Greeks can’t be like Germans and vice versa. It’s a pity that an entire country suffers due to deliberate bad decisions by some politicians. I think this problem will only worsen will people from Goldman Sachs taking over at the helm of the rest of the European countries ridden in debt.

    I wish you, your family and the citizens of Greece all the best! I sincerely pray to God for better days to come for your country.

    • Argos says: February 21, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      Thank you for your thoughts and wishes. Unfortunately better days are far far away. In 2020 Greece’s debt would be 120% when in 2009 was the same and our politicians said that it isn’t manageable. Why should it be then ?
      The austerity measures will bring more unemployment and more suffering and of course no development that could help our country to move on. Unfortunately we lack of politicians that care about the country.

      • Vishal says: February 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm

        It’s a little confusing, Tom! America’s current debt is 120% of its GDP; yet it seems to be able to hold on. True, they are the world’s biggest superpower, but the decline is steady.

        Maybe devaluing and switching to the Greece currency will arrest the problem which Greece has faced due to flaws in the Euro concept. However, if the leadership does not care about the country, as you stated, then it’s hard to witness such a bold step being taken.

        All the best nonetheless. India opened its floodgates to the world in 1991 when we were pushed against the wall and on the verge of a collapse. Hopefully, you soon will elect a leader who drags you out of trouble and towards a prosperous future.

        • Argos says: February 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm

          yes but USA has one finance politic for the states, Eu has 27. And of course Greece has no industry except Tourism.
          Our leaders are more concerned who will be the leader of the socialist party than our future. The only cure lies in everyone of us. I hope that we will manage. thank you for your concern Vishal

  2. Hany Ghoraba HanyGhoraba says: February 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Tom , this is a very heartbreaking story about a country that I hold so dear to my heart. As an Egyptian I can understand the hardships the good people of Greece are suffering from now especially in post revolution Egypt where things are moving from bad to worse. I have been in Thessaloniki which is a lovely city that I have great memories about more than a decade ago and it was quite flourishing back then before the Euro. Everyone was excited back then about the preparations for the Summer Olympics of 2004 and everyone was optimistic about the country future. Now I can’t say the same unfortunately as indications that things are going south were as early as of 2003 because of the Euro which have made everything 3 times as expensive in in a matter of days. I just extend my prayers for you, your family and to the beloved country Greece to bounce back and get on its feet again. I am sure Greeks all over the world as well as other nations will not let Greece sink alone like this. One of the few perks of Globalization if not the only one, is that the entire globe is now connected with a chain so if the chain is broken it will let others fall as well. So hopefully things will get better sooner than you expect but it will take the proud Greek people a lot of sacrifices and dedication to steer the country back to progress. God bless you all .

    • Argos says: February 22, 2012 at 1:17 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words and thoughts that I appreciate more because of the common part of earth that we sharing and our common history as nations and countries.

      • Hany Ghoraba Hany Ghoraba says: February 22, 2012 at 4:02 am

        You are always welcome my friend. You are absolutely right Egypt and Greece share a common history and also I believe a common future. I pray that the Greek and Egyptian people would take their countries out of the current mess and advance forward in the near future. Again I thank you for your great story and report and hope that better future lies ahead.