April 28, 2010
Digging Deep and Seeing Greece’s Flaws
But far from blaming the international community for failing to come up with a rescue package quickly, Mr. Koptides, like many Greeks, is taking a hard look at his own country these days.
He sees far too much mismanagement and corruption.
“We did this to ourselves,” said Mr. Koptides, 37. “It is our problem. It’s not
Greeks seem to be engaged in national soul-searching these days, wondering whether traits they once found amusing might have led to many of their difficulties now.
Some say their country may have been unprepared to join the European Union in the first place. Some focus on how European Union funds sent to
“There has always been this way of thinking in
That introspection has not alleviated a sense of mounting crisis. The day’s newspapers on Wednesday carried huge headlines suggesting that the country was on the brink and that time was running out.
A newspaper that is supportive of Prime Minister George A. Papandreou took aim at the European Union, saying it was going too slowly in extending a 30 billion euro loan (about $39 billion) to help
The financial crisis has left many Greeks worried about what kind of a year they are heading into and where they can safely save their own money. Some like Costas Papadakis, an air force pilot taking the day off in
He said he did not think the Germans had behaved well toward
“We will have to learn to pay taxes,” said Mr. Papadakis, 27, who was enjoying a frothy coffee at an outdoor cafe. “It will be all right. Other people do it.”
The austerity measures have prompted a parade of protests, big and small, over the past few weeks, most of them by students and civil service workers objecting to wage reductions and tax increases. Many Greeks agree with the demonstrators’ sense of unfairness. They believe the burden of the new measures will be carried by the poor and the middle class, while the rich will continue to hide their assets offshore.
But few Greeks expect much to come of the protests.
“It is going to be a very tough few years,” Mr. Anagnostou said. “And the ones who did not pay their taxes, the ones who stole, have disappeared.”
Vicki Apostolopoulou, 38, the manager at a costume jewelry store on a busy shopping street, said customers had stopped buying months ago. “They come in,” she said. “But they don’t open their wallets anymore.”
Ms. Apostolopoulou said the fiscal crisis was the first subject of every conversation she had with her friends. “Basically, we should be angry with ourselves for this crisis,” she said. “But it is still a very scary time.”
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs