Happy Seven Months Anniversary since St. Patrick’s Day!
I say that because I think the Greeks could use a little pluck of the Irish about now.
I’ve been distracted for the last few weeks with Bouchercon and preparing for my book release and tour, thereby allowing my finger to slip off the pulse of events in Greece.
In my experience, so much of what I read in foreign reports of what’s happening in Greece misses the essence of that nation’s dilemma. Greece is not predictable in a Western way, for its people accept the inevitable corruption of its public servants, have a penchant for believing in macho demagoguery over reality (e.g., the Prime Minister was elected by reason of rhetoric glorifying his efforts, not the abysmal results), and will suffer endlessly as long as there are others than themselves to blame for their circumstances (after all, the Greeks did create the Fates).
I had put all that out of my mind over these past weeks, and even begun to imagine that a stoic calm had fallen over the land, despite the raging conflagration with its EU brethren and Turkey over the horrific Syrian immigrant situation, and a pervasive dread hovering in the air over quid pro quo draconian reforms surrounding the third bailout.
But with my first glance at the in-country Greek news, all thoughts of a better disposition vanished.
|Greece's Prime Minister|
Unemployment still exceeds Great Depression levels, Parliament has only passed 30% of the reforms mandated by the bailout agreement, Europe is not happy with Greece’s progress, protectionist lobbies are invoking centuries old prejudices in efforts to protect their sacred cows, sitting ministers are facing charges of graft, Greece’s Revenue Chief has been asked to step down amid claims of corruption…. On and on. Same old, same old.
As for the substantive pain about to be borne through new revenue generating measures, there’s something for tourists and Greeks alike. The price of admission to historical sites is slated to go up by multiples, and among the many potential VAT increases currently on Parliament’s agenda is a 23% VAT on private education. And, oh yes, let’s not forget that financial controls are still in place limiting bank withdrawals to 420 euros ($477) per week, and don’t bother trying to get around them easily.
But there is a breath of good news out there.Fifteen Thousand people are expected to take part in the 19th Annual Athens Fun Run on Sunday. It will turn a number of Athens central roadways into a runners’ paradise free of vehicles.
Hmm, that gives me an idea for my new book. Something else I better get back to paying attention to.