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« Silver Wheaton placed 3rd in Top 10 Most Efficient Basic Materials Stocks | Main | Silver Hit by a Fed Rate Rise »
Sunday
Feb212010

Greece where tax-dodging is a national pastime

Mykonos.JPG
Mykonos

One of our readers sent us this article that appeared in The Daily Mail about life in Greece, how it was, how it is and what they now face. Many will read this and think that this situation not only exists in Greece but they are also surrounded by similar examples of the same thing in terms of government mis-use of tax payers money and employees who pull every fiddle imaginable.

However we see it as both a dilemma and also an opportunity for the European Union.

The immediate decision facing the EU is do they support Greece or set her free from the union. To support Greece the other members of the union will need to cough up the financial support to keep Greece afloat for now. To set Greece free will only lead to the next weakest country in the union becoming the target of the fund managers who are looking to make a killing, much the same as life in the jungle where the predators prey on the weakest in the herd. The solution, for now, would appear to be some sort of EU bailout followed by decades of austerity measures for the Greeks, not exactly the European dream that they signed up for.

The opportunity for the EU is that they could use this situation to implement laws to ensure that that an individual country can never again be singled out for such treatment. They could eliminate all individual sovereign debt and roll it into one European debt so that treasury bills, etc, were backed by the EU and not just one member state. The opportunity to seize more power must be very tempting indeed. As someone said recently, “never let a good disaster go to waste”

Having visited Greece many times I would dearly like them to retain their individuality, unique character and indifference to authority, as the world has enough conformists at the moment.


Please click here to read the article in full:

When my oldest child, Christopher, moved to Athens 20 years ago, it was the appeal of the good life that drew him.

True, he had to work - he's a cellist and he'd managed to get a job with a new orchestra - but not very hard.

A couple of hours' rehearsal most mornings and the occasional concert and that was about it.
That's because it cost almost nothing. Those were the days of the drachma when the bank notes had lots of noughts and a decent taverna meal with all the wine you could drink cost the equivalent of a fiver. The rent on his two-bedroom flat in a pleasant area was £40 a week.
The good life indeed. For a few years, he thought he'd died and gone to Heaven.

But we can at least blame others for our parlous state. It's not OUR fault, is it, that the banks almost brought the economy to its knees?

And why shouldn't we have believed it when we were told we could enjoy the boom without having to worry about a bust? Hadn't we worked hard and paid our taxes and earned our prosperity? And this is where we differ from our friends in Greece.

Sofia is a charming young woman whose first job was working for the state-owned electricity company (the DEI).

It was meant to have been privatised many years ago but they never quite got around to it, which was fine because although it is inefficient on a heroic scale, it was always able to find jobs for anyone with the right connections.

Sofia had no connections but she is mildly diabetic and so was deemed to qualify for a state job. That's how it worked.

When she hit her late 30s, she decided to retire and was given a pension - admittedly not a full pension but that didn't really matter because she had another income.

This came from her art supply shop - a very nice little business that she'd spent five years building up.

Five years when she should have been working at the DEI. Not in her spare time but full-time. She simply stopped going to work.

Smart new apartment buildings stand empty. Luxury cars more often than not sport 'for sale' signs in their rear windows. The small ads in newspapers are bulging with televisions, fancy fridges, even motor boats bought with credit that can no longer be paid back.

Holiday hotels that would be fully booked with Greek families for the summer wonder how they will fill their rooms.

And the proud people of Greece have the indignity of seeing their country held up to ridicule on the world stage in every newspaper and television news bulletin.

The many Greeks Christopher talks to seem almost disappointed that the EU bailout means they won't be forced to pull out of the euro.

They love the idea of returning to the drachma because it reminds them of the good old days. But, equally, they know those days are gone for ever. And that really does frighten them.







All the best.

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Reader Comments (3)

What happened to the, "print this article" button. It is much missed for those of us who often have to print the article and read it at another time and place. Besides I often pass on the articles to my colleagues after I've read them. Please bring that feature back, thanks.

February 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarl Avrit

Carl,

Thanks for telling us, we had not noticed that it had been removed, so we have contacted our web guy to have re-instated.

February 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSilver Prices

Carl,

Should be fixed now, so thank you once again for taking the time to tell us about it.

February 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSilver Prices

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