July 1, 2015 at 11:04 pm #42241
Greetings to all. After reading the excellent threads on Greece, making some very valid points on the crisis, I thought I’d add some of my own experiences since I reside in Greece and I have first-witness accounts from myself and those I associate with. I will try to update this regularly and to answer what questions may arise as to the nature of the struggle here.
This is part of what I posted on another thread in the Forum: “I currently live in Greece so I would be happy to contribute with regards to what is happening here. Sometimes I noticed certain things omitted by news coverage in TV channels and there are various reasons for such omissions. In any case, people are fairly stressed but try not to show it too much as they maintain hopes of something worked out that would lessen their misery in the future. Unfortunately, whatever the result of the referendum, no easy-fix solutions exist; it is bound to get worse in the near future as resources and funds will be stretched to the limit. Some people in Greece argue that one scenario is bad and the other is even worse (depending on who you listen to). But from what I see, many people are disillusioned as they slowly wake up from decades of slumber and inactivity, passively allowing politicians to drag the country to financial ruin. They seem aware now of where political greed and corruption led them. I don’t know whether it is too late to avert the worst; for sure it is a SHTF scenario, but perhaps worse things can still be averted.”
So let’s get to reporting on some things that were under-reported:
Since Sunday night when the government decided to announce Capital Controls for the banks, people have responded with anxiety and numbness, yet they generally remained civil. That does not mean that they were excited or glad to be in that predicament: some had to go to various ATM’s as they had run out of cash, and others had to stand for over an hour in long queues on the street at night, to be able to withdraw the limited amount that was allowed Per Day (60 euro at first). Something that perhaps was not widely mentioned was that, despite the reassurances to the public that all their money was safe and that there were enough to go round, apparently the cash machines are running out of 20 euro notes…. which is interesting in itself. Now most ATMs give 50 euro. Some people remarked that these were hardly enough, especially if they had need to buy medication regularly due to medical condition, or due to having many kids with needs of their own. In any case, there’s nothing they can do but endure it. I remember reading somewhere that they tend to spring on the people stuff like that (capital controls, banks closing or forced bank holidays) on Sunday night…it came to be true for Greece as well.
With regards to the people’s psychology, as you are probably aware there are two fronts: one is Pro-Europe and another is favouring Grexit and for the country to make its own path. Supporters of each front are annoyed at the opposition as they deem the others responsible for the mess. But, of course, this is a very short sighted opinion, derived through anger, resentment and fear of what comes. The truth is that for many years, maybe since 1974, all the Greek governments unfortunately betrayed the trust of a populace that was largely uneducated and easily manipulated by false promises. Over time, corruption increased as two political parties (PASOK and the neoliberal ND) ruled in turns, forming client relationships with their voters and accepting bribes or arrangements for family members to find work in exchange of voting them. Also, greedy politicians began their own fraudulent schemes, attempting to divert significant sums (millions) from EU funds aimed to assist growth in Greece over a period of three decades and ending up in their pockets or in Swiss bank accounts. Many of these ruthless individuals succeeded in their plans, and as both of the parties were involved in corruption cases, guess what: they didn’t tell on one another. They argued in parliament and blamed each other for the mess, but that was it. No consequences. The people believed that the politicians were corrupt, yes, but somehow the vast majority did not realise that the funds were devoured by these people and only a small fragment ended up to the people themselves. The situation got so bad that for a period of a few years, the Greek Government were providing doctored statistics to the European Statistical Agency with regards to expenditures, Gross product, and various other figures and THOSE statistics were amended in 2009!!! which means that these individuals and their teams deceived the European Commission by forging data in order to become member state, and then continued to deceive until the whole thing was exposed; it is important to remember that the people themselves believed that “there was money available, yet these politicians squander it or steal some for themselves”. People were under the impression that the country was actually supporting itself with only some assistance by the EC. This dangerous illusion set the way for the vast misunderstanding of today’s crisis. People finally woke up and realised, “hey, we crashed!… but wait..we were bailed out before.. does that mean that our economy had crashed previously? These Europeans claim to have spent all these money on us…we didn’t receive one bit!” And of course, it’s always easy to blame others and not yourself. Who is going to admit that it was their own country’s incompetence in successive governing bodies and the ongoing corruption that’s at fault, and not the Europeans? Did the Greeks truly care to investigate matters themselves? Did they inquire and chase those people that brought them to this? No. It was easy to ignore it, shrug and hope that someone else will fix the mess.
On the other hand, the Europeans were enraged by the “lazy Greeks who consume other people’s money and live the good life, and now they complain and refuse to pay their lenders”….is it naivete or righteous anger? or malice? Are the Europeans evil or the Greeks lazy? I don’t believe in such generalizations. The European people were led to believe that their own money were to support Greece and so their populace honestly believed that they were supporting the people of Greece…where in truth, the money was going in the corrupt politicians’ pockets ruling Greece and plunging the country into more and more debt. I made this distinction because otherwise it will be hard to understand what these Greeks are complaining about during this referendum on Sunday.
To several people I spoke with, their minds are confused with regards to what it means to vote Yes or No to the referendum. All of them wanted Greece to remain a part of Europe. But each side has its own interpretation on the facts and some propaganda does not make things easier. Both sides are skilled at the Blame Game. The problem is that these highly stressed people will be asked to vote on something that they don’t fully understand. I don’t mean this in the simple way; what they fail to grasp are the consequences of each. Where will their choice lead Greece? nobody believes it’s gonna be easy, but others warn it’s the way to perdition or utter chaos. Will their fear of the unknown and chaos lead them to vote Yes and even more Yes votes to any European proposal, as long as they are out of the danger of utter collapse? I do not know for sure. However, these things are facts:
a) Since 2009 and until 2013, there are 6,000 suicides (half of them were reported by the Greek Statistics Authority but the Police Records disputed the number, adjusting the number to 6,000.) Recently a hospital manager claimed that the number rose to 10,000 by 2015…. and in their vast majority, these suicides were due to desperation due to financial ruin.
b) unemployment is under-reported: in OAED it’s approximately 26% (but this percentage is according to the unemployed in their official register). There are other unemployed that are not registered and living in awful conditions with their parents or grandparents, raising the percentage to 30% approximately… ONE in THREE not working…. the austerity measures and the closing of businesses continues to add to these numbers.
So I wondered tonight, as I passed out of yet another run-out ATM where more frustrated faces greeted me; where is this going to end? What happens when these depressing acts of desperation change focus and turns their frustration elsewhere? What happens when the people wake up on the day after the referendum, feeling cheated and depressed yet again? What then? And then I think: it’s too early to think of endings. This is just the beginning.
(Will be updating this regularly to inform you of current developments; thank you for your patience in this long read)July 2, 2015 at 8:19 am #42245
Great post. Thank you for sharing. Quick questions if I may? As the available money becomes restricted do you see:
a) Is price ‘gouging’ happening yet? Increasing prices for essential items with no justification?
b) It seems there has been a degree of ‘trade’ and alternate currency options developed in some areas of Greece already, are these type options now being adopted in larger areas?
c) On many threads I read ‘access to medications’ seems to crop up as an issue very often. Is there a shortage of medication, or is it the fact it’s there but unaffordable too many?
I hope your preparations are well under way and sufficient too see you through these tough times. One of my wife’s co-workers flew back to Greece yesterday to assist family members their. It was very interesting talking to him before he left, there is a clear and understandable concern from many about the deteriorating situation!
Stay safe!July 2, 2015 at 12:22 pm #42246
Thanks for posting the thread Proteus, Not surprisingly political financial coruption and lies seems to be universal. My question is how much food is imported and has the supply been interrupted ? I’ve come to the realization the the food/grocery business in the US and Europe run by about 6 huge international conglomerates. I’m curious how they will handle the situation.July 2, 2015 at 2:28 pm #42249
Hello again and thanks for the comments.
Toby, you are right. With regards to your questions:
a) prices seemed to have increased in supermarkets on selected things like meat, but so far not to all food. Other products seem largely unaffected, although I believe it’s early days yet and prices are bound to go up the more desperate people become.
b) I heard of a “bitcoin ATM” being set up the other day, but haven’t confirmed this. With regards to barter economy, it’s small scale and happening in places but nothing solid as yet. Euros are still the basic currency at the moment.
c) Yes there are some shortages in medication. This was announced in the News today in some places, for some medications. Perhaps it’s a trend of things to come and it’s reasonable due to lessening of imports and problems with companies wanting to be paid in cash (some in advance). So far their prices have remained constant, but we’ll be keeping an eye on that.
Thank you for your warm wishes. Yes, the situation seems troublesome and it could deteriorate further if the vote is No, perhaps Greece will sail to uncharted waters. Wishing you well and stay safe too.
Hi 74. With regards to your question, although internal e-banking (within Greece) from traders and merchants is working fine, the imports and exports have been affected. According to an article in Naftemboriki (a Greek financial newspaper also on the internet), the food industry can last 10 days before the chains of primary sources are interrupted due to capital controls affecting the imports of raw sources of food. This affects exports as well with regards to new deals being negotiated right now. So even if the supermarkets are stocked for now, there are expected to be shortages in the weeks following the referendum. Obviously if the food industry and the imports of food are affected, the supermarkets will also be affected and this cannot be hidden for long. This also affects Cargo Transport and the Logistics sector is issuing warnings with regards to possible threats to infrastructure. Cargo Transport union president is asking for measures to ease off the pressure such as free passes on the motorways (no tolls), diesel for trucks on government guarantee (whatever that means), same for cargo ships reaching port. So with regards to your question, the supply hasn’t been interrupted as yet but it has been affected and it is starting to show.
In general, there had been a 6.6% reduction on Imports from January to April 2015, which I believe translates to approximately 15,394 million Euro in total. Exports were at 8,933 million Euro for the same period. I do not know of more recent figures from any reputable source. We have to wait and see how the food giants will handle this Greek problem but so far I’m hearing that some of them are requesting money up front.
Another interesting point to ponder:
On the wikileaks site you can put /nsa-germany/intercepts/ to see something interesting from 2011. It appears as if German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested an indirect BRICS bailout for Greece, having doubts as to the offered solutions to the Greek problems; this of course would enforce Greek ties with the BRICS countries. It seems peculiar, considering how this could potentially upset some of Greece’s allies in the West.July 2, 2015 at 3:03 pm #42251
Just as a side note and not to jack the thread, but as an example of liers lying; the reported unemployment in the US is 5.5%. When in reality it is about 49%. There are roughly 200 million adults in the US and 92 million are not working. The US government only counts those people collecting unemployment benefits as unemployed.July 2, 2015 at 3:45 pm #42252
Unemployment in the U. S. is a lie. Greece’s Socialism will have to change, Socialist government have stolen so much from the people. The system of taking from the rich companies to give to the people has not worked in Greece, Spain or Italy. These rich companies leave to were they can make products cheaper and less taxes.
The Socialist system will collapse. These Socialist governments tax the companies to the point were they have to leave and the monies that these Socialist governments taxed at a higher rate are then used for higher pay to the government employees and very little is given to the people. This is happening here now in the U. S.July 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm #42254
Very interesting. And yet the people here argue about the Yes or No in the same old way like they argued whether PASOK or Neoliberal (ND) party should prevail. Both of these parties doomed Greece with their short-sighted policies.
I agree with Freedom about how the socialist system has not worked and ended up giving very little to the people. However, in Greece, one could argue that PASOK as past governing party and SYRIZA (the majority of the present government) are Socialist (SYRIZA is more radical socialist) while right wing parties such as ND, ANEL, and other smaller parties did not in the past provide any other answer that could work for the people. Before this coalition government of SYRIZA-ANEL, the previous governments ruined Greece in every aspect due to their greed and corruption. The Socialists did it, the Neoliberals did it. The only reason people voted for this coalition government was that they were angry about the previous corrupt ones that brought Greece to this mess, not because they truly believed in their ideology.
Regardless, I see that this coalition government is lacking much needed solutions just like the ones before it. And from what it looks like, the people will suffer for it. Now everything seems to be in a standstill, waiting for the referendum on Sunday.July 2, 2015 at 6:20 pm #42255
I personally do not know much about Greece right wing parties such as ND, ANEL so I can’t say what went wrong.
I am not a right or left wing, I am a do not tax so high, do not take freedoms from the people, do not limit liberties, let international companies in with zero taxes so the people get jobs and promote them to keep the revenue these companies make to stay in Greece by not taxing it. Slow down the social programs and if you are on a social program and are young well you will need to work for the government cleaning the streets, painting the government building, building roads and so on. No more free handouts. Socialism doesn’t work. If this is done Greece in 10 years will be back on track. I am a Conservative. Believe in very low taxes, freedoms, liberties for all and less government.July 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm #42258
I also agree with liberties for all and less government interference. In fact, I believe that free handouts make a lot of people less eager to work for what they want. But on the other hand, local companies sacking people indiscriminately because they want maximum profits and then these people having trouble to find employment elsewhere, I’m against that. If it’s all done properly, I agree with you, there won’t be an issue since most of the people I know want to work and the ones that are actually working, are working very hard. For example, they work for 12 hours but getting paid for 8…. so as you can see, this is where liberties fail and exploitation begins, because the companies that do it don’t care less about their employees; if they complain, they get sacked.
At least when I was working in the UK, in all the places I worked, the employers were fair and paid exactly according to the hours worked. No funny business, no sneaky ways to scam people. You work, you get paid; that’s the way it should be. But also, to have opportunities to work. In the last few years I have seen very few lazy people in Greece. Most are hard-working and many times exploited by their bosses, or unemployed.July 2, 2015 at 8:22 pm #42260
This is another problem that the government needs to take care of the people with employment laws that will fine companies hard if they do this. If the companies fire the employee because they told on the company that was exploiting then the fine needs to be very high so they will not do that again. Hours worked need to be paid.
But remember that there is a problem also with companies not being able to fire the employees that do not work.
I personally made deals with companies in France were when I sold a lot of there products in the U. S. the owners in France would tell me that they couldn’t make that many of the product because if they hired more employees then they would have a problem after six months since the government of France had laws that would not let them fire the employees in the future if they didn’t have the sales of the products. So the companies are afraid to hire new employees. This is a problem for companies.
Remember that companies are in it for profit. They will go were the laws are good for them.
But also remember that the better the laws are for companies the more companies go to these countries and more jobs are created which in the end means higher pay.July 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm #42261
Well said and true enough. Let’s hope that such reforms will take place to create more jobs and allow higher productivity in the future.
With regards to News from Greece, I was asked for anecdotal stories about how the average Greek copes with the crisis. I spoke with a friend today who could fit as an “average Greek” in that his responses and habits are typical of most everyday Greeks. He was worried that he couldn’t take more out of the ATM and was wondering what would happen if this continued long after the supposed re-opening of the banks. Especially concerned was he over the fact that there were stock unavailable from the supermarkets due to cancelling of orders from Food Industry. He wondered what would happen if it all went out of hand, whether there would be military intervention to establish law and order like a martial law. While we were talking, some interesting information surfaced. He pointed me to a couple of newspapers (with online presence as well) that mentioned of a secret deal that the former prime minister (from the previous government) made with Blackwater to assist if widespread riots took place…supposedly to protect the ministers and other politicians from the mobs, if something like this happened… he would allow them to fire against the citizens he was supposed to represent! All this happened, supposedly, in January 2013 and the deal was known to at least two other politicians from different parties; and this group even trained the Greek Police with rapid tactical deployment etc. My friend was worried in case there were riots, whether we would be seeing such violence perpetrated by this unit. After reading these articles myself, I tried to reassure him in that I don’t think they would be shooting civilians that are not rioting or causing considerable threat, otherwise they would be targeted by all of society and it would be criminal to do so. He left deep in thoughts and I left as well thinking of how could a “normal” person defend his own life against elite squads, if there was a mix up or some sort of misunderstanding. I know there are people in here much more knowledgeable than me on such matters, so I will not attempt to answer that one myself. However I am interested to hear opinions as what should a person do in such dire circumstances.July 3, 2015 at 12:51 am #42262
This is why we in the U. S. love so much our 2nd Amendment of the Constitution which lets all citizens own hand guns and rifles. This will keep the government thinking how we the people will act if the government starts shooting it’s citizens. In Greece the people will not be able to fight back when shot at but in America we will fight back.
A collapse here will bring a civil war if the government shoots on to the population. There is 100 million Americans that own more then 300 million guns and rifles. This is the bad news for the government. It was done this way by the founding fathers because they knew what may happen in the future.July 3, 2015 at 1:34 am #42263
Indeed! I am a great admirer of the writings of the Founding Fathers. I have a book called “Heroes and Patriots” (1881 edition!) and reading through it filled me with great respect for these people. Later I started reading more on Jefferson’s, Washington’s quotes and from the others too and I was astounded by the depth of their wisdom and the ability to judge impartially issues that are affecting everybody two and a half centuries later… I always raise a glass to them on the 4th July.
However I am still eager to hear any suggestions from anyone as to how a civilian could defend his or her life when facing elite units. Would you try to speak reason? Surrender? Fight back? (and with what?) Would these guys be open to reason or explanation that it’s a misunderstanding or whatever? I understand that the obvious thing to do would be RUN. Or hide. But since these people would be elite units, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that running or hiding would be out of the question. How would you handle such a dire situation if it was forced on you?July 3, 2015 at 9:57 am #42266
Hi Proteus, many thanks for the concise answers! In response to your question. First, revisiting ‘Katrina’ provides a useful template on how Blackwater (among other Private Military Companies – PMC’s) will typically operate in domestic disorder situations. This link is an article written by Jeremy Scahill wo has done a lot of investigation into the growth and (often worrying) use of PMC’s, here he focuses on New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina:
If for some reason you find yourself at the wrong end of an elite unit, my advice would be (if running is not an option) comply with their demands and if you are going to complain or explain do it further down the custodial chain. Fighting, reasoning, refusing especially in a disrupted civil environment is like going to get you very hurt or worse… While no longer in the military and therefore not fully up to speed with the most recent set of Rules Of Engagement (ROE, and remember these are operation and even mission specific so can and do change) I know when I was in if we were tasked with collecting an individual, or group, they would get collected, meeting the individual or group and returning without them was not seen as an option. Any ‘pleas of innocence’ would be comprehensively ignored. Troop safety is normally top priority, so anything deemed as a threat to that would be met swiftly and with appropriate force.
A fair few folks in this forum enjoy the work of Marc MacYoung. Here he writes about complying with the police:
Bear in mind this is advice for dealing with a police force, dealing with a known issue, under intense scrutiny. PMC’s operating to their own rules, in a crisis, with no media oversight are going to be far more ‘carefree and robust’ in the discharge of their duties and far more likely to shoot first and not even ask questions…
Hope this helps!
As an aside there is an excellent site run by a katrina survivor with a well structured layout and a bunch of great advice http://www.theplacewithnoname.com/blogs/klessons/July 3, 2015 at 4:25 pm #42272
Aside from the political discussion above, I would like to know more about
a) Any black or grey markets that have started up.
b) Bartering for goods and/or services
c) Use of precious metals by those still holding on to some…
It seems that when the “official” system breaks down, another – or more than one – must rise in it’s place to keep things functioning. I’ll trade you a block of cheese for a dozen eggs… or here’s several links from this 18K gold chain in exchange for a tank of diesel… that sort of thing.
If you don’t fool with the black market – because such things are run by less-than-savory characters and can be dangerous – then I understand completely. But finding out about such things would be beneficial for us, I think…
The wicked flee when none pursueth..." - Proverbs 28:1
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