We must learn from Greece and stop relying on the government to save us

A friend of mine who just came back from a three-week holiday in Greece confirmed what we have been reading in the news about how a lot of the banks in the country have closed and there was a long queue for people who wanted to get cash from the few automated teller machines that remained open. So when I read the news that “61 per cent of Greeks had rejected a deal from its creditors that would have imposed more austerity measures on the country’s economy”, I got a bit confused.

greek_crisisThe country is running out of cash but the Greeks do not want to accept conditions by the European Central Bank (ECB) before they give Greece more bail out funds? One just has to ask: where is the Greek government going to get money to keep its people alive and keep the country running? The way Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was campaigning against the conditions set out by the creditors, one would think that he actually had a Plan B after he wins the referendum against the creditors. But it seems Tsipras’s plan was simply to show a defiant stance in the hope that the creditors would see it his way and give Greece the loan anyway.

I find their arrogance a turn-off. The Greeks, headed by Tsipras, come across like they have a strong sense of entitlement. They seem to be relying on the notion that members of the European Union are scared of the consequences of a Greek exit from the euro (Grexit) and are confident that the European Union will not allow it because it could mean pulling the rest of the members of the EU and bringing the value of the euro down. The Greeks are probably hoping that scenario of humanitarian catastrophe would guilt their creditors into giving them more money.

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I can understand the creditors’ position. I mean, why should you give more loans to someone who didn’t pay you the last time you gave him €330 billion loan, doesn’t have the ability to pay you back, and is also acting as if it is your obligation to give him money? It’s enough to tell him to “scram and go get your act together!” I personally do not like people with a strong sense of entitlement.

Greece has been in dire straits for the last five years. In fact, a lot of people saw this coming when they hosted the 2004 Olympics. They were in no financial position to spend that much money for little return. One pundit referred to the event as a multi-billion-vanity indulgence. Now the people are paying the price.

Greece is what happens when the people rely on the government too much. Decades of government mismanagement have led the people to vote a left-leaning Prime Minister into power. Who knows? Tsipras could be hoping for an economic collapse just to implement communist policies with the help of his friends in the Kremlin. The Parthenon might have Russian owners soon.

When I think about the Greeks and their money woes, I can’t help but appreciate, just a little bit, the Philippine economic policy of sending Filipinos abroad to work on jobs they can’t find in their own country. While the policy has its share of shortcomings particularly in the areas of family dynamics, the money the overseas Filipino workers send back home helps keep the country’s economy afloat. This policy has been around since the 1970s during the Marcos years. Succeeding administrators relied on the OFWs to mask the absence of sustained economic development, political instability, a growing population and high unemployment levels.

The Greek tragedy unfolding has made me realize how, to our own detriment, societies have all come to rely too much on corporations to survive. We do not have any idea anymore how to feed ourselves when the shelves in the local grocery store go empty. I certainly do not want to end up like that Greek pensioner who couldn’t do anything but cry helplessly when he could not withdraw his pension after lining up for hours. We must all learn from Greece and do something to keep our self-sufficiency and independence. Learning how to hunt for food in the wild just like in the olden days is a good start.

23 Replies to “We must learn from Greece and stop relying on the government to save us”

  1. it really doesn’t matter what the people do, there is not much that can be done. Without a completely serious ‘French-style’ Revolution, there is not much anyone can do. Louis the XVI or whatever his number was, was replaced by another tyrant and the people enslaved again. its just the way it goes.
    Become a 1%-er, they live the best lives.
    but the Greeks just may turn to China, they have lots of CA$H, or even Russia as they have a common-ancient orthodoxy and are probably closer in terms of ‘brotherly’ type relations,
    either way they are screwed.they can print money but who will want it?
    Vacationing in Greece right now seems a bit risky.

  2. DFS,
    If you take enough cash money with you, vacationing in Greece is not risky. Your bank card and credit card are not accepted and you can only withdraw € 60 per day from an ATM if its still working.

  3. @ Rob, but CA$H is riskiest of all. A foreigner with money, cha-ching, HA HA HA !!! the ATM , I mean foreigner ,just arrived…..
    it is a jungle out there !!!! IDK, there has to be a better place 2 go on vacation besides a place where your credit card doesn’t even have a chance of working.

    1. DFS,
      Greek banks are on the brink of a total bankruptcy. “Tomorrow” the ATMs will be empty. How do you think you can pay at McD? They will not accept your bank card. So you need cold hard cash. Even if you are afraid to get robbed by pickpocketers. But so far, I didnt hear any stories that foreign tourists have been robbed of their cash money. And Greek people themselves also need to keep money cash in their pockets so they can/could also become victim to pickpocketers. So, I guess they behave quite decent. And BTW if and when foreign tourists get robbed from their money, the tourist industry will also go bankrupt. So its not in their own interest to steal from (foreign) tourists.

  4. The trouble is Filipinos and their leaders, don’t learn anything from other countries.

    With too much dependence on OFW money remittances…which make the economy afloat.
    We are the next Greece.

    If you spend more than you can earn; you will soon be bankrupt. My mother used to tell me: that, during the Japanese occupation in the Philippines. The Japanese sponsored government; with Benigno Aquino, Sr., as top leader. They printed a lot of currency.

    If you go to market. Your bag is full of currency. After buying goods, in the market: you get not even half, in your bag, in return.

    With runaway inflation; we will soon be in the same situation as Greece.

    1. Haydan,
      I dont think the Philippines will become the 2nd Greece. Greece as member of the Euro-zone has to comply with/to rules when it comes to government spending (a deficit of 3% max is allowed).
      Furthermore Greece didnt do anything about tax collection and the people didnt do their tax return forms. Last but not least, Greek people could retire from the age of 55. Such a system is unpayable/not sustainable.

      One of the reforms is to increase VAT to 23%, retirement age increased to 67.

  5. Hi Robert
    Not one of the writes at GRP actually mentions the fact that Greece lied and cooked the books to join the Euro.
    Corruption is rampant and tax collection is practically non existent.
    Athens used to have 5 rubbish collections a week, anywhere else in the world it is usually one.
    Hairdressing was considered a dangerous job because you used harmful hairsprays. Hairdressers could retire at 50 on a full state pension, along with another 100 professions considered dangerous including airline pilots.
    The islands were exempt from VAT and got other subsidies.
    Less than 2 million Greeks actually pay income tax.
    Takes up to 10 years to get permits to build a resort on the islands and you will end up with 6,000 bureaucratic signatures.
    List goes on and on.
    All the Greeks ever do is sit around the taverna drinking ouzo and expecting someone else to keep them.

    1. Yawn,
      as far as I know, I never did accuse any GRP witer to portray Greece in a way better than reality.

      So far, the EU/ECB/Euro-group/ESM had to safe Spain and Ireland (and another 3rd country besides Greece). Who is next? I wouldnt be surprised if the next country is one the countries from eastern Europe.

      Maybe its time to dissolve EU and/or the Euro.

    2. Well, if we wrote all those information down, our subscribers wouldn’t be able to contribute anything to the conversation. That would be boring, right? 😉

      I personally think the Euro is a mistake because the members have different cultures. Greek culture for example, is not compatible with Germany’s. One has a laissez-faire attitude while the latter relies on innovation and hard work. They should just allow Greece to exit and deal with the consequences. This won’t be the last time Greece will ask for a bail-out. They will continue to pull everyone down.

    3. Greece is where it is today mainly because a majority of their citizens refuse to pay their own income tax.

      It’s a good thing that ASEAN took the hint and decided not to use a single currency for their economic union.

  6. Public sector workers make up 25% of the work force. They can retire from the age of 55 to 58 and their pension is 80% of their final salary.

  7. A lot of people are vilifying Germany because it is clear in the conditions it sets for Greece. I don’t get that. It contributes the most to bailout funds. It risks big so therefore it gets to dictate big.

    1. Often times, someone tries to find other to blame for his failure – except for himself.

      Personally, I’m not sure if austerity measures required for bailout are the right way to get Greece pay for what it owes, but one thing is for sure – Greece has to pay what it owes.

  8. A lot of people say a lot things, and none of it matters. Greece is screwed, and is going to be ‘escorted’ out of the European Union. A 5 year ‘time-out’ is being suggested now, as if a child is being dealt with.

  9. The loss of sovereignty that goes along with a common currency is going to seal the fate of the Greeks. The seizure of ‘public assets’ is what the fuss is all about but it is not mentioned all to often.The Greeks do not want to lose their ‘State Assets’ AKA beach front real estate, Airport Landing Fees,the State lottery…among other things……. to foreign business’s.Who is minding their ‘GOLD’ reserves ? if they even have any?
    The U.K. did not go along for the ride when the currency was formed and the ‘Brits’ kept their sovereignty. The ‘GBP’, while no longer Sterling, is a note of Independence more than anything else.
    Those ‘Brits’ have always been pretty smart.
    The so-called ‘PIGS’ countries are all going to exit the European Union, slowly but surely….tails between their legs.
    The lofty ideals and dreams at the start of the E.U. has turned, sadly, into a nightmare for the ‘PIGS’.The fate of
    Germany’s ‘Deutschebanke’ could be at stake, and if it fails, the reverberations could be felt around the world.
    WW1 started in Austria, was it? and it engulfed an entire continent.Franz Ferdinand’s assassination was preceded by two bank failures. Political assassination is always looming in the background in times such as these….and a political leader just may get whacked soon.
    Meanwhile ‘Shorty’ Guzman has escaped through a tunnel from a Mexican Maximum Security Prison.He may have had help, LOL !!! and ‘Shorty’ may also be dead.

  10. You know Ilda, that last line is sort of disturbing. “Learning how to hunt for food in the wild just like in the olden days is a good start.” Are we on that verge of societal collapse, like in Planet of the Apes? Shudder.

  11. Greece is certainly the prototype for any welfare state or country which may default on its debts. Even many American commentators have fearsomely warned of the prospect of the great American economic Titanic finally sinking due to its nearly $20 trillion national debt and seemingly unceasing deficit. Therefore, let’s hope RP will learn from the Greeks before they share the same fate.

    1. I just read an article from TIME magazine that confirms my theory the Greeks have been living it up on borrowed money for decades. Here are some excerpts:


      “But the immediate failure is Greece’s alone. It’s old habits of mass consumption and government waste have helped spawn lines at soup kitchens and unemployment offices around Athens’ Omonia Square, the once bustling district for shoppers and tourists that has recently descended into depression and urban decay.”


      “In the early 1990s, when Stefanos Manos served as Greece’s Prime Minister and Minister of National Economy, he was among the first to see that the country was borrowing and spending fortunes it could never repay. Other countries were also taking on huge loans to fuel economic boom. “The U.S. was using some of that money to produce stuff, to innovate,” says Manos. But “in Greece we produce practically nothing, and we were taking on massive debts just to LIVE LAVISHLY”.


      “Armed with borrowed fortunes, a series of governments began hiring public employees by the hundreds of thousands and PLYING THEM WITH PERKS. BONUSES were handed out for arriving at work on time and knowing how to use a computer. Forestry workers GOT BONUSES for hardship of having to work outdoors. Each state employee got a yearly bonus worth two monthly paychecks, regardless of performance.”


      This confirms that Greeks have a lot in common with Filipinos. The Greek voters can be bought by politicians and have a sense of entitlement. The worse part is, they expect too much from their government but they do not want to pay taxes:

      “Greece’s government, meanwhile, was uninterested in collecting taxes as Greek citizens were in paying them. Greeks chronically underreported their earnings, and in the rare cases when they would get caught, AN ENVELOPE TO THE TAX MAN WOULD USUALLY BE ENOUGH TO AVOID PUNISHMENT.”

      “There was this unwritten rule not to have audits during elections” because “people don’t like it”.

      “The political goal of all this, says Manos, “was to keep armies of supporters relying on the system.”

      “The state run airline would hand out free tickets to voters before an election. The cost of running the state-run railway company became so high that Manos calculated that it would be cheaper to hire a taxi for every rail passenger.

      “Manos says the lavish spending was part of the political credo of the times: Do not alienate voters by cutting benefits and salaries when Greece could just borrow more money to pay for more of both.”

  12. Phil economy is living in borrowed time. We must use this time and opportunity to research or “steal” new technologies similar to what Germany did to overconfident Britain during the empire era.

    but the Filipino people and the government are too busy crying for respect and admiration instead of working hard to be superior or same level with the top.

    Economy will fail when richer countries could no longer afford to give simple jobs to third worlders.

  13. I remember being on holiday in Greece when the Euro was about to become the currency and was speaking to a local businessman who had bar’s cafe’s and rental property and he said then that the euro would not be good for either the country or tourists, it seems his words are now ringing true. I myself went back a few times on holiday after the euro was introduced and noticed that over the years shops bars etc were slowly closing down and prices were on a rapid increase. I again spoke to the person who said that the locals were angry at the prices of basic every day things for living. Lesson to learned there i think.

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