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.
The 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.
In life, things are not always what they seem.