If there’s something we learned, which we did not know, from the recent “VIP” visit, is that the government and the opposition, (together with the head of state), agree on this: the key problem of our country, of our economy and society, is “austerity”! As a result, it was logical just after we learned that, a reasonable question to emerge, at least to some of us: since it is so, and the two major parties agree upon something so fundamental, why the hatred and strife? Instead of blaming each other for many minor issues, why don’t they form (together with the smaller parties that agree on this issue) a coalition government in order to address together what they regard as the major problem? To fight, that is, all together, this villain, “austerity”? To abolish, with one law and one article if possible, this terrible scourge, which lies behind every disaster that has been hitting us for the last decade? Given that, if we remember correctly, “austerity” existed also back in 2008 and 2009, before we entered the crisis. Because it was “austerity” that the “unwavering fighters” were then denouncing and the “sound needy” were grieving for!
Unfortunately, we live in a country where the public debate is “divorced” from logic and the collective consciousness from reality. For today in Greece no “austerity” policy is being applied. Greece consumes 90% of the GDP it creates when, in order for it to have macroeconomic balance and any hope for growth, it should only consume 75%, in order to save and invest the rest (as almost all other eurozone countries do). Also this year, after six years of Memoranda, Greece will borrow an amount greater than 2.5% of its GDP, for no other reason but to pay the interest on its loans! That means, we have a bankrupt country whose oversized public sector continues to consume beyond the capabilities of its economy. A bankrupt country that fails to serve on its own the interest payments of its debt and, as a result, it continues to borrow and, therefore, to further increase its debt! Despite, even, the fact that because of the greatest debt reduction that has ever happened globally and of various other accompanying arrangements, today it needs to pay annual interest of almost EUR 10 billion less than it would have to pay if these arrangements had not taken place. (For which, however, it curses and blames its creditors claiming that they set a trap and destroyed it! This does not prevent it, of course, to ask, afterwards, for another reduction of its debt!) An additional characteristic of this bankrupt country is that it has the smallest percentage of economically active population in the developed world and it has led to retirement nearly 10% of its inhabitants while still in productive age -and now it is mourning because it is unable to pay the kind of pensions that it would have “wished”!
Unfortunately, Greece is also a country where its people instead of turning everything upside-down in order to create jobs for the more than a million unemployed people and the five hundred thousand young people who have fled to foreign lands, they sit around and watch with pride their leaders mourn and beg their foreign counterparts that happen to meet for things that have nothing to do with reality. Because in Greece today not only is there no “austerity” policy being pursued, but also the public debt is not our main problem. Especially for the public debt, after the arrangements that have been made, we pay as a percentage of GDP less than other countries that have never borrowed as much. And in any case, we are burdened for servicing our debt with an amount (3.5% of GDP), which can be considered normal for an economy at our level of development. But because the debt and its reduction are a convenient topic, we continue to chatter about it while the actual cancer called “non-performing loans”, i.e. the private debt, is becoming gigantic day by day threatening to lead the economy to a complete collapse. That was a cancer that was left for years to develop, because addressing it required unpopular and, therefore, despised solutions to the prevailing demagoguery. And thus the opportunity to cure this cancer, when the banks still belonged to the Greek state and a satisfactory solution was still possible, was lost. Now, unfortunately, it will either be left to drown the Greek economy or it will be eradicated with extensive side effects.
The Greek economy does not suffer from “austerity”. It suffers from multiple asymmetries and malformations, all products of wrong and misguided perpetual choices of the Greek citizens themselves and their political representatives. Therefore, bursting into sobbing and begging when faced with any foreign official, relevant or irrelevant to our debt and the alleged “austerity”, does not constitute a productive practice. Not only because it cannot have any result, but mainly because a people is not worth living employing the art of revolutionary lamentation and militant begging, with the whole world as an observer. Be that as it may, the foreigners gave what they had to give, and they will give whatever more they must. Even by necessity. But the solution to the country’s problems is only in the hands of its own citizens. And this solution will be applied only if they decide–soon hopefully- first to hunt those demagogues and then to reform and purge their life with moral courage and intellectual audacity. To restore their country as “Greece” and themselves as “Greeks”.