There’s a sucker born every minute, as P.T. Barnum may have said. And there’s a sucker puncher waiting for them, knowing that a fool and his money are soon parted. Such is the case in Greece, where Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has reneged on yet another campaign promise, a series of lies just to get elected.
Ahead of the June 17 elections, Samaras promised holders of Greek bonds of under 100,000 euros ($129,000) – many in the Diaspora who had put their life savings into investing in their homeland as a show of support during a crushing economic crisis caused by politicians – that they would be compensated after a former government imposed losses of up to 74 percent on investors.
That was the thieving work of former finance minister Evangelos Venizelos, who doubled income and property taxes and taxed the poor while he was at it and now is head of the PASOK Anti-Socialist party that has fallen below Golden Dawn’s Nazis in the polls and could find itself lower than the Communists next. Protesters caught up with Venizelos in Athens and hurled insults at him, not knowing that he’s embarrassment-proof and someone should ask him if he had put any Greek bonds in his patriotic portfolio.
That was just practice for them though for a storming of the offices of Samaras’ New Democracy Capitalists after the party’s Political Secretary Manolis Kefaloyiannis chickened out of a meeting with them because he said he was too busy doing something else. When you’ve got 100 angry people almost rioting outside your door you can probably revise your schedule, but that’s New Democracy-style: evade, avoid, duck, lie, and deliver one hoax after another.
You can blame Samaras for this because he swore, vowed, promised, wrote in blood and said he would not let people who put their savings into trying to save their homeland get wiped out by shameless political chicanery that did almost nothing to stop Greece’s slide toward default. To make it worse, Samaras is planning on giving Greek banks a 50 billion euros or $64.87 billion fuel injection to make them whole while he’s ignoring small bondholders who were trying to help their country, unlike banks, which want to make a profit off Greece.
Two hours later, with a near-riot brewing outside, and after the mob pushed past security and pelted pictures of party founder Constantine Karamanlis and Samaras with eggs, Kefaloyiannis discovered a hole in his calendar and New Democracy officials met the bondholders and delivered another lie that they would reach a “fair solution.”
News flash to the flash mob: you’re not going to get your money back and you might have thought of holding Kefaloyiannis as collateral until you did. Don’t count on Samaras – the man who should have had the guts to meet you – to hold you harmless. He’s just a snake oil salesman huckster who belongs on the Home Shopping Network because he could sell a lot of those ginzu knives that couldn’t cut butter.
How good is this guy at double-dealing? Put it this way: don’t play cards with him because he has all the aces up his sleeve. To celebrate his sleight-of-hand at cutting out people who believed him when he said they’d get paid back, pizza stores are offering the Samaras Special: it’s covered in bologna, costs 100,000 euros and is delivered in 30 years, but you only get two slices instead of eight.
THE LEMMINGS LINE UP
Before they got in, the mob yelled such quaint phrases as “Thieves!” and “Liars!” at the politicians, giving thieves and liars a bad name. “Give us our money back,” they screamed, and you could almost feel sorry for them if they weren’t the same people who buy those bad knives on TV, along with abdomen-tighteners they should have put on their heads to squeeze some sense into themselves before they got the bright idea of putting their money into Greek bonds that were already as worthless as Confederate money before the Venizelos Ruse.
Greece’s investors took a 53 percent hit up front, which will reach 74 percent over the 30 years in which they are allegedly going to be paid back, but you could win money in Vegas betting they’ll never see a nickel because that’s Greece’s track record of deception and fraud.
The losses, in euphemistic economic jargon, are called a “haircut,” but in Venizelos’ heads – and now Samaras’ – they turned into a beheading for the small bondholders, but they willingly stuck their necks out to people who were swinging Damocles’ sword, so what did they expect?
“I invested the struggle of a whole life, 110,000 euros in order to have something when I am in need. I will get 60,000 euro, if I get in the year 2042,” said one woman, identifiable by the word “Sucker” written in red on her forehead.
Another investor who spent 400,000 euros to buy Greek bonds said “They will give me 60,000 … until 2014 and then, from 2022 until 2043 they will give me 6,000 euros per month. I sold a house that I had constructed after 50 years of work,” he cried. Samaras doesn’t care: you’re not going to get your money back.
Too bad Greece cancelled plans to sell 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in Diaspora Bonds, targeted to even more suckers who were willing to sell their houses, children, dogs, pawn their jewelry, and empty their life savings to turn the money over to Greece and believe in Samaras, the Greek Bernie Madoff. The Diaspora Bonds would have sold out faster than Rolling Stones reunion tour tickets because the people who fall for these Ponzi Schemes never learn. They’re the lemmings leaping off Greece’s fiscal cliff.
Fool them forever, good for you because you’ve found an easy mark by tapping the patriotic button of Greeks, and those in the Diaspora, who properly believed in their country or heritage, but foolishly put their trust in the hands of professional thieves who wear suits and steal with impunity instead of being prosecuted for securities fraud.
Robbing the small bondholders of their savings is nothing different from what Madoff did, but there’s no end to the line of gullible Greeks, who’ve also donated 2,510,072 euros ($3,256,872) to another hopeless cause, Debt Free Greece, whose mission was to give all the money to the government. If you believe investing in Greece, I’ve got a Parthenon for sale.