ATHENS – As Greeks prepare to commit political suicide at the June 17 elections – a bullet in the head courtesy of the New Democracy Capitalists – PASOK Anti-Socialists who created the economic crisis and favor more austerity, or the guillotine being set up by the dangerous demagogues of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and its charmless leader, Alexis Tsipras, who wants to go back to the drachma – blame everyone else for their problems, especially the Germans and Chancellor Angela “The Dominatrix” Merkel.
She has insisted on the pay cuts, tax hikes, and slashed pensions put forth by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) in return for $325 billion in two bailouts to keep the country’s dead economy on life support. It’s that way because New Democracy and PASOK took turns the last 36 years packing payrolls with their cronies in return for votes, creating a bottom-heavy economy with $460 billion in debt they want someone else to pay, and bring them back to power for another crack at ruination.
Merkel has been portrayed as a taskmaster, Nazi, villain and cracking the whip on Greeks, who portray themselves the chronic victims of international conspiracies and see themselves as hard-working, incorruptible and who just like to take eight-hour breaks during the day to enjoy the sun, coffee, and a few thousand cigarettes.
The mirror is broken. A survey by the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan Washington, D.C.-based think tank, of eight European Union (EU) countries, also including Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Poland and the Czech Republic, showed Germans are seen as the hardest working and least corruptible and that Madame Merkel gets high marks for crisis management while Greece is alone in viewing itself mainly because everyone else thinks the Greeks are bums, lazy and the least-respected, a stereotype to be sure, but one which the politician-created crisis has given credence. It”s not fair to the many, decent, hard-working honest Greeks, but, as the saying goes, life isn’t fair, and perception is reality.
That’s not going to sit well in the coffee shops where the last Greeks who aren’t rich can afford even reduced-price fare, but the finding was this: “Germany is the most admired country in the EU and its Chancellor the most respected leader.” It could be one reason why some 60,000 Greeks have fled their homeland to settle under Madame Merkel’s bosom there, including some 6,000 doctors, and why German language classes are the hottest ticket in Athens. Greeks are bad-mouthing Germany out of one side of their mouth and rapidly learning how to say, “How much is a ticket to Berlin?” out of the other.
Statistics from the EU’s numbers-crunching arm Eurostat show that Greeks have the longest working hours in Europe – 42.2 hours per week, compared to 35.6 for the Germans. What that doesn’t show is that too many Greeks spend 42.2 hours AT work – if they show up – and that the Germans DO 35.6 hours of work and are far more competitive. In another survey, by the IMD Business School in Lausanne, Switzerland, Greece ranked next-to-last in the world in competitiveness charts of 59 countries, behind only Venezuela. When the only country you’re better than at attracting private business is a neo-Communist state that nationalizes private businesses, that means you’re last. Greece ranked last anyway in business executives’ perceptions of “competency of government” and “research and development” culture. The World Economic Forum (WEF) competitiveness index puts Greece at 90th among 142 countries, but the rest of the list includes mostly African dictatorships, terrorist states, and a bunch of countries with –stan as the last prefix, but at this rate Greece could turn into Souvlakistan.
Such is the disrespect for Greece that the BBCs’s acerbic broadcaster Jeremy Paxman called the country a “bad kebab” that should be “vomited” out of the Eurozone of the 17 countries using the euro, a likely prospect should SYRIZA win and the Troika calls his bluff on renegotiating the bailout terms, or his other intention to renege on the payments because that’s what Greeks do best. Paxman was slapped down on air by former Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou who said, “The Greek economy is in a crisis and the Greek people are going through a lot and they deserve some respect.” Hopefully, he was talking about those who work and don’t use excuses to blame everyone else.
Even more telling, and troubling, is the way Greeks view themselves, and are alone in doing so. “On many counts it is the Greeks who are the most isolated in Europe,” the report said. That’s what happens when you keep your head in the sand, which explains why many Greeks prefer the beach to work, not to impugn the many decent, genuinely hard-working among them who, like taxpayers, are the minority. If Greeks worked as hard at working as complaining, they’d find it rewarding and a lot more profitable.
Greece ranks number one though in another critical poll, almost as important as the coming elections. The condom manufacturer Durex, in its Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey a few years ago, said Greeks have more sex than anyone in the world, some 87 percent enjoying it on a weekly basis. Something must have slipped though, because at last month’s Erotic Dream sex festival outside Athens, only about 50 people showed up during the crisis. Sex products purveyor Marianna Lemnarou told Reuters, “Some customers just don’t feel like having sex.” Maybe it’s all that work they do, or they can just blame Merkel for being an anti-aphrodisiac. Unless she’s holding a whip.