If Conventional Economic Weapons Work “Nuclear Option” is Out

The Samaras Government by stupendous, sagacious, and painful efforts, and by using “conventional economic weapons,” is pulling Greece out of its economic crisis. For the first time after four years, Greece next week will be able to borrow funds on the international financial markets.

I’m republishing this short reply that took place early in 2012, for the readers of this blog.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

A reply to Bruce Wilder, suggesting default for Greece and Italy as the remedy for their economic crisis.

In serious discussion it is wise to enter it carrying a sieve in one’s hands to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Your crystal clear “efficient calculating machine” that would implement your proposal of default, would be no other than a wise, brave, imaginative, and humane technocrat. So what exactly you have against technocrats? They are OK if they adopt your plan and only transported to Hades in toto for their ‘mortal sins’, if they don’t! Default was and is always an option. The distinguished economist Deepak Lal and exponent of the Austrian School of economics, long ago suggested such a schema. Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, Prime Ministers of Greece and Italy respectively, both presumably have this option in their arsenal to be used as a last resort if everything else fails. But before they use this ‘nuclear’ option, they must try, and be given the right by all objective analysts and commentators, to resolve this economic crisis by ‘conventional’ means that could avoid a default which would open a big hole in their countries GDP and throw their people into pauperization for decades to come.

Greece: The “Closure” of the National Broadcaster

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The politically thoughtless and opposing stand of Pasok and Demar (Democratic Left) to the closure of the corrupt, wasteful, and non-transparent opaque ERT, by the Samaras government, that needed three or eight times more staff than it was necessary, and its replacement in the next few months by a new public broadcaster employing its personnel on axiocratic criteria and not on corrupt government appointments, could endanger the cohesion of the tripartite coalition that is so crucial of Greece’s exit from the economic crisis. Venizelos and Kouvelis must realize that the political fortunes of their parties, since they made their intelligent, brave, and politically responsible decision to support a New Democracy government, are tied-up with the success or not of the Samaras government of extricating the country from its economic woes and thus saving the country from a devastating and calamitous bankruptcy. The electorate will not remember or extol their parties for their stand against the closure of ERT or for any other issue that is secondary to the main goal, i.e., pulling Greece out of the crisis, but will punish them electorally if the Samaras government fails in this great task.

That is why it is stupendous foolishness on the part of Pasok and Demar to jeopardise the up till now correct policies of the Samaras government that show clearly, according to all serious economic commentators and institutions such as Standard and Poor’s and Finch, that Greece has been put on the right track to overcome the crisis and these policies will reignite its economy at the beginning of next year.

The respective leaders of Pasok and Demar must be constantly alert and on guard not to derail the Samaras government, either by inadvertence or by frivolous, doltish, and politically irresponsible stunts, which with accelerating speed reaches the goal of putting an end to the crisis. As the corollary to the derailment of the Samaras government will be the total political obliteration of Pasok and Demar as a result of their association with a failed government. But it will be worse; their destruction will lead to the destruction of Greece itself. The collapse of the Samaras government will be followed by the rise to power either of the extreme left or the extreme right. Thus Pasok and Demar by contributing accidentally if not stupidly to the collapse of New Democracy will be opening the doors of totalitarianism to the country. Will they persist to oppose the Samaras government on secondary issues with the danger of creating an unstoppable momentum against it that could fracture the ideologically brittle composition of the tripartite government? Will Venizelos and Kouvelis foolishly sow their political wild oats on a ground whose pernicious crop will be the fascistic twins, Syriza or Golden Dawn?

Hic Rhodus hic salta

Marxistoid Economists Consider Bankrupt Left as Saviour of Greece

Fair is foul, and foul is fair, /Hover through the fog and filthy air (Witches of Macbeth chanting their cursing ditty)

By Con George-Kotzabasis— July 04, 2013

In their article published in the New York Times  on June 23, under the title “Only the Left Can Save Greece”, the two politically ‘pinkish’ economists teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, James Galbraith (the son of the famous John Galbraith) and Yannis Varoufakis, argue that neither America nor Europe should fear an ascension to power of the Left wing party of Syriza in Greece on the contrary, they should applaud it, as a government of the left would reverse the defective policies of the European Union that have been so destructive to the Greek polity and to its people as well as to many other European countries.

The two economists were shocked at the closure of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and denounced the Samaras government for its authoritarian and undemocratic action, of depriving Greeks of a public service of information and entertainment that was invaluable to them. The government however closed the public broadcaster temporarily and planned to replace this cesspool of administrative corruption, opacity, and cronyism, for which each Greek household had to pay a levy of 50 Euros per year, with a new public broadcaster not run by the government but by personnel chosen on meritocratic criteria and professionalism that would upgrade the service provided to Greek viewers and at a cheaper price.  Galbraith and Varoufakis, in their support of this corrupt and inefficiently run public entity  and demand of its reopening, found a kindred political ally in the leader of the Marxist party of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, who had committed himself to re-open with all its personnel intact if he became prime minister. Tsipras’ crocodile tears for the public broadcaster, which in the recent past had condemned as being the mouthpiece of the extreme right, exposed his blatant political opportunism in this U-turn from hate to love for ERT. But they found him also to be an invaluable ally to their economic proposals of how to lift Greece out of the crisis. .

Galbraith’s and Varoufakis’ solution to the crisis springs from the growing of a hundred blooming flowers in the luxuriantly prodigal Keynesian garden. Their package of Keynesian remedies consist of “a kind of European equivalent of America’s post-crisis Troubled Asset Relief program; an investment and job program; and a European initiative to meet the social and human crisis by  strengthening  unemployment insurance, basic pensions, deposit insurance, and the expansion of core public institutions like education and health.” Notice, that all of these remedies are to be financed by  government and taxes from private enterprises. How then government can finance all these things when its coffers are empty and depend on European loans to pay for primal services such as schools, hospitals, and public servants, and when private enterprise has no incentive to function or remain in an unstructured economy that has been for many years inimical to it? And the two economists do not make  a pip about the necessity of private foreign and domestic investments that are the only economically sustainable and viable investments that can initiate growth and economic development that are the sine qua non that will pull Greece out of the crisis. And that these investments can only be made under the incentive  of structural economic reforms that are favorable to private enterprise, and strict fiscal policies that perforce can only be accomplished by hard measures which are inevitably painful to the general populace.

Since neither the political color nor the gray matter of Galbraith and Varoufakis were able to convince serious politicians and economists in the Euro zone, or Greece, of the correctness of their Keynesian mirage as a solvent to the European and Greek crisis, they found in the fiasco leadership of Syriza, of Tsipras, the intellectual salvation of their by now withered flowers of their Keynesian remedy. (This speaks volumes about the value of their proposals in that they found their support and cerebral salvation in the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Greek left.) Tsipras bereft of any tenable economic policies, and rationalizing this vacuity in policy making by populist rhetorical denunciations of the policies of the Samaras government, eagerly embraced the policies of Galbraith and Varoufakis, which ideologically are cognate to his own as a ne plus ultra government interventionist himself, thus giving to his own policies some sort of academic prestige from this ‘south of the border’ economists that he is unable to get from more serious experts in the profession. (But beggars cannot choose.)

Indeed, the policies of Tsipras have their source in a variegated coterie of Marxists getting their inspiration from the flashing pan of Marxism, as the rising sun of the latter has long ago disappeared from the astral constellation of the universe, never to rise again. Tsipras, as a true believer of the great man, Karl Marx, attended the Marxist organised Subversive Festival of Zagreb in Croatia last March, which was likewise attended by both Galbraith and Varoufakis. Indeed, the former announced with pride his attendance of the Festival, in a lecture he gave to socialists in the German Parliament last week, where the gladiators of the great imperator Karl Marx had gathered together from all over the world and rushed into the arena of the Amphitheatre of Zagreb, with nets in one hand and swords in the other, to fight and slay the wild animals of capitalism, which their predecessors in the socialist camp, even better armed with technological weapons, had failed to slay. Moreover, Tsipras was an aficionado of Chavez and had visited Venezuela last year with the hope of getting financial help  from its president with an implied commitment of making Greece a protectorate of Venezuela, if not the European Venezuela. And yet Galbraith and Varoufakis in their political naiveté write in their article in the New York Times that the Americans have nothing to fear from a Syriza government.

Galbraith and Varoufakis, like the witches of Macbeth cursing the Samaras’ government as foul, undemocratic and authoritarian, slavishly implementing the dictates of the European Union, and as economically incompetent, are predicting its downfall while stirring the pot of their quackish remedies which nobody will ‘buy’ other than Tsipras. Meanwhile, Samaras wisely, assiduously, and decisively is transforming Greece within the short span of one year by an unprecedented series of structural reforms that are increasing competition–Greece is in the 22 position internationally for the first time–reducing the bureaucracy, especially its inefficient part that was an obstacle to investments, and planning to make it more efficient on meritocratic standards, changing the economic milieu by making it friendly to business and investments, and leashing the arbitrary and ruinous power of unions which for many years had prevented foreign investments in the country. Moreover by his virtuoso performance in the negotiations with the European Union and the IMF, Samaras  has blunted some of the austerity measures that have been a major factor in obstructing the re-igniting of the economy and artfully polishing these measures that will put Greece on the track of development. He was able to convince the leaders of the EU to provide Greece with extra funds for employment programs that will materialize by the beginning of 2014, more resources from the European Bank of Investments so they can be ploughed into small and medium sized businesses. He has started building Autobahns that have created 25,000 new jobs and he has enticed the economically hard thinking Chinese government to invest 350,000 million Euros in the port of Piraeus thus making it the entrepot of commerce between south-east Asia and Europe. ( The European Council announced that the port of Piraeus will be named as the capital port of Europe for 2015.) Also the Chinese are interested in making more investments in the infrastructure of the country, especially in its railway network by which they will transport their goods into Europe. But the most important and greatest achievement of the Samaras’ government up to this moment has been the building, through Greece, of the conduit by the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will convey natural gas from Azerbaijan to the heart of Europe. TAP will invest the huge amount of 1.5 billion in Greece and will generate 12,000 jobs by 2014 in the country. This, according to one authority in the energy industry, has been the personal accomplishment of Samaras who in his visit of Azerbaijan and meeting with the Prime Minister of the country three weeks ago, convinced the latter that it would be more efficient and economically cheaper to build the conduit through Greece instead of through Bulgaria and Romania, a project which the international consortium backing it was favorable to win, and lost it only, with the intervention of Samaras. Furthermore, this enormous investment, behind which one of its investors is the global gigantic company BHPBilliton, engenders confidence to other investors that Greece is about to pull itself out of the crisis, and hence, encourages and attracts more investments into the country and thus will increase employment which is one of the major challenges of the government.

The government under the statesmanship of Samaras is determined to pull Greece out of the crisis and not to squander the sacrifices Greeks had to make for the economic, political, and cultural Renaissance of the country. The great, fair achievements of the Samaras government, in an unprecedented short span of time, are depicted and cursed as foul by the two Marxistoid economists, James Galbraith and Yannis Varoufakis. Ignominy, loss of intellectual honor, is of no concern to them.

I rest on my oars:Your turn now 

Greece:What to Do with Missed the Mark Politics of Coalition Partners?

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 3, 2013

The Samaras’ Government, like Atlas on his back, is carrying and attempting to transform and move Greece’s awesome heavy burden of unprecedented economic insolvency, since the ending of the Second-World-War, onto the stage of economic recovery and development. By succeeding in this most difficult enterprise it will also justify the positive, against the negative, economic remedies formulated in the second Memorandum by the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the so called Troika, for the purpose of saving Greece from economic catastrophe, and thus simultaneously enhance the credibility, and indeed, the survival of the EU as an institution of crucial influence and guidance in world affairs.

In this call to national salvation three politically and ideologically disparate parties 0f New Democracy, Pasok, (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and the Democratic Left (Demar) decided to form a coalition government whose main goal was to keep Greece within the European Union and salvage the country, with the financial help of the latter, from economic bankruptcy that would have devastated the standard of living of the major part of the population and would have brought a proud nation to the status of indigence and economic despair for at least a generation. The two leaders, of Pasok and Demar, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis, respectively, seeing the prodigious dangers the country was facing, raised their height to these dire circumstances and wisely decided to stand hand in hand with an ideological opponent, that is, the liberal conservative party of New Democracy and its leader Antonis Samaras, for the purpose of saving Greece from this imminent catastrophe. Hence the two leaders of the left put their ideological reputation and the future viability, and, indeed, the existence of their parties at immense risk by their decision to support a government led by Samaras, their erstwhile conservative opponent, and tie themselves and their parties to the fortunes of the latter, that is, whether the Samaras’ government will succeed or not in pulling the country out of the crisis and start the economic development that is so vital in overcoming the terrifying economic difficulties that Greece countenances at the moment.

There are grounds to make one believe that Greece economically and politically might be at a turning point. The Samaras government after succeeding in convincing its European partners, in exceedingly difficult negotiations, to provide the funds Greece needed, to ignite its economy and place the country on the path of development, under less onerous terms of the bailout than the initial ones the Europeans were demanding. This was a great success and a great achievement of the government and demonstrating at the same time its virtuoso skills in the art of negotiations.

The government announced last month that it had beat its budget targets for 2012. Finance Minister Stournaras claimed that the government was close to achieving a primary surplus—the budget surplus before taking into account payments on the debt—this year that would deliver, according to the mutual agreement of the parties, a further package of help from the Euro-zone.  Employment statistics also showed, that within the span of the last two months the number of workers hired exceeded by nearly nine thousand the number of workers dismissed for the first time since the crisis. Furthermore, the recapitalization of the banks was on track and bound to be consummated in the next few weeks and the spigots of liquidity were therefore ready to be opened that would provide the private sector the funds for investment. Last week, the president of the National Bank stated that levels of liquidity are progressively established and 10 billion Euros could flow into the real economy. And already 50% of one thousand of small and large private enterprises announced that they were preparing to start investing within the current year. The internationally renowned telecommunications company Nokia is planning to establish a branch in Athens that would employ hundreds of highly skilled technicians and could become a magnet that would attract other foreign corporate giants to the country and thus by their presence would provide a continuous economic confidence for the country’s future. The Task Force of the European Commission last week issued favourable reports that the Greek economy was about to be re-ignited although it warned the government that small businesses had been dried of funds and their future operations were at risk. Also the credit ratings agency Moody’s estimated that Greece would have a positive rate of growth in 2014, after five years of negative growth.

Thus we see that there are ample encouraging signs that Greece might be at the crucial point of overcoming the crisis. It is most important therefore that the two parties, Pasok and Demar, that support the Samaras government, must first take note of these auspicious indices and that the current measures of the government are putting the country on the axis of economic development, and second, must not jeopardise this favourable situation by rigidly sticking to their parties position on other issues, such as labor relations and on the restructuring of the public sector, which are contrary to the overall current policy of the government and could endanger the economic progress the latter is making in overcoming the crisis.

The coalition partners must become fully aware that their political viability is tied up not with the sacred ideological position these parties hold on a variety of issues, contra the neo-liberal position of New Democracy, and pushing these toward their consummation, at this critical juncture whose primary goal is the salvation of the country, is a most imprudent diversion from the main goal. On the contrary, their political future is tied up with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis. The electorate will not remember them and will not elect them for being pure to their ideological position but for their pragmatic support of a neo-liberal government that saved Greece from economic oblivion and mass poverty. In the event the Samaras administration fails in this complex immensely difficult and great task would likewise totally discredit and everlastingly condemn and cast to political oblivion both Pasok and Demar for their support of this failed government, no matter how favorable the former have been on other minor issues, in comparison to the major issue, that are dear to the hearts of the many. Their responsibility to the country and to themselves therefore lies in their pragmatic assessment of the policies of the government beyond ideology as to whether they are better placed to extricate the country from the crisis.

It is for this reason that in this process of the Renaissance of Greece, under the wise and strong leadership of Antonis Samaras, the cohesion of these partners in the salvation of the country is of unaccountable importance. Thus for Pasok and Demar not to miss the mark is to realize that the failure or success, in this uniquely historical venture of saving Greece, will determine their political viability in the future and not their ideological hues on secondary issues.

I rest on my oars:your turn now

A Functional Government a Prerequisite for Handling Crisis in Greece

I’m republishing the following short piece that was written on June 20, 2012. As events have shown since then  it was the unity of the tripartite government of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, that was set-up post-election, in regard to the policies to be followed with its negotiations with the European Union that has kept Greece within the union and has given the country a new opportunity to overcome the crisis. There are favorable signs that Greece under the strong and resilient leadership of Antonis Samaras the miracle of an economically resurgent Greece is about to unfold. 

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The present position of Evangelos Venizelos the leader of Pasok that the government to be formed on June 18 must include Syriza in a coalition of other parties so that it can presumably deal more effectively with European leaders in regard to the necessary modifications of the Second Memorandum, is to repeat the stupendous error of the Democratic Left, under the pusillanimous leadership of Fotis Kouvelis, when it too had placed the same pre-condition after the May 6 election. The present profound crisis of Greece needs a functional government with united policies and realistic and decisive leadership that can pull the country out of the crisis and not a government of factions whose deep differences of how to handle the negotiations with the European Union would inevitably lead to intestine fights and to the collapse of such government that would seriously exacerbate the crisis. Thus the pleading for a wider coalition as Venizelos proposes will result with mathematical precision to a dysfunctional government irretrievably incapable of handling the crisis.

Greek Academic Deprecates Bailout of Greece

By Con George-Kotzabasis December 2, 2012

Professor Varoufakis, certainly you may be right but only “figuratively” so, that according the incongruity of the figures you presented, if they are correct, will not lead to a reduction of debt by 40 billion Euros and will not change the fate of Greece in its insolvency. However, outside your numbers, absent in your analysis is the human factor, which obviously you tend nihilistically to underestimate, and indeed, to nullify, in its power to learn from its mistakes and transform things.

Your argument rests on the premise that only you can learn from your errors, as the serial revisions of your ‘Modest Proposal’ have shown since its birth, and that the governing class of the Euro-zone and its technocrats, including the IMF’s, are inherently unable to do so and are fatefully stuck in their continued wrong policies without a ‘smidgeon’ of a chance of contributing toward the resolution of the Greek crisis. The breathing space that Greece has been given by the Troika in this bailout can be used by the decisive, resolute, and imaginative Samaras’ government to create the right conditions by the restructure and privatization of the economy and its efficient operation both in the private and public sphere and hence turn the country into a centripetal force for investment that would rekindle its economy and put Greece on the trajectory of economic development.

Samaras endowed with strong attributes in the intellectual, spiritual, and moral field, has better than a chance to pull Greece out of its present tragic quandary. Indeed, he may turn out to be the Anagennitis (the progenitor) of the Greek Anagennisis (Renaissance), while you will be licking with relish the egg off your face.

Antonis Samaras Will Save Greece from Frightening Catastrophe

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 17, 2012

Professor Varoufakis I don’t share your conclusion that the next election will be as “inconclusive” as the previous one. Already there are signs, and my strong belief is, that Syriza, the radical left party, will be a big loser on June 17 and its fickle flip-flop and slipping, as adumbrated by some recent statements of its chameleon leader Alexis Tsipras, from its original position of denouncing the Memorandum–by which it boosted its electoral results–and by replacing it with its gradual revision, that essentially is no different from the position of New Democracy (ND) and Pasok, will clearly expose it to the electorate as being blatantly inconsistent and fraudulent and therefore no longer trust it as a serious-minded party that could get Greece off  the hook, especially when its political dilettantism, thoughtless and dangerous policies would push Greece out of the Eurozone. Also to consider, as you do, that New Democracy’s and Pasok’s anti-austerity stand is “rhetoric,” is to be a fugitive from reality, especially in the case of Samaras who was the only politician both in Greece and Europe from early on May 2010, to denounce austerity measures as barren without rekindling the economy and led ND not to vote in Parliament the first Memorandum which embodied these infelicitous measures.

Syriza could not have been taken seriously by anyone with a serious disposition in politics, and Varoufakis, who so egregiously supported it prior to the May 6 election, should have known better. All of its leaders, breast-fed by Stalin, Trotsky, and Mao, are habituated and stuck to the nostrums of communism that have been built on sand and have been washed away by the sea long ago. The socialist Pasok, with its preposterous economic policies and political ‘sins’of the past and deep-rooted corruption, has lost all credibility among the populace, and therefore is unable by itself   to get the country out of the crisis. All the other parties with their ‘certified insanity’, and I would include in this group Syriza, are Napoleons locked up in mental institutions.

Ergo, my choice is the much maligned Antonis Samaras who since his incumbency as leader of New Democracy two-and-a-half years ago has demonstrated magnificent qualities of leadership in political and economic insight, in resiliency and swiftness of approach to the critical issues—an example of this was the rejection of the first Memorandum and the forced acceptance of the second in circumstances when Greece was at the edge of the abyss and had to be saved–in his unflappable determination to convince the European leaders that austerity without growth would fail, and in his brilliant success in persuading them of the correctness of his argument and thus opening  the second Memorandum to the necessary modifications that would include growth. Samaras is gifted with high intelligence and a strong character without the big ego  that considers le tout c’est moi, to paraphrase Louis XIV, that often negates the strength of character, and he is the only  Greek leader who has better than a chance to pull Greece out of the crisis.

New Democracy under Strong Leadership of Samaras Will Win Election on June 17

The following piece was writen two days before the election in Greece.

By Con George-Kotzabasis June 15

The survival of nations may sometimes depend on the life of one man. Edward Gibbon

It is inordinately difficult, even for a modern Tiresias, to predict the outcome of the Greek elections, especially when voters are actuated by their intense hopes and fears about the results of either the pro or anti-memorandum scenario that would affect so profoundly their future existence. However judging from the swift change of Syriza’s policy only few days before the voting from the hard position of denouncing the Memorandum to the soft position of solely re-negotiating the burdensome points of the Memorandum with the European leaders, which is no different from the position of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, Syriza was forced to change its intransigent stand in annulling the Memorandum, as it was pronounced in its pre-electoral programme last week, as a result, I suspect, of an internal private poll that showed clearly that New Democracy was outdistancing by a wide margin Syriza in the opinion poll, thus compelling the latter to abandon its principle policy of annulling the Memorandum that apparently scared the electorate that such action would entail Greece’s exit from the Eurozone. Now Syriza sings its hosannas to re-negotiating the Memorandum and making a desperate attempt to join the chorus of reason from its previous dangerous position of denouncing it and taking Greece out of the European Union. But this reversal of policy is too late for Syriza and is exposing it also to the fraud that it attempted to perpetrate on the Greek people.

Antonis Samaras, the illustrious leader of New Democracy, in his sagacious move to form a Pro-European Patriotic Front that would anchor Greece within Europe while negotiating the shoals of the Memorandum that threatened the country’s sinking into everlasting debt and economic poverty, will be the justified victor of the election on June 17. The Tsipras phenomenon was always a flash in the pan and as soon as it was placed upon the burning coals of reality would be blackened and return back to its true colour that from the beginning was its natural intellectual and political shade.

Greece: Democratic Left Lost its Courage before Great Danger

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 12, 2012

At this critical juncture for Greece whose fate is at stake and the formation of a unity government is imperative, the resolution of the latter’s impasse is in the hands of Fotis Kouvelis, the Leader of the Democratic Left, since the foolish, historically ignorant, hubristic, and unimaginative stand both of Syriza and the Communist Party (CP) to neither participate nor support a coalition government that will be condemned and discredited for many years to come for their politically barren obduracy, only Kouvelis who holds the key to the problem of forming a coalition government can prevent the country’s exit from Europe and at the same time as the embodiment of the ANANEOTIKI Aristera (Renewed Left), can salvage the political ideological credibility of the Left in Greece that is threatened to be obliterated by the doltish position of Syriza and CP.

The constant designated desire of a majority of the Greek people before and after the election was for the parties to form a coalition government and to remain in the Eurozone; also an overwhelming majority of people do not want another election. In the face of this bulky 70% wish of the people to have a coalition government and to stay in Europe, Syriza’s hope that by contravening the wish of the electorate it will increase its electoral percentage and be the first party in a second election is unwarranted and is a chimera. On the contrary a party with foresight, imagination, and daring can see that by fulfilling these strong wishes of the majority the chances are greater for such party to increase its votes than to be condemned for its participation in a coalition government with New Democracy and Pasok as Tsipras, the leader of Syriza, attempts to frighten Kouvelis. Especially when the setting up of such government is based on two conditions, (a) remaining in Europe and (b) to the extent possible radically modifies the Memorandum.

When your house is on fire you don’t ask who was responsible for it. The first thing you must do is to put the fire out before it burns your house with all those who are ready to help you. The historical and wise responsibility of Mr. Kouvelis is to cooperate with those parties which strongly want to save Greece from leaving Europe and prevent the absolute poverty that such departure would afflict the country.

The stupid and historical irresponsibility of Syriza must be countervailed by the wise, and historically daring, decision of Fotis Kouvelis to form government with New Democracy and Pasok despite their past misdeeds. It ‘s up to Kouvelis to cut this Gordian knot of Tsipras obstruction to the formation of a unity government and whether in the historical annals of Greece his name will be written in gold letters or in black charcoal.

Regrettably Kouvelis failed to cut the Gordian knot of Tsipras that obstructed a unity government and form a coalition government with New Democracy and Pasok without the participation of Syriza. He proved to be too weak to cross the intransigent and verboten line of Tsipras non-participation and boldly form government with New Democracy and Pasok at this critical time for the country. Intelligence without moral strength is useless in politics. Kouvelis’ repeated ‘rehearsal’ of an Ecumenical government, in which Syriza constantly and invariably refused to be part of it, by obdurately and stupidly sticking to it to the end became a farce. History will not be kind to him for this remarkable dereliction of duty and lack of courage before this great danger of the country when the question for it is to be or not to be, and he will be justifiably and appropriately be condemned for his obdurate refusal and failure of character to play a major part in salvaging Greece from its deadly woes that put at risk not only the economic but also the democratic existence of the country.

In the Thunderous Sky of Greece a Lightning Bolt of Creative Destruction is about to Strike the Country

By Con George-Kotzabasis April 27, 2012
History has shown that at critical moments, in countries of advanced and high culture, men of stupendous ability, imagination, foresight, and fortitude, sprang, like phoenixes from the ashes, to salvage their countries from mortal threats. Themistocles at the battle of Salamis that saved Greece from the barbarian Persian invasion, is one example, the other is Charles Martel, who at the battle of Poitiers stopped the barbarian Muslim invasion from conquering Europe. In our modern contemporaneous times, Greece, on the verge of being devoured and crashed by the ‘hungry fangs’ of default and economic poverty, is just as promptly to be saved by a modern-day Periclean statesman, Antonis Samaras.

In the early 1980’s, with the advent of Andreas Papandreou’s socialist government in power, which proved to be the destructive force that brought Greece to its present catastrophe, that immediately started implementing the serial economic crime of a policy of deficits, the country entered the vicious circle of government spending without economic development. By the early 90’s it was glaringly clear that the debt of the country was reaching astronomical heights that would lead it to the precipice of default and bankruptcy. In 1994, Constantinos Mitsotakis, the former prime minister of Greece, in a prophetic speech in Parliament, predicted that the economically crass and thoughtless policies of Pasok would send Greece as a mendicant to the International Monetary Fund to spare it from pauperism. Andreas Papandreou himself was shocked when at a sober moment glanced at the unfathomable debt that the country was in, as a result of his dirigisme economic policies. It was in his presence when his minister of finance Kostas Simitis remarked, in an accusatory and pungent phrase, that this was “the revenge of the economy.”

The false prosperity that had engulfed Greece turned a sizable part of its population to indulge in the charms and seductions of dolce vita at the expense of government largesse. A whole generation of Greeks had been spoiled and became kaloperasakides (the easy life of prodigally good-timers) under the perpetual munificence of the State. In such a social situation the New Democracy party, though imbued with the precepts of The Austrian School of economics versus Keynesianism, and realising, as its leader Constantinos Mitsotakis did, that the country was approaching in a rapid pace the edge of insolvency, had its hands politically manacled and could not implement decisively and with celerity, and with the necessary degree required, policies of economic restraint that would have prevented the transformation of Greece into a mendicant status, since there did not exist even a small constituency on the political landscape of Greece that would contemplate, least of all accept, policies of austerity. The Greeks had been ‘pathologically’ conditioned to the ‘benefits’ accruing from big government, introduced by Andreas Papandreou, and any attempt to small government by any party in power or any opposition propagating such an idea, could neither hold or win government. Who would give up the ‘free tans’ in sunny Greece that so profusely and generously the State was providing? And who would give up the cushy and loafing jobs in the public sector that the party boys and girls of Pasok and New Democracy were enjoying and relishing? This is the point from which the economic tragedy of Greece had started and would continue to its tragic end.

Thirty years of frivolous public spending brought debt-to-GDP ratio of 120%. Since October 2009 when the son of Andreas Papandreou, George, became prime minister and implemented measures of severe austerity as directed from Brussels in the first memorandum, debt reached 168% of GDP. With the continued recession of the country for the fifth year, Greece lost 16%–18% of its GDP since 2009.
From early 2010 the Opposition leader, Antonis Samaras, few months after his election as leader of the New Democracy party, was warning the Papandreou government of the danger that the austerity measures without economic recovery would lead the country into recession. But his was a lone voice in the wilderness. And for his bold and insightful decision to oppose and vote against the first memorandum replete with the leaden heaviness of austerity that would sink the Greek economy as it did, he was vehemently reprimanded both from within and outside the country. The Economist magazine severely criticised him for his stand against the memorandum but only to lament its critique two years later and concede that Samaras was right. Likewise, Chancellor Merkel and many European ministers with whom Samaras had quarrelled and pointed out to them that austerity measures without rekindling the economy would not resolve Greece’s problem but would make it more abstruse and harder to crack. It took two years for the top brains of Europe to realize that the austerity pills that they were forcing into Greece’s mouth to remedy its ills would have the effect of poisoning its body. (In two years of the severe austerity of the Memorandum, as we indicated above, Greece increased its debt to GDP by a great amount and lost a substantial part of its Gross Domestic Product as enterprises closed and unemployment ravaged the country.) And in turn, like The Economist, admitting that Samaras had won the argument, as all Europeans now are calling for economic recovery and development, supplemented by austerity measures that are necessary, as the way to restore a country’s economic strength.

The May 6 Elections of Greece Crucial for the Future of the Country

The impending election that has been called by the interim government of Lucas Papademos for May 6 is of momentous significance for the future course of the country. Greeks will be called to be partisans of the hard climb to the peak of Mt Olympus from where the sun of hope will rise once again over Greece or be partisans to a free fall in a long twilight of despair. The first is the thunderous call of the New Democracy Party under the Gulliverian and imaginative political leadership of Antonis Samaras, and the second is the deathlike mute call of a congeries of small parties from the left and the right led by Lilliputian politicians. These politically ‘pigmy’ parties, among which is the Communist Party, have no policies of rescuing Greece from its woes, except policies that would lead to the exiting from the European Union and return to the drachma that would lead in turn to the absolute poverty of the country, deliberately drop the curtain on all hope on Greece as their sole aim is to sordidly profit politically by their investment in hopelessness.

The socialist party, Pasok, the main opponent of New Democracy, although on the side of hope, even under the new leadership of Evangelos Venizelos, is totally discredited, as it has been the party that led Greece to its present catastrophe by a bout of unbelievable and unprecedented economic and political mistakes, that Venizelos himself was involved in and responsible, during the last two years that was in government. Moreover, the latest decision of the High Court of Greece to apprehend and charge a former luminary of Pasok and right-hand man of Andreas Papandreou, the founding father of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, Akes Tsohatzopoulos, his wife and daughter, and some of his relatives, with bribery and corruption and with being the receiver and beneficiary of millions of dollars as paid commissions, during his tenure as minister of defence, from German and Russian companies to which he had authorized major assignments and projects of his department, has indelibly marked Pasok as venally corrupt; particularly when its present leader Venizelos, at the initial investigations of Tsohatzopoulos, with the stentorian voice of the lawyer, that he is, was defending and exculpating from any knave dealings, and with the usual catch-all alibi of the typical politician, that the “accusation against Tsohatzopoulos was politically motivated.” Hence, inconceivable political incompetence and culpability, and unfathomable corruption on the part of Pasok, will be two major themes that will dominate the elections and which will ineluctably lead to new lows in the polls for the socialists.

In this critical economic and political setting that the country is in and the looming threat of the breaking of social cohesion, Samaras is asking the Greek people to give New Democracy the “auto-dynamism,” by a majority of votes in the elections, so he can have his hands untied to govern the country with decisiveness and clear uncompromised policies that would put Greece on the trajectory of economic recovery and development. He argues cogently, that in the present political situation of Greece when consensus about the necessary economic policies among parties of how to regenerate the economy of the country is absent, a coalition government–which is the designated position of Pasok and according to the polls at this moment the desire of a majority of the electorate–will be politically impracticable, and more importantly, would not drag out the country from its peril but would further engulf it into profounder depths; as one could not govern effectively a country in a crisis and gradually bring it out of it by being compelled to make compromises to one’s political partners, but only by a well-defined plan and decisive and prompt action to implement it without compromises, by a leader who has a strong mandate from the electorate.

Samaras believes, and reasonably hopes with the confidence of a statesman, that during the electoral period and closer to election date, there will be a dramatic shift of voters toward polarized positions, once the crucial issues of the country are spelled out clearly and without lies to the people by New Democracy and by foreshadowing the practical economic policies backed by real numbers that would put Greece on the track of economic recovery, there is a great chance that the majority of Greeks will give New Democracy a strong mandate to govern on its own for the benefit of all Greeks and for the salvation of the country.

Samaras contended long ago, that only through a clear strong authorization given to him by a majority of the people he would be able to radically change Greece. For real economic development entails not only good policies and incentives but a transformation in the views and customs of people toward such development. He puts great emphasis on the value of human capital and entrepreneurship as the prerequisites for the economic recovery of the country. That is why he has promised to re-legitimize private enterprise and effort that for many years now has been delegitimized in the country by communist-led unions, to whom profit has been, as always, the devil-incarnate of the capitalist free market.

The present high unemployment of more than 20% Samaras contends, will not be reduced by mere lower labour costs which already have been decreased by 15% in the private sector while the tax burden on the latter has increased by 50% and energy costs by 450%. Even if Greeks worked for free no one would hire them with such high taxes and energy costs. Samaras in his Zappeio III speech few days ago declared that he would cut corporate tax to a flat rate of 15%, sharply cut pay-roll tax, lower personal income-tax to 32% maximum, and reduce taxes substantially on fuel and tourism. This would harden rampant tax evasion and would unleash the creativity of the private sector and hence commence the gradual reduction in unemployment. He also announced, that he would increase the lowest pensions to 700 euros per month–that were reduced drastically by the second Memorandum under the austerity measures–and would increase the endowment of families with many children which would not only correct an injustice inflicted upon these two weak sections of society but would also have favourable economic consequence as they would increase consumer demand, which is so important in rekindling the economy, as both recipients of this government assistance spend their money in consumer goods. He would do these two things without increasing public expenditure and hence worsening the deficit, but by cutting government wastage that is so massive and profligate in the State’s spending. Further, he will provide incentives to private enterprise in areas where Greece has almost unchallengeable comparative advantage, i.e., in the merchant marine sector, ship building, and tourism; and in the production and merchandise of olive oil and other agricultural goods by the local producers themselves, not by foreign ones as is the case presently, whose development in all the above sectors will vitally affect the resurgence of the economy. He also proposes to provide incentives to entrepreneurs to exploit the rich mineral resources of the country and to give priority to find and tap the vast natural gas deposits under the Aegean Sea, by declaring the Greek AOZ (Exclusive Economic Zone) that could transform the export dynamic of Greece. He intends further, to reverse the present dryness of liquidity in the country by proffering amnesty from any legal penalties to those who withdrew their cash holdings from Greek banks during the height of the crisis and deposited them overseas once they bring them back to the country; and also by immediately paying back the 6.5 billion euros that the government owes to domestic enterprises; these two measures would increase the liquidity of the banks and hence their ability to provide loans to the private sector, especially to small businesses, that are the backbone of the country’s economy. Moreover, the re-capitalization of the banks, Samaras argues, will enable them to borrow funds at low interest rates from the European Central Bank, that were set up by it last December, which would be used to put Greece on the track of recovery and economic development.

It is by this method of supply-side economics, as that wunderkind Alders Borg the Swedish Finance Minister illustrated for his own country that Greece’s economy will rise again. The necessary austerity measures stipulated in the new Memorandum that Greece has to implement must be accompanied by the rejuvenated “animal spirits” of private enterprise. Samaras, consistently has been saying for the last two years that “we need a recovery to jump-start the economy,” and in conditions of recession austerity measures cannot stimulate the economy but on the contrary sink it deeper into stagnation.

The vision and plan of Samaras is to plant radical changes on the whole landscape of Greece. In his Zappeio speech he adumbrates constitutional changes that would separate the three branches of government the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary and thus prevent a member of parliament from being a minister, which has been in the past a malignant link of political corruption and has bestowed ‘asylum’ to members of parliament for their malfeasances. He pledges to bring changes to educational institutions that would reclaim the proud heritage of Greece that tragically has been eroded by the cultural relativists of a left coterie of pseudo-intellectuals and led to the disconnection of many young Greeks from their great cultural origins. He also promises to take drastic measures against illegal migrants, whom he calls “unarmed invaders” of Greece that under the soft immigration policies of Pasok they have occupied the main centres of cities, and remove them to provincial hostels until their eventual expulsion. Another important commitment of Samaras is to transform the bon vivant ethos of many Greeks, which up till now its tab has been picked up by the government, into a creatively productive one. On the new green tree planted by New Democracy, the singing cicadas will be replaced by fecund working bees. As Samaras is fully aware that sustainable economic development cannot be accomplished without transformative changes in the thinking and the mores of the people, especially of the younger generation.

Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare. He is endowed charismatically both with a high intellect and remarkable moral strength along with the will and determination—all the stuff out of which statesmen are made–to change all things in Greece. But whether this lightning bolt of creative destruction will strike Greece or not depends on the strong mandate that he needs from the people. If Greeks do not fail, at this critical juncture, from fulfilling their historical duty to render to New Democracy a majority of seats in Parliament, then Antonis Samaras, in turn, will consummate the cultural political and economic Renaissance of Greece.

Hic Rhodus hic Salta