Thursday, January 29, 2015

Words Are Easy; Action Speaks!

Zerohedge published an Open Letter from Alexis Tsipras to Germany titled: "What you were never told about Greece". If I were Tsipras, I would not have published that letter because it is so obvious that I wasn't its author and, above all, it's not my authentic language. But there are other reasons, too.

The letter reminds me a bit of President Obama's educating Republicans what politics is all about. It is serene wisdom on one hand and assumed ignorance on the other. And, by the way, the letter does not contain anything which the German public has never been told. All one has to do is to read the weekly column of Jakob Augstein in Der Spiegel, to read blogs like NachDenkSeiten or Spiegelfechter or, to make it easy, to simply listen to Gregor Gysi, Sahra Wagenknecht or Oskar Lafontaine when they speak in the Bundestag and/or on TV talkshows.

The comparison with the Germany of the 1953 Debt Conference is often made. Perhaps one should imagine how it would have been perceived if, prior to the conference, Germany would have published an Open Letter to the Allies explaining to them what German virtues are all about and how "a great opportunity for the West was about to be borne in Germany; an opportunity the West could ill afford to miss".


  1. I have just read the first 2 lines and i thought "Prof. Varoufakis". If there are also tales about grasshopeers and ants, then i am sure he has a signature too.

  2. " If I were Tsipras, I would not have published that letter because it is so obvious that I wasn't its author and, above all, it's not my authentic language."

    Did you read the readers' comments below, on how marvellous writer Tsipras is? The curse of knowledge...

  3. Are you implying that Tsipras publishing this letter before a debt conference can be compared or even associated with Germany explaining their virtues to their allies?

    Is it the same as if Nazi Germany and the Third Reich describe their "virtues" of racism, fascism, mass murders, wealth seizing, concentration and extermination camps, world war II?

    German adhesion on moral hazard and their absolutely monolithic obsession on a German European Union will once more lead to a catastrophe.

    Because it is in the DNA of the German, to be rigid, biased and not flexible.

    Germany has two things in front of them: the successful (?) integration project of the European economy and their obsession towards moral hard and discipline...
    What will they choose? The path that will lead to their catastrophe along with the global economy.
    History will be once more written with dark letters.

    1. If I implied that German ‘virtues’ of the past are comparable to Greece’s ‘virtues’ of the past, then I apologize. There obviously is no comparison and I would have never thought that someone interprets me as thinking that there might be a comparison.

      There is, however, a huge difference between the ways Germany and Greece dealt with the ‘virtues’ of their past. One is to accept the past as it was, assume responsibility for it and try to make the future better. And the other one is to spend one’s life in denial/imaginations (as Nikos Dimou suggests the Greeks are doing).

      I am Austrian and you may know that Austrians, for historical reasons, have always had reservations about the Germans (except when the German leader was a born Austrian…). I have spent 13 years of my working life in Germany. There are German traits which drive me absolutely bananas. BUT! Deep down I respect the Germans because, deep down, they believe in “hard work and clean living”. Now, I have lived in other cultures where “hard work and clean living” might be considered a psychological aberration from human nature. I accept that, just like I would hope that others accept my views.

      I don’t know how familiar you are with German literature and philosophy over the centuries. The overpowering influence on German literature and philosophy is the literature and philosophy of the ancient Greeks. The strange thing is that I have never been in an intellectual discussion with Greeks where ancient Greece played a significant role. There is an African tribe whose motto is “when in trouble, let’s think what our ancestors would have said and done”. If Greeks share that same motto, then I have overlooked it so far. Maybe the Germans learned more from the ancient Greeks than modern Greeks have.

      Whatever the case may be and whatever DNA the Germans have, every social unit from a family to an entire society has some form of a DNA. Before spending all one’s energy on berating other societies’ DNA, one should recognize and accept one’s own DNA. If one has trouble doing that, one should read the booklet of Nikos Dimou.

    2. Mr. Kastner,

      Just love your blog and your dialogue. Keep it up, dialogue will bring solutions always.

      1st: The letter was necessary but for different reasons. For me it was not meant for the German people but more so for the Greek people. It is not common knowledge in greek society that Germans in Germany debate well on the Greek Problem. Furthermore, it is quite unknown to Greeks that there is a large majority of Germans that care for the Greeks, for various reasons. {I always think of greeks and germans as a one of my young love/hate relationships. There is an admiration of each other as they are in many ways complete opposites while having common ground.....A love that will go on for eternity.....} Hence this letter was an open letter to Greeks. A letter that shows Tsipras reaching out to the German people. It will be welcomed in a German way and simaltaneously will soften the greek people's view point on how germans view greeks. This will give a good basis of acceptance from both "peoples" whatever agreement is achieved. Basically it is the asprin before you get the cold. You know your are getting cold so you take one to make the cold you are about to get feel better. It is a wise move. Again well planned. Thank you for pointing these articles out. Also did you see the comments?

      2nd Hardwork. Hardwork has many forms. "German or American (Copied Style German) hardwork are the common modern sense of hardwork" Hours, focus, and preperations for more hours. Hardwork is in greece but there is an undervalue, or there use to be. I believe hardwork and value of hardwork must be used always be in the same sentence other wise "hardwork" is just a noun, not a verb. Basically hardwork is needed to produce value. To be honest the old style "sweating hardwork." Have you ever tried farming? Any farmer in any country of the world. These are the hardest workers for the best value. We are all lazy in comparison to these heros.

      3rd Ancient Greece: Good point. Ancient Greece is used on everyday but not in the ethics and morals nor knowledge. The values of Ancient greece have been lost. They are slowly coming back, but you have to also understand that there is also a church in the way of ancient greece being promoted. Can't comment anymore. to much to be said here.


    3. The Eurozone is a flawed monetary union, nobody disputes that. But here's the thing: it's flawed rules (no fiscal transfers, no lender of last resort) were known since it's inception. Greece knew what it was getting into. Furthermore, it's being ridiculous when it resorts to Germany's WW2 past as an argument against current economic policies. If Germany's dna is being teutonic, modern Greece's dna is being chronically unable to produce high-value products.

    4. @Jim: you make a lop-sided argument. The truth is that the GERMANS knew exactly what they were getting into, when they invited Greece to join. The historical evidence is clear that Germany wanted weak economies liike Greece and Portugal in the euro in order to keep its value low, and assist with German exports. They also should have known that it was very unlikely that the Greek economy would be able to restructure at all, let alone in time to avert a disaster.

      Moreover, the Greek elite of the time was either tricked by German assurances (Simitis was very pro-German) or openly bribed by Germany: for example, the Governor of the Bank of Greece was rewarded with Deputy Governship of the ECB for his role in persuading the Greek government to join. (This was the man later favoured by the Troika to act as unelected prime minster of Greece -- Papademos).

      So, the reality would suggest that most of the blame for this mess lies with Germany and its own corruption, along with the well-known corruptibility of Greeks.

  4. I have to say I'm actually surprised as to why Europeans have persisted for so long with Greece. One should have fathomed by now that Greece is unreformable. Let it be if that's what it wants. Personally I don't think contagion is going to be that much of an issue, and if is, so what? I am a Greek and I think it's insulting that Greeks keep blabbing about some humanitarian crisis when in the Eurozone participate former Eastern Bloc countries that have suffered much worse during the transition to capitalism, but have grasped what Greeks refuse to: that value creation (as Klaus puts it) is paramount if you want to enjoy high standards of living.

    1. I don’t know whether you are Greek or only pretending to be. If you are Greek, I would congratulate you on your objective assessment. It reminds me of my Brit friend whom I have quoted a few times. It’s only that I don’t think that the future can’t necessarily be different from the past. For quite some time, I was convinced that Greece’s future could indeed be different from the past. As the campaign progressed, I even developed some hope that SYRIZA would make the future better than the past. After observing them in government for 4 days, hope is still there because it dies last but I have to look very hard to see it. Perhaps Greeks should travel more often to Slovakia. That was the poorer part of Chekoslovakia after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The Czechs didn’t want them and the Slovaks wanted to get away from the Czech’s, too. So they split and the Slovaks were on their own. And – the Slovaks made it! They are still far away from the per capita GDP of Greece and from Greek pensions and/or wages but they made it. What Greeks don’t seem to understand is that when you get away from sponsors and manage to pull your own weight, it does have a positive impact on national self-confidence.

    2. To Both,

      Change will come. The economic crisis hit deep in the greeks. They will not return to their 1980's, 1990's or 2000's ways. Syriza is the tool greeks created themselves as to change for the future.


    3. Mr. Jim Slip,

      In my tiresome comments, i have always tried to backup what i say, with something else beyond my opinion. Because, over the past years, i have seen everyone having an opinion on Greece. The only problem was, this opinion was diametrical opposite to the other, according to geographical location, political affiliation, occupation, etc. I also soon realized, that each one had his own fixed idea and there was nothing i could do, to change it. I remember a greek once posting in this forum "I had predicted this would come. But i also no longer try to speak with foreigners, impossible to fight with mass media".

      This continues today. Leftist blogs are in jubilee for SYRIZA. Leftist parties in Europe , see Tsipras as the archangel of vengeance. Liberal blogs are thinking "is he turning Greece in a comunist state?". Those who were against "austerity" now see SYRIZA as their champion that will prove they were right. Those who were in favour of austerity, see him on a suicide mission that will soon get kicked out of the euro. Recently, with the elections, i became emotionally drained. It's a tragicomical goverment for me, in many aspects.

      However, i won't further dwelve into my futile predictions (Mr. Kastner, if Avramopoulos gets elected president of the repubblic, you first read it in your blog, in my post about poor Dimas. Ask any Greek, whether Avramopoulos is a better figure compared to Dimas. The only chance now not to have Avramopoulos as President, is because the european popular party is against him leaving the job or EU comissioner so soon. Otherwise it's done deal).

      Back to your post Mr. Slip, you must be either very young or with a very shallow read of history to not see how much Greece has changed over the years. Even the last 30 years of PASOK. Everything has changed. About reforms, i could simply throw my useless opinion on what was done, but i once again, leave others do the job.

      All this done, in an extremely hostile enviroment both from outside and the inside. I do not think there has ever been a country that went bankrupt in the history of the world, so much derised, insulted, vilified from outside and at the same time, met with fierce opposition from the inside from political parties that were working against the goverment. From the outside, it is very easy to think reforms of this magnitute are like pills to take. Yet i don't know which country did them, under conditions of internal devaluation of 25%. And please don't tell me that this was result of bad planning, because there were officials since the beginning, i think Charles Dallara said it clearly, that greek GDP should drop to 180 beur and in the memorandum is written that salaries will allign with those of SE Balkans and central europe. So, all the crocodile tears about the supposed "unwanted" human cost, that nobody knew about, is just for the media. It would be more honest to say, that it is a necessary evil, when you do such devaluation.

    4. (..)
      I will agree with you, that in Greece, there is a lack of understanding of the "added value". I have written repeatedly about how the Italians take bulk oil and olives. Or take the Cosco. It is common in Greece to calculate only the yearly "rent". They can't see the chain of reaction that the investment will cause and even more, the lift off the shoulders of the state, of an inefficient sector. This is the result of a lack of a liberal party in Greece. ND has only a timid liberal wing, because it has been on the defensive for years, unable to fight the left rhetoric that feasts on guilt syndrome of 67-74 junta.

      But, Samaras, despite his non existing comunicative skills, his feeble staff, DID do the "dirty job". And if you ask me, one reason for Tsipras to rush and topple the goverment in December, is because he was afraid that people would start seeing the numbers go better and the economic climate improve.

      It is now up to Tsipras, the greek Obama, or rather, to the goor professor, to do no waste and reap all the glory. If he wants to make taxation more fair, he now can. 2 years ago, the tax offices were only piles of paper. Now he can use an electronic registry. He has procedures for "1 click to open a new business". The word "start up", has been heard in greek television, something nobody had heard before 3 years ago. If Tsipras doesn't take advantage (as i am afraid he won't), it will still be a lesson, that this time will be up to ND or some new party to take advantage of.

      I will also add, that a default of Greece in 2010, outside the euro, would have been "healthier" than the "long walk of thousand cuts". When you default at once, there is no room for opposition to say that there is another way, that you can bring paradise with one gesture. The citizen doesn't live with fear of what new cut will come next month for the next 4 years.

      Would you like to have a leg amputated in 5 minutes or in 5 days?


    5. Mr. Kastner,

      If i wanted to search your blog and find various predictions i have made, i would have a rather positive balance i think, in confirmed predictions. I also sympathized with you, for being married to a foreign worman and i imagine for you, this blog was also a means, of understanding your wife's country and possibly, your wife herself.
      However, i said this before and i will say it again. In nothern Europe, you are accustomed to a sort of "uniformity". Or if you like, a "common sense". You can see this also in political parties. The "Labour" party in UK, is theoretically, their left. By greek standards, it is a joke of a left. Greece is like a chaos laboratory. You will never understand it, by seeking "the easy guide to understand Greeks", in a book. Because there is no such thing as "representative Greek": In another post of yours, you say "i have never met a Greek who didn't claim that the public sector in Greece wasn't too big". Apparently you have never met a greek leftist. Since the beginning of the crisis, the position of the left, was the public sector was in line with european average, if we take into account the different geography. And voted against any attempt to reduce it.

      You are once more mistaken, to put again "all Greeks" in the same bag and even doubt whether Mr. Slip is greek or not.

      To get away from the sponsor, would mean to get out of the EU. Unfortunately, societies build on their current status. Greece has been emerged since 1981 in a policy, the conseguences of which, have created what the left calls, "kektimeno" (the acquis", the "acquired"), Free education, free healthcare and so on. The Slovaks are coming from a collapse of a system that wasn't exactly something to envy and it was much easier to see the benefits a new market open system.

      Finally and with this i shall close and not bother you further, you recently told me that i am the man on the ground, for my prediction about the non election of Dimas. I am not the man on the ground, Mr, Kastner. I haven't been the man on the ground since i was 20. But i have always kept a close touch with Greece and understand enough Greece to make successful predictions once every while.
      I can also tell you this. Had Italy had to pass through what Greece passed from, euro would either not exist today or Germany would have made huge concessions early on. Because, let me tell you, the loss of income and jobs in Italy, is ridiculous compared to Greece and the opinion on the euro, Germany and populism is already dangerously high.
      I was actually surprised for how long my compatriots had patience to endure the slow agony.

      I hope Tsipras will prove me wrong. You saw the hope in Tsipras, i saw the hope on what Samaras did. But Tsipras can reap all the glory. The biggest mistake of Samaras, was being trapped in the crossfire from left and right antimemorandum parties, instead of going to the offensive with a media campaign to inform people. And to inform those in the productive sector too. Make seminars to oil producers to inform them how to export, why it is better to export packaged instead of bulk, give them advisors, just like the state gives them advisors for the cultivation of their crops, make a pubblicity of the benefits that Cosco brought to the state compared to the losses before, etc.

      I will cease posting from now on. I thank you again.

  5. My 8 year old son was asking me.. why are all these people fighting on TV? Who is the bad guy, who is the good guy? Who will win? What does it mean MNIMONIO dad(memorandum)?

    So I made a little story...
    "Once upon a time there was a deer that left its liitle offsprings alone to avidly eat the fresh grass at the end of the forest. But something bad happened and the deer was captured in a trap, a net that imprisoned the deer high on a tree.
    There was a good man that liked deers who kept feeding the deer inside the net. The deer could not move or run to freedom. At the same time a very bad thing crossed it mind.. My little ones, what future is there for them? Will they starve to death? Are my offsprings doomed? Will I be able to do something for the future of my kids from this trap?

    Then someone came and said loudly.. "I will cut this rope and the you will fall down, free once more. Run back to your kids, protect your family, feed them, protect them."

    What should the deer do? Stay in the net to survive, risking the existence of its offsprings or cut the rope BUT risk to die falling from that height?

    Let me tell you how I feel here in Greece. I work at a bank 10-11 hours per day. I have been saving every single EUR I could to build something from my children. My parents where hard working laborers that lived they lifes with dignity. Poor people that felt so proud when looking at their son and the things that he managed to accomplish with very hard work. I never had a funcy car, I never borrowed to spend.

    Do you know HOW I FEEL? I feel haunted. I feel that my life is in danger. I feel that everything that I have worked for so hard will be destroyed.

    I feel that my children are in danger.

  6. Klaus, have you ever considered what a small fraction of the German population do regularly read the three famous blogs you link to? And the following three links go to wikipedia...

    Therefore I am convinced that it was a good idea that Varoufakis wrote that text. Imho it does not look like a good idea that Syriza published it in the name of Tsipras.

    That it has been published as an argument before election in order to to make that standpoint clear to the masses should not be compared with the real debt negotiations that will follow.

    Only if Varoufakis should start his official negotiations with such an argument, most reasonable persons would agree to your position. I have no doubts that you did not intend to pretend that he will do that.


  7. Frau Merkel, please save me from being saved by this person.

  8. Mr. Jim Slip,

    One last thing. I agree with you on wondering why the EU just doesn't kick Tsipras out. The answer is simple. For the same reason, that Ipatia occupation from SYRIZA, didn't end up with a police raid. They take advantage of the appearances that democracies have to maintain. And for a more cynical reason, for the same reason that they let Greece in, in the first place. Interests. Do you recall, who put Greece in the euro? It was german-bred Simitis, who opened a new era in greek-german relations, be it weapons for the army or hospital equipment and various contracts to every imaginable sector of the greek state . Greece effectively became a german playground will guaranteed state contracts to state companies.

    Now they see if they can minimize their losses. And maybe, in deed Mr. Tsipras, will be lucky, like we said the other day, Mr. Kastner and will have a shield he wasn't expecting.

    Today's article:

    Gorbachev: The (new) Cold war has been proclaimed.

    Imagine the farce of history, if once more, Greece would be one of the first places, where the 2 sides are playing to win...

  9. And one last thing for Mr. Kastner.

    If it was up to me, I would kick Tsipras out of the euro, today. I would also send the police and arrest every last of them every time they dare occupy a state building and let them cry all day to Mr. Malkoutzis about police brutality and fascism.

    Unlike the former comunist countries, that have tasted the real thing, in Greece the left, have (not entirely without cause), the place of the victim. As such, the paradise is still open for them.

    But i think Washington will call Berlin...

  10. They don't have to go as far as Slovakia, they could go to Bulgaria (per capita GDP EUR 8000), another sponsor of the Greeks (per capita GDP EUR 22000) bail outs. Bloody disgusting.

    1. You are that ignorant as not to know that bailout loans were granted to Greece only by EUROZONE members and the IMF.

    2. And not by the Chinese either who, indicentally, had a greater current account surplus with Greece than Germany during the boom years and who are now profiting handsomely from investments in Greece (at least until they get kicked out).

  11. "Germany ... [has] nothing to fear from a Syriza victory"
    That's the same spin statement Tsipras' adviser John Milios voiced in an interview. It's possible that he is the real author of this propaganda piece.

    1. The principal propaganda on the web comes from you. I have seen your name and ignorant comments across many sites for years; your grasp of economics is very weak, and you are clearly a German with some connection to finance. Also with too much spare time on your hands, so not in full-time employment. Enough said.