“We know by looking into the eyes of the hungry in the streets of our cities…” The man is a writer. A blogger. A tweeter. But surely not the material of a finance minister. Maybe this whole thing is just a scheme on his part so he can sell more books. Maybe he wants to charge as much as Bill Clinton for speeches as soon as resigns. (It shouldn’t be too long the way he is behaving so far!)
No, Greeks are not poor. By any measure. This is a complete and blatant lie. Greeks are fat, lazy and spoilt by politicians like Mr Varoufakis. It is pretty amazing that an educated economist is not afraid to lie like this. Does he not know how to measure poverty? No, Mr Yanis (with one “n” because you are a brand, not a normal person), poverty is not measured by the unemployment rate. Lazy people might well be unemployed, in a country like Greece where many jobs are “not good enough” for many Greeks anymore. People working the black economy state themselves as unemployed. Even businessmen lately I have been talking to, after seeing the tax situation, are declaring themselves unemployed in the hope of a better treatment from the erratic State. Unemployment is the result of incompetent governments afraid to make much needed changes, not austerity per se.
And Mr Varoufakis is just making it worse. His month of antics has cost us dearly. Not only in capital flight, not only in missed opportunities, not only has he made us the laughing stock of Europe but – worse of all – he has instigated the worse kind of nationalism possible in this situation. He has made Greeks proud to be the laughing stock of Europe. With a logic similar to our childish prime minister, cheap tricks and no ties, he has blatantly disregarded all protocol, lazily refused to do the work necessary and cheaply accused the media or other European leaders for his own lack of skills. This government has known for a long time they would be in Brussels for this negotiation yet it didn’t prepare anything at all. It got the whole world looking at us ….and deciding that Greeks are indeed lazy and cantankerous, unstable immature children; all about pomp and words, not deeds.
Germans know very well that Greeks are not poor. They know that Greeks own their own houses, most also own a country home in those wonderful places others come on to holiday. Many also own a third or fourth plot of land or house at a village or an apartment they rent out in the center of town. They know that while they cycle to work or take public transport, Greeks lavishly drive themselves around everywhere. Greeks don’t buy used things. Any way you look at our lifestyles they are richer than most other Europeans. Greeks still spend big time on many retail luxuries which other Europeans have outruled a long time ago. In fact, Mr Varoufakis would have a pretty hard time as an economist, finding an indicator of “Greek poverty”. Which is probably why he uses vague statements about “too much austerity”. Too much for who? With what end result in mind? In a country with a disproportionate number of pensioners, does he have the balls to deal with real problems like that or will we sit around wrangling about minimum wage and other publicity stunts?
We all know what needs to be done. The problem is not the size of the debt. Even if you wrote it all off tomorrow, Greece is in trouble. Those “structural changes” everyone goes on about are very far away. Not because Mr Varoufakis doesn’t know what needs to be done. Everyone knows what needs to be done. Everyone outside of Greece that is. Because most Greeks are still waiting for handouts. Our huge civil service voted for SYRIZA hoping they would repeat the old PASOK trick of lending money and giving it away. Like little children, most Greeks think austerity is just a bad dream. SYRIZA gave them a campaign of “hope” but they might as well called it a campaign of “wild dreams”.
Well only 1/4 of Greeks voted for SYRIZA. They claim “democratic mandate” but they don’t have anything of the sort. There are a lot of us who know that our country needs probably 20-30 years of slow and painful change before the next generation emerges truly globalised and ready for the way the world really works, not expecting handouts from anyone. It is change which has to happen inside us first and foremost. No IMF, or Troika, or whatever word for it Mr Varoufaki chooses for foreign help, can change that.
You are no messiah Mr Varoufaki. You are a liar. Enjoy the limelight while you have it.