October 05, 2012
But that was then. Greed got the better of the Greeks as successive governments stole what little wealth the country had. My father’s factories were blown up during the communist uprising of Christmas 1944. The only way of coming back was by going west to America, where he brought ships that the international community protected from communist sabotage. Stick to the sea, he used to tell me—it’s safer out there. But he rebuilt his factories and businesses in Greece and continued to live there until his death in 1989. My old man knew how to play the Greek game. I never bothered to learn because I never liked the rules. Nor did many of my Greek friends who chose to live outside and only go there during the summer.
As I write, with a three-party coalition government supposedly out to catch the crooks, the president of the Greek Parliament, once the seat of my uncle, is under investigation for tax evasion.
Evangelos Meimarakis, a very rich man having saved his meager salary, has of course denied all charges. After his declaration of innocence there was a Pinteresque silence, then people began to laugh, the laughter spilling out into the wide boulevards, with people falling all over themselves while holding their ribs. It was mass hysteria for a while, as if some Turk had poisoned the water supply with LSD. Thousands had to be hospitalized from excessive laughter. Hookers were laughing too hard to perform, and public transport came to a stop. Taxi drivers were seen stopping their cars, getting out, and collapsing in hysterical laughter. Someone had the bright idea to erect a sign just beneath the Parthenon: INNOCENT, like the one that reads HOLLYWOOD over La-La Land. The cops stopped laughing long enough to remove the sign. The Acropolis rock is sacred, said a police announcement. It was the only truth uttered that day.
Greece cannot function as a modern economy unless markets are freed, corruption rooted out, and cartels and favoritism eliminated. But who will do this? The crooks that are in Parliament already? Premier Samaras talks a good battle but he has spent his life in politics—Greek politics—and has never had a job outside politics. His hands are as dirty as the rest, and there is not a single person among the 300 in Parliament whose hands are not. But the Germans are the bad guys. Down with Germany.
Image of E.U. flag courtesy of Shutterstock