November 5th, 2011
03:37 PM GMT
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Athens, Greece - What a difference a day can make. It's saturday and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has survived the midnight confidence vote, seen President Karolos Papoulias and is now going about forming a coalition government with a few smaller parties.

Does it matter who forms a coalition government?  Not really. The bottom line is that whoever is the next Prime Minister - and my money is on Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos – s/he will still have to cobble together a majority of the 300-member parliament to do one thing and one thing only: pass the massive austerity package agreed in Brussels on 27 October. It’s that simple.

The Greeks don’t like the pain and austerity that has been imposed on them by their own government in return for massive loans from the IMF and the European Union. But there is really no choice. Sure, the opposition party, New Democracy, has promised less pain - but don’t parties out of power always promise that? Anyway, the word on the street in Athens is that New Democracy will not be a part of any coalition government.

Venizelos said Friday night he wanted to see a temporary three-month government that would push through all the necessary legislation by February. After that, I suspect, would follow elections.

The hope here is that it will buy enough time to keep markets calm, get the massive October program implemented across Europe and let people focus on the next hot spot: Italy.

So, what do people in Athens think of all this? Those I have spoken to have summed it up in a few words: confusion, anger and humiliation.

The confusion came when the PM said he wanted the Greek people to vote in a referendum on the latest bailout agreement. I sense he made that decision out of anger and frustration, that the he was not cheered in Athens for the deal he struck. But now the referendum is dead, to the delight of the rest of Europe. After all, what if the Greek people voted no to austerity to punish Papandreou? EU leaders said that could mean the end of Greece in the euro.

The anger has not been the anger of violent protests: we have seen well organized and peaceful marches this week. Rather it has been directed at all of Greece's main political parties, who are jointly held responsible for a decade of mismanagement. Noone here believes that there is a political savior waiting in the wings.

There are many news channels in Greece and numerous newspapers – extraordinary for a country of only eight million - and the Greeks note with great interest that the international media is once again back in Athens.  State broadcaster ERT is showing video of my reports and CNN anchors, as well as the BBC and Sky. Last night, nearly every balcony in our hotel featured a foreign broadcaster with a portable satellite dish, using the Greek parliament building opposite as a backdrop.

The nitty gritty of Greek politics is not, in the longer term, crucial to the bigger storm surrounding the European crisis. But the Greek media is very aware of how the country is perceived by the rest of the world. And that’s where the humiliation comes in. As one woman on the street told me: “Please don’t say the Greek people are lazy, we are not.” Instead she blames Greek politicians of all stripes.

I suspect most Greeks would back what their PM said Friday night:  “We have to move from a Greece of deficits and move on to a Greece of credibility.”

Amen to that.

soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Stamatina Tsoukas

    Jim Boulden I would feel very ashamed to report on a country that you once reported Greece is garbage we dont care for people that can't get there facts right so please dont travel to Greece and come back with negative answers from our country enough is enough no one should critisize any country we should all work as a team to help each other not accuse each other . I respect our president and kind words for Greece but I defineltly dont respect you so please think before you report sincerley Marianna

    November 5, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  2. ddblah

    Tsoukas: Great! Greece has done a fantastic job and everything Greek people have done so far is simply outstanding. Without the continuous borrowing and spending from Greece, the world will simply collapse. So, please, please continue.

    Feel better?

    November 5, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  3. Schnoodledad

    Why is it the people who screw up the most say "you should not criticize anybody?"

    November 5, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  4. Polopoint

    Please. Get a grip. Greece is a basket case. Call it as such. It is a poorly, poorly run country with bad, incompetent politicians and selfish voters that continue to vote them in. What do you expect? This is not disrespectful. Greece is a wonderful place. It's just poorly run, managed, taken care of. Their children and grandchildren are not being thought of while the current population passes off the bill to the kids to be paid for. Selfish – and shortsighted.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  5. Mark

    So the Greeks feel anger and humiliation huh? – I can recommend a few things to avoid having to go through that:



    November 5, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  6. april

    Punctuation, please. I mean, didn't Greeks invent it?

    November 5, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  7. Dave Simpson

    At least Greece didn't invade a sovereign country like Iraq based on lies. And then be totally inept at providing security for the people of Iraq over the next several years.

    So, if you ask me I would be a little more embarrassed about invasions than I would be about money. But I guess my values are a little different than my fellow Americans.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  8. Roger Ogilivy Thornhill

    Wow! Who retires at 65? I expect to be working until I'm about 72, like everyone else I work with. My father-in-law is 75 and still working to pay of his first mortgage. Maybe I should emigrate from the U.S. to Greece and suffer through some austerity.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  9. Imho

    My opinion is that Greece should default and start fresh for next 20 to 30 years. Greek has to work hard during that period.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  10. Stephen Evangelidis

    I am Greek, but living in America. My entire family is living in Greece still. Americans, Canadians, Europeans and American and Canadian Greeks have always accused the Greeks living in Greece of being very, very, very lazy. Greece has been the subject of many jokes for decades about this. My family in Greece are all lazy and do not work in Greece. My wifes entire family there is lazy and works very sparingly. It is the politians that are to blame for the Greek financial situation, but the Greek people need to also take a long, hard look at themselves. They must stop being lazy. They have to pay taxes, they have to go to work on time, they have to stop taking long extensive vacations where the country pretty much shuts down for them to take it, they have to stay at work the entire day....they just need to work had like North Americans. Wake up Greece. You ARE extremely lazy. It is a bitter pill to swallow for Greeks, I've had to swallow some bitter pills myself when realizing how messed up America is, but Greeks need to stop living in denial of their laziness.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  11. Cassandra Chu

    let's not turn this into a drama. as with the united states, the solution is clear and obvious: don't spend more than you have.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  12. Patricksday

    Uh Oh, now the United States will have to go to war with Greece because Democracy is not part of this Governmental Plan. Oh yeah, Greece doesnt have any Oil.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  13. Polopoint

    If you're still working to pay a mortgage at 75, that's on you. No one else.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  14. thomas

    Mark, I bet that you are a white, middle class privileged guy. And you have all the answers. You should stop commenting and go watch more fox news.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Chris

    Jumping on the treason train can be a bumpy ride.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  16. kalo maira

    I agree with you Mr. Jim Boulden, You just came here for the info of greek crisis but if you going to stay here you will find more negative side of greek people and... OMG i dont want to say more. I feel sorry to our PM he was trying to help the country but people dont. Greek people only think themselves & MONEY, you are right they are lazy they want less hour to work but asking to pay high. But the good side of greek people are... hypocratic, critism and racism
    Thank you and more power

    November 5, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  17. Exclusive

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    November 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  18. Ron

    They (the Greeks) should start working and paying taxes now instead of lazing about and expecting others to bail them out !

    November 5, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  19. KJ

    When the writer of an op-ed says his money is on a particular candidate to be the next Prime Minister of a country, and then calls them "s/he" – they have lost ALL credibility in my eyes. How can you possibly know enough on a subject in-depth to speak on it if you don't even know the gender of the candidate you "have your money on?" Not that the genders matters to the position, but I would expect a journalist to know BASIC facts before making what should be an educated guess about an outcome – or at the very least take the approximately 30 seconds required to look it up. For the record, Mr. Venizelos is a "he."

    November 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  20. alex

    maybe they'll do like america, borrow and spend their way out of debt.
    because, yeah, thats how one gets out of debt right?
    anyone else see what happens when socialism goes unchecked?

    November 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  21. P

    52% of Americans didn't pay federal income tax last year

    ..but these same "Americans" say the rich need to pay their fair share

    November 5, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  22. P

    Yes I am talking about YOU 'occupy Wallstreet'

    YOU who pay no income tax should have no democratic voice and no vote, period. That's a fact not an opinion.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  23. joand

    Everything I've read says that Greece did not pass the financial/economic requirements to enter the Euro without some serious "fudging" of the budget. Who is to say that this same process won't continue?

    November 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  24. The King

    Shame is appropriate. The EU made a huge mistage admitting these self important, fiscally irresponsible fools into their union.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  25. Teresa

    All countries, at one time or another, fall victim to corrupt governments. In my opinion corrupt governments are the reason the whole planet is experiencing such an extreme economic slump...the worst since the great depression. We should all vote, and vote for the people we believe can bring our individual economies out of these crises. Of course, the countries with the smallest economies will suffer more than those with large economies. Greece is a beautiful country, with BEAUTIFUL people, and because of them, the whole world was introduced to Democracy. We should all show a little respect to the gifts the Greek culture has brought to the rest of the planet.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  26. Lean6

    Greece, why feel any responsibility or ownership? Just blame America like everybody else. Just blame Obama, even though your goose was cooked long before he took office. Nobody will notice. To the contrary, you will get a pass and another opportunity to exercise lessons of hindsight.

    November 5, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  27. HoiHoiHoi

    Of course the Greeks should be ashamed and angry! They have lived in a dream land for too long. Getting over on everyone else is a country past time. Their day in the sun was 2400 years ago. Their current situation is no better than a third world country. I vote they should be allowed to go down the toilet and let the idiot banks/investors who bet othewise suffer as well.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  28. Michele R.

    Greece is the equivalent of third generation welfare families in America. No personal responsibility but still expecting to be taken care of. Your feelings of "anger and humiliation" are well deserved and appropriate.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  29. A_Nonny_Mouse

    It's the same-same-same-thing as everywhere. The government does stuff to benefit their cronies and the big voting blocs. The cronies cheer, support, and contribute to the political parties that promise to "stand up for" them. (That way, they get the special legislation that exempts them from the taxes and regulations that hamstring the "little" people and the "unimportant" businesses.) Ultimately it turns in to "government BY the elites, FOR the elites". The bankers and businessmen and unions and government workers and the well-connected ALL get taken care of, while the average, everyday, go-to-work, pay-your-taxes, get-no-special-breaks citizens ultimately wind up paying for the decades-long party that the Elites were throwing at the workers' expense.

    No, my use of the word "workers" doesn't indicate I'm a communist; I don't want redistribution of wealth or Dictatorship of the Proletariat. I *DO* want governments with limited powers, and with maximum transparency and oversight, so that citizens have a chance to stop these binges before they become so destructive.

    But (sigh) even at that, people will ALWAYS be tempted to vote for politicians who promise them "more"; they don't see any harm in asking to receive "just a little more" from the seemingly-bottomless pool of "government money" - money taxed away from themselves and millions of anonymous other citizens. "I pay my taxes; I deserve to get something back." Sounds familiar, right? And additionally, it's just the NATURE of people in government to seek more power and authority and bigger budgets because "we're doing important work here, and there's so much NEED out there, we need more staff and office space and workers to help our most-vulnerable citizens". So governments grow, because of citizen demand and because bureaucracies expand (and because the "Elites" LOVE to be elite and powerful and well-paid).

    I suppose this is an eternal cycle in the affairs of humans and our governments; it looks to me like a lot of things are simply going to have to crash/ implode/ be demolished so that a new cycle can start. What really worries me are the wolves and vultures, the predator nations of the world, the ones figuratively skulking outside the perimeter of light cast by the Civilized West. I'm afraid we've picked a bad time to have a crisis of soul and will across the entirety of what used to be called "all Christendom". Islam and communist China are both rising actors on the world stage; they're hungry for power, respect and wealth; their populations are soaring, and I'm afraid –very afraid– that we look like prey.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  30. Captain Howdy

    What happened to Greece: she borrowed too much, then her borrowers started doubting her ability to pay, so they raised her "rent" or her interest and so she was now paying higher debt, on top of that her debtors bought credit default swaps which guaranteed they would make money if she did default! So after they got their initial high interest, their REMAINING INTEREST WAS TO SEE GREECE DEFAULT SO THEY COULD COLLECT HER CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS! So Greece went from merely being a borrower hoping to pay back her loans, TO BEING AN EXPENDABLE PREY WHO WOULD NOW BEST SERVE THE INTEREST OF THE MARKETS BY DEFAULTING!!!!

    Europe failed to protect Greece against this in the first place. Europe should have had a method of preventing this and the fact that it did not makes this her fault! Imagine if California were allowed to pay interest rates of 25 percent!!! Just imagine! you think its because of the goodness of their hearts that they dont go after California? ARE YOU KIDDING!!! They Cant.....the US gov PROTECTS CALIFORNIA FROM SUCH PREDATORY LENDING....THE EUROS DID NOT AND THEY ARE GUILTY OF IT....I dont know what Greece can do really except to threaten an exit which would probably destroy the Union and the world's least this way she gets some fair for Europe....EUROPE MUST TAKE CONTROL OF THE PREDATORY LENDERS...NOW!!!! FAIL, AND WORLD WAR 3 IS ONLY JUST A SHOT AWAY!!!! NO KIDDING.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  31. Hermen Caine

    I Hermen Caine, propose the 65-65-65 plan:
    65% wage cuts for all government employees, 65% of the govt worforce to be cut, and everyone retires at 65.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  32. reACTIONary

    Greece has a population of about 8 million. That's about the size of New York City (proper, not counting suburbs, etc.). There are about 20 world cities (proper) that are at or well above 8 million! So how is it that this little dot of a country can cause so much pain for the entire world? Why are they allowed to be so irresponsible? I honestly think that a United States of Europe, with a strong central government, is long over due.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  33. Jack Kieser

    P, you are an idiot. Do you know WHY so many people don't pay an income tax? *Because their income isn't high enough to WARRANT paying an income tax*, that's why. They literally do not make enough money; if they paid income tax, they wouldn't have enough left over to live a life that isn't criminal to impose on a person.

    What you people who are clamoring for a "broader tax base" don't get is that *it costs money to process taxes*. Yes, everyone could theoretically pay a dollar in taxes, and everyone would be paying some form of tax... but if it costs 20$ in labor costs to PROCESS the damn payment, the country has *lost money*! But, do you think of the practical implications of the policies you espouse?

    No, of course not. You just parrot what others tell you without thinking for yourself. Great job. Failure.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  34. Chinatown

    This is a network among corrupt Western Politicians and Banksters to scam the taxpayers in the EU and US to bail out shady bank dealings and corrupt govts......the PEOPLE of these nations must rise up!

    November 5, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  35. james

    Sitting around sipping ouzo, staring off at the pretty islands..eating like pigs, where do i sign up ?

    November 5, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  36. reACTIONary

    At 8 million people, on a world scale, Greece is right up there with New York City, Mexico City, Tokyo. A lot of cities are much, much larger! This isn't a real country, its a wide spread city! They don't need a prime minister, they need a mayor!

    November 5, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  37. Captain Howdy

    How is this different from what the BANKSTERS DID TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE? They lent the Greeks money THEY SHOULD NOT HAVE, the Greeks paid too much for that the American people WHO PAID TOO MUCH FOR THEIR HOUSES.....and are now caught in a position where it is better for the BANKSTERS TO LET GREECE DEFAULT SO THEY CAN COLLECT THEIR CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP MONEY.....same as happened with American mortgages where it is cheaper for the banks to let people default so they can collect their own insurance and sell the houses coming out on top.....IN FACT IN THE US THE BANKSTERS HAVE ALREADY GOTTEN THEIR CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP MONEY BECAUSE BEN BERNANKE BOUGHT A TON OF LOANS WITH AMERICAN TAXPAYER MONEY AT FULL PRICE!!!!!


    November 5, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  38. defaultdefaultdefault

    walk away from the parasitic banksters' game!

    keep building just, equitable, real economy, on the ashes of the vampire empire!

    November 5, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  39. Jim in Washington

    I'm with the guy who pointed out that at least Greeks didn't invade another country to further the business of some right wing politician's former employer. Yes, they deserve what they are getting, but we are going to deserve it too when we find ourselves in the same place. Which won't be long.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  40. Nikos

    The Germans and others might complain but who else will take care of there women when they send them to the Greek Islands for vacations?

    November 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  41. Lester Gester

    Too many old buildings in Greece for me! Tear them all down, and provide jobs for Greeks other than being sheep herders!

    November 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  42. Weldon Gebhar

    Is there really any other choice than paying the Piper or is it Paul-per. When robbing Peter to pay Paul one can always find full support from the Paul's.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  43. JohnRJ08

    How do you spell "ungrateful"? G-R-E-E-K-S

    November 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  44. model67a

    Are these people so ignorant and arrogant that they are not going to accept the help that is offerred? They are like the college students who are protesting now in the U.S. They think they deserve something for nothing and that is not the way it works!!

    November 5, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  45. rightospeak

    You miss the whole point ! Greeks want DEMOCRACY. They paid their government workers good salaries and benefits and the very government workers are betraying them to the BANKSTERS. Some Greek wrote : Greece owed 30 billion 10 years ago.After payout of 266 billion they owe 400 billion. The people are sick of austerity measures. Greece can not pay off its debt and now , having lost Democracy, they will rebel with blood in the street. Only a stupid person can not see what is going to happen. Austerity measures passed by the Greek government will result in bloodshed-mark my words. It does not take a genius to predict the outcome.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  46. paul r.

    One out of every five workers in Greece works for the government. Nepotism, cronyism and bribery are a way of life. This country is going down.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  47. chicagok

    This same problem exists in the state of Illinois. Government corruption, corrupt labor unions, incompetent politicians have driven jobs away from the state. Result: high unemployment, bankruptcy. AKA, this is the Obama experience. Socialism is a massive failure. It will kill millions of people. Greece is feeling the pain. The US may feel the pain if it can't eliminate Democrat Terrorism.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  48. Teresa

    @Nikos, EXACTLY!! (hehehe)

    November 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  49. itsonlymoney

    It's but natural to feel anger at having to pay for things that you never expected to pay – e.g. taxes. It is also normal to feel robbed when the free services you enjoyed over years are about to be reduced .. not cut completely but reduced.
    I hope Greeks will understand how rest of the world feels when for 'no fault of theirs', the world financial system is in crisis.
    As a way forward, all Greek banks should be shut down and the current bankers be banned for life. Same should be true for all current and past politicians and public sector employees. They were hired by public to do a job and collectively they failed with a clear show incompetence. For that reason, they should either be tried in new courts or forgo any pensions.
    Having cleansed itself and set a strong example, this great country should rebuild the basic government from scratch...

    November 5, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  50. Georgia Jazz

    To Mark and Stepen Evangelidis: I'm with you guys, WELL SAID!!! That's the whole truth. Greeks were living high on the hog for a long time on borrowed money,now it's time to pay the piper.

    November 5, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  51. JC

    Greeks have long been known as Mediterranean Mexicans.
    What else is there to say ?

    November 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
  52. Jim

    The disrespect being shown this country is appalling. I mean this is the birth place of modern science and philosophy. We need to help them up for their pride. The rest of the world has nothing to brag about.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
  53. James T.

    Foreclose on Greece. Dismantle the Acropolis and all the other historical buildings and artifacts and auction them off on e-bay. Divide the land up among the debtor countries and drive the indigenous population out to wander Europe like Gypsies. Just don't let them over here. They don't believe in paying tax. That's why they wrecked their own country. Don't let them wreck ours too!

    November 5, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  54. Emery Hyslop-Margison

    It's really quite hilarious to see Americans criticize Greeks for running up debt and spending money they haven't earned. Have you checked out the U.S. debt lately?

    November 5, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  55. Vat

    Why the world is supporting lazy liers? Greece is totally unreliable country. Greece not suppose to be a part of EU in the first place. If Greeks were to pay debt to other nations, they would leave the Union immediatlly. The EU countries will soon see that. Greece has problems all the neighbors, problems with Turkey, with Bulgaria, problems with Macedonia, with Albania. Help Greece only if they sign firm contract with lenders.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
  56. Edward

    "The Greeks don’t like the pain and austerity that has been imposed on them by their own government in return for massive loans from the IMF and the European Union. But there is really no choice.'

    I strongly disagree.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  57. jal

    Having a job is no indication of moral high ground. Therefore, humiliation due to a lack of funds is an absurd notion.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
  58. Laffin' at Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson–read the article again, bro. Your bringing up the Iraq War is FAIL. Either you got lost trying to comment on some other article somewhere else, or you are an imbecile.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
  59. @helloathos

    Check out xtra Greek Man's opinion!

    November 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  60. Will

    Greece's headlines today, America's headlines tomorrow...

    November 5, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  61. John Gabriel

    To the Greeks:
    I guess what the comments here are saying is this: you voted for the politicians. So, if they are nincompoops and let you down, you can't pass the blame on them. You have to accept that you are to blame.

    Για να αποκατασταθεί η Ελλάδα με την αρχαία της δόξα, θα πρέπει να εξαλείψουν την κατάρα της θρησκείας. Οι Εβραίοι έχουν κάνει σκλάβους έξω από σας μέσα από λατρεία ηγέτη τους – ο Ιησούς Χριστός.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  62. MarkS

    The Greek innovation of democracy was a dramatic success, and their degeneration into socialism is a dramatic failure. Socialism does not work because it saps the human spirit; read Hayek. Hopefully Greece will figure this out before the entire country becomes a UN cultural heritage site.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  63. Fabrizio Remotti

    Just for the record. Greece population (2011 data) appraches 11 million and not 8 million, as stated in the article.

    November 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
  64. NE

    Every summer greeks would strike and protest for wage increases. Since tourism is their source of income businesses had to give in. After numerous years of doing that no wonder the country is in debt. Kick greece out the eu

    November 5, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  65. Emily

    The rest of the world doesn't have the euro to pay for their stupidity? Oops! If we follow that logic, we forgot to add that thank goodness we (the US) have the US Dollar to pay for ours. The US Dollar is the international reserve currency in which many international financial transactions and central bank reserves are denominated, providing a steady demand for dollars. There is no other single currency backed by a large enough economy and offering enough liquidity to serve in this realm, at least as much as a geopolitical historical accident as a reflection of the stability of our policies.

    I am not making an implicit argument here to cut US discretionary government spending. I am simply saying that it is ridiculous to cast stones at the Greek people!

    November 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  66. Ken

    And here the key issue with Greece is highlighted SO clearly: "The anger has not been the anger of violent protests: we have seen well organized and peaceful marches this week. Rather it has been directed at all of Greece's main political parties, who are jointly held responsible for a decade of mismanagement. ". In other words, the people of Greece do NOT blame themselves. OH NO, we're not responsible for year after year voting into office people who made grandiose promises which could never be met. It's not OUR fault for being self-centered and self serving. Just because we acted like Pavlov's dogs and salivated with every politial promise of something to benefit us, voting for those people and not using one brain cell in or head to figure out such promises could never be kept, you can't blame us. Oh no, it's the politicians fault .. not ours.

    And thus the soul of Greece is laid bare. A land or people who refuse to admit to their mistakes, refuse to take responsibility for their own actions, a land that expects others to take care of them like little childern. Greece, birthplace of Democracy, current home to the most mentally challenged folks on the planet.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  67. Henry Miller

    "Their children and grandchildren are not being thought of while the current population passes off the bill to the kids to be paid for. Selfish – and shortsighted."

    Exactly what the American Left has been doing for decades–and people who try to stop it, or even point it out, are reviled for their efforts.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  68. Charles Mecklenburg

    8 million Greeks only.... Odd, last I checked Greece had a population of just under 3 million. I guess Jim decided to kill of 3 million... Then again with facts that erroneous I'm betting he's really don't care about getting an accurate story out, but then again who in the media really does these days, especially when it doesn't play into their agenda.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  69. neverwas

    have you ever been to greece? the place is in ruins.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  70. rexedie

    life is too short....just enjoy.... keep drinkin ouzo and breakin dishes ... the wonderful WTO is coming for us all....
    why is it that numbers and reality never seem to align ..... cuz numbers are tooo perfect.... not humans..... accounting is a scourge of the planet.....jesus wasn't a "bean counter" ! ! !!

    November 5, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  71. Charles Mecklenburg


    1) Greeks don't evade at a 50% rate, it's Greek small businesses that do and then it's estimated at about 40% or the Greek economy, not 40% of people (i.e. 40% of GDP). You might want to consider a basic economics class considering your misunderstanding of such simple statistics, that and reading comprehension.

    2) Greek citizens do not retire at 50, that WAS only certain people in the private sector (widows with children, disabled, etc). The retirement in Greece for the private sector is 65, and the public sector mainly ranges from the late 50s to early 60s.

    3) The largest cost to Greek spending is not spending, but paying the interest on the debt. It compromises over 50% of monthly coasts as they are financing 480 billion dollars at rates ranging from 6% to 24%. Also factored into the current deficit is the nearly 10% of people who became unemployed over the last year (taking unemployment to 17%). The interest alone is massive. This is the same thing coasting the US economy nearly 300 billion per year (the cost to service OUR debt). If Greece's debts were cut to 0 it could fund it's current 'welfare' state at a surplus. This is the reason that highly indebted nations are in trouble (interest that is). Greece isn't fighting 2 wars, or has a massive military budget like the US so they can afford to splurge. The issue is that corrupt politicians and others in high places over a 38 year period have stolen billions (a few million here a few million there over 40 years adds up). This is where most of the debt came from.

    4) You are correct in stating the Greeks should cut bloated government, but what they need to do is cut the corporate tax rate to 9 like other east euro countries, cut the public sector where it's redundant, cut wasteful welfare programs that are only fostering enlightenment, and then take some of those savings and expand high tech education and grants in the country to expand business. Greece exports loads of stuff, but almost none of that is consumer goods.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:41 pm |
  72. Emery Hyslop-Margison

    Thanks to Emily. Intelligent commentary is always appreciated!

    November 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
  73. timeismoney

    Neilther a borrower nor a lender be, Ben Franklin

    November 5, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  74. Johnson

    They should be humiliated. They are a disgrace to the Continent of Europe and parasites to hardworking nations like France and Germany. They don't deserve a bailout. They deserve to lose every asset they have on a personal level.

    November 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  75. Aldo

    Greece was a perfect storm. Corrupt politicians, Shady businessmen, and lazy people. sounds like the rest of Europe and Canada, but dont worry the United States will b there soon enough

    November 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
  76. Rolando

    If the Greeks don't want humiliation, then stop protesting about the ridiculous notion that you are going to retire at 50 and have your pension fully paid. I'm sorry, but you ARE definitely lazy!!!! No matter, if Greece has any intention to stay in the eurozone, then your pensions will be pushed to age 65. Period, end of story, deal with it!

    November 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
  77. Rolando

    Sorry, Greece, but the rest of the planet thinks you are lazy and with good reason!

    November 5, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
  78. Hardtalk

    The disrespect being shown this country is appalling. I mean this is the birth place of modern science and philosophy. We need to help them up for their pride. The rest of the world has nothing to brag about.________________
    Give me a break. You forgot "They invented Democracy." NOT! I was in Athens and Cyprus From July till October.
    Yes, you see a lot of foreing cars in the street. BMW, Porsche, etc, etc, The Starbuchs cafe, they all "play" Americans. It was amusing. I really tried to find out what"s the problem. They retire early. "Some" people "earn" really good money. There are fanthon employees. They know how to party. They enjoy the good life. In short...there is a lot of corruption. But then again...what else is new?

    November 5, 2011 at 9:02 pm |
  79. Hardtalk

    One thing I've never understood. In Athens you see a lot of dogs running the streets freely. They are all over the city.
    Nobody could explain to me why. Rhodos, cats are all over the place. No owners. Weird!

    November 5, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  80. Chris K

    Great article, however I would point out that Greece's population is much greater than 8 million. It is actually somewhere around 11 million.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
  81. SixDegrees

    "A Greece of credibility"


    Seriously – it will literally be decades before Greece's finances and politics become credible, even if they make an actual effort at change. Which is unlikely. Their moment in the spotlight over the last few weeks has shown the world just how two-faced and untrustworthy the Greeks can be. And their coming default – despite their worthless promises and protestation – will hammer the final nails in the coffin of their credibility and honor.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
  82. Hardtalk

    MarkS The Greek innovation of democracy was a dramatic success, and their degeneration into socialism is a dramatic failure. Socialism does not work because it saps the human spirit; read Hayek. Hopefully Greece will figure this out before the entire country becomes a UN cultural heritage site. November 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm | ______________The Jews invented Democracy. Athens, Spart and the other cities were always at war. They your children very young and training to become tough soldiers. If the kid were ugly or had birth problems they were killed.
    If for you that's Democracy. ..Well, what a heck. Capitalism saps the masses, and robe them of their right. The only to preserve those rights is unting. Together we are stronger, so we get what we work for plus respect. Socialism is Christian, Jewish minded. The human being has value. Communism? Well, it's gone. There must be a reason.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
  83. David

    Alex – the writer's remarks regarding Venizelos are parenthetical. "s/he" is tied to " whoever is the next Prime Minister" Seriously, pay attention before going off on rant.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  84. joe

    Canada lazy x??? You are a moron

    November 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  85. little sissy

    They never should have let into the EU.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  86. Hardtalk

    The truth is: If you see the whole country. Is rock solid dessert type. Other than olive oil, I can't think of anything else they produce. But...they have the store you see in all other countries ind Europe, IKEA, KARSTADT, HERTY, CARRIERE, People are extremely nice. I feel their pain. Here in America are not that hot either. Obama's fault of course. Nothing to do with tax cuts and 4 trillions wasted in Iraq.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  87. Hardtalk


    Canada lazy x??? You are a moron

    November 5, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    --------------------I agree!

    November 5, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
  88. garyM

    It's amazing how every non-Greek claims the moral high-ground in these comments, newsrooms, and media outlets. The Chinese claim as much for the US. And all along, people forget that if we were only to spend what we earn minus substantial savings to account for job loss, bad health, and other misfortunes, there wouldn't be any economic growth and prices would be sky high. Nobody would lend to anyone, and governments would resort to bartering to buy commodities and raw materials.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
  89. jsr

    Bring Chinese style justice to developed nation; remove corrupt officials (corporate, civic, government), escort them out to alley and execute them by firing squad. Too much corruption, illegal dealings and no one is held accountable. Shoot one and watch the rest fall in line quickly. Fear is a great motivator.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:27 pm |
  90. John

    The only way to solve this mess is for a 17 Euro area bond exchange. These bonds would be issued and guaranteed by the ECB and exchanged for a portion of every country’s outstanding bonds. They would be the first obligation of each respective country. The portion exchanged would be limited to a fixed percentage of the GDP for each country in the Euro Zone. All countries would have the same disciplined ratio of Euro Zone guaranteed bonds to their respective GDPs. These bonds would enjoy a low interest rate because of guarantee and priority of debt service. The rest of a country’s bonds in excess of this ratio would only have the individual country's guarantee, and yes, this excess may be defaulted by some countries even if they remain in the Euro zone. This will force the counties in the Euro Zone to align their fiscal policies if they will also take steps to expand their respective GDP’s. Endless austerity programs have no hope of success. I have called these bonds Euro GDP Discipline Bonds.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  91. Scott

    Greece has nobody to blame but itself for its own incompetence. It is a corrupt and lazy society. Italy is pretty bad too. Spain and Ireland have made the necessary reforms and are on the route to recovery.

    November 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm |
  92. Eena

    CNN its a corporate manipulated media, CNN should report the truth, even if the greeks reject the bail out expulsion would not happen immediately. It will take a long battle to kick Greece out of the EU because there is no legal mechanism within the treaty of Lisbon to boot a member out, and by the time the battle is over the euro zone probably would have collapse. The crisis fire is growing fast and it is doing faster than time.

    November 5, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
  93. Lester Gester

    Obama to become Greek President in 2012

    November 5, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  94. Nick K

    Retirement age in Greece is 65. Simple.
    All people here saying Greeks are retired at the age of 50 are misinformed or are libelling.

    Tax evasion is a huge problem in Greece and should be eliminated, but tarring a whole nation as "lazy" or "evading tax payments" is exactly what 3rd Reich used to make people believe destruction was moral.

    November 6, 2011 at 8:43 am |
  95. Kaylyn

    That's an inengoius way of thinking about it.

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