I do hope that you are right. I've got to point out that I am only asking questions; other folks are saying the negative things about Greece. For example:
- Our people went in and couldn’t believe what they found,” a senior I.M.F. official told me, not long after he’d returned from the I.M.F.’s first Greek mission. “The way they were keeping track of their finances—they knew how much they had agreed to spend, but no one was keeping track of what he had actually spent. It wasn’t even what you would call an emerging economy. It was a Third World country.
- In just the past decade the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms—and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials. The average government job pays almost three times the average private-sector job.
- The national railroad has annual revenues of 100 million euros against an annual wage bill of 400 million, plus 300 million euros in other expenses. The average state railroad employee earns 65,000 euros a year. Twenty years ago a successful businessman turned minister of finance named Stefanos Manos pointed out that it would be cheaper to put all Greece’s rail passengers into taxicabs: it’s still true. “We have a railroad company which is bankrupt beyond comprehension,” Manos put it to me. “And yet there isn’t a single private company in Greece with that kind of average pay.”
- The Greek public-school system is the site of breathtaking inefficiency: one of the lowest-ranked systems in Europe, it nonetheless employs four times as many teachers per pupil as the highest-ranked, Finland’s. Greeks who send their children to public schools simply assume that they will need to hire private tutors to make sure they actually learn something.
- There are three government-owned defense companies: together they have billions of euros in debts, and mounting losses.
- The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as “arduous” is as early as 55 for men and 50 for women. As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than 600 Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on.
- The Greek public health-care system spends far more on supplies than the European average—and it is not uncommon, several Greeks tell me, to see nurses and doctors leaving the job with their arms filled with paper towels and diapers and whatever else they can plunder from the supply closets.
And, the above quotations from the article are merely a portion of the charges brought against Greece and her citizens by the writer. Just by themselves, the above charges (if true) show a nation that is not truly serious about its future, and that it is a nation of takers and not givers, and a failing economy and civic sector. I can say the same thing about many other countries but I would like to keep this out of the Politics forum, if possible. The issue here is what is down the road and what is the impact on the Patriarchate.
Incidentally, I can tell you from first-hand observation that during the Communist era the people of Bulgaria were also quite materialistic and concerned only about themselves. Interestingly, the Bulgarians I knew outside Bulgaria were not like that. I can similarly attest that the Greeks that I know in the United States are not like the Greeks depicted in the article either.