A Citizen’s Guide to Greece 2015


April 5, 2012

Greeks not trying hard enough

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Written by: pdcadmin

By Livingston Merchant

I just read the article entitled “The Greeks aren’t even trying,” in a blog named Testosterone Pit by Wolf Richter. I work as a professor of history and international affairs at Raparin University in Ranya, Kurdistan. It is a very small city in northern Iraq near the Iranian border, with no post office and only one other resident foreigner. I do not see things from the comfort of an up-scale American home. I am used to being a foreigner since I was born in America and am a Belgian citizen, but I have never felt more at home than in Greece.

You say the Greeks are not even trying. Which Greeks? My Greek neighbors back home on the island of Zakynthos are desperate – they include carpenter who just cut off half of his right hand in an accident and is short of funds for restorative surgery, a couple of farmers, the keeper of a store where you cannot get tomatoes if the ferries are on strike and produce and medicine is not delivered that day? A young brother and sister who have an architecture firm in an economy where nothing is being built? The store keepers in the island’s port town of 15,000 Greeks who may not being trying because dozens and dozens of their businesses are shut and more are shutting every day? I think most of them are trying, but one of my neighbors is not trying at all. She is 87 and lives in a semi-abandoned village in the next valley. Her tiny pension was just cut again. Three weeks ago when I paid a visit home, she mentioned that she had not been able to get much food for a while since her nephew was sick and could not bring it from port. I took her a bag of potatoes, some cheese and tomatoes and a packet of paracetamol. She did not have the money for the medicine to ease the pain in her back.

Oh, yes, you are right sir, many Greeks are not trying. It is not because they are hairdressers who have lost their famous right to retire at 50 because they handle “toxic chemicals.” The ones I know have given up, but it is not for lack of testosterone. I am sure you Americans would do much better under these circumstances. You are so resourceful – or is it so well resourced? Perhaps you did not mean the Greeks. Perhaps you meant the Greek and German politicians and bankers are not trying because their future is secure. Unless some Greeks are foolish enough to stop protesting and start a small revolution in southern Europe – or at least default immediately and completely, re-capitalize their major banks, and go to the drachma. After that they can apologize for not paying back the bad debt and at the same time throw off the EU restrictions that have degraded their ability to grow their own food and to compete by producing cheap manufactured goods. It will hurt a lot, but at least not for the lifetime for the lifetime of the average college student that. That is the fate for the Greeks if they continue to endure the scorn and sanctions – excuse me, I meant “austerity measures” – imposed by the wealthy northern Europeans.

But right now, the Greeks are not even trying. Better not lend them any money.

Raparin University, Ranya, Iraq


  1. Brian Kennedy

    Dear Livingston,

    You may be interested to know that hairdressers indeed use dangerous chemicals – without going into details, some of them are also routinely used by would-be bomb-makers. Perhaps we should not antagonise them?

  2. Sokratis

    It is too easy to point the finger in this crisis of ours and people have certainly been polarized by the topic of how harshly Greece should be punished through the austerity measures but one thing is certain in my mind and it is that the innocents in this fiasco far outnumber the guilty among the Greek populace. Many people are suffering from mismanagement and bad fiscal policy and habit that definitely trickled down from the top.

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