A complaining letter in The Athens News this week from a Dutch lady making comparisons between her country and the Dutch, and Greece and the Greeks, and in many ways she is right. What she says is – well firstly she insists there is no corruption in the Netherlands as they (the people) decidedly put a stop to it and everyone, rich or poor, pays tax at 52%. In Greece tax avoidance is a number one pastime. Retirement age in Holland is 65 and in Greece 55. Greeks only work a 36 hour week as opposed to her husband’s working week of 70 hours. In the Netherlands a blue envelope arrives every three months which means time for payment of taxes. Now she complains they will be paying for the mismanagement of the Greek government and the “attitude” of the Greek people. All too true unfortunately. The Dutch contribution to the bail-out is 4.5 billion euro or 170euro per person. In total her family will pay out 880euro to help get Greece out of its mess. The big question is will Greece get out of its mess? Or does the country as a whole have some sort of death wish or fatalistic belief in what must be must be. Sacrifices of any description do not want to be made.
Of course her observations don’t cover the whole spectrum. Our garage man and supplier of bottled gas works for example from seven in the morning till ten at night six days a week and one Sunday a month and he is in his seventies.
In another letter a correspondent gives a visitor’s eye view of Greece and the first thing she picks on is the graffiti, something that has got under my skin every time I see it, especially when it vandalises large (and no doubt very expensive to replace) road signs. It would seem the only ones untouched on the national highway between Xania and Heraklion are those too high up to be reached. It is all so totally idiotic and what must visitors to the island think as tourism is one of Greece’s main sources of income? Apart from the graffiti there is also the problem of waste disposal. This beautiful country is littered with trash. Do the Greeks have no pride? Or do they still believe that everything they litter the countryside with is bio-degradable as it once was before modern packaging? Orange peel disappears – plastic doesn’t. Too many Greeks are still living in the past and it’s time to catch up with the other Europeans.