The Shocking Truth Behind The Greek Debt

If I had not been able to verify it for myself, I would never have believed the contents of an e-mail a friend sent me on the current Greek debt crisis. It left me totally ‘gob-smacked’ for want of a better description.

A Symbol of Out of Control Excess

These little known facts have led me to fully understand why the Greek people are out on perpetual strike at the measures the government is taking to try and ‘balance the books’. The truth is, the world has never seen so many ‘free-loaders’ and tax cheats living in a single country in all its long history. In Greece, more than 75% of the population are on the fiddle in one way or another.

Athens Underground 'Honesty' Ticket Barriers

For example, The EU paid Greece £1.8billion to finance the underground system in the capitol city Athens in preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games. Since that time, the 5 million Athenians ride this ‘state-of-the-art’, air-conditioned system for free because there are no access barriers, relying on people’s ‘honesty’ to validate their tickets. As you would expect, no-one bothers to even buy a ticket! 

Athens Underground System: 

Bankrupt Rail System

The problems are not only limited to the underground system however. There is also scandal enough in the above-ground rail system. It has been revealed that salaries within the state-owned rail system are so ridiculously high that it is losing £2.6million a day! The annual wage bill for the company is £500million a year, while the annual takings are only £80million from ticket sales.

€60,000 A Year For This?

The reason for this disparity, is that the average take-home salary of those employed on the bankrupt rail system is £60,000 a year, track workers and lowly cleaners included. Can you even begin to comprehend such extravagance??? One Greek politician is quoted as saying: “It would be cheaper to put all the passengers in taxis”.

In the last decade, the public sector wage bill has doubled in Greece as a result of ‘Union power’. As an example, the Greek education system has four times the number of teachers it needs, and the majority seem to spend their time on paid sick leave. Not only that, another thorn in the flesh of Greek politicians at the moment is the pension rights of so many of its citizens.

Arduous? Perilous?

Unbelievable as it may seem, if you are a pastry chef, radio announcer, masseur or hairdresser, which are among 600 privileged professions, you retire at the age of 50 with a 95% pension. Why? Because your job is considered arduous and perilous! Have you ever heard anything so incredulous? This is one of the many reasons why Greece as a country is totally bankrupt. 

Greece’s troubles do not end here however. The government is also fighting tax evasion on a nationwide scale. Literally everyone is at it. Most families just give their income as ‘below’ the £10,000  a year threshold, and if it is questioned, they pay a bribe (or ‘Fakelaki’), and are taxed on that figure. Almost all families estimate to pay at least £2,000 a year in ‘fakelaki’s’.

Kifissia -Lush Athens Suburb

The biggest tax dodgers of all are, not surprisingly, those who should pay the most i.e. the Greek rich. In the affluent suburb of Athens where they all live, the richest people in the country are…you will not believe this….allowed to ‘state their own earnings’. It doesn’t take any stretch of the imagination to realise they pay a tiny fraction of the tax due the government.

A Man With a Hopeless Mission?

The Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, estimates that tax fraud in this sector alone is costing the government over £40billion a year. The system is so corrupt, and with so many inspectors taking bribes, that the figure could be much higher.

Greek shipping magnets, the richest men in the country,  live totally tax-free because of the ‘huge wealth they bring into the country’, this despite the fact that the once mighty Greek shipyards, which once employed 15,000 workers are in reality, practically idle and employ a mere 500 workers today. As part of a crackdown, George Papandreou called for a tax on swimming pools, and it’s not surprising that only 300 of the people living in this rich area have declared they own one, when it is estimated the true figure is around 20,000. Papandreou began helicopter hunts for ‘illegal’ swimming pools, which prompted a rush on sales of tarpaulins by the rich to hide them from the air.

Now that a crackdown has begun, money is pouring out of Greece to overseas bank accounts in Lichtenstein, The Bahamas and Cyprus in an effort to cheat the system. A doctor, who declares an income of £90,000 a year, but admits he earns five times that amount, has been quoted as saying that many of the rich are setting up dummy companies or buying property abroad to dodge paying the tax they owe.

The Eurozone

Although Greece had to wait two years for entry into the Euro Zone because they could not meet the financial requirements, they falsified the books and finally joined in 2001. Since that time the EU has poured money into the country, which has fostered an even greater lack of fiscal responsibility.

A Policeman is Set Alight During a Riot

Now the ‘cat is out of the bag’, the government is trying to put an end to the irresponsible excesses of the past, but naturally the people are up in arms about it. This is why the country is being torn apart by strikes and riots at the moment, and it does not look like it will end soon.

The government has been bailed out by the other EU countries twice now to avoid bankruptcy, but the story is far from over. The second payment of €100billion about to be made, is estimated by many analysts to only be enough to repay the interest on the debt incurred with the first loan, which means in effect that Greece could again be bankrupt within two years. The sad thing is, the out of control excesses of Greece could lead the rest of the world into an economic crisis such as the world has never seen.

Says It All!

Until the Greek people learn that their current ‘Utopian Lifestyle’ is unsustainable and they must start paying, the situation will not improve. To be honest, I have grave doubts this entire saga will reach a happy conclusion.


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