Pasok Jeopardizes Greek Government by Refusing to Pay Twenty-five Euros

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The present politically negative stand of Pasok to the Samaras government introduction of the payment of twenty-five euros for medical treatment in public hospitals for those who can afford to pay it is utterly unwise and politically reprehensible and condemnable as it could destabilize the coalition government of New Democracy and Pasok. The latter must realize that its political fortune and éclat is tied up solely with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis and by putting it on the trajectory of economic development and hence to the gradual reduction of unemployment, and not on any ephemeral gains, on the polls. In the event which is most unlikely that the electorate will not render to Pasok the justified plaudits for the economic success of the government, history will pass the ultimate judgment and write in golden letters the prudent participation of Pasok in the formation of the Samaras government as its ultimate contribution toward saving Greece from economic and political catastrophe.

This stupendous success of the Coalition Government will erase all other parties, from Syriza to the Golden Dawn, from the electoral map and will be their Nemesis for their sinister and perfidious populist policies that shamelessly deceived a sizeable part of the people by their totally false promises and completely screwball inapplicable policies. Only New Democracy and Pasok will reap the fruits of this tremendous success that had prevented Greece from falling into the abyss of disaster. It is for this reason that Pasok must immediately cease its adverse stand toward the twenty-five euro payment whose raison d’etre is the restructuring of the medical system so it can render better services to its more indigent patients.

Serious economic analysts both within and outside Greece are forecasting that the country by the end of 2014 will be out of the economic crisis as a result of the painful but necessary austerity measures that the Samaras government had taken, by reducing the public sector that impeded economic growth, by privatizing public corporations, and by making the economy more competitive and entrepreneurial. Hence the prudent policies of the Samaras government would draw foreign investment into the country that in turn would lead to the resurgence of the economy and for the first time in six years 2014 would show, according to economic predictions, a fiscal surplus and a small growth of 0.5 in Gross Domestic Product.

Needless to say political stability is a prerequisite for starting a spree of investment. Pasok by foolishly shaking this stability for electoral interests apparently seems to be unaware that by doing so it hinders and discourages indigenous and international entrepreneurs from making any investments that are so vital for the economic recovery of the country.

It is this great achievement of the government in pulling Greece out of the crisis that Pasok in an unprecedented conduct of political frivolity could jeopardize by refusing to pay a twenty-five euro fee for treatment in a public hospital, which could bring about the collapse of the Samaras government.

Rudd Stopping Boats at the Price of Exposing his Cant about his Humanitarianism

By Con George-Kotzabasis—June 24, 2013

At last, Kevin Rudd, after swallowing a double dose of Viagra he is entering the ‘seraglio of reality’ that you can only stop the boats carrying asylum seekers not by a policy of immaculate conception, as he has done in the past when he repudiated and displaced Howard’s Pacific Solution, but only by forcefully violating the ‘hymen’ of this intricately difficult problem and giving birth to a hard line policy that will decisively stop illegal migrants from entering Australia. His deal with Papua New Guinea (PNG) to resettle refugees in the latter is a masterstroke that will achieve this up till now elusive goal.

This is a craftily made disincentive that will comprehensibly deter asylum seekers from reaching the shores of Australia by boat, since they will know beforehand that they will be send to New Guinea for perpetual settlement. And with the barrage of advertisements that the Rudd government is preparing that will make explicit the new government policy to would-be refugees and by implicitly conveying to them the inimical environment in which they will be residing, this will erase any incentive  attempting to enter Australia by paying people smugglers when their dangerous and expensive passage over the sea will take them not to the social and economic paradise of Australia but to the hellish socio-economic conditions of the dangerous land of PNG. And the veracity of the appalling and dangerous environment in which refugees will be placed is being ironically corroborated, willy-nilly, by all their ‘humanitarian’ supporters, like David Marr, and defence lawyers, who have already in their shrill shouts denounced Rudd’s announcement as “a day of shame” for Australia depicting in dramatic terms the great dangers that refugees will be facing in this hellishly bad setting once they are settled in PNG. After refugees becoming cognisant of the infernal conditions in which they will be living in, by these statements of their own supporters too (thus all the fans and backers of asylum seekers will find themselves being redundant and deprived of their libidinal pleasure by showing their heart on their sleeves, by their own ironic contribution to the stopping of the boats), who of the illegal migrants would be willing to pay a smuggler to be transported by Charon to the Hades of PNG and not to the paradisiac land of Australia?

Beyond any doubt, if the Rudd government will retain to the end the strength and acquire the determination to implement this hard line policy and there are no insurmountable legal challenges to it will exultantly succeed in this endeavour to protect the borders of Australia. And Kevin Rudd from a weak politician will be metastasized into the Roman god Terminus who guarded the boundaries of the republic by the force of arms. But if he is going to avoid from embarrassing the Roman god, he must tear the veil of pretence that covers the ugly features of this new policy and hails it as being humanitarian by arguing fatuously and emotionally that it will save lives by preventing boat people from drowning. Indeed, he will save them from drowning at sea but only by drowning them on dry land, in the socially cesspool of Papua New Guinea. Thus, his ‘humanitarianism’ will be swallowed in the whirlpool of his own hard line policy. Mockingly, he himself has already admitted that his new policy on illegal migrants has all the hard features of a porcupine—to use a metaphor. And the reason he has adopted this porcupine is, other than winning votes, to prevent boat people coming to Australia.

In his by now double replication of “me-tooism”of John Howard—the first time he professed to be willing to imitate Howard, as dyed in the wool conservative, in economic policy, this time he is doing it on border protection—he is out-distancing the latter in his hard line, like a galloping horse running next to a mule. And if he doesn’t lose his balance riding this winning stallion over the rough ground of politics, which so many times before enfeebled his policies by making them captive to populism, he will triumphantly pass the winning post and stop the boats.

I rest on my oars: your turn now              

Marxistoid Economists Consider Bankrupt Left as Saviour of Greece

Fair is foul, and foul is fair, /Hover through the fog and filthy air (Witches of Macbeth chanting their cursing ditty)

By Con George-Kotzabasis— July 04, 2013

In their article published in the New York Times  on June 23, under the title “Only the Left Can Save Greece”, the two politically ‘pinkish’ economists teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, James Galbraith (the son of the famous John Galbraith) and Yannis Varoufakis, argue that neither America nor Europe should fear an ascension to power of the Left wing party of Syriza in Greece on the contrary, they should applaud it, as a government of the left would reverse the defective policies of the European Union that have been so destructive to the Greek polity and to its people as well as to many other European countries.

The two economists were shocked at the closure of the Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation (ERT) and denounced the Samaras government for its authoritarian and undemocratic action, of depriving Greeks of a public service of information and entertainment that was invaluable to them. The government however closed the public broadcaster temporarily and planned to replace this cesspool of administrative corruption, opacity, and cronyism, for which each Greek household had to pay a levy of 50 Euros per year, with a new public broadcaster not run by the government but by personnel chosen on meritocratic criteria and professionalism that would upgrade the service provided to Greek viewers and at a cheaper price.  Galbraith and Varoufakis, in their support of this corrupt and inefficiently run public entity  and demand of its reopening, found a kindred political ally in the leader of the Marxist party of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, who had committed himself to re-open with all its personnel intact if he became prime minister. Tsipras’ crocodile tears for the public broadcaster, which in the recent past had condemned as being the mouthpiece of the extreme right, exposed his blatant political opportunism in this U-turn from hate to love for ERT. But they found him also to be an invaluable ally to their economic proposals of how to lift Greece out of the crisis. .

Galbraith’s and Varoufakis’ solution to the crisis springs from the growing of a hundred blooming flowers in the luxuriantly prodigal Keynesian garden. Their package of Keynesian remedies consist of “a kind of European equivalent of America’s post-crisis Troubled Asset Relief program; an investment and job program; and a European initiative to meet the social and human crisis by  strengthening  unemployment insurance, basic pensions, deposit insurance, and the expansion of core public institutions like education and health.” Notice, that all of these remedies are to be financed by  government and taxes from private enterprises. How then government can finance all these things when its coffers are empty and depend on European loans to pay for primal services such as schools, hospitals, and public servants, and when private enterprise has no incentive to function or remain in an unstructured economy that has been for many years inimical to it? And the two economists do not make  a pip about the necessity of private foreign and domestic investments that are the only economically sustainable and viable investments that can initiate growth and economic development that are the sine qua non that will pull Greece out of the crisis. And that these investments can only be made under the incentive  of structural economic reforms that are favorable to private enterprise, and strict fiscal policies that perforce can only be accomplished by hard measures which are inevitably painful to the general populace.

Since neither the political color nor the gray matter of Galbraith and Varoufakis were able to convince serious politicians and economists in the Euro zone, or Greece, of the correctness of their Keynesian mirage as a solvent to the European and Greek crisis, they found in the fiasco leadership of Syriza, of Tsipras, the intellectual salvation of their by now withered flowers of their Keynesian remedy. (This speaks volumes about the value of their proposals in that they found their support and cerebral salvation in the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the Greek left.) Tsipras bereft of any tenable economic policies, and rationalizing this vacuity in policy making by populist rhetorical denunciations of the policies of the Samaras government, eagerly embraced the policies of Galbraith and Varoufakis, which ideologically are cognate to his own as a ne plus ultra government interventionist himself, thus giving to his own policies some sort of academic prestige from this ‘south of the border’ economists that he is unable to get from more serious experts in the profession. (But beggars cannot choose.)

Indeed, the policies of Tsipras have their source in a variegated coterie of Marxists getting their inspiration from the flashing pan of Marxism, as the rising sun of the latter has long ago disappeared from the astral constellation of the universe, never to rise again. Tsipras, as a true believer of the great man, Karl Marx, attended the Marxist organised Subversive Festival of Zagreb in Croatia last March, which was likewise attended by both Galbraith and Varoufakis. Indeed, the former announced with pride his attendance of the Festival, in a lecture he gave to socialists in the German Parliament last week, where the gladiators of the great imperator Karl Marx had gathered together from all over the world and rushed into the arena of the Amphitheatre of Zagreb, with nets in one hand and swords in the other, to fight and slay the wild animals of capitalism, which their predecessors in the socialist camp, even better armed with technological weapons, had failed to slay. Moreover, Tsipras was an aficionado of Chavez and had visited Venezuela last year with the hope of getting financial help  from its president with an implied commitment of making Greece a protectorate of Venezuela, if not the European Venezuela. And yet Galbraith and Varoufakis in their political naiveté write in their article in the New York Times that the Americans have nothing to fear from a Syriza government.

Galbraith and Varoufakis, like the witches of Macbeth cursing the Samaras’ government as foul, undemocratic and authoritarian, slavishly implementing the dictates of the European Union, and as economically incompetent, are predicting its downfall while stirring the pot of their quackish remedies which nobody will ‘buy’ other than Tsipras. Meanwhile, Samaras wisely, assiduously, and decisively is transforming Greece within the short span of one year by an unprecedented series of structural reforms that are increasing competition–Greece is in the 22 position internationally for the first time–reducing the bureaucracy, especially its inefficient part that was an obstacle to investments, and planning to make it more efficient on meritocratic standards, changing the economic milieu by making it friendly to business and investments, and leashing the arbitrary and ruinous power of unions which for many years had prevented foreign investments in the country. Moreover by his virtuoso performance in the negotiations with the European Union and the IMF, Samaras  has blunted some of the austerity measures that have been a major factor in obstructing the re-igniting of the economy and artfully polishing these measures that will put Greece on the track of development. He was able to convince the leaders of the EU to provide Greece with extra funds for employment programs that will materialize by the beginning of 2014, more resources from the European Bank of Investments so they can be ploughed into small and medium sized businesses. He has started building Autobahns that have created 25,000 new jobs and he has enticed the economically hard thinking Chinese government to invest 350,000 million Euros in the port of Piraeus thus making it the entrepot of commerce between south-east Asia and Europe. ( The European Council announced that the port of Piraeus will be named as the capital port of Europe for 2015.) Also the Chinese are interested in making more investments in the infrastructure of the country, especially in its railway network by which they will transport their goods into Europe. But the most important and greatest achievement of the Samaras’ government up to this moment has been the building, through Greece, of the conduit by the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) that will convey natural gas from Azerbaijan to the heart of Europe. TAP will invest the huge amount of 1.5 billion in Greece and will generate 12,000 jobs by 2014 in the country. This, according to one authority in the energy industry, has been the personal accomplishment of Samaras who in his visit of Azerbaijan and meeting with the Prime Minister of the country three weeks ago, convinced the latter that it would be more efficient and economically cheaper to build the conduit through Greece instead of through Bulgaria and Romania, a project which the international consortium backing it was favorable to win, and lost it only, with the intervention of Samaras. Furthermore, this enormous investment, behind which one of its investors is the global gigantic company BHPBilliton, engenders confidence to other investors that Greece is about to pull itself out of the crisis, and hence, encourages and attracts more investments into the country and thus will increase employment which is one of the major challenges of the government.

The government under the statesmanship of Samaras is determined to pull Greece out of the crisis and not to squander the sacrifices Greeks had to make for the economic, political, and cultural Renaissance of the country. The great, fair achievements of the Samaras government, in an unprecedented short span of time, are depicted and cursed as foul by the two Marxistoid economists, James Galbraith and Yannis Varoufakis. Ignominy, loss of intellectual honor, is of no concern to them.

I rest on my oars:Your turn now 

Greece:What to Do with Missed the Mark Politics of Coalition Partners?

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 3, 2013

The Samaras’ Government, like Atlas on his back, is carrying and attempting to transform and move Greece’s awesome heavy burden of unprecedented economic insolvency, since the ending of the Second-World-War, onto the stage of economic recovery and development. By succeeding in this most difficult enterprise it will also justify the positive, against the negative, economic remedies formulated in the second Memorandum by the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, the so called Troika, for the purpose of saving Greece from economic catastrophe, and thus simultaneously enhance the credibility, and indeed, the survival of the EU as an institution of crucial influence and guidance in world affairs.

In this call to national salvation three politically and ideologically disparate parties 0f New Democracy, Pasok, (Panhellenic Socialist Movement) and the Democratic Left (Demar) decided to form a coalition government whose main goal was to keep Greece within the European Union and salvage the country, with the financial help of the latter, from economic bankruptcy that would have devastated the standard of living of the major part of the population and would have brought a proud nation to the status of indigence and economic despair for at least a generation. The two leaders, of Pasok and Demar, Evangelos Venizelos and Fotis Kouvelis, respectively, seeing the prodigious dangers the country was facing, raised their height to these dire circumstances and wisely decided to stand hand in hand with an ideological opponent, that is, the liberal conservative party of New Democracy and its leader Antonis Samaras, for the purpose of saving Greece from this imminent catastrophe. Hence the two leaders of the left put their ideological reputation and the future viability, and, indeed, the existence of their parties at immense risk by their decision to support a government led by Samaras, their erstwhile conservative opponent, and tie themselves and their parties to the fortunes of the latter, that is, whether the Samaras’ government will succeed or not in pulling the country out of the crisis and start the economic development that is so vital in overcoming the terrifying economic difficulties that Greece countenances at the moment.

There are grounds to make one believe that Greece economically and politically might be at a turning point. The Samaras government after succeeding in convincing its European partners, in exceedingly difficult negotiations, to provide the funds Greece needed, to ignite its economy and place the country on the path of development, under less onerous terms of the bailout than the initial ones the Europeans were demanding. This was a great success and a great achievement of the government and demonstrating at the same time its virtuoso skills in the art of negotiations.

The government announced last month that it had beat its budget targets for 2012. Finance Minister Stournaras claimed that the government was close to achieving a primary surplus—the budget surplus before taking into account payments on the debt—this year that would deliver, according to the mutual agreement of the parties, a further package of help from the Euro-zone.  Employment statistics also showed, that within the span of the last two months the number of workers hired exceeded by nearly nine thousand the number of workers dismissed for the first time since the crisis. Furthermore, the recapitalization of the banks was on track and bound to be consummated in the next few weeks and the spigots of liquidity were therefore ready to be opened that would provide the private sector the funds for investment. Last week, the president of the National Bank stated that levels of liquidity are progressively established and 10 billion Euros could flow into the real economy. And already 50% of one thousand of small and large private enterprises announced that they were preparing to start investing within the current year. The internationally renowned telecommunications company Nokia is planning to establish a branch in Athens that would employ hundreds of highly skilled technicians and could become a magnet that would attract other foreign corporate giants to the country and thus by their presence would provide a continuous economic confidence for the country’s future. The Task Force of the European Commission last week issued favourable reports that the Greek economy was about to be re-ignited although it warned the government that small businesses had been dried of funds and their future operations were at risk. Also the credit ratings agency Moody’s estimated that Greece would have a positive rate of growth in 2014, after five years of negative growth.

Thus we see that there are ample encouraging signs that Greece might be at the crucial point of overcoming the crisis. It is most important therefore that the two parties, Pasok and Demar, that support the Samaras government, must first take note of these auspicious indices and that the current measures of the government are putting the country on the axis of economic development, and second, must not jeopardise this favourable situation by rigidly sticking to their parties position on other issues, such as labor relations and on the restructuring of the public sector, which are contrary to the overall current policy of the government and could endanger the economic progress the latter is making in overcoming the crisis.

The coalition partners must become fully aware that their political viability is tied up not with the sacred ideological position these parties hold on a variety of issues, contra the neo-liberal position of New Democracy, and pushing these toward their consummation, at this critical juncture whose primary goal is the salvation of the country, is a most imprudent diversion from the main goal. On the contrary, their political future is tied up with the success of the Samaras government in pulling the country out of the crisis. The electorate will not remember them and will not elect them for being pure to their ideological position but for their pragmatic support of a neo-liberal government that saved Greece from economic oblivion and mass poverty. In the event the Samaras administration fails in this complex immensely difficult and great task would likewise totally discredit and everlastingly condemn and cast to political oblivion both Pasok and Demar for their support of this failed government, no matter how favorable the former have been on other minor issues, in comparison to the major issue, that are dear to the hearts of the many. Their responsibility to the country and to themselves therefore lies in their pragmatic assessment of the policies of the government beyond ideology as to whether they are better placed to extricate the country from the crisis.

It is for this reason that in this process of the Renaissance of Greece, under the wise and strong leadership of Antonis Samaras, the cohesion of these partners in the salvation of the country is of unaccountable importance. Thus for Pasok and Demar not to miss the mark is to realize that the failure or success, in this uniquely historical venture of saving Greece, will determine their political viability in the future and not their ideological hues on secondary issues.

I rest on my oars:your turn now

What is Needed for a Recycling Mechanism to Start?

A reply to Professor Varoufakis on his proposal of a recycling mechanism from countries with surpluses in his talk to the OECD.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The working of a recycling mechanism from countries that are in surplus would primarily need the physical stature of Professor Varoufakis, that is, lean efficient competitive economies with no wastage baggage and lean governmental apparatuses. Most economies, however, of southern Europe are in a state of pathological obesity in both regards and thus are being unfavourable turfs for surplus countries to plough their money into them. For the wheels of the recycling mechanism to start therefore, it would be necessary to fundamentally restructure the economies and governments in the former case, on the ethos of a competitive market economy, and on the latter, by removing the destructive policies of government intervention and excessive regulation in the sphere of private enterprise.  Only countries free from the deleterious effects of un-competitiveness and government dirigisme and replete with entrepreneurial dynamism acting within a private enterprise system can be favoured to be the recipients of the manna of the recycling mechanism.

The above argument is reinforced by the two historical examples in Professor Varoufakis’ presentation where he shows that the Americans at the end of the Second World War recycled the major part of their surplus to Germany and Japan, the two countries that were renowned for their economic efficiency and technological feats and operating within the private enterprise system, and the second, when China and the oil producing countries of the Arab peninsula recycled their surpluses to America on the basis of the same principle, that is, of economic prowess and competitiveness. In neither case were these surpluses recycled to “Africanized” economies. Likewise, why European countries, such as Germany, that are in surplus, should recycle the latter to the economically sclerotic countries of the south unless the latter engaged in a radical restructuring of their economies that initially would be followed with a lot of pain as Greece presently shows with the radical changes that are taking place in its economy under the robust and imaginative Samaras government? It is easy to talk about the misanthropy of the elites but what about the misanthropy of those politicians of the left, such as Andreas Papandreou, who for years created a false prosperity for their peoples without telling them of the heavy price and suffering they would have to pay for it and the great crisis that they would be engulfed in?

Can Professor Varoufakis envisage that the great foundational changes that are required, so the recycling river of funds will inundate those countries that are at the bottom pit, can occur without pain? Is the Heracletian profound maxim that out of “great discord rises the greatest harmony” to be negated by the votaries of the “dismal science”?

Guest (Xenos) says,

Incorrect, in every way and on every level.

Per capita, Greece received more than any other country from the Mashall Plan and other forms of financial assistance from the USA. Germany andJapan received the most because (a) they were the largest countries lined up to receive funds, and (b) because they had been decimated by the war. It had nothing to do with your homespun nonsense about “Africanised countries” — whatever you think those might be.

Your speech is nothing more than empty rhetoric and has no relation to historical reality or economic analysis.

Kotzabasis says,

Greece was a special case due to the civil war and the threat of a communist take-over and the fact that America replaced Britain as the plenipotentiary of Greece and its protector from communism. And it goes without saying that part of the reason why funds flowed to Germany and Japan was their devastation. But the major reason was that the Americans wanted to create a locomotive of economic development in these two regions and that is why they chose Germany and Japan renowned for their past economic prowess. Professor Varoufakis himself in his presentation makes it quite explicit that China invested its surplus in the United States precisely because of the latter’s high competitiveness (M.E).

.

Functional Government a Prerequisite for Handling Crisis in Greece

I’m republishing the following short piece that was written on June 20, 2012. As events have shown since then  it was the unity of the tripartite government of New Democracy, Pasok, and the Democratic Left, that was set-up post-election, in regard to the policies to be followed with its negotiations with the European Union that has kept Greece within the union and has given the country a new opportunity to overcome the crisis. There are favorable signs that Greece under the strong and resilient leadership of Antonis Samaras the miracle of an economically resurgent Greece is about to unfold. 

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The present position of Evangelos Venizelos the leader of Pasok that the government to be formed on June 18 must include Syriza in a coalition of other parties so that it can presumably deal more effectively with European leaders in regard to the necessary modifications of the Second Memorandum, is to repeat the stupendous error of the Democratic Left, under the pusillanimous leadership of Fotis Kouvelis, when it too had placed the same pre-condition after the May 6 election. The present profound crisis of Greece needs a functional government with united policies and realistic and decisive leadership that can pull the country out of the crisis and not a government of factions whose deep differences of how to handle the negotiations with the European Union would inevitably lead to intestine fights and to the collapse of such government that would seriously exacerbate the crisis. Thus the pleading for a wider coalition as Venizelos proposes will result with mathematical precision to a dysfunctional government irretrievably incapable of handling the crisis.

Utopia Builders Set Up Boutiques To Sell Shoddy Product

A retort to Dr Peter McMahon’sGlobal neo-imperial Fantasies Come Unstuck”.

By Con George-Kotzabasis

The utopia builders, a la McMahon, have set up their boutiques in the global market to sell their shoddy product. After the collapse of the historically misplaced Communist utopia, with its Gulag Archipelagos and Killing Fields, the Left’s sorcerers apprentices are now concocting their new mantric utopia of “global governance”, to take the place of the displaced one. Two fundamental contradictions haunt your argument, and ultimately bury the phantoms of the ne-cons and of neo-imperialism that you raised in your piece. You state that “in the 1970’s a new global system was emerging”. Your phantoms however, the neo-cons, were only in power in 2000. By this time the system was already robust and on its course. The neo-cons were not fabricating a new version of it, as you claim, but were merely its new “managers”. And in the aftermath of 9/11, they were also trying to protect it. That was the reason why they went to war, not oil.

The second fundamental flaw in your argument is, that while you claim that “human experiences are too diverse to bend to the logic of one homogeneous society… Or one global market”, your panacea for the ills of “global neo-imperialism” is “global-scale governance”. At the same time you concede that such “governance” will have “to bend to the logic of…One global market”. But how will you put in place such governance upon such “diverse” non-homogeneous societies? Didn’t the recent failure of the EU to unite in reference to the amendments of its constitution, which is, moreover, culturally homogeneous, teach you anything?

Your remedy of “global-scale governance”, is intellectually unhinged and cannot be taken seriously. All you accomplish with your piece is to replace the “phantoms” of the neo-cons with your greater phantom of universal governance. By such intellectual credentials, Plato would never allow you to enter his Academy.

Statesmen Lead their People from Darkness to Enlightenment

What actually decides is our character   Jose Ortega y Gasset

By Con George-Kotzabasis May 10, 2012

Surprisingly, you are profoundly pessimistic, not to say nihilistic, about Antonis Samaras, who is the greatest politician appearing on the political firmament of Greece since Eleftherios Venizelos. Samaras is “framed in the prodigality of nature,” to quote Shakespeare, endowed with that rare combination of high intellect, imagination, stupendous moral strength, and economic insight, which he proved by his prediction of the disastrous policy of austerity, encapsulated in the first European Memorandum as a remedy to Greece’s dire economic peril, without economic resurgence.

Statesmen are not responsible for the ignorance and political immaturity of their people. They try to lead even in a vacuum of understanding among their people about the real dangers their country is facing. The tragedy of Samaras was that his clear and sagacious policies were not able to overcome and trump the ignorance of a large part of the electorate about the real dangers that were threatening Greece, especially in a state of akyvernisia (Lack of government).

As a physicist you must know the fate of Galileo and how difficult it is to nullify ignorance. And your quote of Christopher Hitchens in your blog gives me the sense that you are aware of this difficulty. To wish therefore for Samaras removal, seems to me not only unjust but also politically immoral. And to hope that the leader of Syriza, AlexisTsipras, a staunch votary of Hugo Chavez, that he will change his inveterate leftist populist position of anti-Europe led by Germany, is to indulge in wishful thinking.

In moments of a great crisis, statesmen have the obligation and responsibility to lead their people from darkness to enlightenment and imbue them with indispensable hope about their immediate future, so they can overcome the crisis.

Diplomatic Peregrinations in the Holy Land of a Lacklustre Strategist

By Con George-Kotzabasis October 7, 2011

The “lion” appointed by President Obama to the office of Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta, who purportedly is defending America and the West from deadly foes, in his latest visit to the Middle East is advising Israel, from his Olympian heights, ‘to take risks for peace.’ This advice, however, is redundant, superfluous, and otiose and Prime Minister Netanyahu has every reason to reject and oppugn such crass “displaced” advice. Israel had already taken risks in the past with no benefit accruing to it, least of all peace. It had withdrawn from Gaza and re-settled its citizens within the borders of Israel with the result that Gaza was taken over by the terrorist organization Hamas and Israel had to defend itself from a rain of rockets fired by the militants of Hamas; and it had likewise withdrawn from South Lebanon only for the latter to be taken over by the other blade of the terrorist scissors Hesbollah, that also started firing rockets against Israel forcing the latter to invade South Lebanon to protect its citizens from being killed. Israel had taken all these risks for peace. But what did it get in return, a deluge of rockets. What other risks Secretary Panetta has in mind for Israel that would bring the up till now eluding peace to the Middle East? For the Israelis to wait until Hamas and Hesbollah load the tips of their rockets with nuclear devices supplied in the near future by Iran? And what precautions and preventive measures the U.S. is taking to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons?

The answer to these questions lies in the further advice that the Secretary of Defence is giving to Israel. He tells it not to take “lone” action against Iran in its threat to develop nuclear weapons. Preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear arsenal, he says, is the responsibility of major nations taking concerted diplomatic action. But this is a “Looney” policy that the Secretary is recommending to the Israelis. It has been tried so many times in the past and it has failed resoundingly. The Islamist regime is not going to change course in its determination to possess nuclear weapons by a truckload of diplomatic carrots but only by an “armada” of bristling porcupines that will pierce its thick skin. Diplomacy can succeed with the Iranian regime only if it is accompanied by the explicit threat of arms.

Leon Panetta has the sinews of a lamb disguised under the skin of a lion. His peregrinating debut in the Holy Land and his attempt to bring, as the “envoy” of the also weak President Obama, Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table will prove to be an abject failure, like all the previous efforts of his predecessor Senator Mitchell, also appointed by Obama. As we have predicted, the Obama presidency is a circus of underperforming political tyros, both in the international and domestic arena and more and more Americans are realizing this and are becoming disenchanted with Obama’s performance. The “sprightly colt”, who won the race to the White House with overwhelming support only two and a half years ago, is presently underwhelmed and is conceding to be the underdog in the 2012 elections. (See Obama’s interview with George Stefanopoulos on the ABC.)

Iron Ladies Never Die they Just Continue to Show the Way

By Con George-Kotzabasis—January 9, 2012

In a hostile world only the strong have the right to indulge in hope. Thucydides

Ah, that memorable, fascinating, admirable, and politically insightful and intrepid subject, Margaret Thatcher, the Iron Lady, that challenges almost all of contemporaneous political leadership that is scrambling on all its fours–with some notable exceptions such as Lee Kuan Yu, of Singapore and Antonis Samaras, of Greece–from Obama to Zapatero to Merkel and Sarkozy, who  instead of standing on the shoulders of political giants, like Thatcher, to command events, they have been overwhelmed and overcome by them.

The characteristic spending profligacy of Labour socialist governments over a number of years, and the excessive borrowing and inflation that resulted by the latter’s policies that brought the UK into economic stagnation gave Margaret Thatcher the opportunity to win the election in 1979 with a sizable majority. Her victory would bring not only the transformation of British politics but would also spawn, with a small astute coterie of others, the seeds of a profound change on the political landscape of the world. Further, by re-introducing forcefully the idea of privatization as a dynamic concept among the economic detritus left by Labour’s deficit-laden nationalization of industries, she would place the country on the trajectory of economic efficiency and generation of wealth for the benefit of all Britons.  To open markets to the world she abolished all exchange controls on foreign currency five months after coming to power. The UK from being the poorest of the four major European economies in 1979 became by the end of ten years under Thatcher’s stewardship the richest among them. In a series of economic policies packaged by Milton Friedman’s and Frederick Hayek’s monetarist theories, Britain’s GDP grew by 23.3% during this period outpacing that of Germany, France, and Italy.

However, to accomplish the latter goal, she would have to confront the power of unions decisively, which, in a ceaseless campaign of strikes and imprudent and irrational demands were ruining the British economy. In 1979, at the apex of union power, Britain had lost 29.5 million working days to strikes, whereas at its nadir, under the robust stand of Thatcher and her strong blows against it that led to the defeat of unions, in 1986, the figure of lost working days was 1.9 million. The Moscow trained communist Arthur Scargill, secretary of the Mining Unions, had unleashed in 1984-85 a myriad of strikes with the aim to obstruct the Thatcherite pro-market reforms that would put Britain on the roller skates of economic prosperity. By the end of that year that shook the foundations of British industry and broke the morale of some of her Cabinet members–that prompted Thatcher in a memorable quip to say to them, “You turn if you want to. The lady is not for turning.”—the red flag became a trophy alongside the Argentinian flag in her collection of victories, as Arthur Scargill conceded his defeat.

In international affairs she questioned Kissinger’s policy of détente toward the Soviet Union as she believed strongly that Communism should not be accommodated but overcome. For this implacable stand the Soviet Army’s newspaper Red Star christened her the “Iron Lady.” Together with President Reagan, she planted the diplomatic dynamite under the foundations of the Soviet empire that would eventually bring the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of Lenin’s benign Marxist dream that had turned back to its true nature as a nightmare of Gulags and Killing Fields.

Thatcher in the 1980’s fiercely opposed the European economic and monetary integration. To her the European construction was “infused with the spirit of yesterday’s future.” In the kernel of this construction laid the central “intellectual mistake” of assuming that “the model for future government was that of a centralized bureaucracy.” And she was prophetic to the current events and crisis of Europe when she argued that German taxpayers would provide “ever greater subsidies for failed regions of foreign countries,” while condemning south European countries to debilitating dependency on handouts from German taxpayers.” She concluded, “The day of the artificially constructed mega-state is gone.”

However, no statesmanship is without its warts. In 1986 prohibition of proprietary trading went out; the separation between commercial and investment banks was abrogated; and ‘casino banking’ took off, which without these changes would not have happened. Her critics accused her of promoting greed which she personally abhorred. Also, the introduction of the poll tax on adult residents was most unpopular among Britons and sparked the Poll Tax Riots on March 31, 1990, that instigated an internal coup against her that ousted her from her premiership.

Margaret Thatcher entered number 10 Downing Street with her strong character and astute political perceptiveness with panache that destined her, like all great statesmen, to “walk beneath heaven as if she was placed above it,” to quote the seventeenth-century French political philosopher, Gabriel Naude. She will enter the ‘gate of heaven’ not as the frail distracted old woman, as she was depicted in the film made by Phillida Lloyd, but as the iron lady who will never die and continue to show the way.

I rest on my oars: your turn now…