You’re going to have to watch the ending of Chinatown on slow rewind a bunch of times (She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! She’s my sister! She’s my daughter! …. She’s my sister AND my daughter!) to figure out if Greece has come back from a crushing economic crisis as Prime Minister and New Democracy Capitalist leader Antonis Samaras pretends, proving he didn’t take math at Amherst.
Never mind that the fiscal debacle was largely caused by his party and its coalition partner, the PASOK Anti-Socialists going on wild spending sprees and hiring hundreds of thousands of needless workers for generations in return for votes.
Sounding like McArthur returning to the Philippines, Samaras – citing spun figures that showed the economy had expanded a measly 0.8 percent in the first quarter, after falling 25 percent in the previous five years – declared, “Greece is back.”
It must have been hard to yell that loud without tilting his crown, and someone should have whispered in his ear like a Greek chorus what he needs to hear … “compared to what?” If you’ve lost 30 percent of your income (this doesn’t apply to the rich, politicians, tax cheats and the privileged, for whom the Greece they use like a personal ATM never went away) then Greece isn’t back.
The only reason Greece is showing feeble signs of recovery is because of money brought in by 20 million tourists, not the money stolen or siphoned off by thieves in government and business who have stuck their faces in the public trough so much they could come up wearing Arkansas Razorback hats.
Before he barely won a second election in 2012, Samaras blamed the austerity measures imposed by a PASOK government on orders of international lenders for Greece’s demise.
The moment he won and formed a weak-assed coalition, he embraced pay cuts, tax hikes, pension cuts and worker firings as the salvation of the country and now says that’s the reason Greece is back.
Just keep telling yourself when you hear him speak that “Greece is back, Greece is back, Greece is back,” and tap your ruby slippers three times and maybe you’ll return to a time when Greece wasn’t in an economic crisis.
You know, the good old days when the same people who were stealing and ruining Greece are still doing it and must be wondering what he means because for them Greece always stays the same: a fiefdom for their use.
After bludgeoning the workers, poor and elderly while letting his rich buddies and tax evaders escape with impunity, Samaras said he’s created a “success story,” and that Greece has finally turned the corner to recovery. Greece is back. Greece is back. Maybe that will be next year’s tourist slogan.
“We promised you that the country would come out of the tunnel of a recession and that is a reality now,” Samaras said.
“This was the fastest growth for the quarter in the whole Eurozone. All those who doubted have been proved categorically wrong,” he said, except for 1.3 million people out of work, 60 percent of those under 25 who don’t have jobs, pensioners trying to survive on slashed but still taxed benefits of 300 euros ($375) a month, three million people without health insurance, and the owners and workers of 250,000 businesses that went belly-up.
Throwing a bone, which could be dangerous with so many people fighting for scraps, Samaras said that one year those left out would soon find out that Greece is back, although many analysts expect it will take a decade or more for that to happen.
“No Greek will be left behind,” he said, a bold lie given that he knows millions have already been left behind and before any sizable number of them benefit from any recovery he’ll be long out of office on a yacht trying to polish his failed legacy and burnish it with spun half-truths.
Greece’s deep recession — the economy shrank every year since 2008 — was declared over on Nov. 14. “I promise that growth will continue at an even faster pace,” Samaras said. “No Greek will miss out … Hope is back, Greece is back.”
Greeks abandoned by their government and country know better of course. “I know how men in exile feed on dreams of hope,” Aeschylus wrote without knowing that one day that would mean exiles still living in the country that disposed of them like used syringes or tissue paper.
Samaras said he’ll now turn to luring investments and growth instead of austerity, which can’t work in a country where investors have to pay a bevy of bribes to every department from which they need licenses or documents.
Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, President of the Levy Economics Institute, a public policy think tank based near New York City, told the Associated Press that hope for a recovery based on strong exports was not realistic and that it had to be based on a major development program funded, at least partly, by the European Union.
Without a major shift in policy — and budgets are likely to remain tight for years — Papadimitriou said it would take more than a decade to get employment back to pre-crisis levels. “A jobless recovery is not a recovery at all.”
Forget it, Jake. It’s Greektown.