Nikias Tsipras Soll
USC Professor Jacob Soll’s master work, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (Basic Books, 2014), cast a stark light on the financial world as national economies continued to recover from the Great Recession of a few years earlier. Now the book has been translated to Greek, and Soll presented the updated version to scholars at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in Greece.
Soll, the recipient of a MacArthur Fellows award (often called a MacArthur genius grant), was joined by USC President C. L. Max Nikias as well as Greek scholars, government dignitaries and global business executives. The group discussed the book and its continuing importance in a dynamic global economy. Soll also met with the leader of Greece’s New Democracy party, Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
The day after the book presentation, Nikias and Soll met with Alexis Tsipras, prime minister of Greece. Soll presented the Greek translation of his book to Tsipras, and the trio discussed Greece’s debt crisis, progress made in recent negotiations and plans for improving the country’s economic situation.
Soll’s book explores the need for accountability and transparency in ensuring that businesses and nations alike maintain their financial health. The work cites historical figures such as France’s Louis XIV and Rome’s Emperor Augustus discussing their practices, the impact their actions had on history and the lessons they hold for today.
This is the second visit to Greece that Soll, a professor of history and accounting, has made to discuss the book and his findings. Late in 2014, he traveled there and to Portugal — two countries where the economies were particularly hard hit by the Great Recession.
Since its publication three years ago, the text has received significant scholarly attention as well as coverage by media outlets such as PBS NewsHour, C-SPAN’s Book TV, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
EU refuses a catharsis of the Greek tragicomedy. Without any debt haircut, the Greek ordeal will perpetuate. Marine Le Pen told us that Brussels used the euro in Greece not as a currency but a knife that you stick in a country’s ribs to force it to do what its people don’t want to do. Greece should withdraw from the European Union. The Greek people, Greek history, Greek values, and Greek geopolitics always lie close to the naval powers, USA and Great Britain. Greece has never been able to join the European continental powers.
EU underestimates the reactance of VAT-struck Greeks. Reactance is a motivational reaction to offers, persons, rules, or regulations that threaten or eliminate specific behavioral freedoms. Reactance occurs when a person feels that someone or something is taking away his choices or limiting the range of alternatives.
Miserable Greeks always have to choose the less of two VAT-monger evils, this time extremely corrupt New Democracy and incompetent leftist Syriza. The Greek state has always cheated its subjects, and the Greek diaspora took place because of the state’s failure and corruption. There is a VAT revolt in Greece. The government pressures the consumers to ask for receipts. But the consumers get 25% discount if they do not demand receipts. Greeks consider their government as their #1 enemy to be avoided and boycotted in any way possible. Greeks exchange tips on friendly shops which do not impose VAT. Paying a quarter of the price less makes a big difference.
There is no dead cat bounce of the Greek economy. You just cannot shoot a basket case! So, you pretend Greece has basically achieved the objectives of the reforms required by its creditors. Pretending and extending is the prevalent game of VAT-monger EU! Kicking the Greek can is the favorite sport of VAT-monger Eurogroup!
VAT-struck Greeks go abroad in order to compete on a level playing field, without bribes, kleptocracy, kangaroo justice, police brutality, huge bureaucracy, huge taxation, and 24% VAT. According to the Quadriga of the International Monetary Fund, the VAT-monger European Commission, the European Central Bank, and European Stability Mechanism the preparation for the next batch of Greek reforms did not progress as much as it should have.
Many Greeks are infuriated that VAT-monger Tsipras doesn’t give a damn about the refugee crisis, reinforcing a growing feeling that he is out of touch. VAT-monger Syriza has been weakened by corruption scandals. Ministers fail to include many properties in their declaration of assets. VAT-monger Graecokleptocrats have appointed many kith and kin to senior public-sector jobs. Taxes are rising, VAT stays at 24%, and unemployment remains at 25%. Capital controls, including a measure limiting bank withdrawals to €420 a week, are still in place. Nevertheless, salaries and fringe benefits of Graecokleptocrats skyrocket. VAT-struck people suffer, but VAT-monger Graecokleptocrats along with their kith and kin enjoy dolce vita in huge luxury.
All this has created a backlash against VAT-monger Tsipras. Around the country farmers, his former allies, have blocked main roads with their tractors. VAT-monger Syriza flags have been set alight. VAT-struck lawyers, doctors, pensioners, and engineers have taken to the streets to protest against a planned pension reform, and truck drivers are threatening to do the same.
Investing in Greece is a sure way to lose money. Bureaucracy, taxation, and political corruption are out of this world. VAT is 24%, public employees demand bribes to do their job, the justice system is not functioning at all with court cases postponed infinite times for more than six years, policemen are brutal beasts and liars, and politicians are bribe collectors.
Greek economic ills are rooted in the huge political corruption and the values and beliefs of Greek society. Greece’s public sector is rife with clientelism to gain votes and cronyism to gain favors – far more so than in other parts of Europe. Fake jobs for kith and kin of politicians are out of control. Maximum pensions for public employees relative to wages are nearly twice as high as in Spain; the VAT-monger government favors business elites with tax-free status; and many state employees draw their salaries without actually turning up for work.
Most MPs of Pasok and New Democracy took huge bribes from Siemens. But a judicial ring is behind many postponements of Siemens trials. Some judges are in cahoots with the major opposition party New Democracy. The impasse in the trial has led the government to suspect a judicial ring linked to major opposition party New Democracy is operating to stall proceedings. New Democracy wants elections before the Pandora Box of Siemens opens up with 200 names of MPs from Pasok and New Democracy. Mitsotakis, a suspect in the Siemens scandal, underlines that this government had demonstrated a monumental ineptitude in implementing the memorandum it had signed on to and in dealing with the refugee crisis.
Greeks now have a terrible choice, super-corrupt New Democracy or super-stupid Syriza. Recent polls show New Democracy will win next elections, which shows that Greeks tend to recycle their kleptocrats. This is a live Greek tragicomedy!
There are serious ills in the private sector, too – notably, the pervasive influence of vested interests and the country’s business and political elites. Insiders receive subsidies and contracts, and outsiders find it hard to break in. Astoundingly, young VAT-struck Greek entrepreneurs reportedly fear to incorporate their firms in Greece, lest others use false documents to take away their companies. Greece is one of the hardest places in Europe to start a business. The result is that competition for market share is weak and there are few firms with new ideas.
The stunted system springs from Greece’s corporatist values, which emphasize huge political corruption, social protection, solidarity instead of competition, and discomfort with uncontrolled change. These values are a recipe for a static VAT-monger economy and stultified careers.
Indeed, Greece’s labor productivity (GDP per worker) is only 72% of the level in the UK and Italy, and a mere 57% of that in Germany. And surveys indicate that mean life satisfaction in Greece is far below that found in the wealthiest EU countries. Corporatism impoverishes the less advantaged. EU data on poverty rates put Greece at 22% – far higher than the mean EU15 rate of 16%.
The truth is that Greece needs more than just debt restructuring or even debt relief. If young VAT-struck Greeks are to have a future in their own country, they and their elders need to develop the attitudes and institutions that constitute an inclusive modern economy – which means shedding their corporatist values.
VAT-monger Europe, for its part, must think beyond the necessary reforms of Greece’s pension system, tax regime, and collective-bargaining arrangements. While Greece has reached the heights of corporatism, the control of a state or organization by large interest groups, Italy and France are not far behind – and not far behind them is Germany. All of Europe, not just Greece, must rethink its VAT-monger economic philosophy.
Greece constantly accumulates new debt, piling it up on already non-viable debt, pretending that it has solved the crisis, the debt deflationary spiral is enhanced, and the country becomes unreformable. It is something VAT-monger Graecokleptocrats have not managed to address.
The political situation in Greece is very toxic. You have a VAT-monger economic system in free fall. Lenders and creditors are imposing upon Greece new loans under the conditions that will ensure that they will not get their money back! No politician, however skilled he might be, can survive the VAT-monger economic implosion which drags down along with it the political system. There must be an end to extending and pretending.
Greek justice is completely fucked up. Trials are postponed more than ten times, stretching up to more than seven years. Nobody cares and nobody gives a damn, unless you either have political connections or bribe somebody. Everybody is considered guilty, and everybody is treated like a bad animal. This is no Europe, this is worse than Uganda!
Greek Mafia is the colloquial term used to refer to various organized crime elements originating from Greece. Indigenous organized criminal groups are well-entrenched in the largest Greek urban centers, particularly in Athens, protected by the widespread political corruption. Outside of the domestic Greek criminal organizations the Sicilian mafia, Camorra, the Albanian, Russian and Georgian mafia groups have been operating in Greece in collaboration with the domestic criminal syndicates. In the United States, ethnic Greek organized crime groups include the Philadelphia Greek Mob and Velentzas crime family.
Greek crime bosses are locally described as νονοί της νύχτας Godfathers of the night. Largely operating as owners of nightclubs, Greek crime groups are able to operate their illegal businesses under the protection of extremely corrupt politicians, judiciary, and bishops. In contrast to the Sicilian mafia or the Albanian mafia, Greek criminal groups follow the same structure organized gangs have within the French Milieu or the Penose in the Netherlands. Domestically, they are largely smaller organized crime cells, sometimes family-based in touch with political families and churches, who collaborate but from time to time also feud with one another.
There are close to 217 known domestic crime lords operating in Greece, closely related to politicians, judges, prosecutors, and bishops. Internationally, the smuggling and racketeering practices have a larger reach, and are not necessarily based on Greek nationals alone. With the need to infiltrate and manipulate multiple types of businesses in order to successfully smuggle internationally, more often than not such organizations resemble professional international cartels rather than traditional organized crime groups.
A substantial amount of Greek organized crime groups are centered in Athens in cahoots with kleptocrats and judiciary. However, many other organized groups operate throughout other cities, and even villages. Criminal clans can have their origins from all over Greece and most political parties. Mafia groups in the bigger cities are especially involved in racketeering, the illegal smuggling of oil, money laundering, weapon and drug trafficking, buying jury and judges, as well as trading votes.
Greece is not democracy, but kleptocracy, the infamous Graecokleptocracy. The Greek parliament, the grand brothel of kleptocracy on Syntagma Square, is full of thieves, the infamous Graecokleptocrats. Diogenes could not find one honest Greek MP. Most Greek MPs are crooks!
The Greek political parties are mafias. The leader of a party has dictatorial powers like the godfather of Cosa Nostra. He does whatever he wishes, and he can dismiss any MP any moment without real reason. MPs enjoy parliamentary immunity, committing crimes with impunity.
Two Greek mafias, Pasok and New Democracy, have destroyed Greece, robbing the Treasury, churning pension funds, and receiving myriad huge bribes. Pasok is the most corrupt political party on planet Earth. Pasok introduced all stupid laws of immunity and impunity of MPs and ministers of government. Chryse Pege, Golden Source, is the most infamous mafia of the Greek Orthodox Church, organized by the late archbishop Christodoulos. The corrupt Church of Greece greatly contributes to the moral decline of Greek society. Nevertheless, religion is protected by lèse–majesté!
The barbarity and corruption of Greek bishops is beyond imagination, heavily involved in skulduggery, orgies, trial rigging, drug and antiquities smuggling, money washing, robberies, inheritance dirty games, election manipulation, and so it goes. Bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta, godfather of Chryse Pege Golden Source mafia, blasted Education Minister Nikos Filis over his decision to replace the current religious studies from the school curriculum with a lesson on comparative world religions. During his speech at Church, Ambrosios pleaded to Jesus that Fili’s arm would rot before he signed the decree! Ambrosios also had a few words for those not fasting by eating meat. He said he hoped the meat would turn to poison and puncture their stomach!
Criminal groups on the Greek mainland have also profited from the activities of corrupt officials, MPs, and judges. Arms, narcotics, and illegal oil are smuggled by Greek criminal organizations, often in collaboration with Albanian or Russian mafia groups, from local seaports to important destination centers such as the docks of Naples or Antwerp. Outside of the urban centers, the island of Crete is known for having regional family-based crime clans involved in the cultivating and trafficking of marijuana on a domestic as well as an international level. Kidnapping and weapon trafficking are activities of choice as well, often collaborating with the Albanian mafia. An example is the village Zoniana which is a known ground zero for Cretan drug lords. In general, Greek organized crime groups are active on the Greek mainland, as well as in other parts of Europe.
Activity is mainly focused upon the areas of licensure, buying justice and legislature, cigarette smuggling, and the trafficking of marijuana, hashish, and weapons. European cities are deeply affected by Greek organized crime in the form of robbing EU funds and narcotics smuggling. Recently, under pressure from the European union, Greece, and numerous other European countries, have stepped up their war on smuggling, making numerous arrests and otherwise disabling the organizations in collaboration with European law enforcement agencies.
When a political system is corrupt, when the media only put out propaganda and not information, when oligarchs control public life, when the political system seems repeatedly directed against the interests of its own people, when a political system ignores the constitution and the will of the majority but draws its legitimacy once every four years through elections, then, although it may be called democratic, it is a democracy of junk. It is not the people’s democracy anymore; instead, it belongs to the elites.
If Greeks do not take back their homeland, the guns may well have the last word. Surveys show the detachment of the political system from the Greek people and their tragic way of life. The people are exhausted and democracy has not solution to the problems of citizens.
The Greek people have just about reached the limits of their strength. The economic situation is tragic. Illegal immigration is out of control, criminality increases day by day. The political system is steeped in corruption and the media have stopped being the communication channel between citizens and the political system. The Greek media are functioning as the praetorian guard of the euro, they favor the massive admission of Muslim populations into Greece, and they fiercely attack every voice that opposes their own.
The country is rotting inside the EU and Eurozone. The Greek people have crashed economically. Greek cities, because of massive illegal immigration, look less like cities in Europe and more like cities in Afghanistan. Banks have begun the mass-confiscation of residences. The people are on the verge of revolt. The wealth of Greek households has been halved since 2000. The Greek people are the unhappiest in EU. Unemployment is more than 25%, the highest in Eurozone.
Scandals in Greece have been coming to the surface one after another. The Novartis pharmaceutical company, for example was found to be giving money to politicians, government officials, journalists, publishers and doctors so that the public hospitals would use Novartis’s products. Those involved are a former prime minister, the EU Immigration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, and several former ministers. In addition, the Siemens has been bribing Greek politicians to win public contracts. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and his kith and kin have huge dealings with Siemens.
Greece has the most corrupt public health system on planet Earth! Greek doctors in public hospitals demand bribes for all operations! No bribe means a lot of trouble, such as infinite delays, curved queueing, bad operations, and wrong medicines! Health insurance means nothing to Greek public doctors! The government encourages doctor bribes and long queues! To see a public doctor, you have to wait six months! Even though Greeks paid for state health insurance, the government of Greece wants to make their experience in public hospitals so miserable in order for them to go to private doctors and private hospitals, which are not covered by the state health insurance! This way, the Greek government saves a lot of money.
Greece’s hospitals welcome back corrupt doctors ousted for demanding huge bribes from patients. The legal remedy allowing the reinstatement of corrupt doctors emanates from a notorious Katrougalos law named after the relevant labor minister. Among others, the law stipulates that public employees suspended for serious on-the-job infractions can re-appeal their cases. Based on the Katrougalos law’s procedures, suspended doctors can have their case returned to the pseudo-disciplinary boards of their respective hospitals in order for their case be reviewed anew by amiable corrupt colleagues.
A culture of bribes in Greek hospitals is extremely disgusting. Nurses are very glad to help doctors lie, abuse, and rob patients at pain point under duress. Nobody cares, nobody gives a damn. Administrators are in cahoots with the corrupt doctors. The whole staff is a big mafia protecting corrupt doctors. Medical errors and other safety lapses have a lot to do with the flow of bribes.
We cannot believe that the administrations of hospitals are not aware of the huge corruption of their doctors, and we cannot believe the Greek Ministry of Health is not aware of what’s happening at hospitals. We do not know how the flow of medical bribes works, where it originates and where it ends. The European Union must investigate the flow of bribes, because no Greek organization is willing to do it.
Widespread grafts and bribes by Depuy, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, through a network of offshore companies, went to Greek doctors in two hundred public hospitals who received bribes amounting to thirty billion euros. The charges include passive and active bribery, fraud, embezzling public money, and laundering.
The investigations revealed that medical equipment imported into Greece by Depuy were overpriced by up to 35%, with 20% going to doctors for their pseudo-preference to the products and 15% to cover expenses to maintain the network of accountants and lawyers who had set up and were operating the 15 off-shore consultant services companies through which the money was funneled to the end recipients.
Greece is a deeply dysfunctional and corrupt country. If you decide to go into politics without taking the necessary equipment or precautionary measures, you certainly won’t last very long. Sooner or later you’ll find yourself neutralized by mafias. Very few normal people out there really have what it takes to deal with the invisible deep state. That’s why politicians tend to rely on foxes.
Foxes are kleptocrats who know the tricks, who can effortlessly communicate with unionists and at the same time negotiate with the pimps that control each sector. Foxes are always able to find a solution, whether it is within or outside the law. They know the state apparatus inside-out and they have an endless list of contacts at their disposal.
Foxes protect their political superiors, or at least they are able to convey that impression. Any normal person is scared of having to deal with the public sector. Foxes have a solution for every problem. If foxes are given free rein, before you know it they will have turned their post into a personal money-making machine. The foxes protect one another, and they easily switch allegiances from one boss to the next. They rarely get into trouble, even if they get caught red-handed. Foxes are in cahoots corrupt judges and corrupt police. They are a very tough species and they are still in control of Greece.
Golden Dawn is a Eurosceptic party fighting the Islamization of Greece and the huge political corruption. That’s why it has been persecuted and isolated by all other political parties. Golden Dawn leader Nicholas Michaloliakos muses: Marxists attack our offices, but none of the parties of the democratic arc condemn this criminal act, because the government is clearly a Marxist one and the other political parties are full of cowardice which led Greece to be the last Soviet nation of Europe dominated ideologically and politically by the Bolshevik fossils. The terror will not stop the nationalist river that comes, as it was not stopped by imprisonment of our MPs and murders of our members.
In June 2014, the Greek Coast Guard uncovered and seized 986 kilograms of heroin stashed in a warehouse in a suburb of Athens, and another 1,133 kilograms in two other locations, claiming that the more than two tons of drugs — valued at $30 million — had been smuggled on a tanker Noor 1.
The heroin, which was to be distributed throughout Europe originated in Iran. Two years later, in August 2016, a criminal court in Piraeus sentenced five of the defendants, two Greeks and three foreign nationals, to life imprisonment. Among these was the owner of the Noor 1, Efthimios (Makis) Yiannousakis.
Yiannousakis fears that the information he is willing to reveal puts him at risk. Yiannousakis’ apprehension is well-founded. Since the smuggling case emerged, several witnesses were murdered or have died of unknown causes. In addition, the judge presiding over the trial received a bomb in a package sent to his home. The explosive, which was filled with razor blades and screws and placed inside a hollowed-out book, was detonated by bomb squad agents before it had a chance to kill its recipient — a day after the prosecutor recommended life sentences for the five main suspects.
The true culprit is the deep state and its links to Iran through the drug trade. It is an open secret by now that heroin revenues are used by Middle East regimes to fund terrorist organizations, such as ISIS, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The case of the Noor 1 illustrates one of the ways that both the drugs themselves and terrorist operations are exported to Europe. Ironically, Greece, a country in poverty and beholden to Germany and the European Union to keep it afloat, appears manipulated from within by malevolent forces posing as legitimate members of the elite.