Saturday, June 25, 2011

Greek Economic Crisis - Reality Behind Protests

As Greeks we know that we have an opinion about EVERYthing. We are usually the first to play devil's advocate and to engage in boisterous discussions about anything. Even taboo topics others may shy away from - politics and religion - are fair game. So it's no surprise that we all have an opinion about the current economic crisis in Greece.

But the wise philosopher should actually know the facts before jumping in.

As diaspora (or dashes as I like to call us Greek-Americans, Greek-Australians, Greek-Brits, Greek-Canadians), most of us visit Greece during the summer, spend only a bit of time in the city and escape to the countryside or islands to soak in the sun before we hop back on a plane. We judge prices based on conversions against our respective currencies and assume a relaxed state of mind since we are here to see our families and have fun.

So of course it frustrates, even hurts, us to see graffiti on the walls near Plaka, strikes clogging Syntagma Square and witness an already weak infrastructure rendered useless because the workers are pissed off at the government. I am the first to condemn all of these acts as they usually hurt the "every" man more than they hurt the "big" guy. But before I can whole-heartedly get pissed at every protester, I need to understand, what are they so mad about and are they right? The answers are not easy.

From the outside looking in, the reality of Greek economics is simple.

The country spends more than it takes in.

From that perspective, austerity should work.

Cut your spending so you can balance the budget and pay back loans.

Stop your wastefulness, work as hard as they do elsewhere and problem solved.

But economic variables rarely operate in a vacuum, and it seems that when it comes to Greece, global leaders are plugging their ears to the cacophony of variables at play and expect to squeeze "blood out of a rock."

Time for the Monday-morning quarterbacks to sit down, where are the economists?

Since all we are getting is medley of opinions, let's try to sort through the inputs/outputs to see that the problem is perhaps a bit different than what we'd like to dismiss as lazy, angry, Greeks. Over the course of the next few posts, we'll take a look at some of the variables that make revenues and expense management a nightmare in Greece.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Seeking Ambitious Young Professional for Unique Remote Internship

Are you a college student or recent graduate looking to learn about one of the fastest growing career paths?

Are you passionate about working on projects where your effort drives results and makes an impact?

Then keep reading...

I am looking for an excited and ambitious self-starter seeking a way to break into PR.

With 10 years of experience, I will teach you about public relations and marketing communications and work with you so that you start utilizing what you learn immediately. Through this remote internship, you will have the chance to learn and actually engage in public relations activities to support client projects and interact with media, virtually from day one.

Our projects are focused on PR solutions for Greek companies, brands and businesses that may not otherwise be able to afford public relations support from more expensive alternatives. The goal is that our small steps will help grow their reach and propel them towards economic growth.

For you? An opportunity to gain hands-on PR experience.

For me? A chance to put my experience to work to help a young professional join the field AND to help a Greek company/brand/business succeed.

To be considered, please send a resume and letter of interest to effie {dot} delimarkos {at} gmail {dot} com.

Given the client pool, please make sure to note if you demonstrate an understanding of Greek culture and/or language. Please note that this is NOT a requirement.

I look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, January 03, 2011

Please Build a Wall Around Those Proposing Idea

Jokes are often used to lighten a tough situation, but this is a little ridiculous.

It turns out the Greek government is proposing that a wall be built on the Greek-Turkish border to curb the waves of illegal immigration that are adding to the country's problems.

That might be a solution if a large percentage of the country's border was made up of this area. However, one look at a map shows that the most exposed and vulnerable Greek border is made up of the miles and miles of island coastline.

I propose the following:

1) Immediately demote policymakers who proposed this concept as a good idea, give them a map and tell them to spend the extra time studying

2) Use the money to improve the infrastructure so that a process can deal with the problem, not put a brick band-aid on it.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Christianity Under Attack During Holy Days

The year is only two days old and yet two Christian communities’ hopes for a compassionate new year were devastated by hatred during what should be the most peaceful time of the year.

Unfortunately, neither incident is surprising for those affected by them; they have been living in the shadow of religious fear for quite some time. What is surprising is that governments and the larger global community have done little to protect them and that most major media outlets reported the problem only when hate turned to bloodshed.

As thousands crowded Times Square, the proclaimed cross-roads of the world, on New Year’s Eve to celebrate a new beginning; thousands more at the world’s major religious cross-roads wondered if this would be yet another year where their dignity and freedom would take a back-seat to geopolitics. Despite the numerous assaults they endure, they tried to unite to pray.

What were they praying for?

Praying for tolerance? So that they could feel safe to turn their heads to their God amid neighbors who bow their heads to Allah.

Praying for protection? So that their plight could be addressed by world leaders who claim concern about human rights.

Praying for attention? So that they no longer suffer in silence.

It may be out of our hands to help teach tolerance to those that resist it, although we should try.

It may seem difficult to sway political leaders, whose concerns seem to change with the election cycle. Again, we should try.

But with every post, article, comment or tweet, we CAN help shed light on what our Christian brothers and sisters are going through. Through information, some may find tolerance; through support, political pressure.

I hope you’ll join me; their plight is important and deserves to be told.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Putting Money Where Our [Greek] Mouth Is

Can love of country be measured in dollars, euros or pounds? If it were, Greek-American's love of Greece is pretty cheap. At least, according to the the LA Times.

Earlier this week, the newspaper reported that Greek-Americans, usually quick to shout their love of homeland from the mountaintops, are reluctant to support "diaspora bonds," an anticipated method the Greek government is proposing to raise money for the beleaguered country. The idea to raise money by leveraging a strong and passionate diaspora is one that has been used by other countries, including Israel.

Understandably, many are cynical of helping the government raise money, when it could be argued that the government is the one that mishandled the country's finances for the past decades leading to the current situation. Others say that they need to focus their finances to their current homeland's economy rather than helping Greece. That is one side of the coin.

The other side of the coin, regardless of currency, is that there is an air of hypocrisy in not supporting the country you claim so much pride for. Considering the pride with which Greek immigrants speak of Greek bravery in battles of the past, wouldn't the true patriot's way be to try to help the country get back on its feet?

Both sides are right. But this is a case where nobody wins for being right.

The reality is that if the Greek government is going to ask Greeks abroad to help in the recovery effort, those same Greeks need to feel that their investment is going to make a difference. They need to feel they have a say. Otherwise, Greece is asking for a gift not help.

What do you think...

  • Would you invest in diaspora bonds? Why/Why not?
  • Greeks in Greece, would you want diaspora money and input?
  • If you're currently skeptical, what could persuade you?
Check out what fellow Greeks are saying via one of our fave Greek diaspora resources, Greek America Magazine.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Greek Pirates Finally Show Up at 2010 World Cup

Amid all the black clouds over Greece in 2010, at least the "Pirate Ship," the Greek national soccer team so named for their seeming mutiny to win the 2004 European championship, qualified to play on one of the biggest athletic stages - the World Cup. Only problem is that soccer history was not on our side, since the country's only other appearance at the World Cup resulted in no goals and no wins. Until today.

Hours ago that black cloud evaporated with Greece's first-ever World Cup goal and eventual victory against Nigeria (2-1). The win was shaky; a result from a disadvantaged Nigerian team who lost a player due to poor conduct. But a win is a win, and Greece could use a reason to celebrate!

Now, with World Cup hopes still alive, Greece preps for the uphill match against soccer powerhouse Argentina on June 22nd, the same day that Nigeria takes on South Korea to determine which of the
Group B teams will advance.

Yes - the likelihood of victory is not high, but nobody thought we'd get far in 2004 either!

A little reminder of that underdog win to help celebrate and get us excited for Tuesday...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Meet Me in Greece this Summer (Plea to Greek Diaspora)

It feels like a lifetime since 2004. In 2004, as Greeks, we were riding a high. European soccer champions, Eurovision winners and hosts to an amazing Olympics. It was easy to be Greek that year. We raised our flags from all corners of the world and celebrated. In 2010, it's a lot tougher to be Greek, especially for our brothers and sisters in Greece.

Living under an economic black cloud, the average Greek citizen is disgusted with the government that got us here. This anger spills out; it's misinterpreted as instability. Tourists wonder whether Greece in 2010 is a good idea.

Let's choose to support Greece when she needs us most and raise those same flags we cheered with in 2004 to cheer on the future in 2010.

If you are still not sure about summer plans, consider that a weaker Euro makes those other currencies go further in Greece than they have in recent years.

Take a week or a few and explore the countryside or islands you have not yet seen or spend time with relatives you've missed. Discover the Greek wine country or consider begging one of many fisherman on the islands to take you along fishing one night.

Do something to relax and simultaneously do something that helps Greece breath a little easier, one Euro at a time.

After all, we are Greeks through good times and bad. Truth is, we need to be Greeks now more than ever. Let's meet in Greece this summer!

Our Own Worst Enemy

I usually try to look at life with realistic optimism.
I usually understand that people's actions are reactions.
I usually don't claim defeat.

But, dear Greeks at home, you have me baffled. I will not attempt to solve fiscal problems that are above me, but I understand entirely the basics:
  • The economy is hurting.
  • The system is corrupt thanks to black market "under the table" dealings going on for decades by deceitful politicians and the big bank accounts that fund them.
  • The little is guy is not at fault, yet he/she is feeling the pinch.

So you are angry and I am with you. I am angry because I planned to join you as a Greek citizen starting in 2010. I get to hold off, you live with this reality every day. I am mad, you are irate... with every right. But we cannot stand still in anger. From here we take that anger, channel it and move forward. Standing there angry, fires burning, looting does nothing but satisfy the anger. All it does is slowly choke out one of our most needed revenue streams (tourism), once we have even less income, things will get worse. Then think of how angry we all will be.

In a competitive time when neighboring countries are cannibalizing our tourism dollars, instead of trying to lure tourists to our homeland we disappoint them and discourage them with strikes, riots and fear that others have no problem using against us. These tourists after all are rarely millionaires. They are most likely like us. They've worked hard, saved their money to take some time off and go to a beautiful destination with their family. They pay thousands to see the beauty of our ancient history, our coastlines, cities and islands. Why create disruptions and obstacles that effectively tell them that we don't care about them?

Let's make sure they have no reason to waver before clicking "buy it" on their Greek getaway. While we work out our demons to make ourselves better, let's show them our best selves - with hospitality and authenticity - so that they go home and encourage friends and family to take the same trip next year. After all, we need them to keep coming to get ourselves out of this mess. Without them, the recovery will be harder and longer. Without them, our biggest industry, which keeps many of us employed, declines or dies. Without them, recovery is bleak.

Let's make it a magical summer in 2010 and strike again after October.

Timely World Cup analogy: Much like our beloved yet torturing soccer team, we would not want them to do their team-building or training in the middle of a season or tournament. Tournament time is for showing off our best. Off-season is when we do what needs to be done to improve.

Are we showing our best selves to the world now (in the summer) - our tournament time?


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