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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