By John Faraclas
I will start with Edmund Burke’s cliché: “for the evil to flourish, all that is needed is for good people to do nothing.”
Time and again I have warned in writing, and in particular ever since the millennium summer, of the coming economic situation on all fronts, stressing also the ever changing face and situ in the shipping world, our industry, the world’s most important field of politics and business. The financial catastrophe we are witnessing and living with as you read these lines, not only for Greece but conversely for Europe due to the supposed collapse of the Euro – as wrongfully everybody wants to focus on, it applies for the entire world if things continue to go on wrong – with the politicians and their cronies, i.e. the business hooligans and the under the stairs people, running the show to the detriment of the world’s 99, 99 centum population, will continue, unless we materialise properly, here and now, Burke’s cliché!
A rough estimation today shows that: seven million people in the globe run this despicable show; on average, something like 37, 000 politicians and their cronies per nation – 193 nations is the official number of UN member-states, and with the world’s official population just above seven billion, I guess my figures are right…, you know and understand what’s happening! To end this small preamble, in December 1987 I have also explained/analysed in writing, that “… if Greece was properly administered and certain laws were in place vis-à-vis deposits in Greek banks from the shipping companies’ earnings (Greece’s highest earner by far from all the rest put together at the time – and today), Greece could have been in the enviable position to lend money, yes, you read correct: to lend money to other European Nations in need, some of which where then in the G7 Group and remain wrongfully today. Those who don’t realise or understand or believe this statement, can have a Scottish shower…
Moreover, in July 2000 I warned of the return to Nationalism and conversely to National Fleets due to the increase of costs and other reasons and just after September 11 I warned that the system, at the end of the day, will impose the participation of armed guards on board vessels to avoid the pirates. This entails the rising cost of transport and the increase of the Daily running cost of vessels as a result of the inability of the international community to end the Piracy saga off the Somali Coast, the Indian Ocean and its periphery; lovely eh? Indeed I employ irony, as with a “…little help from my friends” (1), per one Top of the Pops songs – I mean politicians and people in power from outside Greece “offer” anti-Greek assistance; the enemies of Greece, continue to destroy slowly and steadily, from the mid-70’s in particular, the country in all fronts!
In my last article, dated 7th November 2011, under the title: “Ship-shape, the buzz word to save Greece et al” (please read same for your reference as it exists in this site and for the better understanding of this very article), the Greek establishment and its “friends” abroad were searching for a Prime Minister and a coalition of failed political parties (in everybody’s view), “blessed” by the internal and external systems to fully run Greece, and in my view, as well as per the view of millions of people, to cover up decades of sins and fatally wound Greece and its people. What these people (this interim so called coalition government of MP’s bearing the stigma of sheer destruction) are doing, is beyond words: they strangulate the Greek public in its entirety, except of course, for the time being, the failed and wrong plutocracy as well as all the MP’s which for the last 37 years are milking Greece’s coffers and rip-off the nation by having a “share” and profit from the loans from abroad in a form of commission – hidden or otherwise, together with their foreign friends – partners in these sins, what I have termed over the last fifteen years as business hooligans (there are already investigations going on as well as official findings and we all wait to see the result).
As said, the scandals are well known. We are not here to mention foreign companies and institutions, they don’t need or deserve any further… advertising promotion… the Euro 210 billion that Transparency International claims it is missing, or siphoned away or mismanaged between 2000 and 2010, says it all. We are here to demand that all these politicians presently forming the Greek Administration under a selected and not elected prime Minister and MP’s, as well as their cronies, not only go home, but sign a document prohibiting them to stand for elections in any Greek Constituency for the Greek Parliament and/or the European Parliament or any other International Organization, nor any members of their families! Same applies for all members of the Greek Parliament; some wish to add all those MP’s who served during the last ten years. Enough is enough. All are trying to cover-up the sins so as to avoid going behind bars, in Greece, Europe and elsewhere. The Socialist Government had to save its skin, same applies for the Conservatives and they also brought in the supposed to be ultra right to make sure they best… divide the nation, cover up the sins and make inhumane laws and provisions to milk the Greek public, with the centre-left and left about to challenge them in any way they can, even starting the gossiped famous Fourth Round as many analysts and others express via a different way/method, given that in the eyes of the middleman in the street the centre-left not only failed, but betrayed them.
Elections should be held forthwith without any further delay and forget all these PSI nonsense. PSI should had taken place immediately Loucas Papademos and his team together with the Europeans and the IMF stepped in. Did all these developments had an agenda or a plan? Definitely, not! Time is of essence. No further delay for elections after the end of February 2012. But how one can abandon the old saying: “There’s honor among thieves…!” Former American president, the late General Dwight Eisenhower, said: “Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” From what unfolds to this moment and according to my intuition, I guess neither Mr. Papademos nor his ministers and the Europeans as well as the IMF keep this maxim! I hope I am wrong!
Have the conductors of this orchestra or those really believing that they call the shots, know what might happen when the shit hits the fan? (2) Are they aware, not only of the looming social upturn, with whatever this entails, but can they understand what a lefty loony government can do in Greece right now, its repercussions for Europe and the IMF? In mid 60’s a lefty opposition in Greece “brought” the west to a standstill, but few knew it as there was not so much freedom of the press and communication given today’s internet, was minimal; isn’t so? And you dead well know what followed afterwards, nicely directed… Things have changed, communication and bringing in the public to rally for a new cause is the name of the game today. You can see it everywhere, sometimes for the right and just causes, sometimes for too much hype and ideological ignorance of how pragmatically to tackle a situation and sometimes for totally the wrong causes. Violence brings violence, so one has to totally avoid violence, only peaceful popular presence can have results and save the day for all parties interests, to all intend and purposes per our shipping expression! The Greek politicians must tell the truth to the Greek public, to the Europeans, to the World, otherwise I am afraid, under the circumstances something asymmetrical strange might happen.
Now, what follows can really show you what I meant with my previous article on “Ship-shape and its importance as the buzz word to save Greece et al” and what might happen or Greece sinks and its people, as well as their morale collapses, with incalculable repercussions from the strangulation imposed by those (Greeks and foreigners) who try to avoid at any cost their arrest and punishment! Remember that just above I have reminded you the old saying: “there’s honor amongst thieves!”, freely translated in Greek as “Korakas korakou mati den vgazei” so that our Greek readerhip can fully understand the English saying!
Now then, this is what is needed to end up the life and actions of these thieves – as the public calls them, once and for all:
1) Bring in the Attorney General or a new Attorney General and a team of real experts to spotlessly bring charges and the maximum penalty after speedy research and publication of the evidence (which is available in the kalamazoo of the secret service and its relevant financial department) of who fiddled and fiddles the nation and its citizens, bring in the heads of the International Court of Justice, the Human Rights Court, as these are crimes against humanity. These are not just austerity measures, these are measures to exterminate Greece and its proud citizens after all they have done to save Europe and the world at large, particularly during and after World War Two in order to please their geopolitical games and their pockets! Any objection? Take a look and let us begin from our industry, the Shipping Industry, what gave Greece the “First Among Equals” title, or better say the “First Above Equals”:
2) The indiscriminate reduction of the seafarer pensioners’ Christmas, Easter and Summer Bonuses and in particular that of the ex-Masters and ex-Chief Engineers as well as their widows who survived them, particularly the elderly ones, as a first step and then the pension itself (Now for those who cannot understand why Greeks have fourteen monthly payments instead of twelve, this scheme was organized in a way that allows Greece’s citizens to save money and spend them per custom towards the Festive, Religious and Vacation periods of the year, enable them buy holidays, support the economy and trade, buy gifts etc etc.) OK, fine, the rankings mentioned above they are better paid, but they were higher earners and also the money earned was based on an average of seven to eight months per annum service at sea and fully taxed for twelve months!
Mind me, these periods that they were on board they were not fixed periods given also the varius shipping crises and the fact that many ships where idle waiting sometimes for more than 18 months to get a job! How on earth any Greek party and its subsequent administration (Ministry of Merchant Marine) expect to build up, in other words to create seafarers, when everybody can see the way for example his Father, Mother, Grandmother or Grandfather are treated as a result of these austerity measures? Under which proviso they demonize people and pass-through relevant laws and government decisions that if they don’t pay for example an extra tax on their properties to …save the nation and its ailing economy, pay for its debts too to foreign lenders via their Electricity Bill of the main Greek short of monopoly company namely the Public Power Corporation (DEH), they will cut-off their electricity?
And why on earth, under which proviso they (the Government) legally prohibit the Greeks to lodge their money, in case they object to pay this austerity and legally unconstitutional levy, to the Deposits and Loans Fund (Tameion Parakatathinon kai Daneion)? This is the fund where people objecting a payment demand, have the legal right to lodge the amount claimed by the state or other party in this organization and then short it out through court proceedings etc., etc. It’s like when a charterer proceeds with payment of the hire or freight to the shipowner by using the proviso of stoppage in transitu, in case of a dispute with the owner, due to the owner not performing per the relevant charter party. The Seafarers, alike the shipowners where urged by all post WWII regimes to bring their moneys in Greece, in return of the famous pink slip given by banks to enable them help the nation and themselves from the many tips offered by all governments.
3) The Seaman’s Pension Fund (NAT) was the first to go “under the auspices” of the late Andreas G. Papandreou (father of the ex-Prime Minister George A. Papandreou who resigned last November despite winning the election with an overwhelming majority) and today is in red with billions due and owed! Remember that NAT and its affiliated maritime organizations such as The Sailor’s House (ONA), a Public Entity supervised by the relevant Ministry and being designed to care for and protect the health and subsidizing unemployment of seafarers and their families, was far more financially robust/wealthy and healthy than many Greek and foreign banks, both in cash and in assets. Do please check it! The services are minimal and the fraud against these organizations greater than one can imagine.
The decline of the Seaman’s Pension Fund is spectacular! Some shipowners too owe money to the Seaman’s Pension Fund and its affiliated companies, but have… escaped either through bankruptcy or other means; their share though towards the debt, is far less than the attack and rip-off inflicted by the state! To please others, even a building in Central Athens was demolished in favor of an… ecofriendly square to be given to the Mayor of Athens’ Authority… and an old hospital complex in Northern Athens is about to be sold at a piecemeal… and/or given to others… But all these and other properties were created by the sweat and blood of seafarers and shipowners! The envy of other Pension Fund administrators to destroy the Seaman’s Pension Fund is well known; a point for the respective minister here and now and in the future to look at! Raise to the circumstances Messrs. Georgiades, Chrysohoides and Papoutsis, not to mention Mr. Venizelos and the rest involved in labour and tax issues!
4) As a consequence to the above, Maritime Education is going down the bin and if not properly tackled, not even Masters and Chief Engineers will be available in the very near future. Come on, build a training ship in any of Greece’s shipyards to give a bit of enthusiasm and impetus to the sector!
5) Conversely (to the above) the shipbuilding industry, both merchant navy one as well as naval are suffering. The once upon a time productive and successful shipyards in Greece, one by one are closing down. Others are under special regime as ordered by the European Union with the fiddling and other sagas… a must to come-out. Indeed we have skeletons in the cup-board and every Greek citizen demands the European Union and its legal mechanisms to step-in and save these industries. As mentioned in the past, why miss the newbuilding spree of the early 90’s? Who is to blame? Put him on the dock together with his accomplices! Same applies for the speedy recovery and honor of our nation vis-à-vis the submarines scandals involving former ministers and many many others. Shall we tell you how to get them and pin them down and how to find the embezzled money? Or do you have your own way of doing so? A must for Europe to step in and well, let it be, let those from Europe who are also involved in the submarines scum pay the penalty too!
One must also refer to the bad labour unionist movements, which directed from abroad, indeed from abroad and executed by the “local working class heroes”, with the “blessings” of successive greek governments brought down the yards sending more and more work not only to the Far East but to Greece’s rivals in the periphery (Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar, Adriatic Sea yards, Malta, Bulgaria, Rumania, Turkey and former Soviet Union Black Sea states). Billion of dollars where lost! Some of these practices emanating from abroad where the main reason of the British Shipyards decline – remember the strikes, demands, delays in the late fifties and sixties and the consequences of these delays with owners ordering this tonnage having a… “heart attack” as the vessels where not ready to meet their chartering obligations…
Let Costas Kokkalas master the plan to save the Greek shipyards; indeed we have people to do it, but alas, abandon both party politics, favoritism and ignorance in creating the state’s demands when none of the state’s public servants and appointed specialists/cronies knows about shipyards, their privatization and basically running them. We have seen both parties schemes ending in a CTL (Constructive Total Loss); isn’t so? Organize the Perama mess! Arrange for Northern Greece too to have at least one shipyard and/or a major Panamax-size floating Dock! Wake up! Those who have failed to these simple projects until now must be paraded handcuffed in Athens’ Constitution Square and the White Tower in Thessaloniki and be publicly humiliated accordingly!
6) Privatization: Another saga, another mess. I am not going back to the early and mid/end nineties when both New Democracy (Conservatives) and Pasok (Socialists) where respectively in total ideological and ethical disarray, I bring you fresh stuff: When George Christodoulakis, another British Scholar, Special Secretary for privatization spoke twice in London 28/6 (BHCC) and 8/9/2011 (at Bloomberg’s) many confronted him that he was going to do nothing despite his willingness. CNN tried hard to have him live on the box, he didn’t want to say a word, and better no comment on his performance as key note speaker during the Athex Road Show. Time tells the truth Mr. Christodoulakis. Nothing personal, but time is of essence, and never accept a position when you are not the master of the game; do not spoil your future and that of your generation!
Knowledge too of what to privatize and how much you will earn from each of the companies in your portfolio, .. “saving” Greece from its debts Mr.Christodoulakis is one thing, favorable results for the nation and its proper workforce yet another…”. Moreover the Socialists Fiasco faithful cannot accept amongst other privatizations (although the country is sliding to total bankruptcy) the privatization of say the two major ports of Greece and wishes to retain at least the 51 centum. With all due respect, are you serious Mr. Anomeritis? (George Anomeritis was a former Socialist Minister of Merchant Marine – in early naughties…and currently President of the Piraeus Port Authority). What short of privatization do you envisage Mr. Anomeritis for the Piraeus and Thessaloniki Port Authorities? Mind me dear readers, the New Democracy head of the same organization wasn’t as brilliant in his actions as many have thought… for a start he didn’t have a marketing department and a PR section to bring in foreign investors, but was honest to admit so! (asked during the Korean-Greek Conference in Athens 2006. Isn’t so Mr. Anastassopoulos?)
7) Did I hear you say Cabotage? Consecutive Greek Administrations have failed to find the solution to this matter. They know how to do it, but they have failed because they collect votes to be elected, as in many other problems; the one thing adds to the other and under the weight of wrong policies the politicians are only interested to get a job, that means to be re-elected and avoid …redundancy… This is how they rock the boat over the last four decades!
8 ) When are we going to begin a transparent exploration and exploitation of our oil and gas in all Greek waters? In order to avoid any conflict of interest we should single out the competition with Germans, Canadians, Americans and others, just choose one partner from the above and avoid corruption on to whom we allocate and award the blocks. We have Greek individuals who can do so, or to be business correct in cooperation with foreign firms but on equal basis and ethics, no colonial type of business…This by no way means or implies that we have to pay the damage and all these billions Europe and the IMF offered us, lent us via our politicians, the black sheep in the Greek Family, as we need these funds from oil and gas for improving our Nation’s and its citizens well-being! Let the Politicians who fiddle the money or purchased voters by various concessions or mismanagement, pay the damage. Not even as a last resort to repay via our oil and gas. Deep-down I do understand that we have to repay some money, but nothing in the tune and in the way and with undemocratic and unconstitutional means same are demanded!
9) Why spoil our diplomatic offices abroad, especially at very crucial times for our nation’s history? Why say in London the Greek Embassy, the Consulate General and other services suffer and lag from personnel vital for looking after the thousands of Greeks living in the United Kingdom and in particular in London? In my view this is the same practice used during the days of Olympic Airways: instead of making redundant people from Greece in Greece they were making redundant personnel from Olympics London office in order to avoid strike actions in Greece; syndicates and unions “comrade’s policy….”.- It’s a palaver what takes place in the United Kingdom for example… with these issues. And what about the Consular Maritime Offices and the entire issues they face for which I have extensively written in the past?
10) Lately, Greeks are accused of being tax-dodgers. Greeks are lately accused of siphoning money abroad. All newspapers ink their pages with this issue… Oh well! Who has introduced the tax havens at the first place? Indeed many Greeks keep accounts abroad, not only to tax havens but in many countries and they keep them legitimately, save some nouveaux rich and business hooligans – this happens in every country, every country has such citizens. There is nothing sinister on this, i.e to have legitimate accounts. In shipping for example, the Greek interests control the 22, 5 centum of the world fleet, they carry 85-90 percent of their cargoes outside Greece, between foreign ports; they have every right according to the constitution to have off-shore accounts. They have every right to trade in this fashion as they do, an acceptable fashion for many many years.
And if any non-Greeks accuse us, they better see their own courtyard….correct me if I am wrong! These accounts basically include by 99, 99 centum the proceeds from charters etc etc. And mind me; most of the loans to acquire new or second-hand tonnage come from foreign banks. Most bank loans demand these types of accounts, you know it. Do not try to win sympathizers from the Greek public’s poor… It is unethical! It is for the fiddlers that must not have a single penny out there; it is for the corrupt politicians and their accomplices that shouldn’t have an account abroad, you dead well know what I mean. Why Mr. Venizelos (the Greek Minister of Economy and Vice President of the government, who supposedly knows how to run the economy and wishes to be equal and ideologically correct, not just politically correct) doesn’t summon his counterparts in Europe and tell them about their citizens accounts either outside their countries or within places being dependencies of these countries? We will all congratulate any Mr.Venizelos who gets hold of really illegitimate money that left Greece, starting over from his fellow politicians, from all Greek parties. If he doesn’t know how this is been done, he can learn and be taught a lesson by specialists in the field. If himself, as well as his opposition counterparts in Greece or abroad wish, those violating the law to be arrested, named and shamed, let him do it here and now! Any conspicuous delay covers up other matters!
Come on, tax on deposits, is this the real issue, is this the real priority? Come on, grow up! Do not try to impress people, either Greeks who suffer or the European tax payer who pays the Greek politicians damages. Ending this para, readers must understand that there are about eighteen million Greeks around the globe; twelve are living inside Greece’s borders and six outside, these people have accounts and use them. This is the truth! The few who taint Greece’s image, if the government is reading, willing and able, can be brought to justice! Paying in kind and “knowing where my money goes” is a fair system, particluarly under he circumstance over the last 60 (sixty) years. One can see for example the donations and many other charitable work of billions of dollars offered by Greece’s wealthy population, the spearhead being the shipowners and masters! Any objection? Ofcourse they could do more, that’s for sure, but all things being equal they outperform everyone worldwide!
11) Crash totally the enemies of the Greek State and people, particularly from within: More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation, as the enemy will recover and will seek revenge in body and in spirit. Never forget the mistake of Chiang Kai-shek when he reduced Mao’s 75, 000 army to 10, 000. He could have eliminate them all; he didn’t and with the wrong thinking due to the Japanese invasion, he left Mao’s 10, 000 rise up and toppled him from mainland China. Greece indeed has an army to crash all those who destroyed its peoples fortunes, and its children’s future. The entire Greek population must rally to this direction and oust the culprit politicians and their cronies, thus saving the Nation, Europe, the Euro and the World Economy from the domino effect of events to come! Greece has excellent people to do this job. All those perpetrators are Greece’s dark side of the moon, these are Greece’s black sheep and all countries, all nations have gone through this saga in their history…
I am sure the above lines help all see the reality about Greece. It is not Greece the one portrait in the press. Greece and its people are not a pariah state. The Global economy will not recover for at least a decade; the European the same. The United States economy is in red and the American household owes something in the tune of fifty-three to fifty-four trillion dollars. What is being done for this? Who pays the bill? These two major matters/issues as well as further reporting on Greece, will be examined after the New Year. Austerity measures under duress in Greece will not pay-off as the politicians and the foreign factor expects; if continued, Greece will be lost for them. Stop it! Europe too will suffer to the worst extend!
The coming year of the Dragon, 2012 promises many strange surprises. Last but not least, some economists and analysts should not refer to the debts the European States have and compare same with the War of Independence against Britain, in what is known today as USA, and how repayment was done….how the debt was allocated etc., etc. There is nothing to compare about. Europe needs one Federal Government and imperative as soon as possible the political union to be effected. In this way each state will have the same ministries and avoid the messy situation like in Greece where the shipping Ministry for example was dismantled, changed names several times for impression’s reasons and purposes (some others ministries too) , thanks to the egoists and hooligans who did it, serving the purpose of Greece’s enemies and directing their cronies within Greece to do it! Did I hear you say that I forgot the Bankers? Oh well, just wait and see how some of this lot will be called and pay the damage! (I wonder what exuces they will fabricate in trying to cover their political masters and what exuses they’ll tell to the banks shareholders who will also suffer as a result of silly and unthoughtful practices…
“War father of all” is the pitiful message from Greek History; “if you don’t destroy you cannot rebuild.” Everything moves, everything is needed and nothing is certain; the only certain thing today is market volatility. For many people, the idea that the institutions that have been set up in Europe since the end of World War II might be breaking up is too horrific even to contemplate. European institutions have preserved the peace for more than a generation and presided over a steady growth in prosperity. The very idea that they could now break up challenges the prevailing belief in steady improvement, which is the faith of practical men and women who imagine they have no religion. Ending this report, let me remind you the message from the TV series Kung Fu, what Master Po said: “Perfect Wisdom is unplanned. Perfect living offers no guarantee of a peaceful death.”
Happy New Year and take cover!
- From the Beatles song, with an interesting metaphorical meaning.
- From Dave Black’s book “What to do when the shit hits the fan.” I fully recommend to you this book.
P.S. They say that “disasters always have happened and will always happen. A key to peace of mind is preparation. Another key is taking responsibility. Every disaster starts at the individual level. It then becomes a local responsibility, then a state problem, and then, if the disaster is big enough a federal responsibility.” Can you interpret this for what is happening in Greece, Europe and the World at large? And who is to blame? And whose responsibility is (was)? Mind me, being involved with the Shipping Industry in its entirety within the private sector for forty years – the last nineteen idle and writing due to poor health, four months involvement with the Greek State’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Islands and the Fisheries in the enviable position as an Aide, taught me too many lessons in a very short period of time and if anybody likes, I can entertain him/her live on any first class international channel …on whose to blame about the state of the Greek state and in particular the decline in its entirety of the shipping issues and cause in Greece. Will eagerly wait your comments, thank you.-