Obama’s speech in Athens, Trump, US, Germany, the World… Democracy and… Reality
A few days ago (November 16, 2016), US President Obama visited Athens where he gave a very interesting speech; a speech that was mainly focused on Democracy.
You can read his full speech directly from the White House’s website by clicking here:
Remarks by President Obama at Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens, Greece
Commonly, we avoid writing articles that are of “political shades or colours”; however, when some speeches twist facts… we feel the obligation to write something about it. And since we are doing it, we won’t go easy on it…
“You can perfectly hide a lie in-between two truths”…
Truth be told, we have to admit… that President Obama’s speech was very well executed, very well constructed and combined with his charisma… Obama made a very strong impact to the world. Granted, when it comes to entertainment, the US is lightyears ahead of every competition; and as it was expected from President Obama, he owned the show.
Obama’s impact grew even bigger due to the fact that next to him, stood Greece’s Prime Minister, Mr. Tsipras; and in regards to politics, Mr. Tsipras resampled a “supernumerary” – a rookie flawed in every possible aspect…
As you can observe the terms that we did use to describe the current prime minister of Greece are very harsh.
Why is that?
Without going into much detail here, we will just tell you three things about that guy’s leadership:
1. In the past 18 months, his government increased the country’s debt by 80-100 billion Euros (roughly by 85 to 106 US billion) due to their fancy negotiations; remember Varoufakis ( announcement made by EU officials!)
2. He has appointed, as his personal strategic advisor, a person named Karanikas who until recently worked as a part-waiter and is of the opinion that “a Career is like a disease (he called it, Cholera)” ( literally, he officially did make that statement)
3. Since his government took Greece’s leadership everything fell apart; while they also tried to exit the Euro and to bring the country back to the Drachma ( thankfully for Greece, in this case, the EU officials stopped them).
Consequently, on the one hand you have Obama, the perfect show man, a person that knows his way around any formal protocol, who is flexible and athletic, who is smart and intelligent, who knows how to make well-constructed speeches and… who knows how to twist facts by hiding them behind noble ideas.
On the other hand, you have Tsipras, who knows nothing about any formal protocol, who is anything but athletic (imagine him like a blob), who is incapable of making any constructed speeches and… who only knows how to tell lies straight to the face of Greek citizens (aka he is a full-fledged demagogue).
Now, before we continue with the article and Obama’s speech, we should address a few things first, in regards to the real Greek reality…
Also, for the ones of you who happen to live outside of Greece (hence, you have no idea about the actual Greek reality) many things that you will read will appear extraordinary to you; as a matter of fact, you will have issues to digest, or even believe, all of this.
Nevertheless, these are the facts that Greeks are confronted with (especially the private sector)……
Furthermore, it makes us wonder how come that all of the so called economy-specialist, even the foreign media (CNN, BBC, the Times and everyone else) are constantly illustrating false facts to the people worldwide. In our opinion there are 3 reasons for that:
1. They are too lazy to do their work
2. They have no idea how to do their work
3. They know exactly what is going on but they are pursuing various agendas
That being said, the first question that may come to mind is the following:
If what you guys said about Mr. Tsipras is true, how come that Greeks voted for him and made that guy (aka Tsipras) the Prime Minister of Greece?
Here is the reason why:
Mr. Tsipras came into power because the striking majority of the Greek public servants, as well as the people in retirement, voted for him!
What?, you may wonder…
Even if this is the case how can these two groups form the majority of voters?
A) During the elections of 2015, almost 40%-50% (mostly coming from the private sector) were absent from the elections because they were disappointed in their Greek political leaders. In other terms, in their opinion no Greek politician was worthy to lead the country… and due to this bitterness they were absent during elections.
B) The Current Greek “election-law” provides to the political party, which finishes first during the elections, a bonus of 50 additional seats in the parliament. What does that mean? In other terms: for a political party to form a government it needs 151 seats (out of 300).
So, let us assume that a political party finishes first, and it managed to reach (based on the percentage of votes) 101 seats; the final outcome would be: 101 seats + 50 seats bonus = 151 seats in total. Hence, it can form a government. In the case of Greece’s current administration, two political parties collaborated (SYRIZA (Greek: ΣΥΡΙΖΑ) and ANEL (Greek: ΑΝΕΛ)) so as to form a joint-government with 153 seats.
C) As a side note: It is highly doubtful that the current government will manage to remain for two more years in office (so if you make that type of bets – after you win, send us a donation; would be highly appreciated).
Back to the question: how can these two groups (public servants and retired people) form the majority of voters?
Under normal circumstances they can’t but… here are some facts and some rough numbers that will allow you to get the idea...
Currently, the Greek citizens that live in Greece are roughly 10,800,000 people. The way the population is divided is as follows:
1,600,000 are unemployed
2,700,000 are retired people (numbers from 2015) – also, 300,000 to 400,000 are still waiting to get their retirement (in Greece in can take up to 2 years till someone receives his retirement after he/she submits his/her papers)
600,000 are the public servants + 100,000 additional part-time public servants under contract (these are the official numbers; unofficially these numbers go up to almost 1,000,000 people)
Roughly 2,000,000 (20% of the population) are Greeks that are below 18 years
500,000 are people that do not work due to various reasons (health, imprisonment etc.)
So far, this gives us (in estimates):
7,800,000 million people; and roughly 3,000,000 people are active in the private sector.
In other terms:
3,000,000 citizens have to pay taxes and to cover the costs for the rest (aka for the additional 8,000,000 people)!
Public Servants + people in retirement (including the ones waiting for retirement) = 700,000 + 3,100,000 = 3,900,000!
And as we know from math equations: 3,900,000 > 3,000,000; thus, the majority of voters, that surpasses the private sector, is indeed comprised of public servants and retired people.
Income and Retirement in Greece:
Currently, the common average income for people working in the Greek private sector varies from 400 Euros to 800 Euros; in average: 600 Euros pro month (of course there is a small percentage in the private sector that earns more but, in this case, these people reflect the striking minority).
On the other hand, the Public Sector’s payroll starts from 780 Euros pro month (After Tax income) and goes up to a few thousand Euros (aka close to 5000 Euros / month).
Furthermore (so as to illustrate inequality in Greece):
People from the private sector can retire only when they reach year 67.
People from the public sector can retire starting from year 39! ( unbelievable, right?)
For people from the private sector: the retirement they receive ranges from 300 Euros to almost 900 Euros pro month (in average, 400-600 Euros)! Of course, some exceptions do exist…
For people from the public sector: the retirement they receive ranges from 700 Euros to almost 1800 Euros pro month (in average, 860+ Euros)! BUT, almost 15% - 20% of the retired people from the public sector receive 2300+ Euros pro month! ( do the math)
Plus: people from the public sector also receive a kind of “one-off pension bonus” (a lump-sum) that can vary from 15,000+ Euros up to 400,000 Euros pro person!
Plus: If you are an unmarried daughter ( you read correctly) of a public servant, and are beyond a certain age, you receive a kind of retirement (roughly 900-1000 Euros pro month); regardless of your circumstances (rich or poor)! In other terms, they can grow a family with their partners etc. but these people make sure NOT to get married! Extra money, with no sweat at all…
Plus: The Greek administrations (past and present) have defiled the public sector to the extent of almost every household in Greece to have at least one person working for the public sector! Thus, even if people wanted to react - they would have to clash against a father, a mother, a brother, a sister, a son and so forth…
And this is… just the tip of the iceberg (as of 2016)!
Taxes for the private sector:
As of 2016, currently and depending on the profits, the private sector pays 65% – 75%(!!!) taxes to the Greek government.
And coming year, 2017, the Greek government intends to raise the taxes once again; boosting taxes to: 75% - 110% ( notice this number, crazy right)!!!
In other terms, it has become a matter of pure survival for the Greek private sector and it has nothing to do with the subject of "paying taxes" anymore!
So guys, before anyone of you jumps the gun and criticizes Greeks for not paying their taxes you either are completely unaware of circumstances in Greece or you are idiots ( and we are being polite here).
Before we continue with the issue of taxes there are three things, regarding finance and economics of a country, which you need to be aware of:
One, there are generally three ways for a country/government to get its hands on money:
a) It exports stuff like petrol or earth-gas and from that it can create income (aka cash for the country)
b) The government borrows money (through bonds, from central banks, from other countries etc.)
c) Through taxes chiefly from the private sector
In the case of Greece, for a, and b, these are a “no-go”. In other words, for a) the Greek government has hit its low and for b) the Greek government has hit its ceiling.
Two, the public sector does NOT pay taxes but ONLY the private sector does!
What on earth are you talking about (you may wonder)?
OK, here is an example that will help you to understand our statement… (in very simple terms)
To begin with, how does (or should) a government define the payroll and the number of people for the public sector?
Normally, a government calculates how many public servants it needs, to occupy the needed positions, so as for the administration to be able to run smoothly, to assist its citizens and to protect its boarders. Once that is established, it calculates how much it can tax the private sector (but making sure that the taxes will not hurt the private sector’s growth etc.)!
Only after that, it defines the payroll for its public officers!
But who pays the actual money for it?
The private sector!
So, let us say that you work for the CIA (just saying OK?) and the government has decided that it can afford to pay you ca. 50,000 bucks pro year. So it tells you that you will get 60,000 dollars, subtract from it 20% taxes, and it will leave you with 48,000 US dollars.
What does this tell you?
That everything is done on paper while the actual, the real money comes from the private sector!
That is what we meant with our statement above … surprisingly, many people still cannot get their head around this misconception…
Three, how can a government borrow money when its economy sucks?
Simple, through fancy accounting…
(Here is a very very very basic example)
For instance, let us say that during the year of 2017, and based on your government’s calculations (solely done on paper), your administration estimates that it will receive cash, from taxes, of 1 trillion dollars…
But you want to borrow a lot more (let’s say 2 trillions)… how can you do that?
Simple: as before, you make the same calculations and projections (on paper of course) for the year 2018; and you suggest that you will receive from taxes (in conjunction with a 1% tax increase) 1.2 trillion dollars.
Consequently, the years 2017 and 2018 together will give your government 2.2 trillion dollars income in taxes; hence, you can borrow during the year of 2016, 2 trillion dollars with no sweat at all…
Guys… believe it or not, this IS EXACTLY what governments are doing when borrowing money!!!
And to make things worse, for the Greek administration, currently the Greek government’s future-projections have reached the years of 2027-2029!!!
In other terms, the Greek government is borrowing money, from various channels, based on incomes/profits that it will receive in 10+ years into the future!
What else does it mean? That a) the Greek government is pushing debts towards future generations and b) it increases the number of public servants without even paying attention to economics (what matters to them are their votes hence, they indirectly are bribing Greek citizens during times of austerity).
Greek Reality, Crazy Fact:
Assume that you owe the Greek IRS, let us say 10,000 Euros but the Greek IRS owes you 20,000 Euros, what currently is happening in Greece is as follows:
Instead of the Greek IRS to pay you the 10,000 Euros (aka the difference) and close the matter they tell you:
“Pay us the 10,000 Euros that you owe us (to the Greek IRS) and we will pay you the 20,000 Euros when… we will have the money to do so ( practically, never)…”
However, here is the catch: If you don’t pay the Greek IRS, you may run the risk of your bank accounts being seized, by the Greek IRS (keep in mind that current government has invoked Capital Controls) or to see your house appearing in an auction…
Indeed, it is… but this is another case of Greek reality that is currently going on in Greece, as of 2016…
And, that is why companies in Greece constantly face closure and, the ones that can, move their business (or HQ) to other countries…
Lichtenstein, Austria, Malta, Cyprus hell… even the US, created fast-track programs, for Greek entrepreneurs, to open up their businesses in these countries…
But, how do most Greeks survive under such circumstances?
They manage it, because various family members are able to pitch in for their survival…
So, what does the Greek government do to tackle the issue?
Do they introduce reforms that would allow the economy to kick start again?
Do they introduce legislations that would attract investments?
Nothing of the above…
The ONLY three things that the current Greek government does are:
1. Increasing Taxes
2. Hiring more public servants
3. They use all financial resources to pay the monthly wages of the public servants and the retired people; which prolongs their administration as much as possible
Can anyone survive under such tax-oppressions ( exactly), you may wonder?!
And if this is the case, isn’t the Greek economy doomed to fail?
This leaves us with the following questions:
Do the foreign administrations (referring to non-Greek governments) know about this?
Yes they do!
If so, why do governments (the IMF included) allow such a suicidal approach to continue; an attitude that will kill off the Greek economy entirely?
For starters, many countries in Europe (that have taxed their people so as to provide the Greek administrations with money) are having elections in the coming 12 months, aka year 2017 (France, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Slovenia etc.).
Consequently, they try to postpone the final decisions until elections are over…
Two, add to the Greek problem, the waves of illegal immigrants that the EU is confronted with… and you will have a dangerous and explosive mixture (remember, elections are coming up)!
Three, due to the aforementioned circumstances, the entire country of Greece resembles something like a Black Friday sell-off season for the vultures of the Northern countries (including the US, China and Russia).
In other terms, various funds, corporations and governments can buy out numerous Greek Sectors for as cheap as it can get.
Four, for Greece the origins of all its problems are: the public sector (too many public servants that are also paid too much while the Greek economy cannot sustain them), the ultra-high taxes towards the private sector which kills off any investment, the endless bureaucracy, the corruption found in almost everything that is government/public related, the low-levels of public servants’ performances, the government’s constant interference with the “free” economy (every time the Greek government intervenes, the economy gets messed up), the various issues of the legal system and so forth…
In one line: everything that is related to the public (government) sector is the root of all the problems found in Greece!
The rest is just politics, nothing more but beautiful words so as to sweeten the pill for the masses…
Five, for Greece’s financial crisis responsible are not only its current, and past, administrations but also some countries from the North of Europe (i.e. Netherlands or France) as well as the USA; but mostly, Germany is to be blamed for it!
And here is why…
Side Note: In order to help you to understand, we need to travel back in time and to give you a quick (freestyle) crash course in history about what really went on…
Germany sometime in the mid-1990s…
At the beginning to mid-90s, and after the Berlin-Wall crumbled, Germany almost doubled in size…
However, what the Germans did not foresee was that:
One, the Germans from the East did not have the same “capitalistic” mind-set as the ones from the West; a clash was initiated, especially in terms of productivity.
Two, the Germans wanted to rebuild the East, ASAP; and to lift it to the same level as the West was (in terms of infrastructure etc).
The problem… a lot of money had to be spent in a very short time-span.
Also, the German administration adjusted the payrolls of the East to the ones of the West…
That resulted in Germany’s expenses to increase drastically…
Long story short:
Germany messed up big time and suddenly; the all-powerful country (especially during the 70s and 80s) found itself in a serious financial crisis.
To top everything off, the German administration quickly realized that it was impossible to keep up with all its financial duties… not to mention the fact, that Germany exceeded (in the negative sense) the rules, limits, and regulations, which the EU did establish in regards to economic factors…
Germany’s economy was about to crumble…
And… a solution was needed quickly so as to avoid a disaster…
Luckily, for Germany, one of the world’s economic centres is located in Frankfurt… the city which also hosts the seat of the European Central Bank ( we believe that you are beginning to grasp the game)!
So how did Germany avoid an economic disaster?
Through the Euro of course!
Once again, long story short:
The Central European Bank provided with, especially to the countries of South Europe, loans that had a very low interest rate.
Think of it like giving every European citizen a credit card, and allowing the citizens' to use it with no restrictions whatsoever…
Add to the mix some corrupted politicians of the South (that welcomed any bribe from the North)…
… And a financial pandemonium ensued…
Exports from the North, and especially Germany’s, boomed!!!
They were able to export almost anything to the South; cars, military arsenals (included are: Germany, Netherland, France, UK and so forth), refrigerators – you name it, you have it…
The banks supported this type of endeavours (hey, their employees received big bonuses for it as well)…
Also, Germany was able, through various under the table deals, to swap its debt and to push it towards the Southern Countries… while the profits from the South moved to the Northern Countries…
Nonetheless, during the period of the financial pandemonium a “minor” detail was left unsaid, to the citizens of the South: that their country’s debt had just skyrocketed!
What did their politicians do?
They welcomed any “bonuses” and kept their mouth shut!
What about the case of Greek Officials and its administrations?!
In short, they did three things:
1. They accepted every fancy bonus coming their way and signed blank checks to Germany
2. They hired a ridiculous amount of public servants ( in exchange for their votes)
3. They increased the payrolls of the public servants ( basically bribing the public servants for their votes)
And in the end, who would have to pay for the administrations’ misappropriation?
The Greek private sector, through the current ludicrous high taxes; and the Greek private sector gets blamed, by the world, for not paying their taxes!
Germany was not only able to counter its financial deficit but, by utilizing various tactics, Germany was also able to make profits from all of it!
We will not go into any further detail here, of how Germany actually pulled it off…
Nevertheless, if you guys are still curious about it, you can contact us and we will write an additional article about it…
The point is:
That for the people that live outside of Greece, the information that is presented to them, does not reflect the actual facts of what is really happening in Greece.
That is also why, if you guys happen to observe various social channels, people falsely criticize Greeks for not paying their taxes, that they are lazy and for many other unjustified reasons.
That is also why Greece is confronted with the so called phenomenon of “brain drain”, in which the most educated people, that are able to leave the country, immigrate to more reasonable environments. Under other circumstances, and due to their abilities, they would earn thousands of Euros pro month, but because conditions in Greece have become ridiculous (aka it feels as if they are chased away by their own government) they are willing to settle for less, as long as they live in a normal, and humane, environment.
That is also why no investments can come into existence in Greece (capital controls, taxes, interference of the Greek government and its public sector etc.).
And because Greece’s image has been tarnished by the foreign media (in a coordinated way some may say), politicians from foreign countries (the term “foreign countries” refers to non-Greek administrations) Greece is used as their scapegoat, in order to promote their own political agendas and to convince voters, to vote for them.
However, does it all reflect reality?
The answer is: NO!
Does president Obama know about all this?
Yes, he definitely does! (we make use of the term “definitely” because we assume that the US agencies (CIA, embassies etc.) know their jobs; otherwise, we would be seriously worried about the security of the USA).
President Obama centred his speech on the pillars of democracy, equality, free economy, entrepreneurship, inventions (aka R&D), NATO (what he meant was: military expenditure programs and power-influence), debt relief, the upcoming President Trump and on how to create a brighter future for generations to come!
Truth be told, the way Obama executed his speech, and the words he used, had a very nice ring to peoples’ ears…
But that is all there was to it…
Here are the points in which Obama twisted facts:
One, he indirectly underplayed the future president of the US, Donald Trump. We are not against or with Trump, but hey… in a couple of months he WILL BE the president of the USA; at least, Mr Obama, stick to it and give that guy a chance to lead…
And as history has illustrated in the past, there are some things to which Trump will have to make compromises ( hint: strong lobbies behind it) even if he promised otherwise during his election campaign.
So, yeah, let us see first what Mr. Trump can or cannot do and then everyone can criticize him…
Two, Obama spoke about democracy and equality… in an imaginary world (aka Utopia) that would be the case BUT what history teaches us is that inequality prevails and that the rich, and powerful, rule over the masses! The US as well did abuse its power to accomplish several of its goals (even during his own term in office)!
Consequently, president Obama did use nice words in his speech but his actions contradicted most of his statements…
Moreover, why did US citizens go for Trump if equality was Obama’s administration main goal? Simple, because US citizens felt being treated unequal…
Yet, president Obama is coming up with equality and democracy, really?
Hey, some may say, he is a politician what did you expect? Granted! Moving on…
Three, he spoke about free economy, inventions and entrepreneurship… and he did that while standing next to a prime minister that is destroying any private initiative in Greece!
OK, if Obama was referring to people living outside Greece – he was accurate.
If, on the other hand, he was referring to Greeks living inside Greece than, Obama, was adding salt to their wounds.
Four, about Greece’s debt relief: the ones that gave loans to the Greek governments were mostly Northern European Countries, so who is he to tell the people from the North what to do?
That is exactly why Obama’s proposal was dismissed by the Germans immediately.
And when Obama was together with Merkel, was the topic of Greece’s debt relief mentioned?
Not at all…
So, obviously Obama said what he had to say to satisfy the Greek administration…
Five, Obama also spoke about NATO and alliances… when observing military affairs … everything comes down to three factors: geo-strategy, power-games (aka areas of influence) and military expenses!
In other words, reality is not “black or white” but grey; and alliances are constantly shifting based on a country’s foreign agenda.
Finally, Obama focused on the topic of how to create a brighter future for generations to come…
As everyone can realize, the future is created in the present.
Nevertheless, humans of contemporary times feel as if inequality prevails, that the rich are exploiting the system for their own benefits, while the masses always have to pay for it, that their politicians are incapable of leading them towards a brighter and a more secure future, that their high standards of their living-conditions (referring mostly to the advanced countries) are endangered, many regions around the globe are at war and that… uncertainty prevails…
And as president Obama correctly stated: “… people will push back…”
Under such conditions what kind of future can be shaped for generations to come?
Nice ideals may sound good indeed, but reality has a tendency to slap, such principles, mercilessly to the face...
What increasingly becomes evident, to people worldwide, are the following facts…
To begin with, we may have constitutions that, on paper, appear as democracies but in fact we are living inside oligarchies; in which some categories of citizens are above the rest (a rule that has been proven multiple times).
Two, since the gap, between the ones that are boosting their wealth and the ones that are losing their prosperity, is constantly increasing there is no way that a compromise can be achieved.
Thee, on paper, even if indicators suggest that people have become wealthier – nowadays, a reversed phenomenon is being observed; people are actually losing (monetary) power.
Four, and from a psychological standpoint, hearing from someone (that has solved all of his financial problems) that people have become wealthier etc. echoes as nothing more than just hypocritical nonsense.
Five, from a global perspective, we observe that inequality does not only prevail but also that mainly three categories of people are starting to form: the ultra-rich and powerful, the ones that somehow manage to make their living and the ultra-poor.
The rich have no intention to share their wealth…
The people stuck in the middle are purely focused on increasing their wealth or just to survive…
While the people that are stuck at the bottom, are condemned in their misery…
With such mind-sets, can these gaps be bridged?
Six, as things progress globally, humanity is about to be confronted with a worldwide economic crisis that will hit, like a domino, all markets…
In reality China’s economy is nothing more than a bubble which is about to burst…
The US economy is in fact bankrupt… regardless if through various accounting methods it appears to be strong…
The EU’s economies are in turmoil as well…
Same with the Middle-East and Russia…
If one of the big economies where to break (and some of them are indeed one step from falling apart) what would happen to the markets?
What effects would it have on our peaceful, yet, fragile societies?
Unfortunately, history constantly reminds us that if such tipping points are reached, only one outcome is imminent: War!
Side Note: To be clear about it, we are against war…
Seven, as long as governments are unable: to solve the growing global financial crisis, to secure their citizens’ prosperity and security, to achieve peaceful solutions in various regions, to introduce true equality among people, to use science for humanity’s benefit, to deal with climate change, to prevail religious-fanatics from hurting others etc.… we are afraid that if this trend continues… eventually, a major war will break out in the world…
Indeed, president Obama made a very interesting speech at the corner in which democracy was kindled (aka Athens); unfortunately, his noble ideals are nothing more but a reflection of an imaginary world, a Utopia.
That is because reality is constantly lurking in every corner of our lives to remind us that our world is not only imperfect but also, that humans have the tendency to self-destruct…
"It is such an irony… humans, capable of accomplishing the greatest things… yet, like spoiled brats, they constantly turn towards their darkest and most destructive desires…" - Dr. Nikolaos Sapounas
Side Note: Some time ago, a couple of our members collected, from various sources, many prophecies in regards to World War 3; and wrote an article about it in ermisvfland blog.
You can read it by clicking here: World War 3: fiction? Or…
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Published: November 21, 2016
Written For: Ancient Greece Reloaded
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