Sunday, July 05, 2015

Sunday Essay - Greece: the importance of family. In a failed state world, it's family that counts.

Later today Greece votes in the bail-out referendum, something I spoke of in last Tuesday's post: The Greek crisis - a high stakes game marked by blindness, inexperience and rigidity. Later kvd pointed to Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis' blog. I knew he had one, but hadn't seen it.

I live in what was Sydney's Greek Central. The surrounding suburbs, Mascot, Rosebery, Eastlakes and Kingsford were all areas of heavy Greek settlement in tha mass migration period after the Second World War.

St Spyridon's Greek Orthodox Church is nearby. Next to it is St Spyrdon's primary school. The senior school campus is in Maroubra. Just up my street is the Acropolis Funeral Service with its Greek and Cypriot flags. The Greek population that came during the mass migration period is rapidly aging. Acropolis does a very good business. I often see its cars on my walks past the Church.    

This is the Eastlakes' shopping centre. The Centre is now very mixed. Greek, Chinese, Russian and Halal shops wrestle with Woolworths and IGA. The photo is not a good one, but shows the strip where the older Greek men, most now retired, gather for their coffee. It's almost totally a male audience, the Australian equivalent of scenes that you would see in many parts of Greece. They smoke, they argue, constantly changing seats.Sometimes it's only a few, more often it's twenty or thirty.

I wonder what they are going to do about the anti-smoking regulations now about to come into place that will stop them sitting outside to have their coffee and cigarettes, to play cards and chat? Our current, mandated, health obsessions can be very cruel and insensitive sometimes.

To these people, the Greek problems are not an abstraction, they are personal. I don't actually know many Greek people in this area. My Greek connections are elsewhere. I do know that that the locals still have family in Greece, that some local residents have gone back to Greece, that the turmoil affects them personally.

It's hard. One can argue about the causes of the crisis, about the validity of different solutions, but in the end it comes back to people. In purely local terms, it's about dads and mums, daughters or sons, about parents and grandparents. It's about what happens to us.When the state fails, and that is what has happened in this case,  you come back to the most personal bedrock, family. Then, you just do what you can. In the end, it's family that counts.


Anonymous said...

I think it's about time that the creditors accepted the plain fact that they've lost some of their money.

Maybe they should look at it in reverse - i.e. maybe calculate some percentage of Greek GDP which is quarantined to service the debt obligation as to interest and principal, and extrapolate back from that figure as to what gross debt that represents? The rest being the amount of debt to be written off.

Interesting times, with far wider ramifications than just Greece.


Jim Belshaw said...

On your first sentence, I'm sure that you are right. However, part of the problem is that the decline in the Greek economy has actually created part of the problem, the blow-out in the size of debt relative to the size of the GDP. I have no idea what will happen now.