Category Archives: Greece

Europe Plans To Raise Pension Age Retirement

A “crisis” has arisen over the issue as to when people should be allowed to retire and receive government payments during those post work years. French President Nicholas Sarkozy is proposing raising the retirement age from the current, 60, to something like 62 or 63 while Germany is considering a move from 65 to 67. Even in Greece, where it is possible to retire in the fifties and collect “old age” payments for twenty or thirty years, there is discussion of raising the female 60 to 65 and reach parity with males. OK, there are some ludicrous retirement schemes such as for French railroad workers who can retire at 50 with full benefits, but for the majority of people, retirement is not entry into a life of leisure. Sarkozy and others blame retirement at an “early age” as the cause of massive deficits. In America, retirement taxes only impact money received as pay for up to about $108,000. Why? Wouldn’t it it be fair and fiscally responsible to have the social security tax levied on ALL INCOME? This, in itself, would take care of Social Security deficits for years to come without necessitating any other changes.

The rich, in all societies, never pay the full tariff while the poor and middle class must comply with government regulations. Certainly, in the United States every dollar earned should be taxed at the same rate. Enough, with people retiring “too early.” Let’s make the upper middle class and the wealthy pay at the same rate as do the poor and middle class!!

Greece Greases Road Of Corruption

The Greek government has followed an unusual path to economic success–be incompetent, allow corruption to flow, and bank on not the banks, but on the generosity of the European Union to bail out any effort to avoid governing in a responsible manner. Revenue has declined and the government expects its projection for a deficit to be widely exceeded by reality. For years, the “Conservatives” were all too “liberal” with the nation’s resources and borrowed and borrowed. When “liberals” took power they avoided any semblance of being “conservative” and were all too liberal in borrowing and never paying back. There is now talk of a “national bankruptcy” which could seriously damage the European Union.

The psychology of the early years of the twenty first century was dominated by the culture of borrowing. Unfortunately, one did not borrow for a rainy day, but borrowed for a future that was always getting better. Welcome to 21st century reality.

Riots In Greece

About a year ago, a teenager was killed by police during a demonstration and his death led to an outbreak of violence in cities throughout the nation. The death of Alexis Grigoriopoulis, was recalled yesterday in many cities as young people respoded to the anniversary by smashing stores, wrecking cars, burning and, most probably, doing a little looting in the process. There is no question that police in Greece resort all too often and too quickly to the baton or the gun. The result is oppression of young people and it embitters students who simply do not believe the police are a force for peace. Another orgy of burning and destruction will not result in improved conditions that end police brutality.

We believe there is need for systematic changes in the manner of police work that leads to less resort to weapons and greater resort to dialogue, peace, and working to avoid destructive conflict. If each year there is an outbreak of violence to remember the death of an innocent young man, nothing is accomplished except more broken heads. The issue resides in changing police, changing their attitudes, and changing the manner in which they confront demonstrations.

Greece Moves To Diversity In Police Force

A major factor in developing a society in which the rights of all members are protected is ensuring the police force represents those from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds. For most people, police represent the authority of government and if they fail to encounter those of their own background, the tendency is to believe they are facing discrimination. In 2006. the Greek Parliament lifted nationality restrictions and allowed anyone whether born in Greece or not to become a member of the police force. The Interior Ministry has decided to embark in a recruitment campaign to bring in those of diverse backgrounds.

Ironically, the Greek Police union has been urging diversity because such action they believe will assist in dealing with crime. Hristos Fotopoulos, head of the police union, says, “we believe immigrants should be employed as police officers, just like Greeks.” Hopefully, at some point in time, he will refer to immigrants as Greeks.

Athens Still Lacks Legal Mosques

About two hundred years ago, Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire and there were thousands of Muslims who lived in Athens. Fast forward two hundred years and it is 2009 and there are 120,000 Muslims in Athens, but not a single mosque in which people pray is legal under Greek laws. A Greek couple who rented their basement to some Muslims are being fined because the tenants converted the area into a mosque in which people can pray. Several thousand Pakistanis are fighting the closing of the mosque because it is the only one available for them to pray. Lawyers argue that one must secure permission to use an area as a mosque for prayer, but city authorities will not grant any such permission.

Neighbors complained about the mosque which they disliked because it led to the gathering of large crowds of people anxious to get into the small area. For years, many bodies and the European Union have complained about the absence of a legal mosque for Muslims, but for some strange reason city authorities just can’t get around to granting legal permission to pray.

Riots In Greece As Immigrants Clash With Police

Greece has become a port of entry to migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek to become part of the European Union success story. Yesterday, Greek police clashed with immigrants in the port of Patras after an immigrant was struck by a truck driver. The immigrants apparently thought it was a deliberate action and they poured into the streets in search of revenge. Patras has become a gathering point for immigrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asian immigrants who seek to hop across the Adriatic and find work in Italy. Last month there were demonstrations by truck drives who complained immigrants constantly sought to hitch rides and this frequently resulted in violence.

Perhaps, it is time for the African Union to sit down with the European Union in an effort to organize the process of immigration. This is not an issue that will disappear. In fact, as the economic crisis deepens we can expect even more violent demonstrations and anger on the part of all involved in the immigrant problem.

Immigrant Children In Greece Left Behind

The European Union may take action against Greece unless it scraps a new law which forbids children of undocumented immigrants from applying for the coveted EU-wide longterm residence status– a permanent form of residence. Under a new Greek law, only the Greece-born children of immigrants may apply for this residence permit, provided they are 18 and their parents reside legally in the country. The European Union does permit children under the age of 18 to apply for permanent residency and there is concern the Greek law may be in violation of EU laws. Greek officials insist that if an immigrant came illegally and has not been able to legalize their position in Greece they will be deported and any children under 18 must accompany them.

Historically, the United States of America was among the few nations which grant citizenship automatically to anyone born in the country regardless of the status of their parents. Greece apparently claims a child’s citizenship follows the status of their parents. The American model is an inclusive one which recognizes that once born in the country, one will be regarded as a citizen.

Crisis In Greek Police

Greece was rocked by violent anti-police riots in December after a policeman shot and killed a teenager. The resulting explosion of anger revealed deep seated antagonism toward the police among young people who regard them as excessively violent. The Revolutionary Struggle terror group issued a statement saying the police were legitimate targets for assassination and warned all members of the force to resign or face the consequences. The urban terror group admitted it shot at police during the riots. The result of the riots has been to lower morale among members of the force.

The government is now investigating the possibility of recruiting more police from the ranks of immigrant groups, particularly among those who received a Greek school education and are familiar with the law. Christos Fotopoulos, head of the Panhellenic Confederation of Police Officers, said it was time to expand those who are in the police. “As long as the state refuses to deal with the new reality, there will be more incidents of racism, and the police will suffer the consequences when others are actually to blame.”

Unfortunately, a survey of the police revealed they are bigots since most oppose recruiting children of immigrants into the force.

Does Government Require Religious Oaths?

Europe has an ancient heritage of Christianity being involved in government so it is not surprising that many nations still use religious centered oaths in order to swear in officials. Archbishop leronymos, head of the Church of Greece made an unusual suggestion by arguing that the taking of religious oaths by politicians should be abolished. There was some negative reaction to his suggestion, but it is still unclear whether he meant all oaths taken by government officials or some oaths. Several bishops while supporting the idea of abolishing oaths in assuming a position in government also noted if a person can not swear on the Bible to uphold the Constitution, then that individual is not someone to be trusted.

In days gone by, most Europeans were Christians, but these days, Europe includes peoples of very diverse backgrounds and religions. It is time to end the use of a religious oath and allow those who do not feel comfortable taking such a position due to their own religion, the right to just take office and promise to obey the Constitution.

Is Athens Flu Catching?

There is speculation riots by Greek youth against their nation’s corrupt politics may spread to other European nations. Yesterday, young Athens demonstrators spray-painted two slogans on the French Institute which said: “Spark in Athens. Fire in France. Insurrection is coming.” the other said: “france, greece, uprising everywhere.” The Greek riots may be picked up by modern forms of youth communication such as the Internet or Facebook or MySpace in order t spur youth to rebel against all forms of authority. For two weeks, Greek youngsters have been engaged in an orgy of rioting and destruction which has evolved from anger over the death of a fifteen year old boy into general mayhem.

Youngsters are protesting against a corrupt government, and against attempts to institute changes in an education system which has scant meaning to contemporary students. In a sense, the students reject change and are protesting in order to maintain the status quo even though they dislike the status quo.

France has all the ingredients for a riot. Students are not pleased with the current political system, they don’t like the university system, they don’t like globalism and they recognize their are deep seated problems in dealing with multicultural groups. European youth want change but oppose change. In a sense, they are rootless and without a vision about the future.