1 November 2012

There will be no justice (Greece's financial scandals)

People ask me, from time to time: why is Greece in such a mess? The answer is simple, but, simply, incomprehensible to non-Greeks: for years, the government and its friends have been stealing the money, slowly but steadily, creating an ultra-corrupt system in which there is not a single culprit but a continuum of individuals. Recently, one, only one, member of previous governments (ex-minister of defence),  Tsochatzopoulos, was arrested for embezzling, stealing, etc., money of the order of magnitude of 1 to 2 billion euro. But he was one of them, only one, the one who, probably, was not liked by anybody else any more.

A couple of years ago, the then French minister of finance, Christine Lagarde, passed on to the Greek government a list of 2000 individuals with accounts in Swiss banks, asking the government to investigate for possible tax evation. Of course, the government did nothing.

Meanwhile, Greece fell into deeper and deeper crisis, resulting in the recent rise of fascists who offer protection to individuals and promise them an eventual "solution". In a bankrupt Greece with huge immigration problems and a dysfunctional police the gangs offer quick and dirty solutions. The state cannot respond. The fascist party declares that "Greece is for Greeks", beats non-Greeks up, makes a lot of noise, attracts more and more supporters, and gets noticed as being bad for Europe.

Lagarde's list was discovered by a Greek journalist, Kostas Vaxevanis, who made it public. In response, Greece’s slow and cumbersome justice system moved with stunning swiftness over the weekend to arrest and charge a respected investigative journalist. "Greece arrests the messenger" was the NY Times op-ed piece yesterday. (See also here.) If we compare the reaction of the Greek justice now with a few months ago (they did nothing) when a member of the fascist party (currently a member of parliament) physically attacked, on live TV, a member of the communist party, we will indeed be amazed at the stunning swiftness that the justice system can exhibit when it wants to do so.

Vaxevanis' trial took place a few hours ago. He was found not guilty. But the question remains: will there be any justice regarding the culprits of the crisis? The answer is: NO.


  1. Wow, great background info, thanx, mate.

    When the government has much power, corrupt people will try to use it. Is the answer stay vigilent against abusers with the court system, or keep the government from having too much power, or both.

    I hate CAPTCHA (I had to try 4 times [at least] to submit this). Could you deactivate it! People have protested against CAPTCHA for a year now and google won't change and no matter how much readers tell bloggers to turn it off, many ignore -- how much harder to change the government and corrupt people! :-)

  2. Further -- you moderate comments -- so no need to do both CAPTCHA and moderation. Probably neither is needed.

    They both are enough to stop people from commenting on a site. Bloggers shoot themselves in the foot with these.

  3. Sabio, first about CAPTCHA and moderation. I had no idea CAPTCHA was used. Really. Thanks for pointing it out. I have now, at least temporarily, removed moderation. It appears that, at some point, blogspot introduced CAPTCHA automatically and I did not become aware of it. So, thanks. I hate CAPTCHA too!

  4. Cool. Yeah, there has been lots of protest out there for the last year. I forgot that you would not see it on your own blog. :-)

  5. Second, about the Greek crisis. The government has had power because people were stupid to vote for the same populist individuals (belonging to two families) for years. Now, I'm afraid, it is too late.

    As for justice, it cannot happen from within Greece. Somehow, the European justice system must intervene. I am not a lawyer, I don't know how and when this is possible, but, logically thinking, since the crisis involves money borrowed from external sources, these sources should have the ability to bring embezzlers to the court (they do that when there is a war).

    Actually, the European Union is also responsible for the crisis, for the following trivial reason: it was known that, for a couple of decades, the Greek government has been abusing all European loans. (The money was seldom used in full for the purpose it was borrowed. It leaked to various pockets before reaching the destination.) But Europe turned a blind eye to this, thinking that the Greek economy is a small potato and won't matter anyway. Stories about European inspectors being bribed by Greeks are well-known.

    Suddenly, when the shit hit the fan, Europe declared: "the Greek government has been giving us fake balance sheets." Duh! Everybody and his mother in the planet knew that this is what the Greek government does, habitually. Only the EU did not know.

    When the fascist movement in Greece (third party, according to recent polls) helps the rise of similar gangs in Europe, then Europe will take notice and, perhaps, do something about applying justice. Meanwhile, the fascist party will be providing "social" services, like offering food for free, and giving blood to hospitals, but only to people with Greek ID.

  6. Thanks again, Takis. Interesting stuff.
    I sometimes think that socialist system often generate Fascism -- after all, they are very close to each other.

  7. Sabio, depends what kind of socialism. The word can be used for many political systems.

    BTW, I had to cancel anonymous posting because I was getting a lot of spam. However, hopefully, I have managed to avoid "captcha" word verification.



What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
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Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
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Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
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