Greeks, 60%, Favor Privatization – Bureaucrats, Unions, and Political Interests In the Way

The case of “Privatization in Times of Crisis” opened three years ago as a resource that would contribute decisively in the battle to reduce debt and deficits.

In June 2010, after a cabinet meeting, then Prime Minister George Papandreou announced a wide variety of ministerial privatization programs involving banks, ports, airports, roads, railways, utilities, and public property.

Half a year later, at the end of 2011, absolutely nothing had happened. The agenda of privatization in 2011 included scenes of international tragicomedy, with the Troika announcing that it will realize around 50 billion Euros from privatization.

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In 2010 the 74 enterprises controlled by the state were worth about 44 billion Euros. Of course now, their value has fallen dramatically. However, If the state had decided to sell 10% of its enterprises in 2010, the taxpayers would be relieved from all the additional taxes they eventually paid compared to 2009. If the state had sold 25% it could also have paid 6 billion Euros owed ​​to individuals (contractors, doctors, pharmacists, etc.) in the private sector. If it had decided to sell the 50% of state-owned companies in the country, the public would be spared from the brutal cuts in wages and pensions.

In a nutshell: The worst part of the crisis would be over, with minimum casualties in the private sector.

In early 2012 a more realistic target was set: collect 5 billion Euros that year. The actual privatization gains amounted to 84 million Euros. For 2013, things changed. The government of Samaras set more conservative goals — to collect around 2 billion Euros — and changed the strategy. However due to their failure to sell the public gas corporation DEPA, the target was automatically reduced and nobody knows if this can be achieved.

The Greek legal entity responsible for the privatization process, the TAIPED, “froze” its activities between May and July 2012, when the board decided that no decisions were to be taken until the formation of a new government. The formation of the new government, however, was followed by the resignation of the chairman of the Board. Recently his successor also resigned.

Privatizations have also slowed down due to litigation. More than 13 appeals have been filed to the Council of State. Unions (electricity, water, DEPA, OLTH etc.) and citizens requested that the decisions be held unconstitutional.

Bureaucracy is another serious problem. Until recently, 72 administrative acts and regulations were pending. Serious privatizations could simply not be materialized without those acts (State Lottery, DEPA, Greek, IBC, Afandou, Cassiopeia).

The way that until recently the Greek government has handled its property is totally anachronistic. They knew neither what that property was, nor it’s condition. Nobody bothered to document the problems.

The problem is a lethal combination of political apathy, which slowed down the processes, bureaucracy, and incompetence. Greece is a rich country, which could and should exploit its resources, by selling off assets through the market, securitizing its future income, and partnering with private investors. The aim should be twofold. First, earn some profit and use some of it to pay off debt. Second, open the economy to the international markets by deregulating the Greek economy.

The failed privatizations mean more taxes for average citizen, since the government revenue “gaps” are usually filled with taxpayers’ money and further debt. According to recent polls, more than 60% of Greek citizens are in favor of privatizations. Only bureaucrats, unions and ultra leftists together with political interests and rampant corruption inhibit the solution to the Greek crisis, which can only come from the private sector.

For this reason, my generation demands privatization to bolster the Greek economy.

If you’d like to speak with or book Harry or any of our other Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.

Intervention Into Syria Is As Well-Intended As It Is Ill-Advised

President Obama may soon authorize military intervention in Syria. The decision apparently rests on whether the Syrian government’s slaughter of possibly more than 1,000 of its own citizens was aided by chemical weaponry. Besides the fact that this is an odd and arbitrary basis upon which to violate another country’s sovereignty, intervention into Syria is as well-intended as it is ill-advised.

The Assad regime has denied responsibility for the attacks, and authorized a U.N. convoy to inspect the sites of the attacks to determine whether chemical weapons were used. Yesterday the convoy had to turn back after it was met with sniper fire, for which the Assad regime has also denied responsibility.

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There is good reason to believe the Assad regime is committing human rights violations and failing to fully cooperate with international law. However, this is true of many nations across the world at any given time, and the U.S. simply does not have the resources to intervene in every case. In addition, nothing in actuality makes the Syrian case more pressing than any other.

Most importantly, military strikes against the Assad regime would necessarily assist the rebel forces. There is no indication that a takeover by these forces would create a better situation for the Syrian people or the international community. There is, however, strong evidence that parts of the rebellion are strongly tied with Al-Qaeda.

Military intervention into Syria would mean that the U.S. is declaring war on a terrible, but democratically elected, regime, only to have it replaced by a resistance which is made up of an organization with whom the United States is already at war.

In Iran, the U.S. deposed Mossadeq. In Iraq the U.S. supported what a U.N. Security Council statement called chemical warfare by Saddam Hussein against Iran. The U.S. armed the rebels in Afghanistan who would later begin Al-Qaeda. There is no way to know the consequences of a military engagement in Syria. But if history and an ongoing war in Afghanistan is any guide, there will be no winning. Perhaps that’s why only 9% of Americans support military intervention.

We don’t want to see further decades of unrest and human rights violations perpetrated by governments we helped put in place. This is why my generation demands no military intervention in Syria.

If you’d like to speak with or book Cathy or any of our Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.

Germany’s Recognition of Bitcoin Gives Young People a True Monetary Alternative

If everyday consumers and young people are craving positive economic indicators, they can no doubt turn to the de-facto legislation of an alternative digital currency in Europe’s most powerful country for inspiration.

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In an unprecedented move, the German Federal Ministry of Finance declared in a statement earlier this month that Bitcoin is not only an acceptable “unit of account,” but also can be classified as “private money,” granting the digital currency its first official positive recognition by a state.

The statement came as a response to a parliamentary inquiry by MP Frank Schäffler, a member of the Free Democratic Party with a seat on the German Parliament’s Finance Committee.

“We should have competition in the production of money,” comments Schäffler on his website. “I have long been a proponent of Friedrich August von Hayek’s scheme to denationalize money. Bitcoins are a first step in this direction.”

For the struggling youth in Germany and across the world, this is a welcome and necessary change.

Bitcoin, the decentralized digital currency encrypted with the latest in cryptographic protections, has been used as an alternative to the current monetary system by thousands of tech entrepreneurs and curious digital natives since it was conceived in 2009.

In the last month alone, the price of a Bitcoin has shot up nearly 30 percent to its current price of 90 euros. It previously reached its all-time high of 200 euros at the peak of the banking crisis in Cyprus, given that the digital currency became an immediate alternative to worried consumers around the world.

What makes Bitcoin so attractive to young people is its autonomy from centralized, government control. Instead of being printed at the whim of a central bank, the currency is “mined” by thousands of computers solving a complex algorithm. It relies on crowdsourcing of bandwidth and source coding to keep transactions active and safe from hacking.

The more Bitcoins are mined, the more difficult it becomes to create one, ensuring that the currency will not fall into the trap of inflation because of its set finite amount of 21 million Bitcoins.

But more than just a currency safe from government hands, the fact that it exists only in the form of a chain of characters ensures that it remains purely digital, allowing instant trades at the fraction of the cost of credit cards. This is easily accomplished by the use of a smartphone wallet app or by exchanging Bitcoin addresses between people. This facilitates trade and removes the middlemen of credit card companies or even banks.

Already in the streets of Berlin, with the highest concentration of Bitcoin transactions in the world, the currency has become popular among bars, restaurants, printing shops and even a high-class boutique, according to the Guardian newspaper.

The existence of this crypto-currency has given young people a true monetary alternative to the national currencies which are only propelled by debt and arbitrary interest rates.

This is a welcome sign in Germany, which less than 90 years ago was marred by a failing currency and destructive hyperinflation which created an economic environment conducive to radical and dangerous worldviews.

Moreover, low interest rates maintained by central banks provide little to no incentive for young workers to begin saving their money, so they are encouraged to spend as much as possible in order to help sustain the current monetary status quo.

Since young people are already so keen at conducting business and the majority of their communication online, the transaction costs to using a purely digital, online currency are extremely low.

What better for the next generation than to have a system which encourages choice, rewards innovation, and fosters a deep respect for the value of work?

On a European continent currently contemplating another billion Euro bailout for a struggling member state, the recognition of Bitcoin by the German Finance Ministry is a pivotal moment for young people to begin to control their own destiny.

As the taxpayers of tomorrow, they are ultimately the ones who will be stuck with the bill with today’s excessive spending and government devaluation of national currencies.

For the sake of our future, let’s give young people a chance with an alternative currency.

If you’d like to speak with or book Yael or any of our other Advocates, please contact Young Voices now.