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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Salute to an unsung Greek hero Dimitrios Karamolegos Διμήτριος Καραμολέγκος

This is the first post of 2012, I hope this post be one that is short but make some impact on how Greeks and especially Greek politicians think about the future of their country.

This post I pay my respect to an unsung Greek hero who lost his life protecting his country's land - unpaid.

In Greece, I have high respect for firefighters, but not so for parliamentarians / politicians, and medical doctors.  The parliamentarians / politicians like to pass laws that safeguard their own interests while many doctors like to evade taxes, on top of this, many doctors are also smokers, so they don't practice what they are supposed to preach - maintaining healthy life style.

Dimitrios Karamolegos Διμήτριος Καραμολέγκος is a volunteer forest patrol who died at the age of twenty, together with 3 other firefighters, they lost their lives trying to put off the forest fire at Imittos Mountain near Kareas - Ilioupolis on July 22, 1998.

This is an image of a marble memorial plaque in remembrance of 4 firefighters, the first two are chiefs named Dimitrios Maloukos Διμήτριος ΜΑΛΟΥΚΟΣ and Themistoklis Mavra-idis Θεμιστοκλής ΜΑΥΡΑΕΙΔΗΣ, the 3rd is a firefighter named Alexandros Diavolis Αλέξανδρος ΔΙΑΒΟΛΗΣ, the last one is a volunteer patrol named Dimitrios Karamolegos Διμήτριος ΚΑΡΑΜΟΛΕΓΚΟΣ.

Greece's biggest threat to environment each summer is forest fire, hopefully after drawing up maps showing forest land will help curb some of the suspected arsons around the Attica region (note: greater Athens belongs to the Attica region).

I remember reading news back in November 2011 that New Democracy leader, Antonis Samaras didn't want his party's most capable personnel join the current interim government, he was thinking of reserving them until he wins the next election.

If you are a captain in a sinking ship, do you dispatch all your crews to save the ship or do you reserve them until the ship sinks, I wonder?

This is the reason why I respect so much this volunteer young forest patrol, Dimitrios Karamolegos Διμήτριος Καραμολέγκος, it's probably good that he didn't live to see his fellow countrymen suffer under the austerity measures.

Unemployment rate for young people is around 40% while overall unemployment rate is near 20%, this does not include many people who are working but not getting paid in time and expect their employers to pay them 6 months down the road in order to help their employers coping with their financial crisis.  

Those people like doctors and some other self-employed who have evaded taxes by not declaring their proper incomes are mostly unaffected by the austerity measures, but those who have already paid their fair shares are now paying even more because the emergency taxes are levied based on previous year's declaration of tax positions.

Weeding out bad public servants and recruiting better ones would lift work morale and is more cost-effective than shrinking paychecks across the board.  If I work very hard and my paycheck is shrinking just like the guy next to me who is lazy, will I have any incentive to work as hard as I used to, think about it?
How about setting up a "shrinking sovereign debt account" by the Ministry of Economics for people who would like to "donate", giving people a chance to contribute to help shrinking the national debt, including giving tax evaders a chance to "come clean" by introducing guidelines for voluntary disclosure of their past economic "crime" without charging any penalty as long as they pay back?

In closing, please read a very good editorial piece by English Kathimerini's deputy editor Nick Malkoutzis on "Caution: Falling wages", it's a must read for Greek decision makers as well as Troika officials.  Before dropping private wages, why not downsize public service first?

The real problems in Greece are lack of fair tax system and auditing, inefficient public service, slow and inefficient justice system, and corruption. If these problems are not tackled, more austerity measures would simply hurt the country even more.

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