08:44

Greece


It is rather strange being at the epicentre of an economic earthquake. 

The thing that is so unsettling is the sheer normality of everyday life. The trains are electric, clean and on time - unlike another country that is the poster-boy of European economic recovery. The roads are in excellent condition and the restaurants and cafes busy. Everyone fiddles away on their mobile phones and the clothes are labeled with the normal international brands. So far, so normal.

What is different is the attitude of most Greeks to their government. There seems to be a visceral hatred of the political class who they regard as crooks whose incompetence and corruption has landed them in their mess. This translates into a determination to avoid paying taxes if at all possible. The concept of there being a citizen's duty to pay taxes appears risible. 

What they deeply resent is the image that they are  lazy and feckless - with some justification. Most seem to work hard and have pride in their country, if not in their government - which suggests a subtle form of failed state: not of the Somali or Congolese variety but one where there is a deep disconnect between the government and the governed. How that mends itself is the central question that Greece has to resolve if it is ever to become a prosperous European nation.

In the meantime the scenery is breathtaking, the wildflowers exquisite, the food - away from the tourist tavernas - delicious and the people friendly and helpful. And the sun shines. What's not to like?  Not much, ad long as you don't live there and exist on an economic fault-line.

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