Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can IT help clean Athens?

Here in Athens we are constantly faced with an uphill struggle to merely maintain what we have - to stop Athens from backsliding into a cesspit and maintain a standard of living other countries take for granted. 
Nikos Pitsianis has written an interesting idea on how to link grassroots demands with open-gov, making open government more than a window dressing but an effective reality that would have important positive impact on how we here in Athens live our day to day lives. 

In essence what he proposes is a linking of government tenders and responsibilities, say road maintenance tenders with IT applications that people can download and automatically know who is responsible, from the Minister down to the mayor and the body that is responsible be it public or private. 

Of course getting them to do something is another story altogether, but all to often we here in Athens whenever we complain we are told "I am not responsible" and we are led to on a merry chase - trying to find who is responsible. The lines of responsibility are kept blurry so that nothing gets done - and blame can be apportioned to whoever is the bad guy of the day.

His idea is one step in the right direction that can make our lives easier.

Unfortunately i lack the skills to do anything... Sigh

The interesting article can be read here

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stiglitz - Still not good enough to work in Greece

Right now, Greece is going through some tumultuous events and the decisions being made now will have important ramifications for generations to come.

For now however I would like to talk about Stiglitz and his presentation. Actually I want to write on the irony of his talk. Over 200 people attended his poorly publicised talk. Only a couple of politicians turned up, one of whom Stefanos Manos is a former politician. So the front rows of around 50 seats were empty as the invited politicians didn’t show up, obviously scared to show their face in public or be seen listening to - what the communists and far left call - “That Jewish Economist”, in a tone that makes one fear for public safety. In the audience there were those who challenged him on a couple of his economic points – and rightly so, but on the whole everyone enjoyed his talk and it was not raided by a Student Union demonstration happening down the road.

The irony lay in the fact that it occurred in a country where he is technically not allowed to work as an economist or university lecturer or is even recognised as an English speaker.

Stiglitz cannot work as an economist because he never completed his 'guild' like training at a Greek University. Only those who graduated economics from a Greek University are recognised. To have his degree recognised as good enough, he has to prove his university exists which may include translating a university handbook into Greek at a price of 1.5 euros a page. Once proven - he can then proceed to get his Degree recognised. If he is lucky he can have it recognised in 2-5 years, and involve ancillary costs of up to 18 000 euros. Then he has to wait from the Economists guild to invite him as a member, once a member he can set up his shingle and head off to work.

Read the rest of the article here

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Up and running again...

Yes this blog is getting back on its feet.

Its been a hectic period - full of ups and downs... and more downs, both for the nation and personally.
So in order to sate your thirst for information, here is an insight from one of Greece's preeminant thinkers, Mr Papagiannidis.

Greek politicians, may they live long, are an especially short-sighted race. As remarkable as they are short-sighted. (Correction: maybe not 'Greeks' in general, but perhaps better defined as Greek residents.)And as a result of their shortsightedness - deeply self-destructive!

Look at how they cried out in response to the capital flight in personal deposits. Let's look at examples of the impact of wild enthusiasm on the one hand, and of pragmatism on the other.

The wild enthusiasm: In comes Theodoros Pangalos sounding alarm bells that the medium term financial plan would not pass into legislature, he describes a situation wherein Greece returns to the drachma, sending people running to the banks to withdraw their money, and the only thing that can stand in their way are the tanks and the armed forces.
Leaving aside the fact that Theo has most probably not seen a soldier, or any kind of military figure up close (hence his notion that they would be protecting beleaguered banks), lets also ignore the fact that the interview was given to Spanish newspaper (hence limited risk that it would be read by the natives), but given his statements, what is one to think, and what did he think would be the outcome of his statements.

The exuberant and quick tempered Theo invited the people to withdraw their deposits and send them abroad, hide them under the bed, buy gold sovereigns, throw them down a well, put them in a bag and head of to Albania or Turkey, do anything to save them.

The rest of the article can be read here.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

will be coming back soon