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' I Won't Pay' Movement Spreads Across Greece

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This struck a chord with me when I read it, especially as it may be a harbinger for similar public reaction elsewhere around the world.

The final couple of paras perhaps sum it up:

"I don't think it's part of the Greek character. Greeks, when they see that the law is being applied in general, they will implement it too," said Nikos Louvros, the 55-year-old chain-smoking owner of an Athens bar that openly flouts the smoking ban.

"But when it isn't being applied to some, such as when there are ministers who have been stealing, ... Well, if the laws aren't implemented at the top, others won't implement them."

Rather than some violent revolution, will a demoralised, disenfranchised population ultimately stick two fingers up at the law?

How do you combat a populace that says: "We can’t change the rules through the democratic process any more, so we’re simply going to ignore the rules." ?

ATHENS, Greece — They blockade highway toll booths to give drivers free passage. They cover subway ticket machines with plastic bags so commuters can't pay. Even doctors are joining in, preventing patients from paying fees at state hospitals.

Some call it civil disobedience. Others a freeloading spirit. Either way, Greece's "I Won't Pay" movement has sparked heated debate in a nation reeling from a debt crisis that's forced the government to take drastic austerity measures — including higher taxes, wage and pension cuts, and price spikes in public services.

What started as a small pressure group of residents outside Athens angered by higher highway tolls has grown into a movement affecting ever more sectors of society — one that many say is being hijacked by left-wing parties keen to ride popular discontent.

A rash of political scandals in recent years, including a dubious land swap deal with a rich monastery and alleged bribes in state contracts — has fueled the rebellious mood.

At dawn last Friday, about 100 bleary-eyed activists from a Communist Party-backed labor union covered ticket machines with plastic bags at Athens metro stations, preventing passengers from paying their fares, to protest public transport ticket price hikes.

Other activists have taped up ticket machines on buses and trams. And thousands of people simply don't bother validating their public transport tickets when they take the subway or the bus.

"The people have paid already through their taxes, so they should be able to travel for free," said Konstantinos Thimianos, 36, an activist standing at the metro picket line in central Syntagma Square.

In one of their frequent occupations of the toll booths on the northern outskirts of Athens recently, protesters wore brightly colored vests with "total disobedience" emblazoned across their backs, and chanted: "We won't pay for their crisis!"

The tactic has cropped up in the health sector, with some state hospital doctors staging a blockade in front of pay counters to prevent patients from paying their €5 flat fee for consultations.

Critics deride the protests as yet another example of a freeloading mentality that helped lead the country into its financial mess.

"The course from initial lawlessness to final wanton irresponsibility is like a spreading cancer," Dionysis Gousetis said in a recent column in the respected daily broadsheet Kathimerini.

"Now, with the crisis as an alibi ... the freeloaders don't hide. They appear publicly and proudly and act like heroes of civil disobedience. Something like Rosa Parks or Mahatma Gandhi," Gousetis wrote. "They're not satisfied with not paying themselves. They are forcing others to follow them."

Many accuse left-wing parties and labor unions of usurping a grassroots movement with legitimate grievances for their own political ends.

"You think that lawlessness is something revolutionary, which helps the Greek people," Prime Minister George Papandreou said recently, lashing out in Parliament at Coalition of the Left party head Alexis Tsipras. "It is the lawlessness which we have in our country that the Greek people are paying for today."

But there is something about the "I Won't Pay" movement that speaks to something deeper within Greek society: a propensity to bend the rules, to rebel against authority, particularly that of the state.

It is so ingrained that many Greeks barely notice the myriad small, daily transgressions — the motorcycle driving on the sidewalk, the car running the red light, the blatant disregard of yet another government attempt to ban smoking in restaurants and bars.

Less innocuous is persistent and widespread tax avoidance despite increasingly desperate government measures.

"There is a general culture of lawlessness, starting from the most basic thing, tax evasion or tax avoidance, which is something that Greeks have been exercising since their state was created," said social commentator Nikos Dimou.

But many see the "I Won't Pay" movement as something much simpler: the people's refusal to pay for the mistakes of a series of governments accused of squandering the nation's future through corruption and cronyism.

"I don't think it's part of the Greek character. Greeks, when they see that the law is being applied in general, they will implement it too," said Nikos Louvros, the 55-year-old chain-smoking owner of an Athens bar that openly flouts the smoking ban.

"But when it isn't being applied to some, such as when there are ministers who have been stealing, ... Well, if the laws aren't implemented at the top, others won't implement them."

Associated Press

Edit: edited bad formatting of title

Edited by FreeTrader

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This struck a chord with me when I read it, especially as it may be a harbinger for similar public reaction elsewhere around the world.

The final couple of paras perhaps sum it up:.....

...How do you combat a populace that says: "We can’t change the rules through the democratic process any more, so we’re simply going to ignore the rules." ?.....

Associated Press

...is this really new ....?....reflect on their culture towards tax ...and how they qualified for entry to the EU....it has always been this way ....why would they change now...?

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This struck a chord with me when I read it, especially as it may be a harbinger for similar public reaction elsewhere around the world.

The final couple of paras perhaps sum it up:

"I don't think it's part of the Greek character. Greeks, when they see that the law is being applied in general, they will implement it too," said Nikos Louvros, the 55-year-old chain-smoking owner of an Athens bar that openly flouts the smoking ban.

"But when it isn't being applied to some, such as when there are ministers who have been stealing, ... Well, if the laws aren't implemented at the top, others won't implement them."

Rather than some violent revolution, will a demoralised, disenfranchised population ultimately stick two fingers up at the law?

How do you combat a populace that says: "We can't change the rules through the democratic process any more, so we're simply going to ignore the rules." ?

Associated Press

Edit: edited bad formatting of title

What is the thing with explaining edits on this site? I didn`t want you to see that version, so I edited it, so what? Explaining it is like seeing the outake of a movie scene just after you see the scene, totally pointless IMO.

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What is the thing with explaining edits on this site? I didn`t want you to see that version, so I edited it, so what? Explaining it is like seeing the outake of a movie scene just after you see the scene, totally pointless IMO.

I’ve always explained my edits because I want to make it clear that I haven't altered the substance of the original statement in the light of subsequent posts. It’s very easy through an edit system to hide mistakes you have made unless someone quotes your post before the edit has been made.

My edits are invariably minor alterations to the original, and usually relate to a grammatical, spelling, or minor factual error. Occasionally I’ll append something to the post for clarification, or to add further info, or because I have suddenly realised that I’m wrong (but I won’t change the original, unless it's something like an incorrect chart which I'll repost once the error has been corrected).

You may see it as pointless, but by the same token I dislike seeing posts that have been edited with no explanation. My immediate thought is that the poster is trying to cover some embarrassment or regret through editing. You may have noticed that a number of members on the site will quite happily either delete a statement they have made, or completely alter the original because they realise that they have screwed up. To me that’s dishonest, but presumably it doesn't bother you.

I guess it comes down to integrity. I’m old school I’m afraid, and I realise that I’m probably an anachronism these days in admitting my mistakes and apologising when I’m in error.

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I've always explained my edits because I want to make it clear that I haven't altered the substance of the original statement in the light of subsequent posts. It's very easy through an edit system to hide mistakes you have made unless someone quotes your post before the edit has been made.

My edits are invariably minor alterations to the original, and usually relate to a grammatical, spelling, or minor factual error. Occasionally I'll append something to the post for clarification, or to add further info, or because I have suddenly realised that I'm wrong (but I won't change the original, unless it's something like an incorrect chart which I'll repost once the error has been corrected).

You may see it as pointless, but by the same token I dislike seeing posts that have been edited with no explanation. My immediate thought is that the poster is trying to cover some embarrassment or regret through editing. You may have noticed that a number of members on the site will quite happily either delete a statement they have made, or completely alter the original because they realise that they have screwed up. To me that's dishonest, but presumably it doesn't bother you.

I guess it comes down to integrity. I'm old school I'm afraid, and I realise that I'm probably an anachronism these days in admitting my mistakes and apologising when I'm in error.

Ah, I frequently edit without explanation but don't see myself as dishonest at all.

I'll give you an example. In your post above, I may edit to add the "but presumably it doesn't bother you." bit upon reflection.

However, I do not see the point in stating why I've edited. (note: I don't edit after someone's replied).

So, do I lack integrity? No, I don't think so. :unsure:

Maybe you have a guilty conscience?! :o

edit: to highlight the "but presumably it doesn't bother you" bit in post above. :P

Edited by SHERWICK

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Critics deride the protests as yet another example of a freeloading mentality that helped lead the country into its financial mess.

Well if it's freeloading it's as nothing compared to what the bankers and their ilk got away with - so far.

Maybe it's the "we're all in it together" syndrome.

Edited by billybong

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Well if it's freeloading it's as nothing compared to what the bankers and their ilk got away with - so far.

Maybe it's the "we're all in it together" syndrome.

It wasnt the banks that crashed greece though, it was the government and the people. The banks were actually pretty sensible.

Greece is rotten to the core and the only thing more rotten are the greek people themselves.

edit - not telling why :lol:

Edited by richyc

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It wasnt the banks that crashed greece though, it was the government and the people. The banks were actually pretty sensible.

Greece is rotten to the core and the only thing more rotten are the greek people themselves.

edit - not telling why :lol:

The banks were sensible?

what, lending other peoples money, ie your and my pension find money, to a corrupt and worthless regime?

same as they did to Ireland and Iceland? Is that the sign of sensible lending or the sign of a Casino Jock hoping he gets his chips off the table before the 0 comes up?

People arent lending to the US anymore apart from the Arab Soveriegns who had a deal to do so in exchange for steady oil sales and the cap on US Oil Wells.

Its almost as if the bankers are TOLD to whom they shall lend....not the US today as the crashing of the Dollar is planned for end 2012, as is the sacking of the Arab Oil stakes from US OIL supply during 2012.

Its almost like there is a plan to all this.

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Most of the West seem to be doing it by printing, the Greeks seem to be prefer the more open path of explicit default.

Defaults cause currency to become worthless so I now hold minimal savings in currency outside of inflation protected accounts.

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Good for them. The whole system is geared towards the plebs towing the line, doing what is expected. TPTB have no real counter for mass civil disobedience. The west is supposedly democratic and yet in practice the will of the people is always 'translated into action' by those in power to suit their own needs.

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Good for them. The whole system is geared towards the plebs towing the line, doing what is expected. TPTB have no real counter for mass civil disobedience. The west is supposedly democratic and yet in practice the will of the people is always 'translated into action' by those in power to suit their own needs.

well, if all the self employed had withheld their tax in January, then the Austerity required in the public sector could be enforced by lack of money....taking 3M self employed to court would be a difficult task..and mass bankruptcies would seal the deal.

the government would be forced to act. they have no income of their own.

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Good for them. The whole system is geared towards the plebs towing the line, doing what is expected. TPTB have no real counter for mass civil disobedience. The west is supposedly democratic and yet in practice the will of the people is always 'translated into action' by those in power to suit their own needs.

Yep the proles are just meant to bend over and take it.

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But many see the "I Won't Pay" movement as something much simpler: the people's refusal to pay for the mistakes of a series of governments accused of squandering the nation's future through corruption and cronyism.

This sums up what we have in our local government--they have yet to expose HOW these people get the £500k jobs and how they work together in providing non-jobs as favours. If there was a taxpapyers revolt until these people were brought to book it might alter the system. But inaction will simply allow bad people to continue doing bad things.

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Id like to see a popular movement implemented by FTB'ers in this country.

A large section of society, and future generations, will suffer, because the bankers have "privatised profits and socialised losses" of [bTL and other] speculators, [Debtors] who continue to benefit from profits, by not taking any losses, and by pushing those losses onto society at large via the government and the regulators.

These people should be held accountable and responsible for their actions.

But what has happened instead is that FTB'ers money is being stolen, by our government, to pay to keep the banks assets, other peoples house, massively overinflated. Supporting the Vested Interests.

Ensuring FTB'ers can never afford their own house.

I wonder how many FTB'ers actually understand it was undisputed fraud behind the manipulation of rising house prices?

Or that this debt transfer has taken place?

And that this debt has been transferred onto them?

Or that Without the bank bailouts, house prices would have crashed by over 50% And returned to their long term median affordability?

Not many I fear.

Edited by Dan1

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Civil disobedience is not new in Greece, it's been endemic for decades. The government has tacitly encouraged it by, for example, pulling all tax investigations in election years, or by paying civil servants even when they don't turn up for work.

Frankly I'd like to see more minor disobedience in the UK. We're too supine for our own good. We have to put up with things like wheel clamps when most of Europe has long since seen them off. The French can't see a wheel clamp without super-gluing the lock. In many parts of Europe speed cameras aren't used because a) the locals use them for rifle practise, and b.) they ignore the paper work involved.

Edited because b ) comes out as B)

Edited by Nationalist

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Id like to see a popular movement implemented by FTB'ers in this country.

A large section of society, and future generations, will suffer, because the bankers have "privatised profits and socialised losses" of [bTL and other] speculators, [Debtors] who continue to benefit from profits, by not taking any losses, and by pushing those losses onto society at large via the government and the regulators.

These people should be held accountable and responsible for their actions.

But what has happened instead is that FTB'ers money is being stolen, by our government, to pay to keep the banks assets, other peoples house, massively overinflated. Supporting the Vested Interests.

Ensuring FTB'ers can never afford their own house.

I wonder how many FTB'ers actually understand it was undisputed fraud behind the manipulation of rising house prices?

Or that this debt transfer has taken place?

And that this debt has been transferred onto them?

Or that Without the bank bailouts, house prices would have crashed by over 50% And returned to their long term median affordability?

Not many I fear.

...Gordon Brown socialised the Banks .... :rolleyes:

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When the rich won't pay their taxes it's legitimate tax avoidance.

When everybody else isn't so keen it's 'communism'. :lol:

The rot started with the banksters, the billionaires and their bagmen the MPs. When it's clear that they're systematically looting, even as a business model sanctioned by the state, then it would be pretty stupid if the little guy didn't do the same. Competitive advantage and all that.........

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It wasnt the banks that crashed greece though, it was the government and the people. The banks were actually pretty sensible.

The banks helped mask the amount of debt the country was in and took hefty fees for that and the Enron style accounting contributed to that crash. Banks all over the world are involved in making money from the dodgy derivatives based lending - "we're all in it together" sort of attitude. It's also interesting that the crash of each country hasn't been for exactly the same reasons and they've all had different or slightly different profiles, reasons and emphasis but without fail the crashes have all lead back to some sort of banking sector involvement.

Edited by billybong

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The banks were sensible?

what, lending other peoples money, ie your and my pension find money, to a corrupt and worthless regime?

same as they did to Ireland and Iceland? Is that the sign of sensible lending or the sign of a Casino Jock hoping he gets his chips off the table before the 0 comes up?

People arent lending to the US anymore apart from the Arab Soveriegns who had a deal to do so in exchange for steady oil sales and the cap on US Oil Wells.

Its almost as if the bankers are TOLD to whom they shall lend....not the US today as the crashing of the Dollar is planned for end 2012, as is the sacking of the Arab Oil stakes from US OIL supply during 2012.

Its almost like there is a plan to all this.

No, not like ireland or iceland at all. The greek banks really were not responsible like they clearly have been here. I posted a couple on long and in depth pieces when greece was most in the news. I will try and find the main one which lays it all out. State borrowing, a ridiculously oversized gravy train public sector and a people that never pay tax wrecked the greek economy - that and easy money coming from germany who were lending to greece so that they could buy german goods, was a win/win for germany.

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The banks helped mask the amount of debt the country was in and took hefty fees for that and the Enron style accounting contributed to that crash. Banks all over the world are involved in making money from the dodgy derivatives based lending - "we're all in it together" sort of attitude. It's also interesting that the crash of each country hasn't been for exactly the same reasons and they've all had different or slightly different profiles, reasons and emphasis but without fail the crashes have all lead back to some sort of banking sector involvement.

The only banks involved in screwing greece were british and american. Dont get me wrong, I have no fondness for greeks and do not support them in any way but the facts are the facts.

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Ah, I frequently edit without explanation but don't see myself as dishonest at all.

I'll give you an example. In your post above, I may edit to add the "but presumably it doesn't bother you." bit upon reflection.

However, I do not see the point in stating why I've edited. (note: I don't edit after someone's replied).

So, do I lack integrity? No, I don't think so. :unsure:

Maybe you have a guilty conscience?! :o

edit: to highlight the "but presumably it doesn't bother you" bit in post above. :P

I edit mine without an explanation because as soon as I post them I see a typo.

If I had to post an explanation I might also make a typo in it and have to edit that as well and on it could go. I could finish up trapped in a thread for ages.

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I cant find the piece that I really wanted, it was a very long investigative piece that went behind the scenes and the writer had access to a lot of figures, senior officials and even spoke to some tax collectors - I will keep looking but the pieces below are pretty good.

http://www.bondvigilantes.co.uk/blog/2010/09/16/1284652620000.html

http://www.vanityfair.com/business/features/2010/10/greeks-bearing-bonds-201010

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