Thursday, September 29, 2005 

The Greek Inquisition

Biting the Hand That Steals From You
Those who haven’t paid their due debts to the wider public sector will be faced with strict measures. Following an emergency circular issued by the Economy Ministry, Tax Offices will impound salaries, pensions, deposits, rents and other assets from some 500,000 debtors and their close relatives, such as spouses and children, in order to collect debts, which come to over 4 billion euros. (ERT--28/09/2005)
King Kosta obviously needs money. Desperately. And he's looking under every rock to find it. But I have a simple solution for him. Instead of wasting his time investigating 500,000 people all over Greece, he just needs to look in one place. The Greek Parliament buildings. The government itself, owes the public sector almost 5 billion€ in unpaid debts to pension funds and hospitals. Maybe if he'd stop paying out jackpot retirement bonuses to feckless state employees or resolved the issue of empty but costly Olympic venues then maybe he wouldn't have to resort to strongarm tactics on his voting public. Most of the people who will find themselves on the wrong end of a tax audit are no doubt replicating the examples set before them by government officials.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 

Bring Your Children to Greece

Yesterday, I phoned a doctor's office to get an appointment for my son for his yearly checkup. I hadn't been to this particular doctor in almost two years, so when the receptionist asked me for my son's name I didn't get further than "Thomas" when she started asking me how he was, what grade is he in now, and why hasn't she seen him for so long. I thought for sure, she had him confused with someone else so I continued with his last name and the spelling. I didn't get further than the third letter when she said "I KNOW who he is...the little Canadian darling!" I was flabbergasted. ONLY in Greece does this happen. In Canada, the receptionist would have politely and efficiently taken the details and told me the date of the appointment. But in Greece, when it comes to kids, they become enthusiastic and I was once again reminded of why I still live here. Greeks can definitely teach us a thing or two about kids. I will always love them for their openness, sincerity and never-ending affection for children. It's something that I will never take for granted.

No longer do I pull my son away from the extended arms reaching out to hug him as I used to do in the beginning. While vacationing in Milos, I rarely saw my son the whole time because the Greek guests at the hotel became obsessed with him...indulging his every whim, feeding him, letting him sleep on them while we talked, and even spending hours with him in the water and building sand castles on the beach. I'd honestly never seen anything quite like it in my life. Total strangers treating my son as if he were their own.

My first reaction to all this attention now is one of gratitude instead of paranoia. It's the way it ought to be. If any of my readers have children, I highly recommend bringing them to Greece, you won't regret it. All kids should experience the feeling of being a source of enjoyment to everyone surrounding them rather than 'tolerated'. As a mother, it's so reassuring to know that it's just not me who is concerned about his safety. Greeks...male and female alike...within a 3 block radius know the comings and goings of my son and report them to me in the bakery, the corner store and in my building.

Forget the "Live Your Myth in Greece" tourism campaign. It should be "Bring Your Children to Greece" campaign.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005 


InERTia Headquarters

Every time I drive past the ERT (Greece's national broadcaster) headquarters on Mesogeion Avenue, I get irritated. It's just another reminder to me of taxpayers' money wasted. For a country with a population of just under 11 million people, how is it that ERT can justify having 3,500 employees. What do they all do there? All the documentaries on ERT are usually from the BBC, the History Channel or A&E biographies from the US. Their website is a farce as far as news content is concerned. One of the lead stories as I write this blog is a Desperate Housewives plug for NET. The rest of the content is either fluff writing geared towards vapid readers or quasi-journalism written telegram style unless, of course, it's a sports story. Those get at least 7 or 8 paragraphs each. I'd review ERT radio broadcasts, but why bother? I don't know anyone who's ever listened to them. Even if you factor in the 5.5 million or so Greek diaspora, the number of ERT employees is still unjustified as far as I'm concerned.

By comparison, the BBC who employ 27,632 people worldwide, broadcasts in over 40 languages, publishes 40 magazines, has 2 nationwide channels, 24 hour global news channel, has one of the best news websites on the internet and is heard or watched in probably every single country on the planet. Considering the global reach of the BBC, the quantity and quality of programming they produce...27,632 employees doesn't seem enough.

Maybe the solution is to give these employees some real work to do rather than badly translate touchy-feely 'news' feeds from Reuters or AP. It's about time I saw some DVDs show up in our stores with "ERT" stamped on the bottom rather than BBC or A&E. Or maybe I've got it all wrong. I thought ERT was an acronym for Elliniki Radio Television when it's actually the abbreviated form of the word inertia.

Monday, September 26, 2005 

And the Champions Are...Greece! Again.

Greece is back in the spotlight again...and this time it's good news! Last night, Greece won the Eurobasket Championship with a score of 78-62 against Germany.

Sports is putting this country on the map! With the legendary coach, Panayiotis Yannakis and plenty of hard work and determination from the Greek team, they managed to defy sports enthusiasts' predictions and take home the cup.

Greece is definitely on a roll when it comes to extra-political activities...Euro Cup 2004, Eurovision 2005 and Eurobasket 2005. Maybe it's time for the people behind these events to apply their winning tactics to the governance of Greece. They've proven that they don't need 11 billion€ to bring the glory back to Greece.

Bravo Ellada!!

Sunday, September 25, 2005 

The Lost Art of Perfection

Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle. --Michaelangelo
Before I came to Greece, I spent 12 years in the graphic arts industry. The quote from Michaelangelo basically sums up my job description. Every single ad, brochure, billboard, and logo that was ever produced by my department was the result of the unending quest for perfection. Nothing was too small or insignificant to change. For example, a map appearing in an ad for the US had British spellings for "harbour". Even though the type was almost too small to read, we still spent hundreds of dollars redoing the film to get it right. If our deadline for publication was 9am Monday morning, we would pull all stops trying to meet that deadline--often spending nights and weekends at the office to get it there on time. One of my first jobs was at a newspaper and I remember the editor flying down the stairs from his office in a range because there were 14 spelling errors in that morning's edition of the newspaper. Even in school, every misspelled word cost me a half point in my final grade.

As much as I would have loved to let something slide in the hopes that no one would notice because of all the extra work striving for perfection entails, I couldn't do it. I still can't let things slide. This is why I come home on the verge of a heart attack because my dry cleaning wasn't ready on time, my kitchen cupboards have 2 different face designs (because they broke the router and figured the other design was just as good) or I picked up my car from the car wash and the interior has just as much dust as when I dropped it off for cleaning.

It's ironic in a country where most Greeks are so house-proud and their children look like they've just stepped off a Lapin House billboard that they've become accustomed to shoddy work performed by others. You'll see it in the small things (like the ones I've just mentioned) to the more important things like house construction where my friend's house was designed with a car garage that doesn't have enough space for her to open her car doors. If you ever complain to the female storeowner (whose own house probably would give Martha Stewart a run for her money) that the curtains you just bought from her are full of wrinkles and the wrong length, she'll tell you "Come on now, it's not as if they'll hang in Versailles!"

This lethargic attitude is prevalent everywhere in our society. Is it because we just don't care anymore to go that extra mile? Is it because it really doesn't matter if we do or not? Imagine if the ancient Greeks had taken that kind of attitude when they built the Acropolis or Epidavros. Or if the Romans believed dirt trails were just as good as the roads that they could build. I'm a firm believer that trifles do make masterpieces and masterpieces define our society.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005 

Blogosphere Gems

Treasure Hunting in Blogland

Last year, when I finally got fed up from posting in other people's forums and writing my opinions to newspapers and magazines, I decided to put all that effort into my own blog. Since joining the blogosphere, I've had the opportunity to read, literally, hundreds of other blogs as well and I can't say I'm really too impressed with the content of what I read. The grammar alone is enough to give me a headache. Bad designs with overuse of avatars, emoticons and internet speak force me to just click out instead of scrolling down. Even if the blog isn't a visual assault and the writing actually comprehendible, the topics are not. Dont' get me wrong...I love animals, babies and shopping too but I just don't feel the need to devote years worth of blogging to the topics. Because I'm interested in social observations, current events and politics, I tend to focus my attention more on those sites. And towards that end, I want to share some of my favourite blogs with you. These are the blogs I read every single day since I discovered them and I'm listing them in no particular order. I felt it was high time that I give credit where credit is due since I don't have such a fancy blog myself with links, blogrolls, stats counters. So, here we go.

Phylax--I really can't remember how I found his blog but I'm glad I did. I really enjoy his political commentaries and social observations. His blogs are succinct, well-written and to the point. He is also devoted to updating it daily which is a definite plus and something I don't even do myself. When it comes to Greek news, check his site first and then you will probably trash your ERT link (which I never should have bookmarked in the first place but that's a 'whole other show') like I did.

Mel's Diner--An ex-pat like myself, Melusina is a displaced Nashville girl married to her Greek husband living in Thessaloniki. She has the enviable ability to blog both serious and humourous topics...often within minutes of each other! Her choice of topics and candid writing style keep me interested and coming back for more. Through her eyes, I'm taken back to the first couple of years I landed in Greece myself and I'd wish I'd found out about her blog 8 years ago, my culture shock wouldn't have been so shocking. LOL Once you read several of her blogs, check out her comments sections too where you'll find some insightful remarks from her husband, Thanos, as well.

DeviousDiva--I found Diva's blog off a link from Mel's Diner. Imagine that, two blog gems in one day! Diva devotes her blog to a cause after my own heart...xenophobia and human rights abuses in Greece. The blogosphere (and the world, in general) definitely needs more bloggers like her who actually try to do something with their blogs other than as a place to store flower pics. She's got one trait that I am really trying to work on myself...diplomacy. Read some of the vitriolic comments others have posted on her blog and you'll see what I mean. When she says she wants to start a dialogue about human rights abuses, she means it. If I ever get down off my own soapbox, I could definitely could learn a thing or two from her.

EllasDevil--I've known EllasDevil online for several years now and was very happy to see him start his own blog. He's got the gift of the gab and is more than capable of tackling tougher blogs like this one that I couldn't stay calm enough to type. His style is frank, often humourous and seems like he's quite the social butterfly. If you're lucky enough to get him to read your blog, you'll love his contributions to your comments section. The only downside to his blog is that he's even worse than I am for updating it.

One of these fine days, I'll actually figure out how to add links and buttons to my blog without vaporizing my entire site and then I can permanently add them. But until that day arrives, this little acknowledgement will have to suffice.

Monday, September 19, 2005 

Yiayia and Pappou Deserve Better

Could Yiayia be worried about living in a retirement home?

During the past month, retirement homes have been under fire in Greece for failing to meet even the most basic of standards to care for our nation's elderly. Inspections were carried out by the Athens Prefecture in response to the deaths of 5 elderly people from one home. Although only one of the deaths could be attributed to the person having consumed rotten meat, the other four had also suffered from gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines; can be caused by Salmonella enteritidis--Websters Online). Of the 11 homes inspected, 9 were found to be in breach of multiple health violations ranging from filthy premises to employment of illegal workers.

Once the findings were made public, apportioning the blame became the next step. Who is ultimately responsible for these crimes against the elderly? Is it the fault of the family as a Social Security minister would have us believe? Is it entirely the fault of the homes who operate on a shoestring budget in order to maximize profits for their businesses? Is it the fault of the Health Ministry for not monitoring the operations of the homes more closely to ensure the health and safety of our beloved family ever-increasing segment of our population?

I believe that all of them share some part of the blame for the horrendous way the elderly are treated in these homes.

Retirement Homes
The retirement homes are definitely accountable for providing, at the very least, decent living conditions for their residents. They aren't charities but businesses operating for profit but this does not mean they can escape the responsibility of having to provide the basics. If they can't do this without compromising the lives of the elderly, then they shouldn't be running a retirement home to begin with. Many complain that they simply cannot turn a profit on the amount of money the families pay them. Instead of reducing the care and health of their charges in return for a decreased monthly fee, they should be charging more for their services to ensure that the residents aren't living in cockroach-infested filth while eating expired food.

Health Ministry
Inspectors should be making regular checks of all the retirement homes on a frequent basis...not just when a tragedy happens. By then, it's just too late. The retirement homes are issued licences by the state and it's therefore up to the state to guarantee that strict adherence to those regulations are followed.

Many Greeks still believe that none of this would have happened if families had just taken care of their elderly family members themselves and not shipped them off to a retirement home in the first place. While it's true that nothing compares to the care of a diligent and concerned family member, it is becoming more and more difficult to find the one (preferably more) person/s to commit themselves to being the sole caregiver of an elderly person. Many more people are living well past the age of 65 these days than ever before and that presents another set of problems. The longer they live, the more health problems they will have often resulting in round-the-clock care. This isn't just a case of making sure Forgetful Granny remembers to wear her shoes instead of house slippers to the store. It's making sure they don't wander around the streets at night while we sleep. Or suffering from Alzheimers trying to cook breakfast for their son returning from the Second World War at 2am like my grandmother tried to do. Many families are simply not equipped to provide this kind of care and are forced to put their parents and grandparents into a home with the hope that a qualified retirement home may do a better job.

The families DO have a responsibility to research and make an informed decision before allowing their relatives into a home. They must continue to visit and inspect the conditions of the home while their relatives are residing there. The responsibility should not end once they sign the monthly cheques nor should the quality of their lives depend on how deftly we can haggle the price for their care. Our parents and grandparents deserve so much better than the raw deal we're giving them right now. It's up to all of us to see that they at least live out their remaining years in comfort in return for the lifetime of hard work and love they gave us. It's the very least we can do.

Friday, September 16, 2005 

Inquiring Minds Read My Mail

How my mail SHOULD look...unopened.

Greeks are nosy people. They want to know where you're from. Why you're here. How long you've been here. How many children you have. How old they are. I've gotten quite used to the Greek Inquisition every time I speak.

My accent gives me away and I understand their curiosity. I'm also inquisitive when I meet people for the first time but I do know enough which questions I shouldn't ask for fear of over-stepping the line between curiosity and being just plain nosy.

I become irritated when their questions become a bit too personal and they start asking how much money my husband makes and what's my home address. I become livid when they read my mail. This is now the second building I've lived in where my mail has been taken, read and returned several days later to the lobby...envelope ripped open and the papers inside dog-eared from a very conscientious snooper. In my last building, they usually stuck to reading my tax returns. In this building, my bank statement and electricity bills have been opened. My Bill Clinton autobiography bookfrom Amazon was also stolen but I'm not sure if that was my neighbours or the post office. What would they do with that???? It's 1,000 pages in english and Bill Clinton??!! Why on earth would anyone feel the need to take that? I could understand it if it was Anna Vissi's but Bill Clinton? That would be like me pilfering a 1,000 page book in Greek on Costas Simitis. It makes absolutely no sense. Maybe they needed kindling for their fireplaces.

What is it about my mail which attracts people to break the law by opening and reading it? It's not by mistake either because I'm the only person I know who has had their mail opened and read. Could it be because my name is foreign and they just can't resist the temptation to find out if I'm working for the CIA? I used to think it was because I never had a mailbox in my last building and the postman just threw all the letters on the marble bench in the lobby. But in this building, I do have a mailbox so they're going through a lot of work to read my bank statements. The only hope I have is that they'll soon tire of this once they find out that my bank balance never hovers more than 100€ above zero and that the books I read would make watching paint dry a thrilling experience by comparison.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005 

R.I.P. Olympic Airlines

Olympic Groundlines

The College of Commissioners in Brussels handed down a 568 million euro decision against Olympic Airlines which could mean the end of Greece's national air carrier. OA was investigated and found liable for receiving illegal grants from the State and has been ordered to repay it all. Considering that the State is already trying to unload the cash-strapped airline, this decision will make it near impossible to do so meaning that 1,850 jobs are in jeopardy. (Other sources put the number at 7,000,) Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said that no Olympic employees would be left jobless. "This will be achieved either through a voluntary retirement program or through employees being transferred to other civil sector jobs,'' he said. How wonderful. The same employees will be moved on to other jobs where they will no doubt bring their vast experience of inferior work ethics to expedite the decay of the Greek (un)civil (dis)service.

Karanmanlis' statement did not reassure union officials who have called both PASOK and the current government "murderers" who won't get away with it.

The State's corrupt and bureaucratic management of OA are largely to blame but so, too, are the employees themselves as the following experiences from passengers attest to this fact. Since the State bought out OA, it was abused by them as a cost-free carrier for friends and family and as an employment provider in return for political favours. 25 years later, the free ride has come to an end. Unfortunately, Greek citizens have lost not only their tax dollars, they've lost their national airline as well which was one of the safest in Europe.

**All quotes taken from

I have flown with Olympic several times but never again.

it was an excellent airline back when it was privately owned by Onassis, and when it had just made its debut as "Olympic" (from the old T.A.E.)

About the only thing that was nice was the headsets they provided.

I regret the day I heard of Olympic.

One of the worst flight experiences I have had.

Very old plane (A300), very mediocre service, unfriendly hostesses, food for a third world airline! ... Olympic airways does not honour the name it carries.

The experience was quite awful.

there was nothing efficient or particularly pleasant about it.

Without doubt, these were the worst flights I have ever taken irrespective of class of cabin.

I have never felt that uncomfortable on a flight. It looked like the interior hadn't been cleaned for twenty years.

the services were minimal, the food was very low quality, the toilets were disgustingly dirty and smelly (one was not even flushing).

The staff both ground and in flight were equally rude. ...shoddy, shoddy, shoddy.

The planes in most cases are old and simply horrible! The crew unpleasant and not willing to help! ...the truth is that Olympic is a third world experience!

We were greatly disappointed by the service and the unprofessional attitude of the cabin crew. ...This was the worst trip we ever had.

I have flown Olympic Airways several times and I have found that the cabin staff on every flight has been with out exception incompetent and rude. As a Greek living in the United States and Canada I suggest not to fly Olympic Airways, if you have the choice.

My experiences on Olympic have always been mediocre to outright horrific.

Never again will I fly Olympic. The only good thing about Olympic was the good food, but the staff were very rude and spent most of their time smoking in the room at the back. It was the longest 22 hours I have had in my life.

Monday, September 12, 2005 

Education Without Books and Teachers

School's started. Somebody better tell the Greek Education Ministry.

There are billions of euros for useless OTE employees. There's a half billion euros for restructuring other Balkan countries. There are billlions of euros to fund the 2004 Olympics Sinkhole. So why is it that my son started school this morning without a teacher and only half his schoolbooks?

On May 30, it was reported that the Education Ministry didn't acquire the 15,000 tons of paper required to print the textbooks. I blogged that embarrassment back in July. While the education minister, Marietta Giannakou claims that her ministry has acted on the issue of filling empty positions in time, reality proves otherwise. Somebody needs to explain to her that books and teachers are relatively important towards an education. Home schooling is not even an option for parents who would like to be more than just a bystander in their children's education because it's forbidden in Greece. Apparently, parents can't do the job as well as the State can. One thing's for sure, the politicians' don't have to worry because their children are not enrolled in public schools.

Saturday, September 10, 2005 


Shopalotology--the science of shopping.
Buy one pair of sneakers, one birthday present and some groceries. That's ALL I had to do today. I managed to do it all and now it will take me all of Sunday to recuperate from the whole ordeal. I know what you're all thinking..."She's bitching about shopping??? How can she possibly complain about shopping?? And she's female!" Well if ONLY it were that simple.

Shopping in Athens is not done inside an air conditioned mall with 500 stores under one roof, with escalators and plentiful parking. Oh no. If you plan to buy 3 entirely unrelated things (in my, appliance, groceries) you need to have a plan. A good one.

The Plan
Driving or walking? This is a big decision. If you pick driving, then you can go to the big stores like Carrefour (Walmart wannabe) and possibly accomplish all 3 things at once in the same place. If you pick walking, you have more chances at finding a wider brand selection and this is something just as important when it involves footwear for an 11 year old boy who believes his mother is hell bent on destroying his budding social life by buying him sensible shoes.

Where? Once you've settled on how you're going to do you your shopping, you have to figure out where you're going to do it. At the hyperstores where prices are cheaper or neighbourhood shopping where prices are usually higher and there's no air conditioning as you walk along broken sidewalks in searing heat. I chose a combination of the two...I drove to a street in Nea Smyrni which is home to all the athletic name brand outlet stores and then I parked at one end and walked both sides of the street till we found the Old Skool sneakers my son wanted from Nike. Of course, it HAD to be the VERY last shop. Then I drove 3 districts away to get the groceries which had on-premise parking.

To get the microwave birthday present was the easiest was on the way to the footwear street but because of the size of it, that was determining factor in my decision to take the car.

So after my careful planning last night, the price I paid was 5 1/2 hours of my time, 2 blisters, one aching ankle, 1/4 of a tank of gas, 300€ and a massive headache. Without the planning, I'm sure I would have been hospitalized for nervous exhaustion, my son would have called the Fashion Police on me for child neglect and I would have only got half of what I needed to do done.

The Solution
I need to become a celebrity. That's the ticket. Pay someone else to do my shopping, while other people take pictures of me and praise the results. But then, what would I blog about? The trials and tribulations of Fashion Week in Paris and my $20 million per movie paycheques? I can live with that.

Thursday, September 08, 2005 

If It Ain't Broke, Wait a Month...

And don't bother fixing it in Greece.

Since we started selling home entertainment systems...from Nintendo game pads to PCs to high-end home cinemas, two things have become blatantly obvious to us.
  1. The convoluted labyrinth after-sales service (and I use the term loosely) which exists in Greece for the products we sell.
  2. The malfunctioning role of the national electric company (DEI) which forces our customers to resort to dealing with apathetic after-sales service companies.

It doesn't matter what brand you buy, how new the product is or how much you pay for it, any customer who has a problem with whatever they've bought would rather take a hammer to it than navigate the repair channels in Greece.

To make matters worse, many of the appliances returned back to us are dead on arrival due to power surges from the electric company which many homes cannot handle because of substandard electrical wiring. Many of the homes built in Athens are wired to handle a washing machine, stove, fridge, and TV. So you're basically flying on a wing and a prayer if you decide to buy and use electricity guzzling appliances like air conditioners, PCs, projectors, clothes dryers, and dishwashers as well.

My husband has repaired quite a few PCs with fried motherboards in the last few months...mine and his included and we have them plugged into a surge protector. Apparently, the surge protector just protects your PC longer than an unprotected one but eventually, it too, will succumb to the continuous onslaught of power surges from DEI--the national Greek power company. Now I know why DEI states on the back of our power bills that they are not to be held liable for any damages incurred from their inability to regulate the power to our homes. They'd be bankrupt within a month.

So once the hapless customer shows up on our doorstep, we have to break the bad news to them...first the probable cause and then throw them at the mercy of the repair companies since the suppliers do not handle the service/repair contracts of the products they sell themselves. We've tried to intervene on the customer's behalf to help them out many times in the past but this seems only to aggravate the situation. The majority of the scenarios happen like this:

Customer: My c TV c Playstation c Projector c PC c DVD player (check one) that I just bought from you is dead.
Us: Did you drop it or experience power failure while you were using it?
Customer: No.
Us: You'll have to take it to Toshiba/Acer/Philips/Sony service since it's under warranty. (15 minute justifiable tantrum from the customer since the repair shop is usually over an hour away and it costs about 30€ by taxi or courier.)
One week later...
Customer: Where's MY TV??????!!!!!!! (at least once a day for 7 days until....)
Us: They said it's ready for pick up.
Customer: I'm not picking it up. That'll cost me 30€!!
Us: We'll do what we can to get it delivered.
Customer: And SO you SHOULD!

When all is said and done, the electric company gets their money from the bill that caused the surge in the first place. The courier/cab company gets their money from the pick-up and return of the product. The supplier got their money because the customer has already paid. We lose more than the 5-10% profit off the product through phone calls, lost time, courier and/or petrol costs by getting involved and we end up with egg on our face for the whole fiasco.

I'd love to see DEI held accountable for failing to supply continuous power to our homes. I'd love to see homes designed and constructed with adequate wiring and circuit boards to handle modern electricity consumption. More than anything, I demand that suppliers and repair companies offer just a modicum of decent after-sales service for its products instead of after-sales apathy we all have to suffer at present. I know it's possible. North American stores have offered hassle-free refund policies for years. It's time they found their way into Greece.

While my husband is on the phone tomorrow with both the suppliers and repair companies trying to negotiate a better deal for our clients, I'll be off to Menidi with yet another DOA laptop for repair.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005 

Word Verification

Because I doubt any of my readers care about heartworm symptoms, platypus reproduction or the properties of all the elements on the periodic table, I was left with no choice but to implement the word verification system to prevent blogger spam from appearing on my site. It's not pretty, but it's for your own good. You'll thank me later.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005 

Foreigners and Airports

Just because I know where the airport is doesn't mean I'm going anywhere.

There probably isn't a single foreigner in the world who hasn't heard some variation of the following statements whenever they make negative comments regarding their host country.

If you don't like it here, you know where the airport is. Somebody better tell the Greek on the street to watch themselves on this one. Avramopoulos will have a conniption fit after having spent $31 million on Greece's 2005 campaign trying to convince people to come to Greece and the Greek population is doing their best to get rid of them.

As if your country is any better. Once this statement is uttered, it is, more often than not, followed by a litany of scandals, embarrassments or talentless singing sensations emanating from your country to prove their point. Since I'm Canadian, I always hear about American foul ups, since most people don't even know for sure if Canada is a sovereign country or the 51st American state. If they do know a bit about our history, we'll get blamed for what the French and British did to the native Indians. All of this, in some bizarre way, proves that no Canadian can ever complain about getting shafted by cab drivers, pollution or stolen parking spaces let alone anything REALLY important like the state of the Greek economy.

So why should I have a problem with native citizens telling me to put up or shut up? It's simple. If any foreigner has made their home legally outside their native country, pays taxes, makes a decent effort at integration (ie., learning the language, culture and history), works and is not an economic burden to the country, respectful of the local laws, customs and traditions (no one in my family ever fought in the Greek War of Independence or was affected by Oxi Day but that doesn't mean I can't respect all those who did) then they have every right to express their views...good or bad. These are the same reasons I don't vote in Canada's elections anymore. I don't pay taxes there, raise my child there, educate him there or even live there so I feel I don't have the right to have a say in who runs Canada since I am not directly affected by the outcome of any election. My life is here now and this state directly influences my life therefore, I believe that I and every legal immigrant have every right to criticise, applaud or denounce its actions.

On the flip side, back in Canada, when law-abiding legal immigrants told me that they had problems with some aspects of our society, I wouldn't immediately get insulted and tell them to go 'home' unless they wanted to infringe on my basic human rights or those of others. For example, Palestinians adamantly opposing my choice of lawyer, doctor or friend because they were Jewish or Lebanese Christians telling me that Canada should not allow muslims to build a mosque. Other immigrants have also told me that Canada should ban interracial relationships because that's how it was done in their country. I am not the least bit offended if a foreigner had told me that our education and health system needs work, our divorce and crime rates were too high. I would be upset if someone who has never paid a dime in taxes and never will because he or she entered my country illegally, tells me that our welfare system is failing them.

The only time I would accept being told to go home if I don't like it is if I'm a burden to my adopted country by being an illegal immigrant or engaging in criminal activities. If they don't like what I have to say, then they can exercise their right to ignore me.

Friday, September 02, 2005 

Who Needs Enemies With Friends Like These?

We Talk and New Orleans Suffers
NATO said help was available but it would need to know more about what could be needed.

An organization which claims to be expert in crisis management needs more information and someone to hold THEM by the hand to tell them what to do? So which is it? They can't help or they won't help? My bet's on the latter because if they wanted to, they'd have hit the ground running already.

Germany also said it would offer aid or money if requested by Washington, though officials said the U.S. was well equipped to deal with natural disasters.

At the United Nations, the official spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the U.S. was the country best prepared in the world to deal with such a natural disaster.

With photos like the one above, does it look like America was best prepared to deal with such a natural disaster? Thousands of people are homeless, sick, dehydrating and in imminent danger of losing their lives because of thesItalice callous attitudes. These people need help immediately not personal political opinions and debates.

Japan donated $200,000 to the Red Cross and would also provide up to $300,000 in aid supplies such as tents and power generators.

A country which has donated $7.9 billion last year in foreign aid can only cough up $500,000 to the US? It's an insult, not aid.

*Quotes found here:

*Disaster Relief Agencies: