Week 344

26th July, 2015

Another day of rain. The arid, yellowing lawns are already greening up and gardeners’ watering duties suspended. We were just preparing to go out to exercise when Amazon texted me to say they were about to deliver a parcel so enforced rest was observed. In Greece, Varoufakis has claimed that he was authorized by Alexis Tsipras last December to look into a parallel payment system that would operate using wiretapped tax registration numbers (AFMs) and could eventually work as a parallel banking system.

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He was assisted by an international hedge fund led by Norman Lamont to plan a payment system that could operate in euros but which could be changed into drachmas “overnight” if necessary. Interesting and illuminating stuff!

27th July, 2015

Love Mondays – now in retirement. It has been an enjoyable and a sultry day. Morning cleaning and tidying the flat. Afternoon working out at the Health Club. Early evening saw a tenth visitor viewing the property. We left ten minutes before the estate agent brought the prospective buyers round. We had organised it so we could do a bit of shopping. We are gorging on boxes of black cherries from Kent, raspberries from Scotland, blackberries and strawberries from Kent. They make a wonderful sweet. We are also enjoying donut-shaped peaches from Spain which we first bought a couple of years ago in Mario’s Supermarket on Sifnos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greeks have already started to attempt to resile from the agreement Tsipras signed. They have attempted to float the hope that they need not sell off power generation. The European taskmasters have come back quite strongly. Kathimerini reports:

the next issue to create friction is whether Greece will have to pass a third bill containing prior actions before completing the agreement with the institutions. European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva suggested that Athens would have to do more in the coming weeks.

“More reforms are expected from the Greek authorities to allow for a swift disbursement under the ESM,” she said at a briefing yesterday.

This will make Tsipras’ job in rallying his rag-tag coalition to face the inevitable. Meanwhile, the ECB is keeping its foot on the neck of the Greek economy and refusing to allow Greece to re-open the Athens Stock Exchange because of fears of capital flight through stock transactions. Kathimerini reports:

Over the weekend Frankfurt reportedly rejected at least three times proposals submitted by the Greek regulating authorities (the Bank of Greece and the Capital Market Commission) asking for the reopening of the bourse, which has now entered its second month of inactivity.

This just increases the Greek humiliation and underlines where the true power lies.

28th July, 2015

We live our lives on fairly calm, tranquil emotions of love and responsibility. We rarely see peaks and troughs but try to maintain a steady equilibrium. I am aware that there are those who prefer to indulge in the highs and lows of emotional experience but that is not me. Today, we were just getting in to our car after an hour’s hard exercise when I noticed a new, estate car reversing rather erratically out of its parking space and going dangerously close to another vehicle parked there. I had to look twice when the estate car hit the other vehicle at some pace. As it pulled away, I could see considerable damage to both vehicles. It looked as if the estate was going to leave without acknowledging the accident.

I didn’t quite take it in when the estate reversed at speed for a second time and hit the same car again. That’s a sign of panic, I thought in an attempt to rationalise what I’d just seen. A man came out of the Health Club and started to remonstrate with the estate driver as they reversed for a third time in to the same parked vehicle. My slow brain suddenly twigged that the actions were deliberate. I was watching, dumbstruck when a woman got out of the estate and started shouting at the man from the Health Club about him cheating on her with a woman down the road even though she, his partner, was suffering from cancer. The drama was all too much for me. We drove home in a daze.

Talking about being in a daze reminds me of what is happening or about to happen to Greek islanders. Not only is VAT being raised on their central earning power in tourism but that wonderful, left wing government is going to make sure they really pay all their taxes – VAT, (Real) Income Tax, (Accurate) Property Tax and all the other taxes that they’ve been trying to avoid for as many years as we’ve been going there. This is the way modern states get their inhabitants to pay for their infrastructure services. Currently, Greece has thousands of unfilled teacher places in its schools. I wonder why?

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Ta Nea – the Greek News – is running a report of sweeping inspections and controls in the Aegean and Ionian islands which have thrown up massive incidents of tax evasion. They should have talked to me. I could have pointed them in the right direction. I have written extensively to Trifon Alexiadis, the new deputy finance minister, with some suggested targets to inspect. As I understand it, those caught deliberately evading tax payment will not be fined or blackmailed as before. They will be hauled before the courts with imprisonment at the end of it. This is what is required if the government want to get themselves out of this hole.

29th July, 2015

Quite a cool morning although very sunny. We were warned that temperatures would drop last night. I must wish Happy Birthday to my sister, Jane BG, who is 63 today – a figure that is greater than her weight by any measure!

She’s been on the run for as long as I can remember. They’ll catch up with her one day. Heard from an old, Sifnos friend today which was nice. I’m feeling a bit nervous because I’m taking Pauline to hospital at St Peter’s for an endoscopy examination. Fortunately, Pauline seems quite calm. I’ll be leaving her there for two or three hours and coming home to try and take my mind off it by watching the Test Match. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Of course, I should have predicted it but the Estate Agent has phoned twice in the last hour. The lady who came to view last night wants to come back for a second viewing on Friday afternoon. Suddenly the phone goes again and someone else wants to come and view this afternoon. I can’t refuse so I’ve got an hour to straighten up before I go to collect Pauline. Just when the Test Match was going so well as England have Australia 93 for 6. Happy Days!

Three hours later, I have collected Pauline from the hospital – a little groggy because of the sedation. We took a slow drive home and just managed to miss the viewing but, half an hour later as we were preparing our meal, the potential buyer wanted an instant second viewing and rather surprised us.

30th July, 2015

Took Pauline in to town to have her hair cut and to perk her up after her ordeal yesterday. I sat in a coffee shop with Wi-Fi and read my paper. As soon as we got home, I enjoyed England turning the screw on the Australians and then went to the Health Club while Pauline prepared Duck and salad for our meal. At lunchtime (a misnomer in our case) tomorrow, we have another ‘second viewing’ of our property which means our morning activities are largely prescribed. We are going to a family barbecue on Sunday so Pauline is busily planning sweet treats to take with us.

In Greece it never rains but it heatwaves – to coin a phrase:

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  • Two high-speed ferry boats collided today while setting sail from the Port of Piraeus. The Jet-1 catamaran, headed to Sifnos, Milos, Ios and Santorini with 307 passengers on board, and the Athina flying dolphin, en route for Angistri and Aegina with 60 people on board, collided as they started to sail out of the port.
  • Not content with the economic disaster of recent weeks, the union representing Greece’s air traffic controllers today announced a four-hour walkout on Wednesday, August 5, and warned of further action
  • The government will not only continue to impose the Single Property Tax (ENFIA) on owners but it will also use existing objective values – property rates used for tax purposes that are typically above market prices – to determine the level of the tax payable by owners. The Government intend to front load the tax so that those with properties valued at €300,000+ will pay an extra charge – and only rightly!

The temperature at 10.30 am (Greek Time) was 35C/95F and now, at 11.15 pm (Greek Time), it is 30C/85F. As a number of bloggers wrote today – UNCOMFORTABLE!

31st July, 2015

The last day of July, 2015. It is twelve months since we last clapped eyes on the Poison Dwarf. What Joy! Today was a lovely one for weather and activity. Warm and sunny, we did an early Sainsbury’s shop, watched England win the Test Match by annihilating Australia and then did an hour in the gym. We returned home to find the lady who had come for a second viewing of our property was just leaving. We stopped to have a chat with her. She is delightful and loves the flat. She wants it but hasn’t sold hers yet.

1st August, 2015

Enjoy August, 2015. It’s the only one you’ll ever see.

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Do you know what Chuggers are? Apparently, it is the sobriquet allocated to those considered Charity Muggers. It is a concept featured on the front of this morning’s copy of The Times. Charities, it reports, are to face criminal sanctions unless they stop bullying the public for money, the regulator has warned them. Readers, it argues, are no longer willing to support globalised commercial charities which are ruthless in their marketing for new donations.

It may shock some readers to learn but I made a decision early in my university life never to contribute to formal charitable organisations. Originally, I made the decision on, what I considered marxist principles that argued charities were the cover or sticking plaster that allowed government to abnegate its responsibilities. If charities funded a social need, governments were able to walk away from funding it from taxation. I still think that but my original principle has been deepened by the experience of ‘big charity’.

The current controversy centres around an elderly and impoverished charity worker who was constantly bombarded with demands to sign up to contracts to commit all her meagre income to their cause. It is accompanied by background research which shows charity staff being trained in hard – take no prisoners – demand campaigns irrespective of the victims ability to pay. It is accompanied by the huge salaries of those directing the charities and the small proportions of the charities’ income that goes to their stated ’cause’. There is a sense that the charities are not being run for the sake of the headline cause but to support and enrich the structures leading those organisations.

As this research is taken further, dubious practices are uncovered. It is reported that the chairman of the Charity Commission has accused the RSPCA of grotesque conduct and zealotry, warning that Britain’s largest animal welfare charity was inadequately run and governed. He has also claimed that charity money was being diverted to Islamist terrorist-related causes and warned against the danger of a “victim culture” among some Muslims.

Then there is the case of the charity, Kids Company, hailed by politicians and celebrities for its work with some of Britain’s most troubled youngsters, which has been placed under investigation by Scotland Yard’s child abuse command. Former, senior members of Kids Company, claim that there are ‘exaggerations’ in the numbers of people it says it helps.

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Instead of claiming to help a few troubled kids, it also lumps in all the other children in their schools plus all the staff and parents – a ruse which grossly inflates the numbers in its ambit and, therefore, more easily justifies its income and expenditure.

I’m not opposed to individual acts of charitable help to other individuals. I have and will continue to do it myself. However, I am opposed to the charitable status given to large organisations and I particularly include religious institutions. People, however deluded, join them of their own volition. Indeed, they are the body of that institution and should finance it with no aid of the state. I am also vehemently opposed to the charitable status of schools. If people must be allowed to buy privilege through education – and I would deny that as well – there is absolutely no justification for those who can’t afford to buy it being forced to subsidise this structured inequality through the sanction of charitable status.

Phew! I feel better after that.

 

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