Monday, October 1, 2012

Reflections on Greece - Part 1

By Pascal Dennis

I'm of Greek descent.

My grandfather, Pascali, arrived in America on Jan 20, 1921.

His name graces the Ellis Island Memorial Wall that looks out on lower Manhattan.

My granddad settled in Cincinnati where we had, and still have, family.

Colleagues ask, "What do you make of the chaos in Greece?"

It saddens -- and puzzles me.

Our extended family includes Greek-Americans, -Canadians, and - Australians.

Each group is distinguished by high achievement in education, the arts, and business.

(Here's some brotherly pride. My brother, George, is a PhD pharmacologist/oncologist with more than 100 publications in leading medical journals.)

Why do Greeks have to leave Greece for their talents to blossom?

Over the next few blogs, I'll share my thoughts, such as they are.

Here's one root cause - government & governance.

A chum of mine tried to launch a Greek branch of his North American service business.

He gave up after two years of frustration. "Greek bureaucrats don't want to help you," he told me. "It's like they want you to fail."

I had a similar experience when I applied for an EU passport. After two years of mind-numbing hassle, I asked the Greek Ambassador to Canada to intervene.

(I was lucky. How many people are able to contact the Ambassador?)

A decade later, nothing's changed. My daughter Eleanor is going through the same stupidity.

In Lean terminology, my colleague, Eleanor and I experienced stupefying forms of waste: delay, over-processing, defects and so on.

So why should you pay your taxes?

Entrenched interests are another obstacle. Protected industries, unions and so on, make the simplest things impossible.

Road transport, for example. It's cheaper to transport an apartment full of furniture from Athens to Brussels that to move it a few miles within Athens!

Greeks buy vegetables from Brussels for the same reason.

Similar scenarios exist in the cruise ship, commercial development, and pharmaceutical sectors.

So why should anybody invest?

More to come.



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