Roberto, an English-Italian who lives in Greece with his dog,...

Roberto, an English-Italian who lives in Greece with his dog, begs as the sign behind him reads ''Time to be dangerous'' in Athens, Friday, March 9, 2012. Greece took a critical step toward staving off an imminent bankruptcy after securing the support of the vast majority of its bondholders to accept steep losses on their holdings of Greek debt, a move that should pave the way for the country's second massive international bailout. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis) Credit: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

Peter Goldmark fails to fully grasp the Stygian roots of Greece's economic tragedy ["Fiscal rescue must go beyond cuts," Opinion, March 4].

Like the profligate Portuguese and the bubble-ridden Irish and Spanish polities, the Greek economy was ill-suited for the euro. In their zeal to join the likes of Germany, France and Italy, the Greeks allowed successive Pasok and New Democracy administrations to peddle falsehoods about the state of the nation's fiscal health.

In truth, Greece is a sclerotic Balkan country whose soul is more Ottoman than European. Ever since the 19th century, Athens has been a less-than-Periclean polity.

Today, Transparency International, a German watchdog organization, ranks Greece among the most corrupt nations in the world. Less than half of Greeks work. Unemployment among those younger than 25 is nearly 50 percent. And bribery is endemic. Indeed, illicit little envelopes of cash grease the palms of physicians, lawyers, shopkeepers and auto mechanics alike.

Centuries ago, Machiavelli issued a dictum on leadership: "It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things."

Greece's premier, Lucas Papademos, did not heed this admonition and lost an opportunity to restore his nation's integrity.

Rosario A. Iaconis, Mineola

Editor's note: The writer is an adjunct professor of economics and critical thinking at Briarcliffe College.


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