Philanthropy is a Greek Word
It was interesting to read recently in the New York Times how immensely wealthy Greek tycoons are helping their countrymen in these difficult times. The news has been full of heartbreaking stories of children left to orphanages, a huge surge of homelessness in Athens and other major cities and an exodus of the rich to the more hospitable climes of France or the UK (only just). But, there are those that have stayed and vowed to fight – politically and financially – to help bring their country back from the brink.
Shipping billionaires like Thanassis Martinos are doing their part by providing jobs to young people whose unemployment stands at about 50%, the article says. He went on to say that, even with profits slumping he is not laying off employees. Other successful businessmen in the country are doing likewise, but keeping their names quiet unlike the current Bill Gates/Warren Buffett trend. The interesting irony to this story of national redemption comes in the form of how the wealthiest are becoming increasingly philanthropic, but also avoiding paying taxes by keeping their money offshore. This is really no different than say, the U.S. or the UK, but the Greek government has much more to lose if they run their shipping tycoons out of the country; the legislation won’t be forthcoming against such aversions, it’s safe to assume.
Party politics aside, many with wealth are choosing to do their utmost to bring about change to the country. The article highlights people like “Peter Nomikos, a 33-year-old shipping scion, has started a campaign to raise money from Greek businesses and individuals whose those funds (will) buy back as many of Greece’s deeply discounted bonds on the open market as possible.” This may sound like a ridiculous notion, as no one is that rich, nonetheless one has to admire the drive to be proactive, as politicians in the eurozone keep floundering. When policy-makers fail (as is often the case), it’s up to the technocrats and tycoons to step into the breach, it seems. Perhaps they should bring their influence and know-how to Brussels?