George Papandreou at Powell Hall

This article is the published version of a review submitted to the Bascom Honors Program at Maryville University.

When I was younger, I would frequently be told that I would get the chance to do great things and have amazing opportunities. I had no idea that such opportunities would include attending some brilliant lectures by brilliant minds. This last week I got the opportunity to do just that at Powell Hall with George Papandreou, Former Prime Minister of Greece.

I found this to be rather amazing in its placement of occurrence, as my studies in school had me focusing on the art of ancient Greece in one class and the minds of ancient Greece in another. I was interested to find out that the Papandreou Family had been prominent in Greece for quite some time, as his grandfather and father both were Prime Ministers before him. Like I suspect many politicians, Papandreou stated he had not wanted to go into politics when he was young.

The situation Papandreou faced with his take-over of office in 2009 and the discovery of the national debt being three times greater, reminds me something along the lines of a typical government review. How much information in regards to those sensitive topics is openly admitted? I think the acronym used described how serious the issue was, “as if you were adding a cow to a pasture day after day, and once the bubble burst there was a stampede.”

Perhaps if the United States could acknowledge some of its own problems and make sacrifices such as what was done during Papandreou’s time in office, we might be able to find our way out of the economic crisis we face. Papandreou explained that thirty percent of government wages were cut, and a consolidation was made reducing forty-seven counties into thirteen. Sadly however, if we were to use this system it could cause our middle and lower classes to be squeezed even tighter. It goes to show how delicate of a situation and issue the crisis is.

A primary point that was raised that I thought was a great idea, was how the Finance Office was made separate from the government in Greece. By doing this, the federalized government does not have access or total control over economic affairs in the country which gives some of the power back to the people. This led into another highlight of the lecture, that politics being involved in markets causes economic crashes. By making the markets dependent on the status of the government, a crash – or shut down in the United States’ case – can cause even more dire results on the public.

Papandreou made many fine points during the lecture as well regarding the GDP, his overcoming of Neo-Nazi propaganda, and some of his history. In general regards, I feel the man has a wealth of knowledge that would help the United States during these trying economic times. He indicated he was not too proud to ask for help on behalf of Greece. I could only hope that our leaders would not be so arrogant as to not do the same. In the meantime, I will continue to dwell on some of his statements he made through the night and look forward to seeing him speak again sometime soon.

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