In Astoria, Queens, the far-away financial crisis in Greece is a local story
Across the street from his fish store, a group of retirees are drinking coffee at Lefkos Pyrgos, which has tables arrayed on the sidewalk outside. John Papadopoulos, a retired contractor, says he expects times to get “terrible” for his relatives living in Greece. With all the cutbacks in pensions and salaries, he wonders, “how are they going to survive?”
But, a friend of his, Haralambos Gatzonis, a retired electrician, says the cutbacks are good. “They are spoiled,” he says of the Greek people. “They thought everything was easy.”
Mr. Gatzonis says he is glad the crisis appears to be resolved for the moment. “It’s been very stressful,” he explains as he sips his coffee.
Another retiree, Dimitrios Psomostithis, who worked as a ship’s steward, says “corruption is everywhere,” a problem that must be resolved if the nation is to dig its way out of its problem. “People have big houses, they have two or three cars, and then they tell the Greek IRS they don’t make any money.”
On a table outside of Taverna Kyclades, waiter Giannis Drakopoulos, recounts how only 150 Greeks in an upscale part of Athens told the tax authorities they had a swimming pool—something that could be taxed. “Someone did a Google earth search and found there were a couple of thousand,” he recalls.
Drakopoulos says he can directly relate to how tough it is going to be since he has a relative who is an electrician in the Greek Air Force. His wage has gone from 1,300 Euros a month to 950 Euros. “You really can’t take from the normal people,” he says. “The average person in Greece is poor.”