Monday, July 10, 2006


I woke up this morning to the roosters again. Two of them duel every morning, and then two dogs chime in. If you listen carefully, you can hear several dogs in the distance replying. I can’t help but think of the scene from 101 Dalmations…

But after cursing nature and its cacophony by rolling over and pulling the sheet to my ear (futile, I know), I perked up and launched out of bed when I heard fighter jets. There were two US planes doing ACM over our area for about an hour. They were so loud, Terry suggested filing an FAA noise complaint. Ha. Wouldn’t that be funny?

Mr. ACID himself, Warn, would know better than I, but I think they were F-16s or F-18s. Yes, I suck at aircraft ID, but it’s hard to ID an aircraft when it keeps turning knife-edge and disappearing in the cloudless sky. Amazing how that works. First the plane looks white, then it disappears, then it looks dark gray. I tried using Devin’s binoculars, but because it was “so early in the morning” (10am), my eyes weren’t working properly. They kept tearing up from all the blinding sunlight. (Poor me, I know.)

So our US tax dollars paid for about $20,000 worth of fuel this morning. I could hear them engage their afterburners on two occasions. Knowing our country is going broke from military spending (and don’t argue with me, I’ve already analyzed the budget numbers from the US gov’t themselves on my other blog), I can’t help but look around at Greece and see that their tax dollars aren’t doing much for them.

For those in the militia or for those who are libertarians and think the gov’t should just go away, come to Greece (or Mexico—it’s closer) and you’ll start to notice all of the things our tax dollars pay for—things that really matter in day-to-day living. Sidewalks for pedestrians, for example. When you’re driving, remember your taxes paid to pave the road, which the trucks use to deliver your food. I know we complain a lot about road conditions. Leave the US and then you can complain. See the wide lanes with lane markings? Your tax dollars. That stop sign and stop light, plus the electricity to run them? Your tax dollars.

Our landlady here told us a story about an elderly woman down the street who fell ill. It took the paramedics three hours to get to her. Lucky they didn’t find a cold body waiting for them. That would never be tolerated in the US. Sure, we might go bankrupt paying for the medical treatment, but at least the ambulance is there when you call 911. Our landlady said if she gets sick, her plan is to get on the first plane to the US. Heck, Paris or London would be fine.

I don’t mean this to sound like a litany of Greece-bashing. I just mean that traveling certainly makes you see things you don’t normally see in your own country. When you go to Safeway, be thankful you have all that choice. Imagine doing all of your family’s grocery shopping at 7-11. The markets here are rarely bigger than your average 7-11, although the shelves here are stacked higher and are more cramped.

When you buy fresh milk or cream, be thankful you live where refridgeration is considered the norm, not the exception. The other night I thought it’d be nice to make fetuccini alfredo. The only cream was UHT—the stuff that’s packaged so that it doesn’t need refridgeration. Ditto for the milk, although I did find some very expensive “fresh” milk. The fruit here is grown locally, but you have to be careful buying it. Many of the local markets keep all of their produce in plastic milk carts. They display the fruit during the day (in this heat) and at night they just stack the carts in the store. So much food goes to waste, rotting on the shelves.

Not that this has anything to do with taxes…

I think of things like regulations that are enforced in the US. We have a food and health ministry that makes sure restaurants have things like proper toilets (yes, there I go again!) and wash basins. Notice all those signs telling employees to wash up? Paid for by the government agencies that monitor your food preparation.

I’ve also noticed a serious lack of parks. So far we’ve seen two or three total, and they were in the two big cities—and they were simply older play structures for kids. There are two basketball/tennis courts near us now, but they are run down and not maintained. That’s one funny thing here: you’ll see a brand new building (like where we’re staying, which is an unfinished building—again, in the US, building inspectors would not allow this to be occupied) right next door to two or three buildings that are falling apart. There’s no delineation of the “good” or “bad” side of town. I still can’t decide if things here are falling apart or if things are slowly being rebuilt. It seems like every other home has some stalled construction—an incomplete roof, a half-built stone fence, pilings with re-bar for a second story that just poke into the sky.

At the beaches in the US (the main beaches, I should say), there are always toilets and wash facilities for “free”—paid for by taxes. Here, the only toilets are for customers at the tavernas. Plus, if there’s a danger of falling into the water or over a cliff, we usually have a barrier. Here, we walked along several ports with no guard rails. Imagine Pier 39 or the wharf area without any fences. I know some people will argue that the government shouldn’t protect us from every bad thing out there, but there are simple ways to keep people safe.

Again, I hope this comes across as just a reflection on the ways our tax dollars benefit us—ways that I’m noticing now that I’m in an area that doesn’t have them.


At 10:44 AM, Blogger Kelly A. Harrison said...

Somehow I missed this story before we left on vacation:,,1781343,00.html

And it looks like they were F-16, but more likely Greek:


Post a Comment

<< Home