Tyler Cowen linked to this excellent post on Athens by Megan Greene. She relates a regulatory burden so high that she found herself in, “a bookstore/cafe that could neither sell books nor make coffee.” That’s not quite square with the media portrayal of Greece as hopelessly impoverished by either slothful residents or bare of natural resources.
As the story implies, the problem isn’t something about the Greek people or land, but the anti-capitalist system imposed upon them. Greece ranks 119 out of 179 in the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom, last of the EU countries. Maybe fixing that would help the economy grow out of the debt situation. It would also help with the culture situation, free people do tend to take the initiative a little more often.
Athens could be the next great place for a capitalist haven. Just as Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan (1st, 18th, 19th in the rankings respectively) are high growth off-shore havens beating the state-controlled Chinese economy (ranked 138th), Athens could be the nearby haven for the increasingly sclerotic European Union. If they let nanocivics operate organically, they might actually accomplish it.