Greek voices…

Behind all the raw financial data there are always people. Here are two very human voices talking about the current crisis in Greece.

First up is a passionate call for action on Sturdyblog, called Democracy vs Mythology: The Battle in Syntagma Square. One quote:

I know it is impossible to share in a single post the history, geography and mentality which has brought this most beautiful corner of our Continent to its knees and has turned one of the oldest civilisations in the world from a source of inspiration to the punchline of cheap jokes. I know it is impossible to impart the sense of increasing despair and helplessness that underlies every conversation I have had with friends and family over the last few months. But it is vital that I try, because the dehumanisation and demonisation of my people appears to be in full swing.

And then there is Regarding the Greek situation by Eugenia Loli-Queru. One quote (emphasis mine):

In the 1920s, the bureaucracy had become so big that the public sector grew not only in numbers, but also in power. A law was enacted where from the moment you became a civil worker, you effectively couldn’t get fired.

This quickly created a two-tier citizenship in Greece. The powerful civil workers (who retire early, some of them work few hours, some of them working in offices are indeed lazy etc), and the private sector, which remained very underpaid, very hard working, and who’d retire at the age of 65. When Europeans today complain about the lazy Greeks, they must understand that Greece has a virtual cast system, and that not everyone is equal in it.

I kindly invite our readers to go and read both posts. Hat tip for the first post goes to Sargasso.

6 thoughts on “Greek voices…

  1. Pingback: Greece facts (?) of the day — Marginal Revolution

  2. First, what are people angry about?
    Imagine this: You want a job as a security guard. You fight hard for it and finally get it. You are paid very well and you swear to guard whatever you’re supposed to be guarding. Then either because you sleep on the job, or because you looked the other way, or because you followed the head of security down the pub for a few beers or because you were an accomplice, whatever you were supposed to be guarding is lifted on your shift. Do you really expect to have no repercussions?
    Same thing here: MPs fightto get elected, they swear an oath to the country, then they vote for over 30 years for deficit after deficit. Now they discover that debt is bad and that THE REST OF THE POPULATION MUST PAY. Some even insult them for not doing the politician’s job, such as getting and piling up receipts that the
    government never bothered with checking.
    Btw, the SAME politicans that created this mess now want to save the country with the people’s sacrifices. So yes, why not confiscate the property of all MPS that voted for deficits all these years. And, one might be amazed at how much this could generate.

    Second, all these sacrifices are not made to pay back the debt. They are made so the government can KEEP BORROWING. Already 20% of the budget goes to interest payment. When the debt is doubled, and everybody has been made poorer and all profitable state assets have been sold, how on earth is the debt going to be paid back? This is just like a drug addict selling off everything for his dose. And it is pure suicide. If one has to balance the budget anyway, let’s do it now instead of borrowing more.

    Third, this is not a legitimate government. It was elected based on promises such as “there is money(to give out)”, “no new measures”(just before the municipal elections), “we’ll regain control of state companies”(which they now sell)
    and so on. In most places when someone promises one thing and does the exact opposite, we call this fraud.

    Fourth, it is my view that a government that cannot efficiently run monopoly state companies, like water, electricity, telco and transportation, is certainly not fit to run an entire country. Instead of selling off land, they could go solar on EVERY government building and land, and thereby generate a steady revenue. Since they lack the money, they could get it from the employees: Give them the exploitation of say government rooftops in hospitals, ministries, parks and so on and reduce their salaries, so that they would actually make more this way. I should add that state companies have CEOs with HUGE pay(for example the Telco CEO was getting paid 580000 euro a year plus 1,4mil euros to leave and his great achievements were to lose 1 million customers and show a deficit(via bookkeeping tricks) for two years. Meanwhile people who on their own initiative and on their free time were developping stuff that not only would solve the company’s needs, but were also much times better than what existed on the marked, were getting blacklisted.

    Let’s be clear this is NOT the German taxpayer’s fault. But it is very hard to pinpoint exactly what each citizen could have done differently:
    -Start a new party. Yes, but you’d need about 1 million just to run, nevr mind the campaign expenses
    -Join one of the existing parties and rise up to the top to run the country better. This means having to clap along every time the great party leader makes a decision, which would make one as complicit to the deficit as anyone else.
    -Vote for the other party. Well, this is exactly the point, both parties are about equally bad. Those who vote for one do so to prevent the other party from seizing power
    -Vote for a third party. These are even worse
    -Vote so that noone gets elected. Also tried that. Then a 3party government was formed with the parties sabotaging it every time. The result was complete chaos. Since then the parties reformed the election law, so that effectively the first party gets elected with as much as 40% of the vote
    -Get a gun and shoot the politicians. Oops, that would make one a terrorist.

    And btw, lots of what you hear is pure crap. For example, the vast majority has no chance to cheat on taxes, even if they wanted to. Their tax is deducted from their paycheck. Others, doing freelance for abroad would elect to pay the taxes abroad because in Greece they would be taxed not according to their contract, but according to what the Tax Office would think they ought to be earning(called ‘objective value’).
    Same thing with the ‘bonus for arriving on time’. This misnomer refers to bus drivers for the first shift around 5 in the morning. Since they have to be at work at a time when there is no public transportation ,they would need to get a cab or drive there and this ‘bonus’ is simply that expense.

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