A world in economic crisis

The Selfishness of the Greeks – Strikes, anarchy and setting fire to property.

Posted in Greece, Uncategorized, welfare state by Aussie on March 17, 2010

The World From Berlin: ‘There is No Alternative’ to the Euro – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International

Approximately 20,000 selfish Greek workers had a general strike to protest the austerity measures introduced by Papandreou. The measures that were introduced included:

  • higher taxes;
  • pension freeze;and
  • wages cut for civil servants;

and are meant to help cut the burgeoning Greek budget deficit. The Greek budget deficit is now running at 4 times higher than the amount allowed within the euro zone rules. However, it seems that the Greek workers who have been well fed at the public teat are none too happy that they might have to cut down on a little bit of that food, so that Greece can become a neat trim country once again.

The strikes were organized by the trade unions (no surprise) who have made the claim that the austerity measures will hurt the poor and disadvantaged. However, is that the truth? Or is it something that is pushed by the Communists that control the Greek trade union movement. Over 20,000 people took to the streets in Athens where there was the usual round of violence that takes place when Greeks decide to go on strike. There was the usual burning and looting that took place. Did they ever think that there is a cost involved when they consistently destroy other peoples’ property?

Despite this displace of Greek selfishness, the German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, had this to say about the Euro zone and its predicament:

“We must use the instruments of financial and economic policy that are available to us in the euro zone in a more resolute way. For member states with insufficient savings measures, and outsized deficits, resources from the EU Cohesion Fund must be made available.”

“The prospect of emergency aid that comes bound up with conditions, such as tough financial and economic corrective measures, will see trust (in the euro) rise in financial markets. It will avert any worsening of crises and, in the future, it will make it unnecessary for European markets to go to the IMF.”

“There is no alternative to the monetary union. The euro has established itself as the second most important currency in the world, and as a currency in which to invest. Part of the reason for this is that the European Central Bank has worked to gain the trust of financial markets. To keep from losing this trust, the crisis must be overcome quickly. In fact, the monetary union can only gain more trust by working to resolve this crisis.”

“If we succeed in strengthening the competitiveness of the currency and if we succeed in setting the financial and economic policies of member states on the right course, then this crisis will be seen as the point where things changed for the better. That possibility exists — and we must embrace it.”

Even the centre right and the left-wing pundits have noted the laziness of the Greeks, as well as their unwillingness to tighten their belt in order to bring their country’s budget deficit under control.

The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

A short time ago a visitor to Athens conducted an experiment. He bought a newspaper at a kiosk and asked the kiosk owner for a receipt. The kiosk owner gave the hapless customer the money back, saying that he had never given out receipts in the past and he would not do so in the future. The incident shows what Papandreou faces in his mission to clean up the national finances.”

“For weeks it has been an open question whether (Papandreou’s) political desire to save the country will affect the government’s relationship with the large unions, which are traditionally close to the ruling (left-leaning) Pasok party. Now the first ruptures are starting to appear. They are not between the government and the unions, though: They are between the leaders of the union and the union members. During the past week one of those leaders — a member of Pasok who had previously supported the government — was attacked during a speech and had to be brought to the Parliament House for safety.”

“Still, there are signs of hope. Many Greeks are struggling against the changes because they work for the civil service. But those who do not live directly off the state still make up the Greek majority. Papandreou can count on them.”

Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

When the state is bankrupt it can no longer pay pensions or wages. Unimaginable as that may be, it’s true. When the Greek premier told his people the unadorned truth, a revelatory shockwave went through the nation. All over the country yesterday, unions — who certainly have something to do with the unrealistic tax policies that account for the miserable state Greece is in — went on strike. But against whom? Or what? “We are fighting here for the honor of the trade union movement,” was one answer. For honor! Even though it is clear that these strikes do nothing but worsen the nation’s decline.”

“A tendency toward self-harm in times of great upheaval is common. And the fact that the Greeks don’t want to pay for their country’s problems, when they are not actually responsible for them all, is also understandable. Even Prime Minister Papandreou said he understood the people’s discontent. But he also told the truth: there is no money. Despite this statement — or perhaps because of it — he remains well loved. They see that he must clean up corruption and they believe he represents their interests. It would be a piece of good luck if the right person were in the right place at the right time — this time.”

I would have to argue against Berliner Zeitung, that the Greeks are not actually responsible for the problems. That is simply not true. For decades the Greek Government has done nothing about the situation of government employee bloat. It has done nothing about ensuring that the level of wages remains reasonable and within reach for employers. It has encouraged the feeding at the public teat. The Welfare State, and Greece is a prime example of what goes wrong in a welfare state is doomed to fail. A government cannot sustain pension payments and the like if there is not some underlying workforce that is paying taxes at a proper level. In the long term the higher taxes hurt everybody. In the long term the economic disaster is inevitable. The behaviour of the Greek unionists goes to show the selfishness of their position. Whilst the previous government did something that was shady due to the deals it made with Goldman Sachs, the fact is that the systemic failure of the Greek economy has been a failure for a very long time.

Update:  utility workers and nurses go on strike.

they should be thankful that they have work, instead of acting so selfishly. The nurses held a 24 hour strike, and the utility workers stopped for 48 hours. I am sure that was really good for Greek business.

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