This post is somewhat late in arriving , so it does lose some of its impact. It was provoked by the ongoing issues with the Eurozones self confessed 'Achilles heel' , Greece, facing what is, by common consent, a very difficult adjustment, and this article in the Guardian
Obviously my erstwhile host here, Giroscoper has decided to retire from 'Cif' (not the detergent spray but the Guardian's forum) for the foreseeable future. However, the germane response from this poster, which seemed so apposite for the 'Anti cuts lobby' in the UK is worth quoting from at length.
"• I live in Greece and ...... I think Hara Kouki is an example of a generation that has grown up thinking that the "state" or their parents are going to give them everything so they don't need to do very much. They complain there are no jobs when they also support a system and a political ideology that prevents jobs from being created. Not to mention, one wonders what jobs many of this generation could actually do. Too many of the "young generation" (not that Hara is that young, she is 32 and presumably has been a "student" for most of her life and intends to be one for the several next few years) actually have very few skills to do a job properly, aside from "delivery" or working in shops. In order to create jobs Greece needs to allow its private sector to function properly but the protests in Athens yesterday were actually about preventing that. The unions and the left thus wanted to show the visiting troika that, No! they will accept no sale or lease of public assets (although there is no register of public assets so no one knows what they actually are in order to be able to utilise them) or privatisation of completely useless state "enterprises" that are totally unproductive and lose millions of euros a month. Despite the fact that such sales or leases or privatisation could bring in tens of billions of euros that Greece desperately needs right now. The purpose of yesterday's riots and Hara's "threat" that may one day be a "mass reaction here in Greece, one that may be violent" were to say: No! No reforms! Do not privatise, do not sell off unproductive state-owned industries! Do not reform the public service! Make no changes, we want things to carry on as they are! We want to protect our vested interests, especially the unions and the syndicates that have brought Greece to its knees.
And, Germany isn't doing better because of the crisis. Germany is doing better because it has a thriving private sector, has companies and citizens who actually make things instead of expect to be given things, and is highly innovative and willing to change and reform when that is needed. This is the opposite of Greece.
The EU doesn't give loans, and certainly not to governments to build houses. Unless you mean the bailout, but that's gone to keep the country from collapsing in return for the government implementing reform. Unfortunately, there has been very little reform, either because the government is being prevented from implementing it by the vested interests that organise the protests, or because the state infrastructure is so weak and civil servants so incompetent they are unable to put the reforms into practice. And, no the people have not been starving because the government has stolen all the "EU loans", whatever they may be. What has happened is that the EU has literally given billions and billions of euros to Greece over the past 30 years for all sorts of projects, large and small, and much of these billions have been misused and wasted, not by the politicians but by the projects they have gone to fund. The EU is definitely to blame for creating a sense of "the EU will give us the money to do this completely useless project so we don't actually have to be productive or effective or even have a necessary product". This has also helped to strangle the development of a mentality where people actually innovate and create and realise the need to work properly, to take some responsibility for themselves and not expect that the state (and their parents, in the case of the 20-30 and even 30plus generation) will sort everything out for them. Hopefully, such EU funding will be better thought out in future.
And...if you're worried that
all governments have destroyed everything the state owns then perhaps the state shouldn't own so much or be involved in such micro-details of daily life. But, I bet you'd be one of the first to go and shout in the streets if such state ownership and state control was challenged.
For Natalie Hanman, where did you find Hara? I note she's a student at Birkbeck, so perhaps you found her through your pal Costas Douzinas. You know, the one that supports that fossilised, backwards hard-leftist ideology that has helped to destroy Greece. (It's not just the hard-left, this kind of garbage ideology also permeates right-wing populism in Greece.) You keep thanking them for supposedly giving insight into what's going on in Greece, when what they're actually doing is giving a distorted picture that only represents about 5% of what's actually going on and misrepresents most of the rest."
Several other papers have written some rather saddening articles about what is happening in Greece. According to the headlines and leftist commentators austerity measures imposed by both the EU (which is an irony given its profligacy) and the IMF have caused a contraction in their economy of an estimated 7% over the past two years. Whilst there is a shade of truth in this, in that the Greeks are the first people paying a very high price for the EU to try and keep the train wreck and vanity project that is the euro going, it ignores the underlying issues afflicting Greece's (and indeed almost every Western European) economy.
As the excellent commentator here points out, the phenomenon known as 'crowding out' is endemic in the Greek economy. The retirement age is 'tiered' between 57 and 61 and a substantial state sector (accounting for around 40% of the workforce) has reasonably generous pensions vis a vis the cost of living. Furthermore, the trend for young people is to avoid going down the route of entrepeneurship and either accept employment within the Public sector or else join the extremes of both sides (and he rightly mentions the economic illiteracy of the Greek ultra nationalists as well as their leftist counterparts) and prootest against any change in the status quo.
What struck me about the Greek protests was the significant similarity between those and the TUC supported 'March for the alternative'which attracted such favourable attention in the Guardian ,Independent and BBC (funded by a £145.50 stipend on every TV watching household in the country) In both cases a large coterie of people, most of whom were advocates or direct beneficiaries of state largesse were marching in support of economic ideas that they, in their heart of hearts, know go against the grain of almost every economic commentator in the mainstream press, (barring the curious Paul Krugman of the New York Times, of whom more in a later post) advocating that the way to solve the economic woes affecting the country was to raise a budget which had already been increased by more than 200% over the past 13 years. As this Greek gentleman seems to realise, sooner or later a reckoning has to come. As several have pointed out,Britain is not Greece, but floundering under the weight of our accumulated debt, at the moment (and as Giroscoper points out I need to see the Labour Party policy review before passing full judgement) the Leader of the Oppositions policy seems to be to reject every area of the budget being cut save Defence. One of my common statements when commenting on the disastrous Labour governments from 1997 to 2010 was that the road to Harare or Pyongyang was shorter than one might expect, and as 'Red Two' and Voller' point out that kind of exaggeration does a significant disservice to people enduring hardships that most in the UK would find unimaginable at the hands of this man and his comrade in arms . However, having travelled to Athens , it's less than three hours, and unless the economy recovers, the figurative road there could be a great deal shorter than both the Leader of HM opposition, and to a degree , the current Prime Minister think.