Musings —07.07.2015 07:48 AM—
Because – as frightened Greeks line up, right now, for basics like food – it isn’t a success. It is an abject failure. It is, as they say, a failed state.
- Tens of thousands of unmarried or divorced daughters of civil servants collect their dead parents’ pensions, weighing on a social security system that experts say will collapse in 15 years unless it is overhauled.
- [Greek] law protects civil servants from dismissal, [and] it allows them to retire with a pension in their 40s.
- Greek pension spending is expected to rise by 12 per cent of gross domestic product by 2050, according to European Union data. That compares with an EU average of less than 3 per cent of GDP.
- Some civil servants are paid extra for using a computer. Some get a bonus for speaking a foreign language and others for arriving at work on time, while many foresters get a bonus for working outdoors.
- Half a month’s extra salary is paid at Easter and another half during the summer. The 14th salary is paid to civil servants at Christmas when the whole economy is geared to consuming it. Taxis, restaurants and hairdressers are legally allowed to charge extra as a “Christmas present.”
- The state owns 74 companies, mainly utilities and transport firms, many of which are overstaffed and loss-making, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The main rail company employs about 9,000 people and reported losses of 800 million euros ($1.06 billion) in 2008.
- Hundreds of state-appointed committees employ staff though it is not clear what they all do. Greece has a committee to manage Lake Kopais, which dried out in the 1930s. One Greek newspaper estimated that committees employ more than 10,000 people and cost over 220 million euros ($292.6 million) a year.
Are you starting to see why the other Eurozone countries aren’t enthusiastic about propping up a state that has been so reckless, for so long? Are you wondering how any sane person could hold up Greece as some sort of a democratic success story?
Not Canada’s New Democrats, apparently. They think Greece has been run well. And they applaud the saturnalian current Greek government, which has made a bad situation much worse.
— Niki Ashton (@nikiashton) July 5, 2015
Ashton, who is no mere anonymous backbench MP, is not alone. Others in the NDP – including someone who should know better – have been similarly foolish.
Democracy, of course, is always a good thing. But what is happening in Greece is going to lead – inevitably, inexorably – to less democracy, not more. In the next few days, the Greek government will start to impose further measures that will limit how (and if) Greeks can house and feed themselves, and provide for the future. By any standard, callously restricting the ability of millions of panicked citizens to put food on the table is not democracy, Team NDP.
It is the absence of it.