Thursday, October 27, 2011

Time for the Abolition of Greece?

The Greeks have had their moments, but mainly thousands of years ago. Now the Parthenon is a dilapidated wreck with the roof gone, the columns bullet-pocked, and few of the statues possessed of a single intact limb. Even worse is the condition of the people who are apparently so deluded by the political class as to see no connection between money and work and who are now on a rampage burning German flags decorated with swastikas in support of their demand that German taxpayers pay Greek pensions which are unfunded because Greeks refuse to pay taxes.

Under the circumstances, abolition seems the only feasible solution. As a practical matter, the country could be sold off in chunks to hedge funds and other private investors, who would gain the right to collect taxes by whatever means might prove effective, flog off all publicly owned waterfront land for development, and rebuild the Parthenon as an iMax theatre showing reenactments of the Peloponnesian war, the death of Socrates and other exciting events in Greek history.

Come to think of it, the time seems ripe to privatize a good many other countries. Goldman Sachs, for example, could surely achieve better financial results in Ireland than the Irish. And once they'd got the finances turned around, they could do an IPO, which would allow the Irish to buy the place back, some of it anyhow, while leaving control in the hands of competent business people impervious to demands for retirement at 50, free education from K to early middle age, and limitless free healthcare.

In fact, what is truly extraordinary is the widespread belief that a bunch of professional politicians such as David Cameron, Nicolas Sarkozy and Barak Obama, none of whom are known to have done a useful day's work in their lives, are not only capable of managing a government that spends half the wealth of the nation, but that they would do so lovingly, in the interests of the people, rather than solely for personal advantage.

For the latest on the Greek bailout:
The Greek Referendum
Greek Debt Crisis Tipping Point, CFR
Bankfurt mole: this new ‘deal’ is a page one scam, The Slog
CDS on Greece a Purposeful Sham, Mish

6 comments:

  1. "in support of their demand that German taxpayers pay Greek pensions which are unfunded because Greeks refuse to pay taxes"

    Except this isn't the case. The majority of Greeks pay their taxes and in addition are imposed a number of extra quite illegal taxes only because ... those who should pay their taxes (the wealthy, the politicians and the financiers) don't. Please don't generalise. Anyone who looks closely can see that those in power are so corrupted and rich that they rely on the majority's honesty and poverty. Just like in any other Junta.

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    1. According to world renowned expert Prof Friedrich Schneider of Linz University in Austria:

      Greece's shadow economy – made up of the trade, goods and services, both legal and illegal where taxes are not paid – grew from 24.3pc of GDP in 2008 to 25.4pc in 2010.

      Given that about half the economy is in the public sector where taxes on wages of public sector workers and government contracts cannot be avoided, the professor's findings suggest that among Greeks who are able to avoid paying tax, many do so.

      Which is not to refute your claim that the tax evaders are mainly rich people. Avoiding taxes, after all, helps a great deal those seeking to get rich.

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    2. I think the major problem in these kind of studies is that they present figures but are unrelated to real life. It's really difficult to classify tax evasion in Greece. Would a billionaire who is shamelessly protected by the Law be as guilty as someone who won't declare 1.000 Euros? Do the studies take under consideration that those 1.000 Euros may mean the difference between survival and bankruptsy? Do they mention that the billionaire lives tax-free but the other guy is plagued by indirect and direct taxes that don't make sense? I think also that the media (local and foreign) have played a very dirty role in all this. It's astonishing to see how the European public seems to have formed a stern image of the tax-payer's behaviour when the majority of them don't know first-hand if what they are shown is true or false. The truth is that the shadow economy exists because the Greek government has nurtured it for decades. I can't think of a single government that wasn't a puppet of the EU of the USA. Now, what I'm afraid of when I read a sentence like the one above, about the "German taxpayers pay Greek pensions which are unfunded because Greeks refuse to pay taxes" is this: I'm afraid that some people, who can't or won't put two and two together, will take the meaning of this phrase as a litteral description of how the average Greek behaves. Instead of focusing in the real problem (politics and finance), the focus is shifted to the average person. It's a small problem but with big implications because generalisation is what happens before racism. Just think what happened in early Nazi Germany.

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    3. What you say makes sense. But you should understand that this piece was intended as satire. If you consider the linked pieces on the same topic you will see that responsibility for Greece's present financial difficulties are attributed to the Government, specifically, the government's exploitation of an opportunity provided by the creation of the Eurozone to borrow large amounts of money cheaply. These debts were incurred in breach of Greece's commitment to keep the government deficit within 3% of GDP. In fact, until the election of the Papandreou government, the debt was running at 14%.

      Greece has suffered a government that bankrupted the country by buying votes for short term party political advantage. The Greek people should not be waving swastika's or demanding equal pay with Germans who are more productive than Greeks -- and almost everyone else in the World. Instead they should be demanding honest government.

      One of the most difficult things to understand is the violence of the public reaction to the need for austerity. But perhaps that reaction is being stage managed by government (not necessarily by the the Greek government), as part of an effort to dictate the outcome of the present crisis.

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  2. I'm thinking that this is satire. I sure hope so.

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    1. Whatever makes you think that?

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