So, what’s wrong with Greece?

16 02 2010

Everything and nothing. To understand the situation of modern Greece, one has to understand that the feeling and judgment of people in this country are affected by:

  1. Heritage and history before the 1821 revolution
  2. Recent historical events

Heritage and history refers to the three eras of Greek history that we are very proud of: Antiquity, Hellenistic and Eastern Roman Empire. In all three eras, Greece was a mighty empire on the face of the known world. In all three cases, Greece fell and rose again. This creates a feeling that we now experience another such period of decline between periods of prosperity. People in Greece believe that history makes circles, so did the Dinosaurs. Even if this is true,  it ignores the rising entropy inherent in all systems… So people tend to be relaxed.

Recent history, that is after the Revolution is another parameter that affects the mentality of people in Greece. This period of almost 200 years of independence is marked by a string of wars that ended along with the civil war in 1949. Following governments were weak and power was shared between governments and the Palace. This led to the coup of 1967 and the subsequent junta that lasted until 1974 during which time as Bill Clinton put it in in 1999, the US failed to support democracy. The following years, are marked with political struggle between left and right wing parties up until the prevalence of the socialist party in 1981 the same year that the country’s succession to the EEC at that time. This is a significant date to keep in mind. Throughout this whole history, political disputes prevailed in Greece. Between the Russian, French and British parties, left wing, right wing, communists, socialists and so on. For half the 20th century the country was at war. Obviously, disputes where even fiercer. During this time, left party supporters where oppressed and faced persecution and exile. Things got even worse during and after the civil war, when the communists attempted to take power and in fear of annexing the country to the Soviet Bloc, the British ran to the rescue of the government. After the defeat of the communist party there was of course even more persecution and exile. The elections of 1981 where the first to bring anything left of centre to power. For many it was the beginning of their attempt to take revenge for the so-called “stone years”. The cost was around another 10-15 years of hatred.

So you get the picture: reliance on historical evidence of survival and political struggle: the coctail to distructing public opinion from real problems. Another parameter is the Good Weather. As opposed to other aspects of the life in Greece, the weather is impressively robust, especially during the summer months. This makes things much worse, people just tend to think that everything is bright because of the sunshine…

But don’t get this wrong. Usually people translate this to “Greeks don’t work”. Interestingly enough Greeks work more actual hours per week than most EU partners.

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6 responses

9 07 2011
Joan

Nice history lesson but it doesn’t explain railway workers making 65,000 euros per year and for many, the retirement age of 55 for men and and 50 for women!

9 07 2011
dpservis

Joan

it is true, there are some cases like the ones you mention. But these are the outliers, and there are outliers in every single country in the world. There are plenty of examples of even more widespread benefits in all European countries. It simply does not make sense to stick to the outliers, this is merely the trick of the media, stretch some outrageous cases to stir the menace of the public. This does not mean that these cases should not be dealt with. But they are not the average. For the average, just check the numbers at Eurostat, check the yearbooks or the databases themselves if you like. There you’ll see that the median earnings in Greece are 20000 Euros per year, average retirement age above or at all EU averages and labour productivity the same as Germany, Italy and the UK.

http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/statistics/search_database

I therefore hardly see the point in believing in whatever hoax is spread by your local tabloid, especially being the son of a father that started working at the age of 8 and retired at the age of 72 and not knowing anyone retiring earlier than 65.

From another point of view: what is so bad about retiring early? Wasn’t that the promise of free markets anyway? More technology, more money, less work? Just because you’re convinced you have to work till you drop dead, it does not mean it has to be so.

1 11 2011
elmer

nice rebuttal Dpservis. There are always two sides to a coin, but sin is always a deceiver!

3 06 2012
wolfgang

well well all good truths is you going broke never mind who is at fauld

7 06 2012
dpservis

We are broke. But you gotta mind who’s fault it is, otherwise you do the same mistake. Going broke is nothing to be happy about neither for Greece not the EU.

8 06 2012
wolfgang

nobody is happy about it, you do’t the whole system is at fould.so donot spent energy , just get on with it pronto.\

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