04 May 2010

Greek Riots...a targeting error

The Europeans have agreed to bail out the Greeks, the Greek government has agreed to severe austerity measures in exchange and the strikes and protests started....again.

Now I’m all in favour of citizens protesting austerity measures for the poor and middle class, while the fat bastards sit on top contributing less than their share, but for Greeks to be squealing at the Germans and the rest of the EU is a bit over the top.

The EU and the IMF just pledged $145 billion to help the Greeks out. That’s about €150 per person in every EU nation.

Countries like the Slovak Republic and Portugal are expected to contribute their share despite the fact that Greeks enjoy a higher standard of living than either the Slovaks or Portuguese.

Hell, the Greeks currently get better pensions than the Germans who are footing the majority of the bail out!

And the Greeks lift their mid digit by way of thanks.

It would a different matter if the Greek problem was one of ill luck or bad timing, but its a problem of their own creation.

In Greece:

1. tax evasion is virtually a national pastime. On the best estimates of the Federation of Greek Industries, it may be as much as $30 billion USD a year. Not bad for a country of only 11 million.

2. bribery for basic government services is the rule not the exception, with the average Greek paying €1,355 ($1,830) in bribes last year for public services. And that’s just the small stuff.

3. the Greek government thinks nothing of hiring Goldman Sachs to create complicated financial instruments with the sole aim of misleading the rest of their EU partners into thinking they are financially sound, when they are a basket case.

So, while I support the Greek riots, I despise their infantile rage at the rest of Europe that is desperately trying to assist them. With this record, I would have thought a bit of bowing and scraping to the EU was a little more appropriate.

They can chuck rocks and burn down government buildings in Athens with my blessing. I’d even support them getting out some piano wire and stringing up Greek bankers and politicians. But they can’t vomit up bile on the rest of Europe.

I'm not without suggestions as to how to solve their crisis. So, here’s my blueprint for a Greek recovery:

1. clear the black economy with effective enforcement against tax evasion;

2. hammer the top income brackets with luxury taxes on high end cars, yachts, etc and actually enforce it; and

3. take a few lessons from the Chinese and start executing those guilty of corruption. It focuses the minds of those thinking about it.

In my humble opinion, the Greeks should focus on class war not spitting at their neighbours.

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