Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Yes, but what is it you actually want?

I'm sat here watching Sky News' coverage of the latest strike cum tear-up in Greece. A crushing realisation has dawned upon me.

Firstly, this whole episode is self-perpetuating and can only end one way. One of two things will happen. The Greek parliament will vote through the latest austerity measures and get the bail out. People will keep striking, the goverment may come down, but it doesn't matter because whoever takes their place will be in exactly the same situation. It'll happen again in October. Maybe they'll get another bail out, certainly sooner or later they'll go to the well to find it empty and Greece will have option but default. Or, parliament will vote down the austerity measures, the government will resign, but it doesn't matter because whoever takes their place will be in exactly the same situation and Greece will default.

The powers that be in the EU and the IMF will argue this is not the case until the cows come home but it is utterly predictable in its inevitability.

But what is it the Greek public want?

Well, here are the stats Sky are running in their report on Greece:

  • The average retirement age in Greece is 61 - but millions of workers in public and private sectors retire at 50. (Life expectancy - 79)
  • Whilst paying out pensions, the Greek government has failed to generate incomes to cover this cost. Tax evasion seems to be a national sport. Only 5,000 Greeks declare an income of over €100k (£89k). Self declared income is rarely challenged and loses the Greek economy an estimated £13bn a year.
So, the Greeks are out on the street demonstrating against increases in taxes nobody pays, an increase in the retirement age which is ignored by over 10 years at any rate, and a cut in spending which, as the current situation shows, even with large reductions already put in place, the Greeks haven't a hope of funding anyway.

So what do the Greeks want? Well, I can draw only one conclusion; they want to continue retiring at 50 on a state pension, pay no tax, have all their services and have somebody else pay for it.

Well, you know what?

Fuck you.

This isn't the fault of greedy bankers, corrupt politicians or evil big business. This is your fault. Oh granted the politicians made the pension laws, they spent the cash, they didn't collect the taxes, but who put them there? You did. Did you not think at any point 'there's something wrong here, I'm only paying €100 tax a year, how can we afford this?'

And then complacently and selfishly you came up with the answer. 'You'll pay for it.'

Did you really think your EU masters would just hand over the cash without condition? Fools. They own you now. Protest all you like. Burn your cities to the ground for all I care, it will make no difference. Your politicians will continue to pass laws, but they've yet to enforce any of the fiscal laws they put in place thus far, why would they start now? Either the IMF, ECB or EU will slam the door shut, or the market will. Why the hell should I pay for your laziness and greed?

That being said, you also have my thanks, because your actions appear to have holed this horrible, authoritarian, corrupt and greedy European project below the waterline. Let's hope the hull breach expands further.


Michael Fowke said...

"That being said, you also have my thanks, because your actions appear to have holed this horrible, authoritarian, corrupt and greedy European project below the waterline."

My thoughts as well.

Anonymous said...

If the Greek government resigned tomorrow Brussels will take over, Belgium, because it has no decided elected Government, has been Governed/ruled by the EU for the last 9 months or so.
Dya see the pattern?

The Refuser said...

I tend to agree with anon above. The EU have no intention of wasting a good crisis. There will be no end to the bail outs because they have no plan B. The Project may be holed below the waterline but this could be the start of a great deal of unpleasantness. Oh and Wolfers the situation in Greece with their easy living, low tax lifestyle, has another factor which will ensure the noose continues to tighten. The Greeks have deathbed demographics. There will be fewer and fewer people to not pay their taxes as every year goes by. Hard to feel optimistic about the outcome.

nisakiman said...

So do I understand that were the UK government as inefficient in collecting tax as is the Greek government you would be hot-footing it down to your local tax office with a wad of cash to give to them?

"Here you are guys. I only paid a hundred quid tax this year, I think you need more of my hard earned cash to piss up against the wall on useless windmills, gifts to countries with space programs, transgender equality outreach officers, armies of tinpot officials to police all the petty bans and restrictions, and of course our all-important contributions to that paragon of probity, the EU parliament."

Maybe the Greeks have got it right. Soak the bastards for every cent you can and then default.

Snowolf said...

No, not at all nisakiman. Taxes are a bloody outrage in this country.

If I were not paying them, I wouldn't be out on the street complaining about the lack of services my unpaid taxes were providing.

If you don't want tax, don't complain about lack of services. If you want services provided by the state then you have to pay for it, pay well over the odds, and accept that many services will be funded you don't want.