Skip to comments.Greetings from Obamaland…Oops, I Mean Greece
Posted on 03/30/2014 6:18:24 PM PDT by Kaslin
As much as I condemn American politicians for bad policy, things could be worse.
We could be Greek citizens, which would be very depressing. Indeed, youll understand why I put Obamaland in the title after you read todays column.
Simply stated, Greece is a cesspool of statism. The people seem to be wonderful (at least outside of polling booths), but government intervention is pervasive and atrocious.
Heres an example. As I was coming in a taxi from the airport to the city yesterday, we passed some sort of protest. There were a couple of hundred people at the rally and probably about 50 riot cops.
I naturally wondered about the situation, expecting that it was radical statists or some of the crazies from Golden Dawn. But the cab driver explained that it was pharmacists.
So why are pharmacists protesting? I found out from some of the locals at the Free Market Road Show that this is a heavily regulated and protected sector of the Greek economy.
The government has rules, for instance, that products such as aspirin and other painkillers can only be purchased at pharmacies. The bureaucracy also rigs all the prices to preclude competition. And there are even government policies that make it very difficult for new pharmacies to compete against the established firms.
When special interests have that much power, no wonder Greece is in trouble.
Thought there are some sectors of the business community, such as online entrepreneurs, that are treated like crap. Literally.
Heres another example from a Wall Street Journal report, albeit one where a modest bit of progress has been achieved.
For the first time in more than a hundred years, Greece is sacking public servants. In 1911, Greece introduced jobs for life under Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos. Now, a century later, his descendant, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Greeces minister for administrative reform, is faced with the delicate task of slimming down the massive public sector this law helped create. In exchange for aid, Greece has promised to cut the government workforce by at least 150,000 by 2015 through attrition, and to lay off an additional 15,000 outright by the end of this year. Another 25,000 would be placed in the temporary labor pool. Of those goals, the first has been reached: Greece had 713,000 government workers at the end of 2012, down 122,000 from the end of 2010. But the labor pool is still a work in progress. Last July, the first 4,000 employees were put in that pool, while another 8,000 or so followed a few months later. Few of them are expected to be rehired. And with Greeces unemployment rate already close to 30%, few expect to find jobs in the private sector.
I actually feel a bit sorry for some of these people.
They probably took jobs in the bureaucracy without ever thinking about who was paying their salaries and without giving any thought to the featherbedding and waste that accompany most public sector positions.
But I bet they voted for the politicians that dramatically expanded the number of bureaucrats, so its hard to feel too much sympathy.
In any event, theyre understandably worried now that the gravy train is being derailed.
Or maybe the gravy is still there, but in different forms.
It appears that theres still taxpayer money floating around that can be wasted in interesting ways.
Here are some excerpts from the Guardian about EU-funded anger management for some of Greeces senior tax bureaucrats.
Until Greeces economic meltdown, anger management was an alien concept at the countrys finance ministry. Today these are the buzzwords flying around the ground-floor training room at 1 Handris Street. For tax inspectors attending mandatory seminars at the government building, anger management, like patience and politesse, are now seen as essential prerequisites of an increasingly stressful job. Today, in Greece, everyone is either unhappy or angry when they have to go and pay at the tax office, Fotis Kourmouris, a senior official at the finance ministrys public revenues department said. There is a lot of negative emotion in the framework of better customer service, classes in psychological and emotional intelligence had become necessary.
I wouldnt call it negative emotion.
This is a long-overdue revolt of the Greek tax slaves.
inspectors have found themselves at the sharp end of popular rage. In recent months visiting auditors have been chased out of remote villages, hounded out of towns and booted off islands by an increasingly desperate populace. Weve had multiple cases of violence at tax offices by angry members of public, including physical assaults; shots were fired in one case, and one attacker came with an axe, said Trifonas Alexiadis, vice-chairman of the national association of employees at state financial services.
But when you read how the Greek government is trying to rape and pillage taxpayers, you can understand the anger.
A series of new tax laws has further fuelled public anger. Since the outbreak of the crisis, close to 30 new levies have been introduced by governments desperate to augment empty state coffers. Too much pressure is being put on people who cant pay, said Alexiadis, who suggested that in such circumstances the classes were not only ill-conceived but juvenile and unnecessary. accountant Heracles Galanakopoulos agreed. They produce a law that nobody understands and then produce another three to explain it. By the time people get here they are really very angry, he lamented I spend at least five or six hours a day reading up on all these new laws and still cant keep up. Anger management is a nice idea but in a system that is so absurd its not going to make a jot of difference.
Amen. As Ive argued before, Greeces problem is high tax rates. Evasion is simply a function of a bad tax code.
Lets close with some Greek-related humor.
I very much recommend this very funny video from a Greek comedian and this politically incorrect map of how the Greeks view the rest of Europe.
If Wikipedia is right, Kyriakos Mitsotakis is not a direct descendant of Eleftherios Venizelos but a great-nephew—Venizelos was the uncle of Kyriakos’ father Konstantinos Mitsotakis (b. 1918), born in Khania (where Venizelos was from and is buried).
The following caught my attention and many of you may agree with my observation:
“..The government has rules, for instance, that products such as aspirin [liquor] and other painkillers can only be purchased at pharmacies [state liquor stores]. The bureaucracy also rigs all the prices...”
Recently in the state of Washington there was an election where the state liquor stores were abolished. Now I can go into any market and buy a bottle of booze.
Surprise! The prices have come way down.
So, do you live in a state with liquor control, such as Washington used to have? I know Pennsylvania used to; are there any others?
We need a statement in the constitution that says:
separation of state and the economy
separation of state and businesses
It's not true at all! Well, maybe only a little.
OK, it's true. But about that "Democracy" part - we have to talk.
Democracy originated in Athens, Greece
NO!!! Prices have gone WAY UP (including taxes). Typically more in the past year than in the following example.
People complained that prices in private stores were higher, and generally they were. The average retail price per liter sold, including tax, was $23.87 in May 2013, up from $21.07 the year before.
All I can say, is move to Longview. Everything is on sale because booze ain’t selling.
We could be Greek citizens, which would be very depressing. Indeed, youll understand why I put Obamaland in the title after you read todays column. <<<
Re: the funny map
But about that "Democracy" part - we have to talk.
21 And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king.
22 Now that being broken, whereas four stood up for it, four kingdoms shall stand up out of the nation, but not in his power.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom [sing.], when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
25 And through his policy also he shall cause craft to prosper in his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart, and by peace shall destroy many: he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand.
"fierce countenance" = strong-faced (az panim), idiom for insolent, brazen, audacious
"understanding dark sentences" = (mavin chidot) one knowledgeable/expert in enigmas (an enigma maven)
...things could be worse. We could be Greek citizens...
Just curious....why have prices risen? I see that the State still gets its taxes (9.7%)....but, would have thought prices would have dropped....maybe because private organizations had to build infrastructure?
Are people buying more expensive booze, or has the price of each brand gone up?
Once again - a nation ultimately gets the government it deserves.
Ask yourself - what kind of government does the USA deserve?
I would say definitely not the more expensive booze with the economy as it is.
Our friend owns the largest private liquor store operation here in the Tri-Cities and is always telling us how the point-of-sale taxes are killing his business. Prices look cheap when you see the label at Safeway or somewhere sans tax and then the shock comes in when the customer sees the final bill.
Additionally, he can’t sell directly to restaurants competitively against the distributors who have the supply chain locked up. They are able to offer discounts that a retailer can’t legally or practically match.
Democracy would later disgrace itself by voting the death of Socrates under similar storms of passion. Neither Plato nor Aristotle ever forgave it, and they had cause.
There are 18 of ‘em:
Thanks. I didn’t think to look in Wikipedia.