Re­pro­duc­ing more of the same

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY STAVROS LYGEROS

Thir­teen months af­ter Greece signed the mem­o­ran­dum, in­stead of so­lu­tions, the cit­i­zens see the coun­try sink­ing deeper into re­ces­sion, leav­ing more and more in a state of eco­nomic and so­cial ruin. Hope has been re­placed by de­spair, and this is grad­u­ally trans­form­ing into rage. Un­der such ex­plo­sive cir­cum­stances it is for­tu­nate that so­ci­ety’s rage is be­ing chan­neled through the peace­ful In­dig­nant move­ment. But how long will that last? In a chameleon-like change of face, the rul­ing elite that nur­tured the klep­toc­racy, the waste of the state, ir­ra­tional­ity and im­punity have be­come the torch­bear­ers of aus­ter­ity, but only in re­gard to those be­neath them. The more im­pu­dent among them are even wag­ging their fin­ger at so­ci­ety. That is not to say the cit­i­zens are com­pletely in­no­cent, but the fish starts to stink from the head. The same elite is acting in a provoca­tively self­ish man­ner. They con­demn pop­ulism and the trade unions, corruption in the civil ser­vice and tax eva­sion among the mid­dle class, but never the mul­ti­fac­eted sys­tem of en­tan­gled in­ter­ests that fed the par­a­sites bleed­ing the state dry and ob­structed pro­duc­tive ac­tiv­i­ties. The plun­der­ing of state cof­fers is a sys­temic phe­nom­e­non, but it is those at the peak rather than at the base of the so- cial pyra­mid who ben­e­fited the most. For Greece to come out of the cri­sis it needs a re­struc­tur­ing of its debt and a na­tional strat­egy for purg­ing the sys­tem and pro­mot­ing growth. A rad­i­cal shake-up in the way the state makes money and how it spends it could save enor­mous amounts, while a boost to the coun­try’s growth po­ten­tial could break the vi­cious cy­cle of re­ces­sion. Ge­orge Pa­pan­dreou’s gov­ern­ment has done nei­ther. It has not only failed to reach its fis­cal tar­gets but it has also ex­hausted the pre­cious cap­i­tal of so­ci­ety’s tol­er­ance for painful mea­sures and re­forms. The is­sue, there­fore, is not about eras­ing the deficit, but how. Doesn’t the fact that the gov­ern­ment has hardly touched the “big fish” or the main play­ers of the klep­toc­racy while at the same time plac­ing the en­tire bur­den on the easy tar­gets – the wage earn­ers, pen­sion­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers – tell us some­thing? The in­equitable divi­sion of the bur­den cor­rodes the moral foun­da­tions of the col­lec­tive ef­fort to exit the cri­sis, in­creas­ing in­stead the peo­ple’s rage and the chance of a so­cial ex­plo­sion. Fur­ther­more, the more you try to squeeze out of an al­ready dried-up mar­ket, the more dam­age you do to the coun­try’s pro­duc­tion dy­namic, there­fore sim­ply re­pro­duc­ing more of the same.

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