Jus­ti­fy­ing the doom­say­ers by de­fault

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PASCHOS MANDRAVELIS

ket, two things hap­pen: cit­i­zens ac­quire more choices and doom­say­ers spell dis­as­ter. It hap­pened in 1993 with the lib­er­al­iza­tion of tele­phony. But to­day, we don’t have to wait be­tween five or 10 years to get a tele­phone con­nec­tion and we have com­pa­nies scram­bling to se­cure our busi­ness. The same hap­pened with the sale of Olympic Air­ways, with the doom­say­ers go­ing as far as ar­gu­ing that the pri­va­ti­za­tion of the state car­rier would put the coun­try’s is­lands at risk of invasion. Of course Olympic’s pri­va­ti­za­tion did not go as smoothly as it might have done, but from 2008 to the present Greek tax­pay­ers have been spared some 2.8 bil­lion eu­ros in losses. We would have been spared another 5.6 bil­lion eu­ros if the sale had gone ahead in 1998 as it should have. More re­cently, a mea­sure al­low­ing stores to open on Sun­days has been the tar­get of the doom­say­ers, yet a re­cent sur­vey by the Thes­sa­loniki Cham­ber of Com­merce pub­lished in Kathimerini sug­gested that 70 per­cent of re­tail­ers in the north­ern port city claim to be pleased by the de­ci­sion. Of course, ev­ery change in­evitably brings bad with good and there is ev­ery rea­son for peo­ple to ques­tion whether the changes will neg­a­tively af­fect work­ers’ rights. Unions, mean­while, must to be on the look­out at all times for la­bor rights vi­o­la­tions and main­tain the pres­sure on the au­thor­i­ties to safe­guard work­ers. In­stead, the doom­say­ers and unions ex­pend their en­er­gies on rear­guard bat­tles as min­is­ters and deputies put pres­sure on la­bor in­spec­tors to turn a blind eye to vi­o­la­tions so that the lib­er­al­iza­tion drive is not dis­par­aged. And so, lib­er­al­iza­tion – which is so im­por­tant to the econ­omy – is con­ducted with­out rules and at the ex­pense of work­ers and the pub­lic in­ter­est. The prob­lem is that the sys­tem (led by the gov­ern­ing pow­ers) takes the doom­say­ers way too se­ri­ously. Mar­ket dereg­u­la­tion is con­stantly de­layed and the re­sult is deeper re­ces­sion and even more un­em­ploy­ment, there­fore jus­ti­fy­ing the doom­say­ers by de­fault.

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