on Sun, 05/22/2011 - 18:06
well, to make a long story short, the reality of the common man in greece is
that he is being bled dry.
Aside from the politically connected few, people tend to work hard and get very little money for it. A few exceptions exist, which of course get tons of attention- the public sector , for the most part, doesn't do jack shit, but the salaries there are pathetically small as well.
There are a few strong unions in the private sector which also pull several times the
average income of the typical working man, and they get a lot of attention too.
You'd think that everyone in greece was working one of those cushy jobs, but
of course, the truth is that very few do.
In the urban scene, most people under the age of 35 are lucky if they get some
job that's technically part time, but sometimes might offer the chance to work 50-60 hour
weeks just so that the boss renews thier contract. These people might make 800 euros a month, and if theyre lucky maybe get up to about 900. breaking a thousand a month is
out of reach for most.
For the majority of the public sector flunkies, similar salaries prevail-
most of them are in the 1000 a month range.
there is a small slice of people, private and public sector, who have
worked their way through this 800-1000 euros barrier and either by
playing office politics (public sector) or busting their asses (private sector)
manage to pull in between 2 and 3k a month. They are usually aware that
they got where they are by their own ability and they are often very
aware that while they are comfortable, they are not in the actually
wealthy class. There are a lot of yuppy types in this segment, sadly,
being told by foriegn television what they should want.
Like the americans who make six digits but have negative net worth,
about half of the people in this middle class in greece fell for the
consumer fantasy, so they are in debt and basically fucked. The
other half are a bit more responsible and often had a lot of savings,
maybe in some rental property, maybe more recently in the banking
system. Those people, represent wealth yet to be robbed, so
they _will_ be fucked, just as soon as someone get around to ripping
them off one way or another.
In the cities, supermarkets and all sorts of things are controlled by
cartels, mostly foriegn owned now. It's cheaper to buy greek products in a
supermarket in germany where there is competition, than the same products in a
supermarket in greece, owned by the same parent company as the german one.. why?
partly because they can.
The self-employed are doubly screwed. Most business in greece is still under the shadow of
this medieval system of concessions and monopolies farmed out by politicians to their cronies or friends or maybe if they owe someone a favor. As a small
independent (almost always just a family business, because to hire
someone outside of the family is a sure way to bankrupt such
a fragile venture), not only are there heavy taxes to deal with (comparable
to western europe), but there is an immense bureacracy set up
partly to obstruct anyone from competing with these politically connected
shitheads. Lets not forget how corrupt folks like tax inspectors are.
They will size you up to get a feel for just how much they can squeeze
out of you, then make up some kind of numbers from pure fantasy,
just to force you to cut a deal with them.
so, you have to deal with that shit, then you have to deal with the mountain of
permits, paperwork, etc, all opportunities not so much even for
bribes to be collected by the people in the machinery, but to force you
to, in a sense, pay into the franchise of the bigshot who owns the
monopoly on whatever the hell is is youre trying to do. you can even
bribe officials , etc, but if you fail to pay into the bigshot's syndicate,
then you'll be busted for bribing an official, or something.
At least this shitty system is so far not enforced so much by thugs as it is by
courts and sheer paperwork.
If you have any money left over to support your family, well, you are lucky.
There are 'closed professions' like civil engineers, lawyers, etc, where
you have to somehow get a license from someone who already has one - inherit one or buy it - and those guys, along with the services they sell, often name their price.
curiously doctors are not a closed profession- full on competition, and
private sector cash-customer healthcare costs are actually affordable,
though maybe not if you're one of the poor SOBs making 800 euros a month.
smart, capable, ambitious people, if they dont have any real ties , family
reasons, etc, to stay in greece, usually leave to find work abroad, paying 5x what
they could get in greece. almost all of them would wish they could stay in greece,
but they are so fed up with this shitty system, and the lack of oppurtunities,
that they give up and move away.
the actually rich people? the politically connected, or folks who were positioned well
and making money from back in the days when there was a healthier economy (like, in the 70s), those guys are living in another world entirely. Some of them are well off because of
actual genuine hard work, but the majority of them got their money from
the corrupt machinery of power. They're obviously not going to give
it back, and theyre obviously not going to squeeze themselves to
pay off a government bond, either.
There is a humongous gap between 30 years odl and 40 years old
in greece. people younger than early 30s know the system is full of
shit, they have no confidence at all that it works or will keep any
promises, they see all politicians as lying scumbags, and for the most
part they know the thing is falling apart around them. They are
largely not inclined to violence, either. The demonstrations, etc,
you see, are _so far_ organized. There was always a small hooligan
element in , big surprise, spoiled middle class kids, who would go
make some trouble to stick it to 'the man' (their parents, usually
in the middle class i mentioned), break some shit, spray some graffiti,
and then hang out in a cafe and brag to each other and on facebook
how they were resisting being oppressed.
That was a common formula for a friday night around the university.
Someone would then call the cops, the cops would show up, they'd
all go through the drill, chase the kids for a few blocks , and then go home.
the kids would then, go hang out and brag about how they were
resisting being oppressed by cops.
and every so often this might culminate in the recreational torching of
a macdo or maybe a foriegn bank.
The demonstrations are not usually those kids, because demonstrations
aren't just a thing on the whim of the moment some friday night...
most of the demonstrations are organized by unions and political parties,
mostly, so far, on the left, and mostly they are about people bitching
and moaning to protect some bit of their share of the gravy train.
yes, sometimes it does get out of hand.
when the actual hard working sucker making 800 a month gets
pissed enough to start smashing things, look out, because the whole
country would go up in flames. As these people are increasingly
unemployed, some of the tension in the streets is beginning to be
genuine and not just organized. This is not organized by any parties,
though there is a growing awareness that the huge about of illegals
in the country working the bottom-rung below minimum wage jobs
are there to drive down the price of labor at the low end, and i would
expect to see more tension between them (also now out of work in
large numbers, but not yet leaving the country in large numbers) and
The attitude in the country has changed immensely in the past year
or two. everyone, whether he's a 'worker' making 800 a month
or whether he's a small time self-employed businessman or a farmer
or whatever, knows that the system is hopelessly corrupt, cannot be fixed,
and is bleeding them dry to pay for it all, while behind them the banks
loaned fantasy printing press money to them with the premeditated goal of foreclosing on them anyway.. and they almost all agree that the main goal of the euro is
to allow Germany to dominate the rest of Europe, and that it's a bad deal for Greece. almost everyone who doesnt directly depend on the
status quo knows and says this, and they are all just waiting for
the moment when it breaks. Announcing default is what that means for
a lot of them.
Greek police will go on strike if they are ordered to really use force
to control the population- the violence you see so far is mild compared to other
countries and , really, genuinely, the police in Greece are up and down
the ranks , not trained, indoctrinated, or expected to employ force against
the population. When two years ago a cop shot a kid in a demonstration,
even though the court found that he fired in self defence, the cop
went to jail for murder. You don't find cops brought to account like
this in other countries either. This does not put a smile on the faces of the
empire-builders, but they can't change it overnight either.
the army? if the army was ordered to use force against the population...
the army would probably gently assist the government in abdicating, like what
happened in egypt recently.