FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

As Greece Burns

by TOM GILL

London.

Amid much protest in the streets, the Greek government last night passed a law firing thousands of public sector workers.

Twenty five thousand public servants – mainly teachers and municipal police – will be placed in a layoff scheme by the end of 2013. They have eight months to find another position or get laid off.

Why? According to Reuters, ‘Greece’s public sector is widely seen as oversized, inefficient….’

Lazy journalism, once again. What are the facts? Greece’s public sector may well be relatively inefficient, although there is little reliable data on public sector productivity and the press rarely if ever quote hard evidence. But the charge that it is oversized is nonsense.

The number of state employees in Greece is below the EU average. Indeed, according to the OECD ‘Greece has one of the lowest rates of public employment’ among advanced economies, with general government employing just 7.9% of the total labour force in 2008. Across the OECD area, the share of government employment ranges from 6.7% to 29.3%, with an average of 15%.

This report also notes that compared to other OECD countries, the Greek government spends a much smaller portion of resources on education (8.3% vs. 13.1%), and only some of that is down to a smaller school-age population. So why are teachers targeted for lay-offs?

Of course there is waste in government expenditure. For example, Greece spends large amounts on defence. According to The Guardian, ‘No other area [of spending] has contributed as heavily to the country’s debt mountain. If Athens had cut defence spending to levels similar to other EU states over the past decade, economists claim it would have saved around €150bn – more than its last bailout. Instead, Greece dedicates up to €7bn a year to military expenditure – down from a high of €10bn in 2009.’

Germany, the world’s third largest arms exporter, has been profiting handsomely from a mini- arms race between Greece and Turkey. It also happens to be the ring leader within the EU-European Central Bank-IMF  ‘Troika’ offering international loans to pay this defence debt off – at the price of austerity measures such as these brutal cuts to the public sector workforce.

At a time when the private sector is not hiring but firing, this will add to total unemployment. This in turn will further hit the economy as in Greece which is heavily dependent on household spending – 74% as against 58% for Germany, according to the World Bank 

In short, more misery and self-perpetuating austerity, for a country now in its six year of recession and where unemployment is expected to rise to 28% by the end of next year, according to OECD forecasts published this week.

With help by from the media, the myths perpetuate, and Greece burns.

Tom Gill is a London-based writer and journalist. He blogs at www.revolting-europe.com  on European affairs from a radical left perspective.

Tom Gill edits Revolting Europe.

Weekend Edition
February 12-14, 2016
Andrew Levine
What Next in the War on Clintonism?
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Comedy of Terrors
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh – Anthony A. Gabb
Financial Oligarchy vs. Feudal Aristocracy
Paul Street
When Plan A Meets Plan B: Talking Politics and Revolution with the Green Party’s Jill Stein
Rob Urie
The (Political) Season of Our Discontent
Michael Welton
Lenin, Putin and Me
Pepe Escobar
It Takes a Greek to Save Europa
Gerald Sussman
Why Hillary Clinton Spells Democratic Party Defeat
Carol Norris
What Do Hillary’s Women Want? A Psychologist on the Clinton Campaign’s Women’s Club Strategy
Robert Fantina
The U.S. Election: Any Good News for Palestine?
Linda Pentz Gunter
Radioactive Handouts: the Nuclear Subsidies Buried Inside Obama’s “Clean” Energy Budget
Manuel García, Jr.
Fire in the Hole: Bernie and the Cracks in the Neo-Liberal Lid
Thomas Stephens
The Flint River Lead Poisoning Catastrophe in Historical Perspective
David Rosen
When Trump Confronted a Transgender Beauty
Will Parrish
Cap and Clear-Cut
Victor Grossman
Coming Cutthroats and Parting Pirates
Ben Terrall
Raw Deals: Challenging the Sharing Economy
David Yearsley
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl Formation: Form-Fitting Uniforms of Revolution and Commerce
David Mattson
Divvying Up the Dead: Grizzly Bears in a Post-ESA World
Matthew Stevenson
Confessions of a Primary Insider
Jeff Mackler
Friedrichs v. U.S. Public Employee Unions
Pete Dolack
More Unemployment and Less Security
Christopher Brauchli
The Cruzifiction of Michael Wayne Haley
Bill Quigley
Law on the Margins: a Profile of Social Justice Lawyer Chaumtoli Huq
Uri Avnery
A Lady With a Smile
Katja Kipping
The Opposite of Transparency: What I Didn’t Read in the TIPP Reading Room
B. R. Gowani
Hellish Woman: ISIS’s Granny Endorses Hillary
Kent Paterson
The Futures of Whales and Humans in Mexico
James Heddle
Why the Current Nuclear Showdown in California Should Matter to You
Michael Howard
Hollywood’s Grotesque Animal Abuse
Steven Gorelick
Branding Tradition: a Bittersweet Tale of Capitalism at Work
Nozomi Hayase
Assange’s UN Victory and Redemption of the West
Patrick Bond
World Bank Punches South Africa’s Poor, by Ignoring the Rich
Mel Gurtov
Is US-Russia Engagement Still Possible?
Dan Bacher
Governor Jerry Brown Receives Cold, Dead Fish Award Four Years In A Row
Wolfgang Lieberknecht
Fighting and Protecting Refugees
Jennifer Matsui
Doglegs, An Unforgettable Film
Soud Sharabani
Israeli Myths: An Interview with Ramzy Baroud
Terry Simons
Bernie? Why Not?
Missy Comley Beattie
When Thoughtful People Think Illogically
Christy Rodgers
Everywhere is War: Luke Mogelson’s These Heroic, Happy Dead: Stories
Tony Christini
Death by Texes (A Satire of Trump and Clinton)
Ron Jacobs
Springsteen: Rockin’ the House in Albany, NY
Barbara Nimri Aziz
“The Martian”: This Heroism is for Chinese Viewers Too
Charles R. Larson
No Brainers: When Hitler Took Cocaine and Lenin Lost His Brain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail