Greece Looks Too Much Like Our Future

In the midst of the cover article at Business Week comes this bit from someone trying to make it as a businessman in Greece:

Stefanos Manos applauds the recent decisions to cut wages and raise taxes but believes more drastic measures are needed. “The average pay is two and a half times the pay in the private sector,” he says. In his view, more must be done to create a competitive environment. “In Greece, you cannot rent a little truck to move your refrigerator,” Manos says. “Why? To protect the truckers. You have to hire a trucker. You have to get a parking permit. If you sell your house, both parties have to have a lawyer—by law—to participate in the transaction, and they’re guaranteed a percentage of it. If I want to give my house to my son, both he and I have to have lawyers. If Coca-Cola (KO) wants to take out an advertisement during a news program on TV, a percentage of it [20 percent] goes toward a pension fund for journalists. They have so much money in there that journalists don’t even know or care how much money they have!”

Then there are the bribes. “Lawyers know that when a tax collector comes, he will ask for a bribe. Doctors, too. But that tax collector has a job for life. A surgeon at the state hospital expects something on the side,” Manos says. “Otherwise, you can get your operation in six months or more.”

We’ve already seen that average pay and other compensation for federal employees is twice that of the same positions in the private sector. The rest of the things he’s saying also have their parallels within our country.

If we are helping to bail out Greece (and we are) who in this universe is going to bail us out? Greece is not the only place that needs some drastic measures. May we see the writing on the wall before the whole wall comes down on top of us.

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