Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sauce for the Goose

As I wrote in this earlier post, Greece, the home of democracy, is coming apart at the seams. Thanks to years and years of politicians voting more and more benefits, Greek workers are paid for 14 months a year, but work for only 11; they have been able to retire at age 58 on full pensions (women in the public sector can retire at age 48); and all citizens have enjoyed free healthcare since 1983. Students enjoy free higher education, and Greece (along with Ireland) enjoys the highest per capita subsidies from the EU's Common Agricultural Policy.

Now, in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund's plans to assist in the bailout of Greece, certain austerity measures are being adopted. Listen to this account, from the New York Times:

Union and government officials said Greece had also pledged to raise its value-added tax to 25 percent, to freeze civil servants’ wages and to eliminate public sector bonuses amounting to two months’ pay. They said the government intended to increase taxes on fuel, tobacco and alcohol.

Among the most significant features of the plan, a Greek government official said, would be a measure making it easier for the government to lay off some of the many thousands of public sector workers, whose low levels of productivity and high wages are a big contributor to Greece’s debt problem. Until now, the government has not been able to lay off civil servants, whose employment rights are in effect constitutionally guaranteed.

Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.
Have you got that? Now, let's see: Do you know of a country where:

1. A Value-Added Tax is being proposed as a means of reducing the deficit, and a cap-and-trade bill will introduce a new means of taxing fuel consumption?

3. The state has just taken over the regulation of health care, and adopted a plan to provide universal coverage?

If I have this right, in order to bail out Greece, the IMF is requiring that it stop going down the very path that "Hope & Change" has mapped out for us. Does anyone else see the disconnect here?

Apparently, the sauce for Obama's goose is not the same as the sauce for Greece's gander -- at least, not until the former is as cooked as is the latter.


  1. They are doing this for out benefit, a sort of full scale preview. I think that Obama made the arrangement for it one one of his apologies tours some time back.