One has the greatest difficulty trying to climb into the mind of the bureaucrat(s) who decided to erect this sign. Far from being what they intended, it is a monument, all on its own, to what is bringing down nations that once had more sense.
Examples abound, overwhelmingly, but I need choose just one more:
It took 10 months, a fat bundle of paperwork, countless certificates, long hours of haggling with bureaucrats and overcoming myriad other inconceivable obstacles for one group of young entrepreneurs to open an online store.
As e-commerce continues to gain ground apace abroad, and even Greeks seem to be warming to the idea of Internet shopping, opening an online store based in Greece is no job for the fainthearted.
“An online store is more complicated than a regular store basically because of the way payments are carried out,” explained Fotis Antonopoulos, one of the co-founders of www.oliveshop.com, which sells olive oil-based products such as cosmetics, mostly to foreign markets.All right, so now you have the picture: some enterprising Greeks want to open an online business which markets Greek-made cosmetics from Greek olive oil to the outside world. To do so, one would think that they needed a Website which was capable of being read by the foreigners to whom they were pitching the products, right? Well, the Greek bank they approached to process their online transactions thought better:
[Now] they faced the quagmire of the bank, where the issue of how to confirm the credit card details of customers ended in the bank demanding that the entire website be in Greek only, including the names of the products.
“They completely ignored us, however much we explained that our products are aimed at foreign markets and everything has to be written in English as well,” said Antonopoulos.
Eventually, Antonopoulos and his associates decided to use foreign banking systems like PayPal, and cut the Greek bank, with which they had been negotiating for three months, from the middle. “It’s their loss, not ours. We eventually solved the problem in just one day,” explained Antonopoulos.But this was not the least of their hurdles. For in Greece, at least, opening an online store requires far more in government clearances and permits than even a physical store. Read and laugh (or weep -- it doesn't change the truth of the absurdities which the entrepreneurs had to overcome):
“Most stores begin operating after receiving only the approval regarding their brand name, as the bureaucracy involved takes such a long time to complete that it is simply impossible to keep up with the operational costs, such as paying rent on obligatory headquarters, without making any sales,” said Antonopoulos.
Antonopoulos and his partners spent hours collecting papers from tax offices, the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the municipal service where the company is based, the health inspector’s office, the fire department and banks. At the health department, they were told that all the shareholders of the company would have to provide chest X-rays, and, in the most surreal demand of all, stool samples.Yes, you read that right -- chest X-rays and stool samples, to open an online Website selling Greek cosmetics.
We have gone far beyond the days of the extortionist Roman tax collectors. That was extortion, pure and simple, in which the sole intent was to enrich oneself by squeezing the victim for more money. But today the burdens are imposed not from any overt greed or intent to do harm, as from stupidity, bull-headedness, ignorance and indifference.
Meanwhile, there are now almost as many people living off money from the Government as there are who pay any money at all to the Government. The former number is increasing; the latter is decreasing (flip the graph upside down). We will soon reach the unsustainable point where the people look to the Government to support them, and there are not enough taxpayers left to support the Government.
(Did I say "soon"? We are already there. All the existing taxpayers cannot support the bloated current Government, which is why it has to borrow at the rate of more than two million dollars every minute of every day.)
One byproduct of this ever-expanding role of the Government providing money to people is that we have spawned a whole new class of faceless bureaucrats. They go to work for the government because no one else would hire them, with their lack of any work ethic, skills, or ability to use common sense rather than be guided solely by what is politically correct. Once ensconced in their positions, they are "accountable" to their superiors in only superficial and meaningless ways (as long as they do not cause terrible publicity).
Faceless bureaucrats decided to put up that "Stay Off the Grass" sign. Faceless bureaucrats demanded stool samples from all stockholders of an online business.
And our lives are increasingly in their hands.