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Editorial

When We Do Not Apply “All in Good Measure”

February 24, 2020

At the Oracle at Delphi’s entrance, two maxims containing almost all of the collective wisdom of mankind for a purposeful and fruitful stare back at the bystander. One is, “know yourself” and the other is “all in good measure”. Both are deeply human and eternally true.

There appears to be no exceptions to these rules – no loopholes where if one deviates from the path, they are suddenly less true. Indeed there is no expiration date to their wisdom: what was true then applies today and will continue to apply tomorrow.

At least one of these maxims, ‘All in good measure’, apparently does not impress the leaders of the left-wing trade unions of Athens. And so, for decades now, often for trivial political and not for consequential, serious reasons, they declare economy-crippling strikes, blocking the most central streets of the capital, creating chaotic traffic conditions, leading entrepreneurs to ruin and damaging the country’s economy in one fell swoop.

The outlined oft-repeated scenario mentioned above happened again last week in central Athens with the central slogan being, “No to the government’s anti-social insurance bill. Abolish the Katrougalos Law and all the anti-social insurance laws.”

The issue of pensions and social insurance is undoubtedly a serious one that affects a lot of people and therefore everyone must treat it with the gravity it deserves.

During the years of the economic crisis, the social benefits were slashed because it was believed that the country’s economy could not withstand pre-crisis spending levels and remain solvent.

Successive pre-crisis governments, regardless of party, Prime Minister Costas Simitis, for example, said the same thing, that the social programs doled out from the Greek state were fundamentally unsustainable. Despite that honest admission, every time they tried to do something about it, they abandoned their initiatives, fearing they would lose their electoral clientele.

The troika then came along and imposed fiscal discipline upon the Greeks so that they may get their financial house in order and that, unsurprisingly, led to a reduction in social benefits.

So no matter how many strikes they call for, and how many of their compatriots they inconvenience, the strikers will still not gain anything from a state whose coffers remain empty – even as there is reason to believe that, slowly, Greece is leaving the years of crisis in the past.

Contrarily, the strikers will increase the anger of the people, including some who are joining in the strike, because of the leaders of the strikes undisciplined approach to staying on-message and becoming overzealous to see just how far they can push the envelope. In doing so, they undercut many of their arguments and foster ill-will amongst people who might otherwise lend sympathetic ears to their causes. Currently the perception exists that perhaps the only people benefitting from the strikes are a small percentage of the strikers and not the entire labor class as it is claimed.

That is why society now demands stricter rules, for example, both in terms of how strike decisions are made and in restricting the venues in which they can demonstrate.

How can it be that 100-200 people are able, at will, to shut down the center of Athens? Do they want to come to try it in New York? Good luck with that.

Unfortunately, a small, yet vocal, part of Greek society still lives in the early 20th century and continues to dance to a South American drumbeat – i.e. a Venezuelan style of fascination with the false prophets of evangelical socialism who have led those countries to ruin.

One would have hoped that by now everyone in the country would be on the same page and realize that the country needs robust job creation to accelerate infrastructure development, improve schools and substantially upgrade the country’s armed forces by bringing in defense systems into the 21st century, etc.

One would hope that these same people would look at Turkey’s drilling in Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone, the forthcoming Turkification of Varosha, broad claims to the Aegean, and unacceptable statements made by Turkish officials about the Evros border, and realize the predicament the country finds itself in. Perhaps there was a hope that the strikers would internalize the slews of issues and understand that their policy of strikes and anti-law mentalities leads the country to a dead end.

One would hope that Greece would evolve, diversify its economy and strive to foster its own version of Silicon Valley, similarly to Israel and the initiatives they’ve taken.

One would hope that maintaining Greece at combat readiness at a minute’s notice is the only way to stop Erdogan’s bold actions in their tracts and secure peace through deterrence and not appeasement. Time and time again, it’s been proved that the latter strategy simply doesn’t work.

Finally, one would hope that we Greeks, who know a little something about the maxim ‘All in Good Measure’, would embrace and apply it…

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