Aspiring to nothing

on . Posted in English texts

The truth is we are far from matching the socialist ideal of Venezuela. Recent data show Greece at 81st in the global competitiveness rankings (below Tajikistan and Ukraine), while the Latin American country, with the legacy of its late President Hugo Chavez, ranks far lower at 132nd.

Still, government officials are doing their best. They pledge that loss-making public sector companies will always remain under state control while staying afloat thanks to Greek taxpayer money.

In April, former production reconstruction minister Panayiotis Lafazanis approved 30 million euros in financial aid to the struggling Hellenic Sugar Industry (EBZ) by means of a legislative act. It should be noted that EBZ’s losses (it actually ended up in the red for a seventh consecutive year) reached 58.4 million euros in 2014 while turnover was at 80.6 million euros following a 20.53 percent drop.

Meanwhile, its plant in Platy, in northern Greece’s Imathia region, recently posted 212 job openings, while the one in Serres reportedly has 55 permanent staff who collect the beets before sending them to Platy, plus another five seasonal staff (Efimerida ton Syntakton, September 9).

On the other hand, SYRIZA deputy Katerina Igglesi is happy because the “movement” is close to blocking the only major investment to have taken place in Greece over the past few years. Speaking on Sto Kokkino radio on Thursday, Igglesi said: “The case [of shutting down the gold-mining project in Skouries, northern Greece] is finally on a very good path. We have a government that has revoked the licences.”

Unfortunately, nothing good will ever come from this government in the area of investments. Its members belong to a different era, when the state would do business at everyone else’s expense. SYRIZA folk do not grasp the challenges of today, they do not understand the meaning of comparative advantage, they do not care about taxpayers’ money – perhaps because they have convinced themselves that every taxpayer is also a rich person. Hence, from now on, anyone who makes more than 1,500 euros a month will be deemed rich and a target for taxation.

But that’s not all. The aim of government policy is to improve the well-being of no one, but to drag everyone down to an equal level. It matters little to them if, as the EBZ story shows, no one buys their product.

Published in ekathimerini.com , Saturday October 3, 2015