Sunday, July 12, 2015

The canaries who were ignored in the Greek coalmine

Stories of the struggle to reform the Greek state before it ran out of other people's money (WSJ):

Their reform proposals were fought by their colleagues in parliament and savaged by the media and labor unions. They invariably found themselves sidelined.

[...] Since the eruption of Greece’s debt crisis in 2010, successive governments have prioritized fiscal austerity—trying to raise government revenue and cut expenditure—instead of tackling deeper reforms of the system head on.

Many foreign officials involved in Greece’s ill-starred bailout efforts over the past five years say they have learned what Greece’s past would-be reformist politicians always knew: In Greece, hurting vested interests is harder than taxing citizens to death.

[...] Today, more so than in their times in government, these three politicians and a few others are coming to be seen as among the minority of officials who spotted and attempted to change early on some of the core problems that have led to Greece’s almost intractable crisis today.

“They called me ‘the Cassandra’” said Mr. Giannitsis of the headlines during his unpopular push for reforming the pension system.

Cassandra, in the Greek myth, was a clairvoyant doomed to always be right, but never believed. She went crazy.

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