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Dividing and Rule of our societies...
by Christos Mouzeviris
2012-01-06 10:03:37
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One of the main effects that the current crisis in Europe and the eurozone had in all the badly affected countries, was the public sector vs private sector debate. Privatizations were encouraged and many of the social benefits were targeted and cut.

To achieve that, our leaders practiced the very successful tactic of "divide and rule". Dividing the public and turning it against each other, making each side blaming the other for the country's bad economic state. The public sector was targeted, in order to gain public support for the drastic cuts that it was about to endure.

I have witnessed such debates in both countries I am connected with, Greece and Ireland, that in a weird twist of fate are both badly affected by the crisis in the eurozone. While in Ireland the debate has somewhat subsided, as there are no more cuts in salaries announced in this year's budget (yet), in Greece that the public sector is severely hit the debate is still going on.

Our leaders first put the blame on the people for the country's bad economic state. Mr Pagalos in Greece, a member of the Greek Parliament and the former PASOK government, and Mr Ahern in Ireland the former Taoiseach both blamed the citizens for the mess. And while this is partly true, the only blame I could put of the people's shoulders is that they keep voting for thugs like the above; not for doing what they are encouraged to do by the current capitalist system. Spend money and keep consuming!

Then suddenly, in order to gain public support in Greece for slaying the public sector, they kept underline its faults and abuses that they have encouraged over the past decades in the first place. All they want to do is sell out all national assets and companies and to do that they slander a whole group of people that were just sucked in by the system our Governing elites have created.

Yes Greece has an overgrown public sector. But since it is the only sector that a Greek could have a secure and stable career path, since no other industries were developed in the country, what can anyone expect? If you are not a farmer, a tourism industry employee or a customer and sales services staff, you have no other way of making a living in Greece. There are no industries left in the country as most of them have left to relocate in places like Bulgaria or China, and the little industrial activity that is left in Europe is being sucked up by the northern, industrialized, rich European states.

Greece has a very educated and multilingual youth, yet once you leave the University you end up either work in a hotel or restaurant or migrate to find a job in the field of your studies. We are not allowed to exploit our natural resources that we know that we have (gas underneath Crete, uranium and gold in Macedonia and Thrace, oil in the Aegean) so what other options did the Greeks have until now?

In Ireland too they were forced to give up their natural gas and sell it off to the multinationals. While they could exploit it themselves, have a more stable economy and not a property bubble that was set to burst, their leaders made deals to make their country look more obedient, thus more attractive to the multinationals. Now the same is happening to Greece, and scores of foreign companies from USA, Britain, Germany and Norway are rounding Greece up to exploit its resources for scrap money.

And with them, all public companies. But to do this they need to downsize it, as the private investor companies do not want to pay for so many people or so many benefits. I agree that the Greek public sector needed to be cut down! But not in such a drastic way and so fast! First you create other industries for people to find jobs in, then you fire public sector workers so they can find jobs in those new industries. Now that they are about to fire hundreds of thousands of people with such high unemployment already in the country, where will all those people go?

You are pouring more people on the dole. You will be having them on social welfare paying them for doing nothing, while they would love to work and contribute. How come is paying hundreds of thousands of new unemployed going to help the economy?

Less people that work and have money, less taxes paid, more benefits to be paid out, less money in the country's market...It is not rocket science is it?  It is simply just wrong! A friend of mine had to endure 1000 € in salary cuts, after ten years of service in the Revenue. My sister took 500 € cut as a public sector worker. How can anyone survive with such drastic cuts, when you have a mortgage and kids?

And to justify all the above and achieve them, our leaders first made the private sector workers angry against the "lazy" public sector workers, that have it so easy, work so little and earn too much and in a way they are responsible for the country's state! Then everybody applauded when the cuts took place and the new austerity measures were announced against the public sector workers!

Now that the public sector workers have no more money to spend, they do not pour any money into the market, they do not buy or shop, they do not use taxis, they do not go out dinning, they do not travel or stay in hotels, now the private sector workers are feeling the pinch as well. Because once the money from the lazy public sector workers are not being poured into their businesses to pay for their wages in return, their salaries now are being targeted by their employers and so they have to take cuts as well.

Yes there was a lot of mismanagement in the public sector. But it was a systemic fault, it was simply bad management! Our Governments could have reformed all that but instead they chose to use the public sector as a lure for votes and support in each election! They did not want to reform it! They were using it to ensure they stayed in power by promising a job to the desperate Greeks in the public sector, and a career prospect. So the only fault that the Greeks have made, is not that they kept spending. Or that they wanted to go and work in the public sector, a sector with the only potentials in a small country. They only mistake that the Greeks and the Irish have made is that they kept voting for the same Governments over and over again.

Because unfortunately in a country like Greece that the public sector was an important part of the country's economy, its destruction means the destruction of the Greek economy itself! What they should have done is start those reforms years ago, gradually.

Secondly I oppose this massive privatization madness. Especially when it comes to health and education. Telecommunications is a different matter and it can be beneficial for all to have them privatized or liberalized. But hospitals and the health system? Why pay for something that you are taxed and contribute for already? What is the reason of being taxed for it after all? And why only those who can afford better health services can have access to them? Why create second class citizens? What is the point of any research on health, trying to prolong and better all human lives, if only the rich have access to those new health benefits?

And education? Why limit the potentials of your youth, the future powerhouse of your country!Why cut student grants, investment in Universities and schools. Why make education private and give it to the hands of few, while it should be a right of every young person in the country.

And selling out your energy public companies? I support the opening of the market for new companies that for example can offer the citizens an alternative. Here in Ireland we have Airtricity, a company that provides electricity from the wind farms out in the sea. But I still think that there must be a public company that will provide power to the poorest of the country's citizens. Not because it is profitable, but because it is a basic right. We in Europe or the West are so proud of being able to provide water and power to all our citizens. So why make this right exploitable from few companies only?

To conclude, I believe that instead the citizens of those countries that are in trouble are turning against each other, they should turn against their political elites. They should unite and debate on how they can change attitudes and move forward in the future. I am sure that the solution they will find is not by putting the blame on each other, rather how to get rid off such idle, corrupt and lazy political elite!

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