Actually, that’s too broad of a brush, but I do despise people of any nationality who think that they are entitled to mooch off the labor and capital of others. I also fear for my country because of such people. Benjamin Franklin is rumored to have said that, “When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” I don’t know if that is a real quote, but it accurately captures the problem with modern democracy (which is why our Founders gave us a constitutional republic, where our rights to life, liberty, and (especially) property were not subject to the tyranny of the majority). Writing for the City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple makes the essential point that what is happening in Greece is democratic corruption. In other words, the Greek people no longer have the social capital needed for a functioning democracy:
When the crowd tried to storm the Greek parliament, shouting, “Thieves! Thieves!,” its anger was misdirected. It was a classic case of what Freudians call projection: the attribution to others of one’s own faults. It is true that the Greek politicians are much to blame for the current situation, and no doubt many of them are thieves; but their real crime was not stealing, but offering a substantial proportion of the Greek population a standard of living that was economically unjustified, maintained for a time by borrowing, and in the long run unsustainable, in return for votes. The crime of that substantial proportion of the Greek population was to accept the bribe that the politicians offered; they were only too prepared to live well at someone else’s expense. The thieves were not principally the politicians, but the demonstrators. Such popular dishonesty is by no means confined to Greece. In varying degrees, most countries in the West have displayed it, Britain above all. It is perhaps an inherent problem wherever the universal franchise is unaccompanied by widespread virtues such as honesty, self-control, providence, prudence, and self-respect. Greece is therefore a cradle not only of democracy, but of democratic corruption. The Greek demonstrators did not understand, or did not want to understand, that if there were justice in the world, many people, including themselves, would be worse rather than better off, and that a reduction in their salaries and perquisites was not only economically necessary but just. They had never really earned their wages in the first place; politicians borrowed the money and then dispensed largesse, like monarchs throwing coins to the multitudes.
Meanwhile, Mona Charen is rightfully amused at the absurdity of the press writing about “anti-government” riots when the rioters are overpaid government workers and the target of their wrrath is a socialist government. She also makes an excellent point that the bureaucracy is so pervasive in Greeece that government unions just elect the people who promise to give them absurdly unaffordable pay and benefits:
That “anti-government mob,” it must be understood, consisted of civil servants, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets to protest austerity measures. …One in three Greeks works for the government. Government employees enjoy higher wages, more munificent benefits, and earlier retirements than private-sector employees. Civil servants can retire after 35 years of service at 80 percent of their highest salary and enjoy lavish health plans, vacations, and other perks. Because they are so numerous, and because Greece is highly centralized, public-sector unions hardly have to negotiate. They simply vote in their preferred bosses. Some civil servants receive bonuses for using computers, others for arriving at work on time. Forestry workers get a bonus for outdoor work. All civil servants receive 14 yearly checks for twelve months’ work. And it’s almost impossible to fire them — even for the grossest incompetence.