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Archive for June 13th, 2010

The Los Angeles Times has a story that provides an inside look at the attitudes that have contributed to Greece’s fiscal collapse. Let’s start with Olga Stefou, who is a good (or bad) symbol for her nation’s downfall. She protests in favor of bigger government, naively asserting that the budget shortfall can be solved by pulling 122 troops out of Afghanistan and taxing the Orthodox Church. Olga’s entitlement mentality is not unusual. The story also notes that young Greek women think a government job is the most desirable thing in a potential mate. At the risk of being politically incorrect, the people of Greece (at least the ones in the moocher class) deserve a miserable future.

Olga Stefou is 20. She speaks passable English and studies political science. These days she goes into the streets to shout slogans against the government and the International Monetary Fund. She has no choice, she says: She believes that upon graduation she’ll be lucky to land a job that pays $500 a month. “I’ll be forced to live with my parents and work three jobs,” she said, pausing among the throngs trickling into the street as a recent demonstration got underway. “I’ll be doomed to a fate I haven’t chosen. This is the state of my generation.” Stefou believes that the government is bound to respond to her discontent. And she has suggestions: Greece should make up its budget shortfall by pulling its 122 troops from Afghanistan and levying steep taxes on the Orthodox Church rather than squeezing the workers, she says. The government is “in some way afraid of us,” Stefou said with a shrug. “There are too many of us.” A hot spring night was creeping over Athens. Thousands of demonstrators packed the street; many of them looked to be about Stefou’s age. They marched in a slow circle down Stadiou Street to Parliament and then back again, yelling slogans: “Down with the junta of the IMF!” “Euro is here and it makes you poorer!” “Thieves, thieves, banks, stockbrokers and politicians!” …Last year, Michas did a study of Greek marriage agencies. He found that the top attribute sought by middle-class young women in a potential mate was a job in the civil service or the military. Government service has long been prized because of the elaborate set of benefits attached to the position. “This is the mind-set now,” Michas said. “It’s a culture of dependency, first on parents, and it becomes a dependency on the state.”

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We Interrupt this Blog to Announce…

…the birth of six kittens. The mother caused some anxiety by choosing to have them outside, which required me to follow her deep into a thicket of forsythia, slithering on my stomach, to retrieve them. But mother and children are doing well. Reserve your new pet today!

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CNBC is reporting that 51 German millionaires and billionaires have endorsed the idea of that rich people should have to give an extra 10 percent of their income to the government. I’m tempted to dismiss this story since (according to my rudimentary math skills) these clowns represent only 6/1000th of 1 percent of all wealthy Germans, but there’s a more important point to discuss. There’s no law stopping these neurotic people from giving extra money to government, so the real story is that they want the government to impose this bad policy on all successful people. I’ve debated this topic with a couple of ultra-rich American leftists (see here and here) and they never have a good answer when I ask them why they don’t give away their fortunes to the politicians and stop trying to impose their neurotic views on others.

A group of 51 German millionaires and billionaires founded a Club of the Wealthy and wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel proposing to give up 10 percent of their income in the form of a “Rich Tax” for 10 years to consolidate the budget. With an estimated 800,000 millionaires (in dollars) — about 1 percent of the total population — Germany is eye-to-eye with the USA and has long overtaken the UK as Europe’s number one “millionaire-land”, both in terms of absolute numbers and as a percentage of the population. But traditionally, the Germans don’t dare to feel good about their riches.

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