Wed May 18th, 2011 at 09:14:36 AM EST
Chancellor Merkel has decided to chide those lazy Southerners for being well... lazy:
Chancellor Angela Merkel has attacked southern European countries such as Greece where people retire early and take lots of holidays, saying they can no longer enjoy such lifestyles at the cost of other EU members like Germany
Apparently Ms. Merkel is under the impression that Germans work more than Greeks, an impression that could have been easily dispelled were she to turn to the OECD statistics instead of the vile and racist punditry of German populist right-wing rags. The OECD tables show that for Greece the average annual hours actually worked per worker in 2009 reach 2119, versus 1390 for Germany. That is a little over 60% of hours worked by Greeks. Spanish workers worked 1654 hours. Portuguese 1719.
But what about the number of days of paid leave? Surely Germans have fewer holidays than the Greeks. Well, not according to Wikipedia. In Greece the number is +/- 20 days, depending on seniority, while in Germany it's 4 weeks.
Then pensions? It surely is a scandal according to The Local that reports this nonsense, that:
"The current Greek retirement age of mid- to late-50s is to be raised to 65 for men this summer as part of a package of changes to be introduced by the government this year"
But wait, if it is now set to rise to 65, what exactly is the problem? And how about that mid to late 50s myth. The actual average age of retirement in Greece before the IMF and the ECB shock was 61, as testified i.e. in this Reuters story.
Salaries then! What about those enormous Greek salaries. Well according to Eurostat:
...Greece... has the most underpaid private sector employees compared to the rest of the "Eurozone". In Greece, the average gross monthly wage, including social security and taxes, is 803 euros [about £700 or US$1063], while the lowest gross salary in, for example, Ireland is 1300 euros, in France 1250 euros and in the Netherlands 1400 euros
I'm not even considering that the wingnut Austrian policies that the ECB, with the aid of the IMF is implementing in Greece, have resulted in three succesive years of deep contraction (and who knows how many more) - a depression actually, coupled with high inflation, and sky-rocketing unemployment (it's difficult I note to be productive when there are no jobs out there) and that by these policies Germany and the core EU is relegating Greece to colonial status and pauperization, despite the fact that, as JC Junker has admitted, the German government has been complicit with Greek governments in hiding (and profiting I should add as the recent scandals in Greece involving German companies show) and perpetuating the large scale theft of the Greek economy by corrupt politicians and oligarchs...
To hell or the front page ... Colman
There are two more things to note here:
- First that the barrage of anti-worker developments which led to the stagnation of German wages for a decade now, is heralded as some sort of proof of German economic wisdom and is used to turn the Germans against the workers of the EU south, whose living standards are by any measure far, far inferior to those of their German counterparts. In fact in terms of buying power Greek wages (in the private sector especially) have also stagnated for the past decade, while profits at the same time soared. It is interesting, and instructive in a sense, that this base and racist rhetoric chooses to focus on the imaginary "lazy Greek workers", instead of the quite real corrupt and opulent Greek elites that have made out like bandits during the past decade...
- Second that this sort of propagation of negative stereotypes by a EU leader is absolutely unacceptable coming indeed at the exact same moment that Greek society is devoured by a depression that, if the austerity madness inflicted upon Greece continues, will lead the country to irreversible mass penury. The chancellor's rhetoric, one would hope, should rise above catering to the stereotypes of Bild readership. Especially given the "unfortunate" historical load that racist populism carries in relation to the German Right.
Finally: I do not expect the Quisling government of Athens, happily collaborating with the fiscal occupation and plunder of the country to react to this outrage any time soon, except perhaps in the most tepid of tones. They are after all in a partnership whose goals are absolutely compatible with the historical wishes of the Greek Union of Industrialists, in creating an employers paradise on earth, or rather in the EU.
...As the troika yesterday dictated the terms of surrender for the Greek political parties and the rapid sell out of public property, including all of the government monopolies in power, water and trains, the feeling that I am now living in an ECB colony, treated as a non-citizen in my own country, surely is ominous even for German workers, whether they realize it already or not....