Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Preview of Coming Attractions -- Greece PM Papandreou to Unions: How's a Pension Consisting of Sleeping Bags and MREs Sound?

The Prime Minister of Greece says civil servants better get used to a whole lot of less.

Greece risks bankruptcy if it does not take radical extra measures to fix its finances, Prime Minister George Papandreou warned on Tuesday, saying the country was in a "wartime situation."

Greece must avoid "a nightmare of bankruptcy in which the state would not be able to pay salaries or pensions," Papandreou told lawmakers in Athens, adding: "Yes, we have to take additional measures.

...The cabinet will meet Wednesday at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) to go over the latest set of measures which the EU has demanded Athens must take before it can be sure of getting any help to put its finances in order.

...Austerity measures already announced by the government -- including tax rises and public sector benefit cuts -- have sparked anger among many ordinary Greeks and have done little to reassure sceptical investors.

The Adedy civil servants' union, which has around 300,000 members, has called a 24-hour strike on March 16, the same day that the European Commission is due to deliver its verdict on Greece's attempts to tackle the crisis.

On Tuesday, around 30,000 taxi drivers across Greece protested against a reform that would force them to provide receipts and keep accounts in order to increase tax income and eliminate fraud.

...The pressure on Greece has raised doubts about other countries facing similar problems such as Spain and Portugal and called into question the credibility of the eurozone.

It doesn't take much imagination to substitute California, Illinois, New York or New Jersey for Greece and the feds for the EU. Fortunately, the sympathy for public-sector unions is considerably less here in the U.S., so I'm mildly hopeful we can still avoid catastrophe.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The last time I looked the US Government contract cost for one MRE was around $5.00. If I was on a subsistence pension of a sleeping bag and an MRE, I would prefer to have the cost of the MRE in cash and I'll eat beans instead.