You know, this has to be one of the strangest stories of the weekend. The New York Times, ever a champion of Obamacare during the recent debates, is reporting (from an April 30 article) on some rather compelling advice for the nation of Greece, which is currently teetering on the precipice of collapse. It’s part of a plan negotiated between officials of the European Union, the I.M.F. and the European Central Bank. What might help them? Don’t have nationalized health care… or any other industry for that matter.
Another reform high on the list is removing the state from the marketplace in crucial sectors like health care, transportation and energy and allowing private investment. Economists say that the liberalization of trucking routes — where a trucking license can cost up to $90,000 — and the health care industry would help bring down prices in these areas, which are among the highest in Europe.
Another area where Greece can save itself? They have have to eliminate some of the many, many jobs that the Greek government “saved or created.”
Among the most significant features of the plan, a Greek government official said, would be a measure making it easier for the government to lay off some of the many thousands of public sector workers, whose low levels of productivity and high wages are a big contributor to Greece’s debt problem. Until now, the government has not been able to lay off civil servants, whose employment rights are in effect constitutionally guaranteed.
Oddly enough, I don’t recall this same paper printing advice like this for the Obama administration. It’s a funny old world, ain’t it? But they should feel a little better because Greece is also planning to borrow a page from the American playbook and tax their way back to prosperity.
Union and government officials said Greece had also pledged to raise its value-added tax to 25 percent, to freeze civil servants’ wages and to eliminate public sector bonuses amounting to two months’ pay. They said the government intended to increase taxes on fuel, tobacco and alcohol.
Greece has long been serving as a worst case scenario example of experiments in central, socialized government, but the lab rat is pretty close to the grave now. But if they manage to pull out of this by eliminating government run health care, returning all industry to the private sector and moving people back to free market work – as opposed to large quantities of permanent, inefficient government jobs – they may yet provide an education for the rest of the western world. Particularly here in the United States.
UPDATE: I should have noted that the original report and article were from over a week ago, but given the weekend’s news it seems all the more startling. Date noted in revised text.
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