When I first started my blog, I vowed to steer clear from issues like politics and religion. However, I’ll make a rare exception today. You see, a lot of people have kindly been asking me what’s happening in Greece. With everything they see on their TVs, their worry is natural, and much appreciated – which is why I decided to break my rule and answer that question in a post.
There seem to be two points of view as to Greece’s fate. The first is that the evil Europeans have ganged up against poor, defenseless Greece.
Presumably they got tired of Greeks stealing all the sunshine and spending all day at the beach, eating souvlaki and enjoying early retirement at the ripe old age of thirty.
Which is pretty much the second point of view.
As always, the truth is somewhere in the middle. Decades of cronyism and populist policies by all the main parties have led to an overbloated public sector and a score of young pensioners. At the same time, the solutions offered by the EU have been a recipe for disaster, adding to the problem by obsessively focusing on austerity. Then again, the left seems to think it will solve Greece’s low productivity problems by hiring everyone into the civil sector. Hmm…
I could expand more, but pretty much everything I’d like to say on the matter is covered by the latest Economist article, Europe’s future in Greece’s hands.
How about me?
So, where does all that leave your average Greek? As Greece has never had a proper social security network, Greeks have developed strong family ties. Most people, therefore, have depended on family to help them through this rough patch. Which is why, should you visit, you would see far fewer homeless people than abroad.
As for me, my day job is that of web development, and social media marketing. I also do a spot of teaching every now and then, mostly for the fun of it. We’re hardly rich, but have a lovely home with a gorgeous garden, where Electra plants her veggies (by the way, we’re convinced that our bumper crop of zucchinis (see photo) this year is courtesy of our politicians, who very kindly provided the manure).
2008 was our best year, financially. I used to have eight people working for me. By 2013, we had to work twice as hard for less than half of the money. This year, business has been pretty slow, which has given me plenty of free time for writing (the silver lining).
That’s not the real problem, though. The real problem is that in 2014 I handed to the government, in one form or another, a whooping 74% of my income. As a result, I can only afford one part-time employee nowadays. So much for fighting unemployment.
Thankfully, we manage just fine, as Greece can be a pretty cheap place to live. However, when I wanted to have a minor operation earlier this year, I paid for it out of my own pocket, and went to a private hospital. Why? Because I’d had that same operation in a public hospital a few years ago, and it was botched – which is why I had to repeat it. That was 3,000 out of my own pocket – which wouldn’t be so bad, was I not forced to pay some 500 euros each month on my (compulsory) public insurance, which is supposed to cover things like that.
What makes it all worthwhile is the sun, and the sea, and the great food. But if today’s referendum leads to a “No” vote, I’ll start looking for work abroad, 15 years after my return to Greece. It’s a lovely country for holidays, with stunning scenery and some wonderful people, but it will be too damn hard to work here anymore.
So, if you hear on Sunday that the referendum has led to a “no” vote, just let me know of any teaching jobs on, say, Book Marketing near your place, and you may find yourself with a new neighbor!
PS. As Mrs. N kindly enough asked for my full CV, I thought I’d post it here.