‘It is as if people don’t want to work’

How large is the gap between the rich and poor in Greece today? Greece has developed on the basis of an extremely democratic model over the decades. The redistribution of landholdings to refugees as early as 1910 and the 1920s, and rights to build outside zoning limits, where there is regulation requiring a minimum of 4,000 square meters of land, although perhaps not beneficial to the environment, have all resulted in an extremely successful solution to the housing problem. We don’t like it; it did not benefit the environment but it spread the wealth around. Let me put it another way – a rich Greek with a lovely view that someone else illegally blocks has the right to protest but a type of social leveling is actually taking place. Regional income differences are diminishing, and areas that were poor in the past now provide high incomes due to agricultural development mainly helped by European Union funding. Free education, even though not completely free, has given all social groups access to education. What we are experiencing now is a new form of poverty – the big problem in the future will be the unemployed graduates. We are turning to a model of non-manual labor. No matter how right this may be, it is somewhat unprecedented in the developed world. Farmers don’t want to be farmers any more, they want to be businessmen, with immigrant employees. There are no longer any laborers or construction workers (which represent 12 percent of the work force). Livestock breeding and fishing are almost solely run by immigrants. Greeks are even disappearing from the tourism industry for reasons I am not in a position to know. It is as if people don’t want to work.