OPINION

The dislocation of the middle class

The pension cuts announced by PASOK?s socialist administration in the name of fiscal reform are essentially a shameless embezzlement of social security contributions.

Even those of us who have retired with an early — and reduced — pension have paid full contributions for 25 or 30 years of employment. So have, of course, those people who have worked for more than 35 years.

The government is not trimming some welfare benefits; it is rather slashing pensions which have been paid for with decades of social security contributions.

In that sense, in admitting that it is incapable of enforcing a fair tax system, the state is breaching a pact and violating the rights of every honest and responsible man and woman in this country.

Similarly, the emergency property tax (which the administration now says will become a permanent feature of the country?s tax system) is also an unfair, horizontal punishment against all homeowners, weather rich or poor; it is also a heavy blow on the weak and unemployed. It is a measure that borders on an outright confiscation.

During its lengthy history, Greece, like most of the southern Mediterranean nations, has depended on property ownership on a small scale, small businesses and economic activity in a limited number of sectors. Excessive taxation on people?s private assets and businesses is in a way an attack on this social condition — an attack that threatens the very existence of a majority social group.

Is this measure offset in any way? Is there a plan to restructure the country?s labor sector and/or private property? Is there an alternative system for growth, a new production model?

The answer is negative. Nothing appears to be on the horizon, save a brutal reduction of national and private wealth in the name of bringing Greece?s deficit down to the levels expected by our international creditors.

And when, and if, the deficit is down, what will happen then? How will that newly impoverished middle class, that one million unemployed, those wrecked professionals and business people, pick up the pieces and move on?

No one seems to have come up with an alternative prospect, a distant ray of hope. That, of course, is unless Germany?s so-called Plan B for Greece provides for a radically different social and national blueprint that we somehow missed.