OPINION

When the public debt becomes private

Regulations in the new tax code for increasing the levies on real estate assets based on their possession rather than on the revenues they generate, and also calculated on the objective values assigned to properties for tax purposes back in 2007, before the massive slump and when prices were more than double what they are today, are expected to bring in revenues to the state of around 4 billion euros, compared to the 2.5 million raised by property taxes in 2013 and 500 million in 2012.

The new tax code slams small-scale property owners and lightens the burden on people with sizable or expensive real estate assets. Meanwhile, the government has calculated additional tax revenues of around 11 billion euros, mainly from salaried employees and pensioners. This is more or less how it hopes to achieve a primary surplus next year.

After gobbling up public and private wealth through the 2012 haircut, the Greek public debt is now being transferred directly onto the shoulders of Greek citizens, becoming private debt that is too heavy to carry. This transference of the debt ultimately means huge social change. It is completely demolishing the long-held belief in saving money and creating a safety net for the future, and is making a very large part of the population landless, and with children who will remain unemployed for years and who have few prospects of creating their own employment.

In another amendment, the government gives the green light for the state to automatically seize the deposits of people who have debts to the state. Given that all salaried workers and businessmen move money through banks, we can assume that anyone who owes money to the state will see their bank accounts steadily siphoned dry by the state.

For most citizens, the state has become a persecutor and destroyer, not an entity that guarantees property, jobs and entrepreneurship.

The country’s lawmakers may not yet be aware of the fact that they are committing political suicide by turning against the people that they are supposed to be speaking for and defending. The conservatives appear especially unable to see the lessons that are to be learned from the demise of the center-left, and particularly PASOK. Together with its coalition partner, New Democracy continues to undermine even the most basic prospects the country has for a recovery and to go against responsible homeowners and other citizens, making them even less trusting of the political system.

Why? Probably because they have lost all touch not just with reality but also with the the structures that form the Greek social fabric.