The wage sham

The demands by professional groups in the public sector for better remuneration highlight one of the most problematical aspects of our life today as part of the eurozone. The average household income is no longer sufficient to maintain the consumer society we have built and become accustomed to over the past few years. When, at the beginning of next year, private sector employees and the broader public sector join in the protests, this situation will spiral out of control. Self-employed businessmen and tradesmen will be the next to demand their share. Until a short while ago, the discussion about the convergence of wages with Europe was theoretical. Over a period of two years, however, the debate has shifted to a different plane. Now we believe convergence can be achieved in a much shorter period of time. Indeed, some believe Greek salaries can reach European levels in two or three years. It is true that the prices of many products in Greek supermarkets are the same as those in stores elsewhere in the EU. In the richer countries, standardized products are sold at the same price. But in smaller and poorer countries, prices are generally lower. Unfortunately, only a few people understand the damage that can be wreaked by inflation. It pushes up the price of products and services. And the false impression of wealth – which is based on adjusting salaries to significant price increases – creates fertile ground for further price increases.