OPINION

The income swindle

As one of our greatest problems is the gulf between our income and basic consumer needs, we think we will feel much better if we acquire the average European wage. But I believe that, once again, we are simply deluding ourselves – in view of inflation, the type of work we do, and the percentage of our population which is economically active. And I would like to mention another couple of reasons why convergence with European salaries is not going to solve our problems. We are obsessed about our annual salaries being raised above the cost-of-living index. But even if our income was to increase three times faster than inflation within a year, our new salary would still not fulfill our consumer demands. It is time we accepted that only when our products and services become better, and more expensive, will we acquire a real competitive edge. But it is not down to the workers alone to achieve this. There is a need for greater and smarter investment by businessmen. And here it is worth remembering that, over the last decade, Greece experienced a major and abrupt redistribution of income. Massive amounts of money changed hands. A large portion of the income amassed in the 1980s was transferred to the portfolio of a handful of businessmen and other, often dubious, representatives of a peculiar politico-economic caste, which was surrounded by a privileged section of our fellow citizens. Another section of the wealth went into state coffers via taxation, higher inflation and the sale of state assets.