OPINION

The low road

Ever since 1997 we have repeatedly drawn attention to the government’s falsification of budget data. We believe that a government should for no reason cook the books, fudge the budget figures or in any way cultivate false expectations and myths like the one of the «powerful economy» that came into vogue during the Simitis government. We came under fire back then for allegedly undermining the robustness of the Greek economy. And after 2000, after the economy achieved the «national» goal of joining the eurozone, prompting calls by the newspaper for a revelation of the true scale of the Greek deficit, Kathimerini came under severe attack, even by former Prime Minister Costas Simitis, who was always quick to rebuff anyone who dared challenge Greece’s economic success story. Sooner or later, the lie would be revealed – and so it was, in all its glory. The Greek economy, one that was grounded on false premises, went on a spending spree, in effect transferring tons of money into the pockets of entangled interests. The recent audit instigated by the conservative government revealed deficit and borrowing figures that reached unnerving proportions. The now-departed Socialist government had committed a major faux pas by concealing expenditures and bequeathing huge debts to the future generations. The PASOK government behaved like a problematic family short on income which went on a spending spree after borrowing money from all the various banks, and always offering the same collateral, as if it enjoyed some perpetual immunity status. Now it finds itself deprived of that status and faced with the repercussions of its past sins. Because of its wrongheaded practices, Greece has now come under strong pressure from the European Commission, its credit rating will be undermined, borrowing costs will rise, and the strain on taxpayers will intensify. In the face of this grim situation, the opposition has chosen the path of lying and cheating. Instead of offering an apology for its irresponsible policies while in office, PASOK defends trickery and untruth, calling upon the public to do the same – that is, not to state their true incomes with the tax office, not to pay back their debts, not to fulfill their economic obligations. In other words, PASOK expects people to behave like disreputable and dishonest hustlers. One would expect that PASOK’s newly anointed leader, George Papandreou, who has pledged a new, transparent and democratic party, would take a different stand and acknowledge past vices. Instead, he sings the same tune, conveying the wrong message to society and the economy.