OPINION

Interventionist state is keeping us poor

We know that in so-called liberal countries the rich get richer – and this has now been confirmed by a recent Eurostat survey. The «heartless Thatcherites» of Great Britain and Ireland boast average per capita monthly incomes of 3,018 euros and 2,559 euros respectively, while citizens of the poor, interventionist Greek state earn just 1,260 euros. Generally, the average wage is a reliable indicator of a population’s prosperity even though its significance tends to be overlooked in Greece. But the real problem highlighted by Eurostat’s survey is that Greece’s poor citizens are significantly poorer than the poor of so-called liberal states. Indeed, the minimum wage is 605 euros in Greece, 1,073 in Ireland and 1,106 in Britian. Unemployment affects nearly 10 percent of the Greek population, as compared to 4 percent in Britain and Ireland. Meanwhile, the proportion of people living under the poverty line are roughly the same – 21 percent in Greece and in Ireland, and 18 percent in Britain. But there is an important distinction to be made. The poverty line is estimated at 50 percent of the average income. This means that 21 percent of Greeks live on less than 632 euros, while 18 percent of Britons live on less than 1,509 euros. The underground economy in Greece (thanks to which average wages are higher than official statistics) should not cloud our analysis. It is irrelevant whether someone doubles their income by working a second job (teacher by day, tutor by night or policeman by day, taxi driver by night). The point is that in «liberal» countries, there is less unemployment, new job market entrants get better salaries and the poor are richer than in Greece. The problem in Greece is that when reality clashes with established dogma, reality is invariably doomed. Indeed, dogmas generally dictate reality as they create social resistance to any attempt to reform the productive structure of the economy. We should remember this every time we pay meager wages and buy expensive goods in this country. And each time we condemn Britain’s «heartless» liberalism we are simply perpetuating our own interventionist, but poor, state.