OPINION

Chronic scourges of Greek society

Let’s consider two parallel – and apparently unrelated – phenomena: One is the scandal of the alleged milk cartel, about which there has been much speculation recently, and the other is the teachers’ strike that started on Monday, just one week after the start of the new academic year. The first phenomenon is the result of extreme and irresponsible behavior by businessmen; the second is due to the equally extreme and irresponsible behavior of labor leaders. This tendency toward excessiveness and unaccountability is basically the common ground shared by the alleged milk cartel and the action of the unionists, and reflects the class conflict in our society. The former basically aspires to profiteer at the expense of producers and consumers, while the latter’s aim is to make extortionate claims to the detriment of school pupils and their families. Both phenomena are equally harmful, both effectively turn against society and abuse it. The above becomes clear after just a first, quick glance. If we want to dig further and deeper, we will discover chronic and unresolved problems that afflict our political and social life. Even from the beginning of the 1990s – from PASOK’s second main stint in power under Andreas Papandreou and then Costas Simitis – it was quite clear that businessmen had begun to wield increasing influence and that they would be responsible for our progress toward innovation and reform. What is certain is that profits stopped being regarded as theft from society and its social role began to be acknowledged. Gradually, the hope was formed that business (small, medium, large or just plain huge) would constitute the hard core of our national activity and, with this hope, all the governments of that period made serious overtures to business professionals. The outcome of their efforts, however, was pretty unimpressive. The motive of profit and the necessities of the market spurred the development of frenzied profiteering and an «easy-buck» mentality that all of society has suffered from. Businessmen and unions are to blame for this situation but so are successive governments. And the same applies to the problems in our education sector.