OPINION

Small, medium and large firms

The government claims that it is moving forward with a 28-billion-euro support plan for banks primarily to ensure adequate funding for small and medium-sized businesses (SME). PASOK has rejected the plan, claiming that it contains no guarantees that the money will end up where it is supposed to. So the new ideological banner being raised by both major parties is the good of the SME, that broad social stratum that brought Andreas Papandreou to power in 1981, putting an end to the long supremacy of the so-called right. Since I do not think that giving an ideological slant to the economy will make it any easier to transcend the harsh dilemmas thrown up by the crisis, let me hasten to say that our political leaders’ priorities should be to safeguard and support as much as possible all businesses, whether small, medium or large. There is no doubt that SMEs are the backbone of Greek society, since it is they who comprise the so-called middle class, whose prosperity supports democracy, social peace and the economy’s progress and growth, since they employ 60 percent of the work force. However, being mostly family-owned and run businesses, they are more adaptable to difficult conditions and often survive when the larger firms that are the vanguard of the economy leave behind thousands of victims when they collapse. Unfortunately, the current global economic crisis has shown that many major firms are dinosaurs, destined to die, plunging thousands of workers into poverty. Citigroup, the world’s largest bank, has just fired 50,000 staff and the collapsing automobile industry in the USA, Germany, Britain, France and Italy will be swelling the ranks of the unemployed. The New York Times recently said that the middle class in the USA is disintegrating, as many of its members will be losing their jobs in the next few months. The same is happening in Greece, of course, but the Lanaras textile industry closure showed that the collapse of major firms can be the death of entire towns in the provinces.