Policies, not slogans

We’ve seen it before. Back in 2004, the Karamanlis administration made a fuss about the creative accounting of its Socialist predecessors before going on to review Greece’s budget figures. Now it’s PASOK’s turn to expose ND’s book cooking. In both cases, we see a new administration trying to mar the record of its predecessor so that it appears to be making progress. The fact is that the global economic crisis aggravated but did not itself cause the problem. It’s a chronic problem reflected in the current account deficit and the small size of capital investment. Speculative capital invested on the Athens bourse tends to squander funds rather than contribute to growth. If debt and deficit have skyrocketed, it’s because funds were not placed in productive investments that would create surplus wealth. More often than not, they were spent in a manner that increased imports. Governments take fiscal measures. But a real solution can only come about through real, growth-inducing measures. In order to create wealth, the government must make use of existing comparative advantages and release the productive forces. It must create an environment that will facilitate business initiatives. The problem is that the debate on the economy is held on the level of slogans. The main parties are prone to importing ideologies from abroad. However, Greece first needs a comprehensive set of policies, not ready recipes from abroad. After all, no reform can succeed without public consensus. Without this, even the most inspired measures risk oblivion in the face of social opposition. The economic problem is, above all, a political one. For any collective effort to succeed, it will need a mood of self-discipline which in turn requires a good dose of political confidence that cannot be achieved with PR stunts. It takes straight talk and a socially just economic policy. Suspicion and rejectionism is fueled by the, usually justified, impression among workers that the burden of the much vaunted structural changes will fall on their own backs.