You can’t eat the recipe

The gloomy mood has not stopped people looking out for signs of optimism. Luckily, it’s not an exercise in futility. It’s the first time one hears people speaking truths about our major post-1973 myths: The question of protesting farmers and their addiction to state subsidies has been hotly debated. The same goes for the benefits going into the pockets of a segment of public servants or parliamentary staff perks. People seem to have finally grasped that Greece must become cheaper if it wants to be competitive and viable, and that it needs to reform its social security system, open up closed occupations and so on. Of course no one expects a social group that is particularly affected by reform to merely take it lying down. Nevertheless, a growing number of people realize that reform is not something that concerns only the others. Crises change perceptions. I was stunned by the reaction of gas station owners who complain that customers are asking for receipts even though the measure has not yet become law. Greeks have started to demand that their fellow citizens fulfill their obligations. Perhaps it’s because they realize that, ultimately, they will be called upon to pay the price if they don’t. Another welcome sign is the growing consensus, public as well as private. ND leader Antonis Samaras has so far shown a responsible stance toward the government’s efforts. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts. An open dialogue will at least help us understand where our money is going. It’s time for instance for ministers to know which state official receive what benefits. Unbelievable as it may be, the head of a ministry has no knowledge of the perks, or even the size of his staff. The administration is faced with that same wall that blocked the efforts of former premiers Costas Simitis and Costas Karamanlis. George Papandreou may be boosted by a sense of consensus and a more mature public. It remains to be seen if he will have the courage to break some eggs or simply leave us with some nice omelet recipes.

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