OPINION

Death of the welfare state

Everyone knows that the government’s scope of activity has become very limited and that its actions are dictated down to the last detail by the rescue plan it signed and that was voted through in Parliament by ruling PASOK and the ultra-nationalist LAOS party with the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But people are only beginning to really feel what this means right now, now that this government of limited responsibility is reforming fundamental social institutions through fast-tracked presidential decrees and emergency bills. The social security system and labor laws are undergoing dramatic change that will result in a lot of pain for a great number and variety of professional groups. Workers, whether they are just entering the job market or heading toward to retirement, face a bleak future. Every day, we are witness to the death of the salesman: Signs for the sale or rental of commercial spaces cover more and more vacant shop windows like death notices. Midsized and bigger businesses are announcing cutbacks in expenses and staff on a daily basis. Many who are not are simply waiting for the law to change so sacking people will cost them less. Nothing can soften the blow of reality, not even the beautiful Greek summer. Society is sinking fast in the mire of fear and the recession, families and individuals are not able to look forward; their efforts are focused on coming up with a survival plan. The government is also sinking. The labor minister is expending himself on theatrics that sully his own name, the health minister talks about a welfare state from the ruins of the country’s hospitals, the education minister can’t even pull off a smooth exam period and most of the others are either off somewhere hiding or making vague statements. Of the prime minister, who is also the president of Socialist International, The New York Times itself wrote, on June 15: «He now faces the tasks of dismantling the sprawling Greek welfare system that his father, Andreas, helped erect when he was prime minister in the 1980s.» A welfare state takes years to build and months to destroy and it was the fate of this government (a Socialist one, lest we forget) to do the dismantling. Unfortunately, we are not at all sure whether it has understood just how much it is rocking society.