3rd-class passengers

There has been much debate over the past few days about how we can attain the average per capita income of our European counterparts. But whatever practical uses this «convergence indicator» may have, it is not a reliable measure of essential progress – the type of progress that ensures a country a steady footing at the top of the development ladder. Indeed, this aim – however difficult and unattainable it may seem – is actually paltry and far from optimistic. If we regard Europe as a cruise liner, our aim to attain the full European average – rather than the 70 percent we have achieved to date – is akin to aspiring to move out of the ship’s cargo hold into the second-class lounge. Let us not forget that the Germans have attained 103.7 percent of this same average, the Italians 102.7 percent and the French 99.8 percent. The picture is quite different, however, if we extend our comparisons and goals beyond the context of Europe and into the broader global framework to which we belong. Indeed, by placing the European cruise liner next to its US counterpart, a new truth dawns. America has attained 141 percent of the European average – twice the level of Greece’s achievement. Even if we succeed in bridging the gap that separates us from Europe in the next 25 years, narrowing the chasm between us and the US is inconceivable even in the distant future. To extend the metaphor, the Americans are luxuriating on the chaise longues of the first-class lounge…

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