Saturday, November 12, 2011

Everyday Socialism

I'm reading this book, which I picked up for 50¢ at a thrift store. Tom Stone is a American who has lived for many years in Greece (or its islands), and knows what he's talking about.
One summer, he decided to partner with a tavern owner, to run the restaurant. This was a business deal, on the island of Patmos. Of course, he was concerned about how to handle the transaction and employment, legally. Here's a quote from the book:

"Above all, [my friend] didn't want any official documentation of our deal, nothing that the tax authorities might be able to trace back to him. Such practices were the norm in Greece. Everybody cheated the government, and only a fool was honest about his income."

Hm, okay. A whole society where everyone lies, particularly the government. Where no one wanted the government to know how much money one made. Why?

"This behavior was justified on two levels. First, government officials were uniformly dishonest and lined their pockets at every opportunity. They also filled cushy civil servant positions with their friends and relatives, who paid them a percentage for the privilege of collecting a salary and pension in a job at which they didn't have to work. So why should you, an ordinary citizen, be left holding the bag? Second, since the authorities expected everyone to lie about their income, they automatically taxed you for much more than you reported anyway. Therefore, cheating was also a justified attempt to right the wrong of being arbitrarily overtaxed in the first place."

If you didn't absorb all of the meaning in each word, you should go back and read it again.

You'd almost think this fellow was a Tea Party activist, a Republican, a Christian Conservative. But he's not. He's just an ordinary ex-patriot, living in a highly socialist country. This is where Socialism gets you. And to be honest, all the ex-pat memoirs I read, whether in France, Italy, or Greece, have a passage (or a chapter!) just like this. Socialism produces a nation of deceivers.  Basically it's impossible to survive economically in a socialist system, without lies, thievery and deception.

Yeah, those are exactly the character traits a government should be fostering in its population. Ugh!

All these ex-pat writers tell these tales with humor, and they love their adoptive nations. They don't have a qualm about tricking the authorities. It's just part of living near the Mediterranean. But we in America should take note -- if we don't want to be living in such a culture, we shouldn't be hoofing it down the Socialist Path, as we certainly are.

And we are. Did you hear the words he used? "Lined their pockets." "Civil servant positions." "Collecting a salary and pension." "Arbitrarily overtaxed." In today's economic discussions, these words crop up often.

This book was published in 2002.  Look at Greece's economy today. The system has collapsed and left a population angry that they have been robbed.

2 comments:

  1. Good post! The writer's words sound all too familiar. I was having an economic talk with Hubs the other day and said, "Isn't it something that we are having such a discussion at our kitchen table about things that our forefathers fought the Mother Country over?"

    Jody

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  2. Very interesting, M.K. I'd like to know when the book was written, not that it really matters, for as you say, it's a typical story, of socialism in any era and place.
    Thanks for sharing - I'll keep my eyes open for this book.

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