Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why Greece Is in Trouble

Jim Geraghty explains at NRO one reason why Greece is in default and why so many in the Eurozone have very little sympathy for their plight. Greece is a vivid illustration of Margaret Thatcher's famous aphorism that the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. Greece has tried to create a socialist paradise, but has instead shown that there probably is no such thing. Here's Geraghty:
This may seem harsh to the Greeks. But they willingly and knowingly tried to build a society where everyone was allowed to retire early – really early:

Early: “Trombone players and pastry chefs get to retire as early as 50 on grounds their work causes them late-career breathing problems. Hairdressers enjoy the same perk thanks to the dyes and other chemicals they rub into people's hair. Then there are masseurs at steam baths: They get an early out because prolonged exposure to all that heat and steam is deemed unhealthy.”

Really Early: “The Greek government has identified at least 580 job categories deemed to be hazardous enough to merit retiring early — at age 50 for women and 55 for men… The law includes dangerous jobs like coal mining and bomb disposal. But it also covers radio and television presenters, who are thought to be at risk from the bacteria on their microphones.”

Really, really early: “In the public sector, 7.91 percent of pensioners retire between the ages of 26 and 50, 23.64 percent between 51 and 55, and 43.53 percent between 56 and 61.”
Each of these assertions is linked to the original source in Geraghty's article. It's interesting that one of the reasons states like California and Illinois have experienced fiscal difficulties and may continue to do so is that their public employees have been given six figure pensions at tax-payer expense. After a while the number of retirees pulling down these benefits grows to the point where it's simply unsustainable.

Nevertheless, states managed by liberal Democrats refuse to halt the gravy train. As you read this, for example, the Pennsylvania legislature is trying to reform the state's pension system but the governor, a progressive Democrat and therefore beholden to the public employees unions, refuses to go along with any reforms. I hope he's watching the goings on in Greece.

This graphic shows the fiscal health of each state in the U.S.:

Why is it that most of the states in greatest difficulty are "blue" states, i.e. they consistently vote Democratic in presidential elections? Why is it that most of the nation's cities that are in the gravest condition, both economically and socially, are cities run by Democrats? Why is it that so many Americans don't seem to care much about these "coincidences"?