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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

WE IZ IN UR PUBLIC UTILITIEZ, BEING STUPID

We in Greece do not have to choose between socialism and climate change denial - we believe in nothing and can therefore disbelieve whatever we like.

But even so, we had yet to see anything quite as masterful as the recent letter to the Greek minister for Climate Change, signed by the Association of Graduate Technicians at Greece's Public Electricity Company (ΔΕΗ).

If you're not Greek and you don't know what the company's initials stand for, you may assume that this is a professional body of energy technicians. In fact they are a union whose sole purpose is to ensure that the gap in pay and benefits between those of ΔΕΗ's employees who have a technical university degree and those who do not remains as large as possible.

What they believe their role to be is evident from the following LOLpic which they have used in the latest of their military inspired newsletters  Hint for non-Greeks: the guy on the right, holding up a card that reads "harsh [fiscal] measures" is EU Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Joaquín Almunia. The "300" reference is as laughable as it is obvious.


What is truly remarkable, however, is the content of the letter itself. I am pleased to offer a small selection of passages, whose profound absurdity is all the more obvious in translation. Quotation marks are not inserted by myself - they are part of the masterpiece that is the original text.

These "cabbage-green" homunculi (cabbage-green for their ecological concerns) who pompously style themselves "Head of Policy at the WWF" (leader of the troops), or "Head of Energy Matters at Greenpeace", should know, if they do not already, that Greece has enjoyed 60-odd years of energy security and cheap energy on a KWH basis, thanks to ΔΕΗ, which has made and continues to make the most efficient use of our national fuel, brown coal [lignite].

[...]

This environment stuff is all very nice, and we agree with the development of renewable energy sources and the "20-20-20" targets for 2020.

[Note: this refers to the European Commission target for sourcing 20% of EU member states' energy from renewables and reducing carbon emissions by 20%, compared to 1990 levels, by 2020]

We will support any initiative of yours aimed at a larger ΔΕΗ with brown coal, our national fuel, as its main fuel.

We agree with your rock-chick coutoure and your wealth of "knowledge"
[...]

We are well-versed in hard rock and, when in the right, we can quickly acquire Ph.D.s in Street Studies.
[Note: In Greece, "Hard Rock" is an archaic byword for confrontational politics. Ph.D. in Street Studies is a reference to the new Minister's university studies as well as a hint that the Union is willing to employ aggressive industrial action]

Monday, 28 December 2009

GROWTH SECTOR EPIC FAIL

Never be it said that our European partners and their bankers are always out to get us. Today, the FT cites a tongue-in-cheek discussion  of how our enormous informal economy is the secret growth sector keeping Greece afloat. The originators are none other than Deutsche Bank, in this note.

So how big is the Greek shadow economy? It's 25% of GDP, according to this methodology if I'm not mistaken. It still sounds optimistic to be honest, but that means the shadow economy will grow by a respectable 1.8% this year, against a 1% drop in official GDP.

Which brings to mind the illustrious campaign to end music piracy in Greece:

AI IZ IN UR PROCUREMENT AGENCIES, DRIVING UP UR INFRASTRUCTURE COSTS


Eleutherotypia ran a long article about a week ago on the major Greek road works, citing "an EC report" which found endless budget over-runs and extremely high costs among the Greek projects funded by the 3rd Community Support Framework (CSF III). I have no doubt we're not doing very well. Perhaps because we're getting people like this to do the work:




In most policy circles, it is considered polite to offer citations, but journalists have no time for such niceties. Perhaps if any of them actually got paid, they would be able to afford a home computer so they could double-check what their well-placed "source" was saying.

Here is the link to the actual evaluation study. Note the database of CSF III public works in excel format. That's where the money is.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

HO, HO, HO(Z), MERRY LOLMAS

All this doom and gloom could yet make us forget the happy times, the good times, when Greece was a proud and prosperous nation.

Back then, we counted prostitution and money laundering against GDP in what must have been the the ultimate LOL Greece moment of the decade.

Of course, from some perspective it all makes sense. Try this one for instance:


CARBON REDUCTION FAIL, BUDGETING FAIL, TRANSPARENCY FAIL

WWF says the Greek delegation in Copenhagen was more than 70-strong, counting scientists and NGOs

In its early formative days, however, the delegation was sized at ca. 30 by our own officials, again counting various hangers-on:

Even one of our naysaying politicians on the Right only had the figure at 69.

Now I would not be willing to bet that anybody flying to Copenhagen paid their own way, so we must at least have the receipts. Apparently some stayed for more than two weeks.

All of this makes the Greek delegation bigger than that of the UK (but not as big as that of newly enviro-sceptic Australia). For a country with few domestic carbon reductions and no development money to offer, not to mention GINORMOUS AMOUNTS OF DEBT, one cannot help but wonder what we were thinking.

But of course, one thing did come out of it. The holy grail of political PR in 2009: the Obama photo-op.


AI IZ IN UR PUBLIC BROADCASTER, INCREASING UR DEFICIT

















Here's a quick roundup of the top salaries in our public broadcasting corp, courtesy of troktiko.blogspot.com . Not for the feint of heart:

http://troktiko.blogspot.com/2009/12/blog-post_1624.html

LOL GREECE SPOOF BANKING AD

Friday, 25 December 2009

CUT IN DEFENCE SPENDING DELIVERS SAVINGS FOR GREECE

Nobody shoots donkeys anyways.
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/afx/2009/06/16/afx6548315.html

SUBMITTED BY FUFURASU.ORG

NO! YOU IZ FAT CAT AND MUST GIVE US 90% OF UR NOMS.

LET ME GUESS... WE WANT TO THANK GOD FOR WHAT WE ARE ABOUT TO RECEIVE?

Details: http://www.tovima.gr/default.asp?pid=2&ct=32&artId=306150&dt=23/12/2009

I CAN HAZ JOB? KTHNX.

It's true, the Greek government doesn't know how many civil servants there are in Greece. We are supposed to have ca. 550,000 civil servants earning an average EUR 2,725 per month. Now, based on my trusty EU KLEMS data, I think it's almost twice that much if we count all of the employees in education, health and other community and social services, as the total had already reached 1,024,000 by 2007. Total payroll for these sectors was EUR 30bn in the same year. That worked out to EUR 2,100 per month (assuming 14 wages).

Of course not all of the employment in these sectors is linked to the public sector (whether directly or indirectly), but I suspect my total is closer to the truth than the government's.


O HAI... AI IZ AT HOME, PLAYING PLAYSTATION


“It’s a terrible waste of money,” said the former official. “It happens all the time. This is the Greek reality.”

He estimated that hosting the Olympic Games in 2004 cost Greece more than £12 billion, double what it would have been without “money flying this way, that way and often under the table”. Bribes are routinely paid by Athenians to speed up bureaucracy. Tax evasion is also rampant.

As for the new, centre-left government of George Papandreou, the prime minister, who is also the son and grandson of Greek prime ministers, the former official was dismissive. “They’re a bunch of amateurs,” he said. “Not one of them has ever earned a penny in the private sector.”

The previous government — of which he had been a member — was just as incompetent. He confirmed a rumour that Costas Karamanlis, the former prime minister, spent long hours on a PlayStation computer game at home when he might have been attending to matters of state.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article6962790.ece

I CAN HAZ CARBON TAX?

PLZ... I NO HAS TAX REVENUZ.

AI IZ IN UR CREDIT RATING AGENCY, WIDENING UR SPREADZ

Who needs fiscal discipline when we can blame everything on speculators?