I can see why they are thinking about exiting the Eurozone

“Greece Unveils The Negative Salary, And A Whole New Meaning For ‘Pay To Play’”

“Salary cutbacks (called “unified payroll”) for contract workers at the public sector set to be finalized today. Cuts to be valid retroactively since november 2011. Expected result: Up to 64.000 people will work without salary this month, or even be asked to return money. Amongst them 21.000 teachers, 13.000 municipal employees and 30.000 civil servants.”


This is on top of higher taxes, less government aid, higher retirement age, etc. However, if you ask me, this would still be preferable to leaving the EZ outright and saying “screw you” to austerity. The money needs to come from somewhere.

I suspect I am in the minority, but I say, “Good.” I lived in Greece for 4-5 months and I can say without reservation that it is a corrupt sh*thole. I think they deserve all the austerity that the rest of Europe can force on them. I have zero sympathy (but only because it’s not possible to have less than zero sympathy). If those lazy f*cks would do some work, maybe they could eventually build a country worth being proud of instead of resting on what their ancestors built 2,500 years ago.

Here we go, flames begin in 3…2…1…

Although I have no anecdotal experience, I agree fully. You work --> you eat. Just like the rest of us.

hear hear

Hmm. I agree that these steps are probably reasonable given the circumstances. However, I guess I differ from you guys in that I am somewhat sympathetic towards the Greeks, who will most likely have to undergo serious lifestyle changes.

For instance, as a “first world” person, I’m used to living in comfort - having healthy food, driving new cars, working in air conditioned offices, and other luxuries like that. If suddenly, something happens and I’m reduced to say, a Mexico level standard of living, I’d be pretty angry. Not that there is anything wrong with the new standard of living - I just wouldn’t be used to it and hence, the transition would be painful.

So back to Greece… are these steps appropriate? Probably. Do they deserve this? Most likely. However, I can’t help but relate to their position a little bit.

I recently read Michael Lewis’ new book “Boomerang”. A few of the chapters (including the one on the mess in Greece) are available on the Vanity Fair website. They’re a good read.

Definitely makes you angry. Cheating on taxes seems like an offence comparable to J-Walking, everyone seems to do it. Apparently the average declared taxable income of doctor’s there is something like $20,000, whilst rail workers and other low skilled government are getting paid $100K a year. I think what makes me the most angry though is how they lied their way into the European union by cooking all their books. People should definitely going to jail in my opinion. Drag in all the politicians, the corrupt tax-collectors, the tax cheats and lock them up I say.


Other good articles by him also worth reading:


ohaim that is exactly why I have no sympathy.

  1. You said working, which is probably a generous term for what most people in Greece do on a daily basis (if they even do anything remotely close to working – as recently as a few years ago, no matter where you went in Athens, you would see people standing around twirling their beads all day and smoking). Work was considered optional by a large portion of the population – people who had not earned the right to not work.

  2. The reason I am glad Greece is suffering is because Greece is a failed socialist regime. I am not a hardcore free market capitalist (because purely free market capitalism always ends in slavery of the people – you need some laws regulations to make society fair by reigning in very powerful corporate entities (which we fail at in the US)), but I HATE HATE HATE socialism.

Without question, socialism always fails 100% of the time, usually sooner rather than later. And instead of making the system fair for all, it makes it fair for none while supporting a leisure class of unproductive people. In the case of Greece, that class may have actually been a MAJORITY of the population, instead of the small minority of free loaders as in most developed countries. The fact that Greece could pull off a “coup against productive labor” for as long as it did shows that what they did was a conspiracy from top to bottom.

So I say, let Greece be an example to all socialist and aspiring socialist states (here’s looking at you, US and UK) – it never, ever works and all you do is end up gutting the economy, social stability, and the public coffers. If you want to destroy your country, socialism is an excellent mechanism to do so within one or two generations.

50% of US don’t pay taxes… hmm… sounds socialist to me

Not sure if you are being sarcastic or not, but either way it’s pretty clear that what we are doing in the US is not working.

I think the 50% don’t pay taxes figure is conveniently crafted BS. If we were all working and earning similar amounts and had a similar standard of living, then it would be a serious problem. As it is, with the top 50% owning somewhere around 80% of assets and similar proportions of the income, I’m not too worried about the bottom 50% not paying a specific kind of tax on their 20%.

And it’s not as if they don’t pay anything. We’ve talked about sales taxes on stuff that you buy, and if you have a cell phone, there are taxes there too. There are lots of taxes that people pay. Plenty of people with jobs pay payroll taxes, and self-employment taxes. So then people say, yeah, but the only taxes that matter are income taxes, because that’s the tax that creates the statistic that I like to cite. But everyone gets a standard deduction, and if your income isn’t sufficient to meet the standard deduction, well then you don’t pay. But guess what, your life is pretty miserable anyway if you are in that category. You pay by suffering a more miserable and degraded life than those who pay more taxes. So everyone pays something in the end.

There is an issue where you don’t want Government politicians saying “well, here I am in government and I have to create a legacy, so I’m going to build something that I can put my name on, and since it costs money, I’ll just go grab some more taxes from people to do it.” I’m totally on board with this kind of argument against taxation.

And transfer payments do create perverse incentives, particularly when you are on the cusp of losing them. I am on board with the idea that if you recieve government assistance for something, there needs to be some reciprocal obligations/responsibilities. I can imagine a system where you have some time on unemployment insurance with essentially no responsibilities, but if you stay on for too long, then you have to start doing things like retraining and such.

I think the question depends on the details. US labor force participation is like 65%, which includes people 16 years old or older. So, it’s plausible that 15% of US people (the bottom 23% of the labor pool) are working and pay negligible income taxes. If you consider that very few people younger than 16 have jobs, then it’s almost certain that 50% of the US population does not work and thus does not pay income taxes.

Of course, you are correct in saying that people pay other taxes, most notably sales tax. However, this goes against the spirit of the discussion. A sales tax is a tax on consumption and is flat. Income tax is a tax on compensation - basically a tax on working - and is progressive. Thus, income tax creates the most incentive to free ride the system. This is probably the main thing that bothers bromion, iteracom and friends.

With that being said, I think I have a bit more acceptance of the US economic state than bromion. Any society has some aspects of socialism. However, most societies are not as capitalistic as the US. You could use Singapore or Hong Kong as examples, but their models of governance probably won’t work in the US, given differences in population size and diversity.

Hey, I got an idea. Let’s say I literally give away all my assets to friends or family etc, with the implicit agreement they’ll take care of me and what not.

Then I start leeching off the system and collect welfare payments, don’t pay any taxes and get free healthcare with Medicaid ? Is that right?

Give it to me, and see how well you like it. You won’t pay any income taxes afterwards, that’s for sure.

I’ll even give half of your stuff back after a year if you don’t like it.

You’ll have to pay taxes on the “gifts” he gave you, so you won’t have much more than 1/2 his stuff left.

The value of their “taking care of you” is technically income, so you would be a tax cheat if you didn’t pay taxes on it. Since you would have no means by which to pay your taxes, you would end up being provided for within the correctional system.

Good point, although the gift tax is actually paid by the giver, not the reciever, and there is a $1MM depletable lifetime exemption. It is also taxed at the marginal rate, not the rate of bonuses (which is taxed at the rate you would get if you were to receive that bonus every month for the year). So there would be gift taxes if he has more than $1MM of stuff to give me, but it wouldn’t be at 50%.

^ The giver pays the tax? I never knew that, alwasy assumed the receiver paid. Just another example of how f’ed up our tax system is.

Why is that so f’ed up? It doesn’t really matter whether the giver or the reciever pays the tax to the giver or the receiver. The giver gives less if they are taxed. The receiver recieves less if they are taxed. In the end, it really doesn’t matter who pays the tax.

The only difference is that the tax is collected at the giver’s marginal tax rate. If givers are higher earners than recievers (a logical assumption), the tax will be higher. The IRS tends to find it easier to track the giver than the reciever.

But, you can give up to $1MM tax free over a lifetime to any individual, so if you go over the $12,000 exempt gift tax, you can still give up to $1MM to someone before you are taxed (so families can give more than $12,000).

When times were hard, I learned about these rules because I was concerned about gift taxes from a family member.

Fully agree with bromion, the entitlement mentality among the greeks is absurd and these austerity measures have been long overdue. Government salaries and retirement benefits in a lot of ex-Communist bloc eastearn & central european countries are dwarfed by the ones in Greece, even after implementing the cutbacks. Former Soviet satellites that went from planned economies through turbulent market transitions in the past 2 decades, that are currently EU members with solid fundamentals and much lower debt to GDP ratios that the PIIGS. I don’t see people out on the streets setting stuff on fire even though they are paid a fraction of what the greeks get.