The Fauxsterity Chronicles: Greece

At first read, the Examiner headline gives the impression that Greece is finally getting the message about what needs to be done – “Greek Workers to be Fired.” Here are the details:

The civil service redundancies, with a target of 15,000 by the end of next year will target “disciplinary cases and cases of demonstrated incapacity, absenteeism, and poor performance, or that result from closure or mergers of government entities”.

The sackings will overturn a Greek constitutional guarantee of jobs for life for civil servants, aimed at protecting public sector workers from unfair dismissal due to their political affiliations.

The special protections and widespread political cronyism or corruption led to the Greek civil service becoming bloated, with 700,000 officials in a country of less than 11 million people.

“It’s still a taboo to dismiss people from the public sector. There have been no forced dismissals of employees whose positions are eliminated or who for some reason do not perform,” said Mr Thomsen.

Note that “Mr. Thomsen” refers to Paul Thomsen, who speaks for the International Monetary Fund on the Greek file – and who, at first, looks like he finally drove the important message home.

Well…not so fast (Boston Globe, emphasis added):

(Greek PM Antonis) Samaras said 15,000 civil servants would be removed by the end of 2014, with 4,000 of them by the end of this year. New young employees will be hired in their place.

. . .

Minister for Administrative Reform Antonis Manitakis said Greece’s creditors had long been pressing for 15,000 public sector workers to be sacked without being replaced, but the agreement to hire new workers in their stead followed the higher-than-anticipated number of retirements — more than 180,000 of which are expected between 2010-2015.

On one level, this is just maddening; on another level, it is revealing. The IMF, European Central Bank, and European Union – by agreeing to this – have made it abundantly clear that this was never about genuine economic reform. Governments in Europe can be just as big, bloated, and burdensome on the private sector as they wish. They just have to make sure the accounting isn’t out of whack.

This is classic big-government-on-the-cheap – or, as I now prefer, Fauxsterity – and the “troika” just endorsed it.

In other words, Europe will never fix itself, because Brussels doesn’t want that. So it will be more tax increases and chicanery like this, until it all comes crashing down…

…after German voters are duped into thinking all is well on Election Day, of course.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal