Here is a joke about the Greek economy:
Q. Why did Greece fail to get the latest instalment of
European Union aid?
A. Because no-one in Greece works long enough to complete the
The joke refers to one of the peculiarities of the Greek
economic system, and the apparently lavish benefits it
provided its citizens before it crashed.
Go Greek for a Week is on the Living Channel tonight
at 9.30pm, and it has a reasonably entertaining attempt at
explaining the issue.
The Greek economy is a matter one sees in snippets on the
news, through scenes of riots as Greeks react to austerity
Either that, or through the deeply esoteric ramblings of
economists, which bring new meaning to the phrase "It's all
Greek to me".
Greece is regularly used as one of the reasons the world's
economy is going to hell in a handbasket.
But why did everything go so very badly wrong in that small
country alarmingly close to Albania, Macedonia and Bulgaria?
Pretend accountant Mr Kostas uses three British families'
situations, and uncovers just what sort of benefits they
would have been entitled to in Greece.
Jane, for instance, is a 54-year-old part-time hairdresser
who earns about $NZ25,000.
Mr Kostas explains in Greece her job was one of 580
occupations that were designated arduous or unhealthy - in
this case because of the chemicals involved - and she would
have been entitled to retirement.
Not only that, but she would be entitled to 90% of her state
pension, which would come to the same amount as what she
Other occupations designated arduous or unhealthy were radio
broadcasters, because of the risk of microphone germs, and
wind instrumentalists, who are apparently subject to gastric
John Morgan works 46 hours a week driving buses in Luton.
Before the debt crisis, as a Greek bus driver, John would
have received a bonus for checking tickets, $NZ150 a year for
buying milk and, as a married man, he would have been about
$NZ900 a week better off than he is.
It sounds a little like things should be.
And it must have been great before everything went
But as University of Piraeus economist Platon Tinios says,
all those benefits were brought in to buy political favour,
and the country ended up in billions upon billions of dollars
And it just goes to show - while tax evasion, corruption and
mismanagement are fun hobbies, they do not a sustainable
Here is another joke:
Q. What is the capital of Greece?