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Life in a cold economic climate

December 10, 2011

On the face of it, there is not much evidence that the Greek economy is in meltdown. OK, just about every road project – of which there are many – appears to have been abandoned if not terminated and apparently many young professional people are leaving to find work abroad. That said, cancellation of public works and lack of job opportunities are symptomatic of life just about anywhere in the world and not peculiar to Greece.

We were told today that it is important to understand that Crete is not Greece and that in hard times, the Cretans can always rely on what was referred to as “the other economy”. It seems our host meant the agricultural sector which still flourishes and which we assume is effectively unregulated and therefore untaxed. It also seems to be the case that whilst Greece as a whole may have a large and unsupportable public debt, personal debt is low.

If you add to the mix that Greeks and particularly Cretans, have a pathological dislike of paying taxes – a legacy of being a subject race for many hundreds of years – it is not hard to see the scope of the problems facing the politicians in Athens.

The cost of living here seems higher than the UK except for locally produced food and wine but there is no obvious poverty, so it is hard to understand what is going on. The most likely explanation seems to be that people are doing what they have done over the centuries when times were hard – looking out for themselves within their communities, keeping their money in their back pocket and having little faith that their generally despised political leaders, have a clue what to do.

It is a message which has an echo in the UK but the Cretans have a big advantage over us. Here the sun is shining, the air is warm and as a result perhaps, from our limited perspective of the sun lounger, the people seem generally content. Whilst it remains a truism that a good view and a dose of sunshine does not pay the bills, at least it beats a winter in Northern Europe!

John

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2 Comments
  1. lesley priestley permalink

    Just read it all with a large pinch of envy! Weather has been truly ghastly this year. Keep up the blog and enjoy your warm winter. Lesley and John

  2. David permalink

    Ditto from David- a very large pinch of envy.

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