Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pink Slips: A Portent?

I heard disturbing, although as yet unsubstantiated, news this morning; from this coming autumn, foreign nationals resident in Greece will have to produce for the revenue authorities a 'pink slip', or a quantity of them, to prove they have transferred at least 3,000 euros into a greek bank account during any future tax year. Complying with this rule will be no problem for most, if not all, of retired Northern Europeans who have chosen to live here but it may not be so easy for many of the younger and far less well-heeled immigrants from ex Soviet Bloc countries, many of who scratch a living within the extensive black economy here. For me the news came as yet another nail in the coffin of the beautiful freedom I have enjoyed here these past twelve years.
There were many reasons for my coming to live here in Greece. The weather, top of most British ex-patriots' lists, was a minor concern; I could have found fine weather almost anywhere around the Mediterranean. The comparative cost of living here was and still is attractive, although the gap has closed considerably, but that too was, and probably still is, true of other Mediterranean countries, albeit perhaps to a lesser degree. More important than material concerns was an affinity with Greece instilled in me over sixty years ago by the uncle who had had something of a classical education interrupted by the war and who had helped me to be fully literate when I joined, aged four and a half, my first school. Uncle Arthur's Greece was not, of course, the Greece in which I am living but I doubt that the landscape or the night sky have altered much nor, until perhaps fifty years ago had the rhythm of life of most peloponessian Greeks. But it was not the many attractions of Greece that caused me to settle here, it was my increasing concern about the way England, the country in which I and generations of my ancestors had been born, was heading in the name of egalitarianism; into an abyss of mob control. Repressive new legislation was increasingly being introduced and enforced, not as the result of the findings of objective research but, seemingly to me, at the whim of faceless commissars who told me it all made sense. “You know it makes sense” was the mantra slogan of one particular government nanny. Well, to me it did not! Had there been any indications of support from my friends and acquaintances I may have stayed and given my support to a recovery of the standards of freedom known to my ancestors; standards which many decent folk had fought and died to preserve. Far from there being any such indications forthcoming, it appeared to me that my fears seemed to my friends to be irrational. I had become something of a loose canon, why could I not acquiesce as they were with increasing bureaucratic lunacy? The nonsense continued; to sell a bag of apples, or a pound of apples became a criminal offence, laughable notices appeared all over the country warning of the most obvious dangers, they became something of a joke, they still are, yet still the docile mob acquiesced and continue, apparently contentedly, to do so. Fed on material sweeties; one or two mortgages, one or two cars on the drive, one or more TVs, decking over the garden, a conservatory, a fortnight in the sun each summer and so on and so on, of course they did not want any boats rocked! There being no hope of my influencing my fellows I voted with my feet and came to live in this country where nothing is measured but all measures are generous; where walls or fences are not considered necessary; where folk are naturally open and welcoming; where there are few policemen and little crime. This is not true, I know, of Athens but Athens is no more representative of provincial Greece than is London of provincial England.
These halcyon days of freedom which, with a few short but rather nasty interruptions, have been extant here since the Ottomans left around a 180 years ago, are now, I believe, numbered. Our paymasters in Berlin are keeping a very close watch and I have no doubt that they will be quite happy to fund the policing for enforcement that all the new, socially pointless, legislation will require.
The “Pink Slip” rule, will be but nothing to what is certain to follow but we must not be concerned, “we know it makes sense”.

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