Dr. John Psarouthakis, Executive Editor of www.BusinessThinker.com
Amid the economic landscape of the just ended deep recession, the creative spirit and actions of self-employment runs parallel to one of the few good things that have been happening lately in Greece. My native land has long been one of the most bureaucratized, inefficient, over-governed economies in the world. Greece once had a state-owned flagship international carrier, Olympic Airlines, serving routes in more than 30 countries. The government asked me to consult with the ministry that operated Olympic and to offer advice on solving its deep fiscal problems. The problems, as it turned out, didn’t require much analysis. Olympic could have continued successful operation but for one difficulty: It employed at least two and perhaps three times as many employees as necessary to fly well and provide excellent service. Furthermore, many of the extra employees performed no Olympic-related chores except to cash their paychecks. None. My advice was obvious, but politically unacceptable, so it was ignored. Olympic eventually went out of business, then re-emerged as a small, privatized regional carrier.
With that kind of economic culture it is no accident that Greece wound up, at this writing, as a deeply indebted nation near financial collapse (despite a bailout engineered by the Euro Zone) where people live in deep fear of the future. The one piece of good news I hear lately is a surge in entrepreneurial activity, ranging from laid-off workers turned shopkeepers in the cities to provincial farmers who, instead of marketing their potatoes a middleman, are bringing them directly to market—where consumers are paying less money for fresher potatoes. It would take far too much space to explain the history or to attempt a current-events report of what is happening in Greece. I share my old countrymen’s concern. But the self-generated “jobs” movement has been, so far, an encouraging thing.