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“Still, the negotiating tensions in Athens this week underscore the realpolitik that has frustrated Greece’s lenders — and that has characterized Greece’s efforts at reform ever since Athens helped ignite Europe’s debt crisis three years ago, when it admitted to falsifying its financial accounts to gain euro membership.

Since then, lenders have pressed Greece time and again to whittle its outsized government and streamline impediments in the private sector so the country can operate more like a modern, well-functioning business, restoring growth and jobs.

But the three governments that have run Greece in the past three years have been loath to fire any of the nation’s 700,000 public workers, an influential voting bloc. And now, with unemployment at 25 percent, it is considered anathema to accede to the troika’s demands to fire at least 15,000 government employees. Although those jobless would get unemployment benefits for about a year, they would face almost impossible odds against being rehired — a situation that politicians fear would lead to further unrest.” (New York Times)

Something the man once said about everyone trying to live at the expense of everyone else comes to mind.

FEE Timely Classic

Greece: The Canary in the U.S. Coal Mine?” by Steven Horwitz