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Greece has been living beyond its means in recent years, and its rising level of debt has placed a huge strain on the country's economy.
The Greek government borrowed heavily and went on something of a spending spree during the past decade.
Public spending soared and public sector wages practically doubled during that time.
It doesn't help that, in Greece, tax evasion is commonplace and pension rights are unusually generous – but, to be fair, using public spending to even out the bumps of the global downturn is what most large developed economies are trying to do right now.
Like most Greeks, Pavlos Georgiou is under no illusion as to why his country is in the eye of the biggest storm to rock Europe since the second world war. "For too long," he says, armed outstretched behind a desk stacked high with paper files, "people here have cheated the system. That's why we have ended up in this sorry state."
His day job as an accountant is offset by another far more lucrative business: as a tax specialist who fudges and fiddles the books for clients. "What to do, when everyone is doing it?"
"Until now the only dream of nearly every Greek has been to get a state job," says the author Nikos Dimou. "Because they knew that it was not only a job for life but involved little work."
(continued from same source)
"The abundance of perks, benefits and bonuses that pushed profligacy to its limits was nurtured by runaway bureaucracy that gave way to loopholes and abuse.
It was a system in which phony invoices and receipts thrived next to phantom committees and working groups that never met. The environment ministry, alone, was discovered to have 31 such organisations, including a committee for a lake that had ceased to exist back in the 1930s when it dried up.
When Papaconstantinou took over the finance ministry he found staff telephone bills that ran into the thousands, monthly newspaper bills of 25,000 euro and ministers claiming 18,000 euro curtain bills for their offices."
"The daughters of deceased army officers could claim their father's pension for a lifetime if they remained unmarried; a hairdresser working with "dangerous" chemicals could receive pensions by the age of 50; a policeman on the beat could leave his job all expenses paid at the age of 45."
"Greek government workers have received what are called "13th- and 14th-month salaries." That means they work for 12 months, but get paid for 14. Sweet deal, if it doesn't wreck your economy. Oh, wait. It does.
Henceforth, government workers will get a flat 250 euro ($331) Easter bonus, a 500 euro ($662) Christmas bonus and an additional 250 euro "subsidy leave."