Reforming Greece’s Pension System Demands a Change of Economic Course

Greece’s Civil Servants’ Confederation (ADEDY) has taken a public stance on the government’s plans to overhaul an ailing pension system that will surely annoy government officials and add to their worries that public opinion is increasingly questioning the legitimacy of their responses to the crisis.

ADEDY has described the government’s plan for pension reform as a non-working and anti-popular measure whose implementation will adversely affect current and future retirees, but it will be especially devastating for the new generation.

Moreover, ADEDY claimed that the actual plan that will eventually reach the parliament will be significantly worse than the present version as it is certain that Greece’s creditors will demand even harsher pension reform measures in the meantime.

However, while nearly half of today’s pensioners in Greece already live below the poverty line, it is a cruel fact that today’s pension system is simply unsustainable. The problem isn’t merely that the Greek pension system was indeed quite generous in the past, as some have claimed, or that there was very little accountability built into it, thereby allowing a plethora of opportunities for inefficiency, corruption and fraud in the system, but that funding pension benefits has become increasingly challenging in today’s economic environment in Greece.

The so-called bailout programs with their built-in misanthropic austerity and non-pragmatic approach toward the dynamism of market forces to boost growth and increase employment levels have had a devastating effect on economic activity and converted overnight an essentially developed nation into a poor country with no prospects for a better future.

Greece’s GDP has shrunk by ¼ while unemployment reached stratospheric levels. In addition, social services, including the public health system, have collapsed, poverty has become widespread and the country has experienced the largest “brain drain” in recent history. More than 350,000 people left the country between 2010-2013, and 35,000 Greek doctors are working in Germany alone.

In comparison to Greece’s current economic crisis, the Great Depression in the U.S., the biggest economic depression in the history of the advanced capitalist world, seems like a mild recession and the worst was over 3 years after the crisis’ outbreak.

With no end to the crisis in sight and the exodus of the young and educated workers continuing unabated, it is hard to even conceive pension benefits for the future generations in Greece.

As such, addressing the nation’s ailing pension system demands a change of course in the economic direction the country has been following in the last 6 years. It’s either that or falling deeper into the abyss.

Does ADEDY have anything to say about that? For an essentially conservative and pro-establishment with a strong tendency to cling to its old ways, this is highly unlikely.