Friday, November 3, 2017

Life Ain't Fair To Unknown Passengers

This commentary from the Ekathimerini ("The unknown passenger's silent resistance" by Nikos Kostandaras) brilliantly captures a theme which I have tried to bring across on many occasions in this blog. The theme of a society where the clever operators built their economic well-being on the hard work and clean living of the 'unknown passengers'. The Greeks whom I met in Germany when I lived there during the 1970s were mostly guestworkers and akin to the 'unknown passengers'. When my wife talks about the Greeks in the small village where she had grown up, her family, their neighbors and friends, the villagers in general, she talks about Greeks akin to the 'unknown passengers'.

Those 'unknown passengers' rarely hit the headlines but one does come across them in day-to-day life. When foreigners rave about Greece and the Greeks, they do so with the 'unknown passengers' in mind; Greeks whom Kostandaras describes beautifully as follows:

"These are the people – and the children of the people – who in the golden age of our recent past were up at dawn, in long queues at bus stops, on their way to work when the nightclubs and bouzouki joints were still full of more privileged revelers. These are the people who would pay for permits to build a home or fix the family home in the village, while others would build illegally on public land; the people who made sacrifices in order to raise children, to pay their taxes and loans, to meet all their obligations. The country was built on their labor, while others set up their political and economic confidence tricks. With the workers’ acquiescence others cultivated the belief that anyone could do whatever they liked, with impunity."

"Life ain't fair" is an expression which one hears frequently in business life. Life certainly has not been fair to the 'unknown passengers'.

1 comment:

  1. The unknown passengers versus the clever operators.
    That should be a simple equation in a democracy, if there are more unknown passengers they can govern and rule in such a way that the clever operators cannot operate. But nothing in Greece is ever simple. I think that a majority consider them self clever operators. Out of this majority many are not very clever, they are in fact unknown passengers being taken for a ride by the real operators. They let them steal and cheat a little, thereby convincing them they are better off with the existing system.
    That "the country was build on the unknown passenger's labor" is a myth even Syriza has given up on. The modern Greek welfare state was built on debt driven consumption and EU grants.
    That life ain't fair you can see on the GINI coefficient, from 2008 to 2012 it went from 33,6 to 36,6. If that does not convince me I can go for a walk, I don't live in the most prosperous district of Attica.