Dimitris Rapidis

The local services of the Public Insurance System of Greece -known as IKA– have been suffocated during the last weeks by thousands of people waiting for hours in the queues in order to submit their complaints, mostly for payment delays and renewals of health booklets. Old people, but also youngsters and middle-aged employees or unemployed confess waiting for more than 4 hours in average just to fullfil the necessary forms, in a situation that has no precedent even in the most under-developed countries of the world.

To the complete majority of the Greeks this situation is common. And not lately, but for decades. The public system is regularly functioning like that in Greece, and despite the fact that this is a common belief and a pending problem, nothing has been done and all declarations from the political establishment have ended up in vain. Someone in this country could easily wonder why this dehumilating situation for the people keeps going like that. There is no answer for that, but mainly assumptions to make upon.

The most oft-addressed one has to do with a system of untrust and patronage that has been meticulously built for decades in Greece, where officials and people were involved into the same transaction mindset in order to complete their “jobs”: whether this is a renewal of health booklet or a room in a hospital, or even tax evasion, both parties -public officials and the people- were used to work with indirect ways entailing extensive bribes. But even if this “policy” has been established by many, the majority of Greek people is not involved in such illegal and illusive “transactions”. And it is the majority that especially now in the times of crisis is stroke by the absence of monitoring, legally binding, mechanisms that could build trust between the state, its mechanisms and the people in one hand, and the effectiveness of the services delivered by the public system and the bureaucracy on the other hand, no matter if this is the health system, the education system, or the social insurance system.

For the Westerns, but even for many cultures around the world, this situation is non-comprehensible. The troika which is assumed with the burden of restructuring Greece, has no idea what is happening in the Greek bureaucracy and this is a situation that politicians and officials in public organizations are constantly trying to hide. And the question here is the following: even if the representatives of troika cannot see what is happening in the transactions between the public and the public organizations, why troika is not trying to monitor the situation and provide some solutions?

From that prism, and as far as troika has openly declared its devotion to reform Greece’s public sector, having also deployed a handful of representatives in the Ministries that work in temporary basis, is it that difficult to establish watchdogs over some local offices of IKA for instance, and follow-up what the situation is? In this respect, I really doubt about the true intentions of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank over their determination to change conditions and public services delivery in Greece. As things go worse, and taking into account the global experience from the presence and implementation of relavant policies around the world (e.g. Iceland, Argentina, Hungary), I firmly believe that Greece is the only state that despite all continuous mismanagements and mistakes made by all responsible sides, it still remains a prosperous field for experimental austerity politics for both international regulators and the Greek political elite.

After all, the subsequent question that comes up is the following: for how long will Greece remain in that situation and for how long Greek people will continue be dehumiliated and deprived from fundamental means of welfare security?

A great part of people waiting for hours in the queues of IKA are also being desperate waiting for something to feed themselves in many places around the country. The following video, also reproduced by The Guardian in the UK, is the one European people should take into consideration when asking themselves “what is happening in Greece in the times of insane austerity politics?”

[kml_flashembed movie="https://www.youtube.com/v/9229na_NGAo" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

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