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Jan 13, 2012

Greece fails on austerity measures and entitlement reform.

Cartoon: By Lisa Benson.

Greece is broke to the point where it has had to throw itself on the charity of the Euro zone and IMF to stave off inevitable bankruptcy for another month or so. It seems odd therefore to see reports in the media over the past couple of days that indicate that there is to be an expansion of welfare benefits to some new and interesting categories of disabled.

Some of these are sex offenders, criminals, and weirdos:

Greek disability groups expressed anger Monday at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognized disability categories to include pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs. …

The Labor Ministry said categories added to the expanded list — that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists — were included for purposes of medical assessment and used as a gauge for allocating financial assistance.

But NCDP leader Yiannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, warned the new list could create new difficulties for disabled Greeks who are already facing benefit cuts due to the country's financial crisis. …

The new list gives pyromaniacs and pedophiles disability pay up to 35 percent, compared to 80 percent for heart transplant recipients.

"It's really not serious to grant Peeping Toms a 20-30 percent disability rate, and 10 percent to diabetics, who have insulin shots four or five times a day," said Vardakastanis.
The Greek Labour Ministry however is issuing a denial of sorts, claiming that it is only for the purpose of medical evaluation rather than benefits:
The Labour ministry said the new list "solely concerns medical evaluation, not the provision of social benefits." The ministry rushed to clarify the issue after Labour Minister George Koutroumanis was derided in news reports for giving "bonuses" to criminals.

The list released in Greece's official government gazette in November, had included gamblers, pyromaniacs, kleptomaniacs, fetishists, flashers, voyeurs, paedophiles and sadomasochists among the mentally disabled.
Greece is not only overburdened with unsupportable entitlements, but has a somewhat chaotic system mired in fraud and overpayment. Merely fixing this system would not save the Greek economy, but would help to set the nation on the right path as long as a massive reduction in government and public services was included.

Americans and Australians have good reason to take an interest in what is happening in Europe, and especially Greece. The Obama Administration intends to pour billions into rescue funds, and we have been told by Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan, that we ‘have a responsibility’ to ensure that the IMF is adequately funded to help struggling Europeans retire at fifty after a life on disability or unemployment benefits.

Understanding that this may be difficult for us, the government is encouraging older workers to stay on the job well after the traditional retirement age of 65. It has not been explained to us just why we are responsible for the Greek economy, nor what Greece has done for us to incur such a debt to them, but it may have something to do with the high proportion of Greeks in Melbourne, which contains Gillard’s electorate.

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