I like big arguments!
Coincidentally, Greece has a stupidly large debt.
Causality is key here: the debt mountained even when the fiscal code was -relatively- milder and easier to navigate. Now, it's such a moving target now and designed in such a way that it's nearly impossible NOT to break some rule, that it just paves the way to corruption or total abandonment. Only REALLY big business/oligarchs can negotiate a simpler/more convenient ad-hoc fiscal treatment. The rest just get shafted.
High taxes -> tax evasion -> debt -> need to raise revenue -> higher taxes -> more tax evasion -> bigger debt -> etc.
The problem is that rather than saying outright e.g. "10% increase in taxes", they go in roundabout ways that also increase non-tax costs in terms of wasted work hours, citizens' stress, need to hire up-to-date fiscal consultancy (which often are just as confused and uncertain as their customers) etc.
For example: ever since 2010, every Greek citizen is required to collect EVERY retail receipt he can (up to a 25% of his total income), and submitting them along with his tax revenue statement in order to get a "tax discount". Failure to do so, results in you getting taxed an EXTRA 10% on the difference, so that's essentially a 10% on the 25% = a 2.5% straight extra tax increase, but fucked up with a ton of rules and gotchas. "Tax discount" means that they leave you the fuck alone.
The fun part? From 2014 onwards, they further declared that receipts from gas stations and supermarkets (which, coincidentally, represent the majority of the average household's expenses), suddenly "don't count" towards the "deductible" total, which means essentially a 2.5% increase in taxes for nearly everyone, unless you regularly spend 25% of your income on lawyers, plumbers and auto mechanics. It would be more honest (and more efficient) to just announce a straight 2.5% increase, rather than cause all the wasted time associated with keeping this receipts charade running.
Perversely, this also defeats the purpose of the receipt-collecting measure in the first place: the purpose was so that TAXPAYERS themselves would pressure business owners into printing receipts (essentially, delegating responsability and "enforcements" downwards), but now that most receipts don't count, and most people won't really spend 25% of their income on lawyers (!) or plumbers (!) (those still "count"), most people will wise up, accept a 2.5% loss, and move on. Perhaps that was the actuall intention, perhaps not. Who knows, the taxmakers think in really perverse and convoluted ways.
And none of the above causes the least concern in the EU. On the contrary....
The way out of a vicious circle like that is with protectionist measures: instead of taxing businesses who stay, tax foreign businesses with tariffs on imported goods.
Nope in the EU you can't. Free circulation of goods and capital and all that. Also, no devaluation (unless you still have your own national currency and it's not even pegged to the Euro). The EU is what I like to call "a collective damnation, but with a chance of invidual redemption". The rules and directives, as a whole, are fairly restrictive, but nothing prevents one from "boring" through them by using specific ones to his advantage (like the aforemantioned changing of fiscal residence). So while e.g. at a country level Greece is fucked/damned, it's still possible for individual citizens to seek out personal solutions/redemption.
This probably isn't good for the concept as democracy across the EU, as the individual will be led to think "damn, these rules make life fucking suck for everybody but OH HEY, I CAN SCREW THEM BACK AND COME OUT #1 MAN IF I USE THIS PARTICULAR ONE TO MY ADVANTAGE!". I don't know if there's a term for the kind of "citizen" this mentality creates, but "weasel" comes to mind. It's the perfect mindset for a gypsy or a street scoundrel, but for an "model EU citizen"? Is that really what they had in mind?
the poor get to die of cold and hunger in the streets.
Well, at least in Greece they can shrug off the "cold" part by saying that we live in the world's most beautiful country where the sun always shines, winters are short, sweet and mild, and where EVERYBODY, SOMEWHERE, SOMEHOW will have someone to turn to [/sarcasm]. I kid you not, part of the brainwashing we received at school (along with how Greeks were pretty much a super-race which had computers as early as 6000 BC, all other youro-peans were just unwashed barbaric neantherdals, etc.) was that "...in Europe and the USA, people die on the street from hunger and cold, and nobody cares. This NEVER happens in Greece!". Last famous words....
Last edited by Maes on 02-23-14 at 21:14