I do not know whether I am a biological descendant of Ancient Greeks.
Most likely, I will never find out.
The necessary tests are very expensive, and they will most likely be inconclusive, as science does not have the DNA of an ancient Greek in store.
Nevertheless, I can read and my memory is still ok, so I can recall one of the sayings of Ancients Greeks: “metron ariston”, or “moderation is best”.
This recollection came to me after the events of Monday, 18th July 2011 in Athens and Piraeus.
More than 4000 taxis blocked the Athens International airport and the Port of Piraeus on Monday morning until lunchtime, causing huge congestion in traffic and making the travellers’ lifes miserable indeed.
This move was the result of an impass in the discussions between the union of taxi owners and the Ministry of Transport, and a 48 hour strike that started at 0600 hrs on Monday 18th July 2011.
I am not a friend of Greek taxi owners. I have never been and most likely will never be.
However, I cannot accuse them for what happened, as they have been pushed against the wall.
And anyone in their position would react in a similar way.
It does not take a nuclear scientist to figure out why the taxi owners reacted the way they reacted.
The deregulation of professions is one of the measures to be taken by the Government in order to “open” the market of Greece to competition. In the context of this, the Ministry of Transport has drafted a Presidential Decree, according to which anyone who applies for a taxi license, assuming he/she has no criminal record and is a registered tax payer can get one, paying the nominal fee of 3000 Euros. The decree places no restriction on the number of licenses. May the best survive.
Now taking into account that the current market price of a license is well in excess of 100,000 Euros, you get the reason of the taxi owners’ behavior. This is a “sudden death” approach to “modernization, and – of course – the victims are not taking it very well.
One might ask how important is the opening of the taxi owner’s profession for the Greek economy. It is obvious that the wealth generated by 50,000 taxis in Greece is not going to make or break the economy. The quality will differ, and may be we will get to see significant price increases, as today taxi in Greece is very cheap compared to other European countries.
But why is it so important for the Government to actually zero the value of a taxi license? Why not deregulate the profession in a gradual progressive way, that gives the owners some space to breath and eventually accept a compromise?
This is where the mind of the Ancient Greek stops.
And Moderation disappears.
The whole thing is extreme in any way you look at it, and the timing is even worse. It is moronic. Knowing that there would be problems, the wise guys of the Greek Government decided to push the decree now, at the height of the Summer Season, with the country ready to breath a sigh of relief from higher than expected tourist traffic.
I want to emphasize that I am not in any way condoning the actions of the taxi owners. Blocking airports and ports is not my idea of action. However, desperate people do desperate things. And the job of the elected Government is to act in ways that resolve issues rather than creating desperation. Politics is the art of compromise, not the art of pushing people over the cliff.
Which leads to totalitarianism.
In a rather naive way, the government tried to accuse the leading opposition party for the mess, implying that there was some type of moral support provided to the taxi owners. In other words, the moral accomplice to the crime committed against the Greek tourism and the Greek citizens was the leading opposition, New Democracy.
Nobody can take any of these stupidities seriously.
What worries me is that the Greek Government has apparently not understood the blunder they have committed. Instead of the Prime Minister bringing the “lost in the woods” Minister of Transport back to reality and directing him to enter immediately in negotiations with the taxi owners, the Government spokesman has announced that the Minister has the full support of the Prime Minister and nothing will change in the Decree of deregulation.
I do not know whether I am a descendant of Ancient Greeks, but I can assure you, the Greek Government of today definitely is not.