From The New York Times:
By Liz Alderman | 10 October 2012
PIRAEUS, Greece — The captain gazed from his elegant office overlooking this port on the Aegean Sea and smiled as towering cranes plucked container after container from a giant ship while robotic transport vehicles fanned out to transfer the cargo to smaller vessels bound for the Mediterranean.
The cargo volume here is three times the level it was two years ago, before the captain, Fu Cheng Qiu, was put in charge by his employer, Cosco, a global shipping giant owned by the Chinese government.
In a 2010 deal that put 500 million euros ($647 million) into the coffers of Greece’s cash-starved government, Cosco leased half of the port of Piraeus and quickly converted a business that had languished as a Greek state-run enterprise into a hotbed of productivity.
The other half of the port is still run by Greece. And the fact that its business lags behind Cosco’s is emblematic of the entrenched labor rules and relatively high wages — for those lucky enough to still have jobs — that have stifled the country’s economic growth.
Much more at the link. MetalMiner reports that Cosco is going to invest another €300 million to add another pier and expand its capacity.
The state-run business that operates the other side of the port is languishing, because the featherbedding government workers under a socialist system are so used to not working hard. Under the Chinese, the workers have to actually produce, or, in a country with roughly 24% unemployment, the Chinese management will find someone else who will.
There’s something odd about the soft-socialism countries of democratic Europe having to get a lesson in capitalism from the Communist Chinese, but that’s what has happened. In the People’s Republic of China, which is rapidly going capitalist in its economy, the government still retains tight, totalitarian control, and the subjects who don’t want to work can be “re-educated” at any one of a number of facilities dedicated to such purposes. In democratic Greece, the government can’t force people to work hard or efficiently, and, since the government has always just taken care of the indolent, they don’t really have to.
Too bad it’s all collapsing. Perhaps the Greek government can’t make people work harder, but the discipline of an empty stomach might. The Greek economy is in the toilet from the weight of accumulated debt from decades of borrowing and borrowing and borrowing, to live beyond the means justified by their production, and they’ve hit the wall: private lenders won’t extend them credit without some guarantees from nations which still can pay their bills, and the European Union nations which have been
foolish enough willing to help are imposing severe austerity conditions as the price for their help.
If we are smart enough, we ought to be able to learn the same lesson: the soft socialism of democratic Europe doesn’t work, at least, doesn’t work forever, and only the discipline of capitalism, where failure to work hard means hunger, provides a society with solid economic growth and prosperity.
In the United States, we have just voted for the President of Free Stuff, the President of Welfare and the Malingerers. The soft socialists will tell us that this is for the good, and it can help people, but our looming debt crisis ought to be telling intelligent and educated people (who already knew, and voted Republican) that there is no free stuff, that eventually what you want has to be paid for.
If the House Republicans go all wobbly-kneed, as Speaker John Boehner looks like he might, President Obama might just get more of his soft socialism plans passed. Eventually, the bills have to be paid, and eventually we’ll be in the same boat as the Greeks. Trouble is, there is no one who can bail out the United States.
The liberals won the election, no doubt about that. But winning the election doesn’t make them right; it just means that they won. If we follow their path, if we allow them to lead us down the garden path, we will go flat broke.