The state should at least start with the basics.
Once again, we have come to the point where we are mourning victims of a natural disaster. Dozens of people have lost their lives in the fires of East and West Attica and many more have been injured, hundreds of homes and cars have been destroyed. Many of us have seen our friends panic and seek information in social media without knowing if their own people are alive and well. Once again, we have lived through all of these, viewers of the same tragedy that is repeated again and again in our country with an unsettling periodicity.
The next days are days of healing and reorganizing. It is important that anyone who can, should help in useful ways: by giving blood, by offering necessities, even by opening our homes to accommodate our fellow citizens who have been left homeless overnight.
Immediately afterwards, however, we must attribute the responsibilities, figure out the mistakes that have probably been made both in preventing and combating fires, draw conclusions and integrate them in the plans to deal with such critical events. Alas, this is not the first time that Attica has burned, nor the first time we have seen people die from such fires. Let’s finally learn a lesson from this story.
Protecting the life, freedom and property of their citizens is the fundamental reason that states exist – the basic core of their existence. Almost everyone, despite their ideology, agrees that the secondary state functions only come after the main ones have been secured.
A few days ago, KEFiM presented this year’s study on Tax Freedom Day, which in 2018 was on July 18th. The average citizen, in other words, works 198 out of 365 days of the year solely to cover the state’s needs through taxation, as well as to pay contributions.
Within this study, we consciously chose to add another, in our opinion, extremely useful element. While the tax burden on Greeks is similar to that of Germans and higher than that of Swedes, Finns and Italians, the satisfaction from public health and education services as well as from the justice system is in Greece among the lowest in the Member States of the OECD. This is because the Greek state has for decades been built as a means of providing jobs, redistribution and political patronage, rather than on the results produced. We pay too much and receive too little, even when regarding the fundamentals.
We Greeks can endlessly disagree on the desired size of the state. But at this point, let’s at least start from what we agree on – from the protection of life, freedom and property. Since, apparently, we need to start from the obvious, let’s do that.
It is, if anything, our duty to our fellow human beings who have lost their lives both in this and in previous natural disasters.
Note: This article was published on Wednesday 25/07, in the newspaper “Kathimerini.”