Greece's fire disaster another gift of socialism

The terrible wildfire in Greece, which destroyed the seaside village of Mati and killed, at last count, 91 people, was all the more awful because it need never have happened.

Unfortunately, it did, and it was a problem of not having free markets.  The New York Times, in an op-ed from a Greek journalist who knows the place, points out that scores of unpermitted buildings and a non-working property registry, along with the corruption that makes its home in any such setting, were at fault.

What neither government nor opposition parties acknowledge, however, is that many communities across the country may be death traps, wherever homes are built without permits, with town planners trying to catch up later.  Instead of being demolished, illegal buildings are usually accommodated by law, as politicians fear losing votes by destroying people's homes.

Unpermitted buildings?  You know, like the shacks and shantytowns of the Third World?  Sounds like it.

The Independent of London is even more direct with the blame: 

A large, centrally controlled state can be a source of secure employment (as in Greece), yet is often grossly inefficient.

With all that chaos, people couldn't get out, and that was why so many perished.

The Independent continues:

State power, wrongly exercised, can inhibit legitimate business, and its regulatory functions have little effect in societies where illegality and a shadow economy are prevalent.  Look at post-communist countries that suffer from a legacy of a large yet weak state.  Greece may never have been part of the Soviet bloc, but successive weak governments, coping badly with the country's underdevelopment, have created a series of distortions that are unseen in western Europe, but common in the east.

Does Greece's problematic historical development contribute to this particular type of disaster?  The short answer is yes, it does.

What we are looking at here is a state with massive spaghetti bowl of regulations, regulations so tangled and specific and full of exceptions, as well as so numerous, that they couldn't be enforced except selectively.  These contributed to the chaotic position the little town of Mati was in.  Most of the buildings were done without permits, numerous news reports say, obviously because getting one was too hard.

The other problem was the lack of a working property registry, which meant that people were unable to properly buy and sell and improve their properties.  Net result: chaos again – and, in Greece, a deadly firetrap.

These are the very problems discussed by free market economist Hernando de Soto, whose brilliant work on the importance of property rights and rule of law is The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.

Lack of property rights, lack of title deed, lack of rule of law, and spaghetti bowls of regulations are why third-world countries are always brimming with shantytowns, poverty, illiteracy, and illegals.  People fail to pay their taxes not because they want a tax holiday, I recall that de Soto wrote.  They don't pay because the situation is so bad that it's impossible to figure out what the taxes are, or else it's impossible to pay 110% rates amid all the layers upon layers of regulation, as happens in such places.

What is emerging here is the picture of socialism, the Obama kind, the millions and millions of regulations along with the selective enforcement of them, which leads to corrupt, politically motivated enforcement.

Sure enough, Greece has a socialist government, a radical one, Syriza, which, sadly, the residents of Mati voted for.  I'm not blaming their votes for the terrible thing that happened to them – after all, in every election, around 40% of the people vote the other way.  But socialism has been big in Greece for years, always promising to get the rich guy and always striking out at virtually everyone in the name of a government elite, which is exactly what the Independent described.  Large weak state, government the only employment out there, nobody hiring, no property rights – all of these things are byproducts of socialism.

As President Trump dismantles Obama's and other presidents' vast pools of regulations, obviously, free markets are strengthening.  The net result will be not only prosperity here, but, ultimately, some protections from disasters like Greece's.

Greece's disaster was man-made and demonstrates just one of the disasters wrought by socialism.

The terrible wildfire in Greece, which destroyed the seaside village of Mati and killed, at last count, 91 people, was all the more awful because it need never have happened.

Unfortunately, it did, and it was a problem of not having free markets.  The New York Times, in an op-ed from a Greek journalist who knows the place, points out that scores of unpermitted buildings and a non-working property registry, along with the corruption that makes its home in any such setting, were at fault.

What neither government nor opposition parties acknowledge, however, is that many communities across the country may be death traps, wherever homes are built without permits, with town planners trying to catch up later.  Instead of being demolished, illegal buildings are usually accommodated by law, as politicians fear losing votes by destroying people's homes.

Unpermitted buildings?  You know, like the shacks and shantytowns of the Third World?  Sounds like it.

The Independent of London is even more direct with the blame: 

A large, centrally controlled state can be a source of secure employment (as in Greece), yet is often grossly inefficient.

With all that chaos, people couldn't get out, and that was why so many perished.

The Independent continues:

State power, wrongly exercised, can inhibit legitimate business, and its regulatory functions have little effect in societies where illegality and a shadow economy are prevalent.  Look at post-communist countries that suffer from a legacy of a large yet weak state.  Greece may never have been part of the Soviet bloc, but successive weak governments, coping badly with the country's underdevelopment, have created a series of distortions that are unseen in western Europe, but common in the east.

Does Greece's problematic historical development contribute to this particular type of disaster?  The short answer is yes, it does.

What we are looking at here is a state with massive spaghetti bowl of regulations, regulations so tangled and specific and full of exceptions, as well as so numerous, that they couldn't be enforced except selectively.  These contributed to the chaotic position the little town of Mati was in.  Most of the buildings were done without permits, numerous news reports say, obviously because getting one was too hard.

The other problem was the lack of a working property registry, which meant that people were unable to properly buy and sell and improve their properties.  Net result: chaos again – and, in Greece, a deadly firetrap.

These are the very problems discussed by free market economist Hernando de Soto, whose brilliant work on the importance of property rights and rule of law is The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else.

Lack of property rights, lack of title deed, lack of rule of law, and spaghetti bowls of regulations are why third-world countries are always brimming with shantytowns, poverty, illiteracy, and illegals.  People fail to pay their taxes not because they want a tax holiday, I recall that de Soto wrote.  They don't pay because the situation is so bad that it's impossible to figure out what the taxes are, or else it's impossible to pay 110% rates amid all the layers upon layers of regulation, as happens in such places.

What is emerging here is the picture of socialism, the Obama kind, the millions and millions of regulations along with the selective enforcement of them, which leads to corrupt, politically motivated enforcement.

Sure enough, Greece has a socialist government, a radical one, Syriza, which, sadly, the residents of Mati voted for.  I'm not blaming their votes for the terrible thing that happened to them – after all, in every election, around 40% of the people vote the other way.  But socialism has been big in Greece for years, always promising to get the rich guy and always striking out at virtually everyone in the name of a government elite, which is exactly what the Independent described.  Large weak state, government the only employment out there, nobody hiring, no property rights – all of these things are byproducts of socialism.

As President Trump dismantles Obama's and other presidents' vast pools of regulations, obviously, free markets are strengthening.  The net result will be not only prosperity here, but, ultimately, some protections from disasters like Greece's.

Greece's disaster was man-made and demonstrates just one of the disasters wrought by socialism.