Saturday, March 28, 2009

Making the world safe for Gucci

The press here in Thessaloniki has been full of stories on the recent clamp down on crime. According to the Greek national daily newspaper Kathimerini, the authorities carried out 1912 checks, reported 386 violations and made 67 arrests. I happened to be in town at the time and as far as I can tell the police's efforts seemed to be once again a "round up the usual suspects" affair in which the plain clothes and uniformed officers chased the African street vendors who sell knock-off bags and other accesssories in the centre.

In the meantime last night thieves attempted to steal a ATM located inside the Praktiker DIY super store by throwing a hand grenade at it, two large stores were attacked midday in the centre, a bank was firebombed in Euosmos and the body of a young woman was found floating in the harbour.

I think we're moving more and more towards a model of law and order that befits a banana republic in which the kind of crime that affects ordinary people is met with indifference and incompetence but in which public order offenses get the lion share of police time and resources. Perhaps this government is, in fact despite its chronic inability to plan more than five minutes ahead, getting ready for the future, knowing full well that there is going to be massive resistance to the inevitable cuts in public services and that the rich are going to be more and more the target of protests as times get harder.

According to the Kathemerini and Eleutherotypia the government is planning to double the number of riot police.In addition the Athens police authorities are creating rapid response teams to police the upscale shopping districts in the centre of the capital even while crime rates in the rest of the city are going through the roof.

The present conservative New Democracy administration cannot fund a US style New Deal because they have already borrowed heavily and even more recklessly lied about financial fundamentals such as the extent of the country's debt load and growth projection to such an extent that the government's macro - economic data is now considered unreliable by EU auditors and potential creditors. The result is that future loans can only be secured at cripplingly high interest rates and that the government will have no alternative but to sell off public assets and cut spending. Both of which will lead to massive public unrest.

Hence the increase in riot police units.

On the other hand, it is comforting knowing that in a world beset by crisis and mayhem the market for high end Italian accessories remains safe under the vigilant eye of the authorities.

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