The Greek retirement package

If you are a Greek public service worker, you can retire at age 53, getting 80% of your salary.   If you hold a job officially deemed to be hazarous–including hairdresser (all those chemicals) and broadcaster (bacteria on the microphones), you could retire at 50.

The austerity plan that is the condition for Greece’s bailout requires that the retirement age be raised into the 60s.  This is one reason there is rioting in the streets.

See  this and this .

Interesting linguistic footnote: The Greek word for “crisis” is also the word for judgment.

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About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Winston Smith

    I suppose the question is, even with the generous socialist retirement benefits, why would you want to retire at 53? Some of us are just getting our (second) careers started at that point.

    Even when guaranteed a lifetime of relative financial security, do you really want a “Last of the Summer Wine” existence where you just wander the streets and get into trouble all day?

    People (men in particular) need work to keep them happy and fulfilled.

  • Winston Smith

    I suppose the question is, even with the generous socialist retirement benefits, why would you want to retire at 53? Some of us are just getting our (second) careers started at that point.

    Even when guaranteed a lifetime of relative financial security, do you really want a “Last of the Summer Wine” existence where you just wander the streets and get into trouble all day?

    People (men in particular) need work to keep them happy and fulfilled.

  • Tom Hering

    If a nation is going to raise its retirement age, then stronger protections against age discrimination must also be implemented. Go to any seminar where the unemployed are improving their job-seeking skills, and you’ll see that the majority present – if not all the people present – are 50 and older. Skilled, competent, experienced people who’ve lost their jobs for no other reason than their age. (Not that their former employers didn’t make up other reasons to let them go.)

  • Tom Hering

    If a nation is going to raise its retirement age, then stronger protections against age discrimination must also be implemented. Go to any seminar where the unemployed are improving their job-seeking skills, and you’ll see that the majority present – if not all the people present – are 50 and older. Skilled, competent, experienced people who’ve lost their jobs for no other reason than their age. (Not that their former employers didn’t make up other reasons to let them go.)

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Is it really their age? Or is it the fact many of them earn a significant amount more than somebody just entering the field? I know in some cases, particularly amongst military they may have hit the max number of years they can serve.

    I love the Greek definition of hazardous duty. I think as a pastor I should qualify, you know, having to shake all those hands after service.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Is it really their age? Or is it the fact many of them earn a significant amount more than somebody just entering the field? I know in some cases, particularly amongst military they may have hit the max number of years they can serve.

    I love the Greek definition of hazardous duty. I think as a pastor I should qualify, you know, having to shake all those hands after service.

  • Kyralessa

    Do Greeks really live that long, though? I’ve heard all the “Mediterranean diet” stuff, but when we visited Greece four years ago, the main thing I noticed was that absolutely everyone smoked.

  • Kyralessa

    Do Greeks really live that long, though? I’ve heard all the “Mediterranean diet” stuff, but when we visited Greece four years ago, the main thing I noticed was that absolutely everyone smoked.

  • Andrew

    You need to know what government salaries are in Greece in order to make sense of the retirement benefits. Meantime, in Greece’s favor, it long ago gave up its empire; unlike the US, it doesn’t seek to tie up its treasure and blood in useless wars and bloated military budgets. And it had a lower infant mortality rate last year than the US.

  • Andrew

    You need to know what government salaries are in Greece in order to make sense of the retirement benefits. Meantime, in Greece’s favor, it long ago gave up its empire; unlike the US, it doesn’t seek to tie up its treasure and blood in useless wars and bloated military budgets. And it had a lower infant mortality rate last year than the US.

  • sg

    Interesting linguistic footnote: The Greek word for “crisis” is also the word for judgment.

    Unfortunately for the Greeks, the German word (Schuld) for ‘debt’ also means ‘guilt’.

  • sg

    Interesting linguistic footnote: The Greek word for “crisis” is also the word for judgment.

    Unfortunately for the Greeks, the German word (Schuld) for ‘debt’ also means ‘guilt’.

  • Norman H.

    Good thing for the Germans. Their debt and guilt to the rest of humanity is inestimable.

  • Norman H.

    Good thing for the Germans. Their debt and guilt to the rest of humanity is inestimable.

  • sg

    “Good thing for the Germans. Their debt and guilt to the rest of humanity is inestimable.”

    Self righteous much?

    Each person is responsible for his own sins. No one is worthy.

    Is the debt and guilt of the communists in Russia, China and the rest of the world easier for you to estimate?

    We’ll be looking for Norman to be the next Bonhoeffer. He will be the one to complain when the government censures his political enemies.

  • sg

    “Good thing for the Germans. Their debt and guilt to the rest of humanity is inestimable.”

    Self righteous much?

    Each person is responsible for his own sins. No one is worthy.

    Is the debt and guilt of the communists in Russia, China and the rest of the world easier for you to estimate?

    We’ll be looking for Norman to be the next Bonhoeffer. He will be the one to complain when the government censures his political enemies.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Stupid. Then again, they were “promised” that they could retire young, and now the government is finding their promises to be unsustainable. So they do have some kind of a morally legit claim. Still, this does not increase my respect for the nation…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Stupid. Then again, they were “promised” that they could retire young, and now the government is finding their promises to be unsustainable. So they do have some kind of a morally legit claim. Still, this does not increase my respect for the nation…

  • sg

    “And it had a lower infant mortality rate last year than the US.”

    Silly, you can’t compare the US to Greece because we don’t have the same population. Virtually any ethnicity you care to choose will have lower infant mortality and longer life expectancy in the US than they do in their home country. Japanese in the US live longer than Japanese in Japan etc. So, to be honest and fair you would have to compare Greeks in Greece to Greeks in the US. Also, the US counts every kid that is born with a heartbeat and many Euro countries only count kids above a certain gestational age, so the difference may be an artifact of the data.

  • sg

    “And it had a lower infant mortality rate last year than the US.”

    Silly, you can’t compare the US to Greece because we don’t have the same population. Virtually any ethnicity you care to choose will have lower infant mortality and longer life expectancy in the US than they do in their home country. Japanese in the US live longer than Japanese in Japan etc. So, to be honest and fair you would have to compare Greeks in Greece to Greeks in the US. Also, the US counts every kid that is born with a heartbeat and many Euro countries only count kids above a certain gestational age, so the difference may be an artifact of the data.

  • sg

    “Stupid. Then again, they were “promised” that they could retire young, and now the government is finding their promises to be unsustainable. So they do have some kind of a morally legit claim. Still, this does not increase my respect for the nation…”

    Wasn’t the deal when we got kicked out of the Garden of Eden that we were going to have to work?

  • sg

    “Stupid. Then again, they were “promised” that they could retire young, and now the government is finding their promises to be unsustainable. So they do have some kind of a morally legit claim. Still, this does not increase my respect for the nation…”

    Wasn’t the deal when we got kicked out of the Garden of Eden that we were going to have to work?

  • Tom Hering

    “Is it really their age?” – Dr. Luther in 21st Century @ 3

    It may indeed be the amount they earn (but they’ve earned what they earn by staying with their companies), or it may be the way older employees raise the cost of health insurance for everyone in a company, or both. Regardless, it all boils down to age.

  • Tom Hering

    “Is it really their age?” – Dr. Luther in 21st Century @ 3

    It may indeed be the amount they earn (but they’ve earned what they earn by staying with their companies), or it may be the way older employees raise the cost of health insurance for everyone in a company, or both. Regardless, it all boils down to age.

  • Cincinnatus

    Can we all agree that retirement at 50 with a full state pension is absurd?

  • Cincinnatus

    Can we all agree that retirement at 50 with a full state pension is absurd?

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 13: YES!!!!!

    Tom @ 2 and 12: You make a good point, but I tend to agree with Dr. Luther that the biggest reason for laying off older workers is their higher income, due to their experience. Lock step pay scales are probably a bad thing for some older workers, because they ultimately can be priced out of the workforce, if they work in jobs where the extra experience isn’t perceived by employers as being that beneficial, or where physical decline is seen as offsetting that experience so that the higher pay is not justified.

    In any event, in the U.S. we are only talking about the public sector when we talk about full retirement for workers in their 50′s. So your point is moot. Experienced workers in public sector U.S. jobs are well protected by union and civil service work rules. Presumably these workers who are now retiring would simply stay longer in their positions, and it would be the younger workers who would be forced into the private sector because of the resultant lack of public sector openings while the older bubble worked its way through the system (a good thing, imo).

  • DonS

    Cincinnatus @ 13: YES!!!!!

    Tom @ 2 and 12: You make a good point, but I tend to agree with Dr. Luther that the biggest reason for laying off older workers is their higher income, due to their experience. Lock step pay scales are probably a bad thing for some older workers, because they ultimately can be priced out of the workforce, if they work in jobs where the extra experience isn’t perceived by employers as being that beneficial, or where physical decline is seen as offsetting that experience so that the higher pay is not justified.

    In any event, in the U.S. we are only talking about the public sector when we talk about full retirement for workers in their 50′s. So your point is moot. Experienced workers in public sector U.S. jobs are well protected by union and civil service work rules. Presumably these workers who are now retiring would simply stay longer in their positions, and it would be the younger workers who would be forced into the private sector because of the resultant lack of public sector openings while the older bubble worked its way through the system (a good thing, imo).

  • Tom Hering

    “Lock step pay scales are probably a bad thing for some older workers, because they ultimately can be priced out of the workforce, if they work in jobs where the extra experience isn’t perceived by employers as being that beneficial, or where physical decline is seen as offsetting that experience so that the higher pay is not justified.”

    DonS, I’m sure that’s all true. But it does say the employer sees employees as production units, whose value is determined by bottom line considerations. Not as human beings – fellow members of a good society.

    And we used to worry about a cold and mechanistic Soviet Union taking over the world! Maybe we should have been so lucky. ;-)

  • Tom Hering

    “Lock step pay scales are probably a bad thing for some older workers, because they ultimately can be priced out of the workforce, if they work in jobs where the extra experience isn’t perceived by employers as being that beneficial, or where physical decline is seen as offsetting that experience so that the higher pay is not justified.”

    DonS, I’m sure that’s all true. But it does say the employer sees employees as production units, whose value is determined by bottom line considerations. Not as human beings – fellow members of a good society.

    And we used to worry about a cold and mechanistic Soviet Union taking over the world! Maybe we should have been so lucky. ;-)

  • DonS

    Tom @ 15: Well, of course, my larger point was that raising retirement ages in this countr would almost entirely affect public sector workers, who are well protected from age discrimination.

    I think it is the lockstep pay scales, the kind imposed by unions, which force employers to view employees as production units, rather than people. Everybody makes the same, no matter how good of a worker they are, just because of time on the job. Merit pay is so much more personal, allowing the employer to treat each employee individually, as a human being, and to reward those who do their best.

  • DonS

    Tom @ 15: Well, of course, my larger point was that raising retirement ages in this countr would almost entirely affect public sector workers, who are well protected from age discrimination.

    I think it is the lockstep pay scales, the kind imposed by unions, which force employers to view employees as production units, rather than people. Everybody makes the same, no matter how good of a worker they are, just because of time on the job. Merit pay is so much more personal, allowing the employer to treat each employee individually, as a human being, and to reward those who do their best.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, “age discrimination” prima facie does not exist in the United States except in law enforcement and other physically demanding fields. Employers are reluctant to hire the “elderly” because, naturally, they demand higher pay and more generous benefits than those just entering the “market” (truthfully, I hate the language of market economics, but it’s unavoidable in America).

    The same is true in reverse: one of the reasons many folks have been unemployed for so long in this current recession is that they are explicitly and unashamedly unwilling to take certain jobs and work for certain wages, even on an interim basis. Not to mention that unemployment benefits often supersede low-wage jobs in their generosity–which is another problem altogether.

    What is wrong with Greece–and what is increasingly the problem in the United States–is a culture of entitlement. People no longer think in terms of duties and obligations to one another on an individual or communal basis (without the intervention of the political), no longer even in terms of “rights” (and I hate rights talk, but it is preferential to what we have now), but in an enervated, appetitive language of entitlement whose two primary actors are “me” and the “state”, which “I” have apparently constructed only to provide me with certain goods which I “deserve.” In Greece, those goods seem merely to be all that is necessary for a physically comfortable life (but that is enough to make a waste of both liberty and the public treasury). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a comfortable life, but I think it is increasingly tragic when we reduce the perennial question of the “best regime” to one that merely makes us comfortable. Those are usually the sole grounds upon which we elevate Europe generally as a society “superior” and “more just” than America–but I deny both the antecedent and the consequent.

  • Cincinnatus

    By the way, “age discrimination” prima facie does not exist in the United States except in law enforcement and other physically demanding fields. Employers are reluctant to hire the “elderly” because, naturally, they demand higher pay and more generous benefits than those just entering the “market” (truthfully, I hate the language of market economics, but it’s unavoidable in America).

    The same is true in reverse: one of the reasons many folks have been unemployed for so long in this current recession is that they are explicitly and unashamedly unwilling to take certain jobs and work for certain wages, even on an interim basis. Not to mention that unemployment benefits often supersede low-wage jobs in their generosity–which is another problem altogether.

    What is wrong with Greece–and what is increasingly the problem in the United States–is a culture of entitlement. People no longer think in terms of duties and obligations to one another on an individual or communal basis (without the intervention of the political), no longer even in terms of “rights” (and I hate rights talk, but it is preferential to what we have now), but in an enervated, appetitive language of entitlement whose two primary actors are “me” and the “state”, which “I” have apparently constructed only to provide me with certain goods which I “deserve.” In Greece, those goods seem merely to be all that is necessary for a physically comfortable life (but that is enough to make a waste of both liberty and the public treasury). There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a comfortable life, but I think it is increasingly tragic when we reduce the perennial question of the “best regime” to one that merely makes us comfortable. Those are usually the sole grounds upon which we elevate Europe generally as a society “superior” and “more just” than America–but I deny both the antecedent and the consequent.

  • LivingintheTrees

    I think it should be noted how such a small country can create shockwaves through global markets and the sovereignty of the EU, only because a nation chose to do something “good” for its people. This really challenges the notion that governments are set up to do “good” when they avoid tried and true understandings of wealth creation (Read Adam Smith, Frederich Hayek, etc etc), and 2) only big countries matter. The fact is that people’s behavior, not governments lead to positive outcomes. Germany is in the position to save because of the actions of its individuals and the focus on creating value. Those expecting salvation from government because there is the incorrect assumption that business and govt are corrupt and wealthy through nefarious means – need only to look in the mirror to ask what is their country and what am I doing to make it stronger….it matters but so many dont agree and still expect payment for nothing contributed to society.

  • LivingintheTrees

    I think it should be noted how such a small country can create shockwaves through global markets and the sovereignty of the EU, only because a nation chose to do something “good” for its people. This really challenges the notion that governments are set up to do “good” when they avoid tried and true understandings of wealth creation (Read Adam Smith, Frederich Hayek, etc etc), and 2) only big countries matter. The fact is that people’s behavior, not governments lead to positive outcomes. Germany is in the position to save because of the actions of its individuals and the focus on creating value. Those expecting salvation from government because there is the incorrect assumption that business and govt are corrupt and wealthy through nefarious means – need only to look in the mirror to ask what is their country and what am I doing to make it stronger….it matters but so many dont agree and still expect payment for nothing contributed to society.


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