Archive for February 15, 2012

I had promised myself that I would be a kinder more gentle blogger this year, but that New Year resolution hasn’t lasted long. So here is the first in a new series of opinionated posts entitled Nuts and Bolts that might be a bit off topic at times, but hopefully will show that crime fiction is still making the sort of relevant social comments that made Maj Sjowal and Per Wahloo’s Martin Beck series such as success back in the 1960s and 1970s.

In “Nuts and Bolts” I will be giving my opinions on things that I have read in crime fiction books, or something I have read in a review. 

Recently  I have started reading the Danish best seller The Boy in The Suitcase by Lene Kaaberbol [who is also the translator] and Agnete Friis.  

“Tivoli!” she said. “Could we go there?………………”

They paid a day’s wage to get in, and ate a pizza that only set him back about seven or eight times as much as it would have cost him in Vilnius.

It seems to have taken our homegrown politicians, and Brussels bureaucrats totally by surprise that people from Greece [surely about to default] or Lithuania can’t live at the same standard of living as the Danes, the Dutch or people living in South East England. In the 1970s I spent several holidays touring the Greek Islands, and apart from Hydra, it was clear that Greece was a poor peasant society, whose people were very friendly towards the Scandinavians, Americans and Brits, and not quite so friendly towards the Germans. 

When the countries of the former Soviet Bloc became members of the European Union we were told that only about 15,000 Eastern European workers would come to England to look for work! Wages and standards of living would equalize throughout the EU, that would make it unnecessary  for large numbers of people to migrate. How this equalization was to be achieved we were never told. But obviously the plan was to move factories and jobs  from high wage countries to the low wage economies of Eastern Europe. We have vast differences in household income between London, the South East England, and the rest of the UK, so how anyone believed citizens of Lithuania, or Greece could live at the same standard of living as people in Denmark, or the Netherlands is quite beyond me.

I feel incredibly sorry for the ordinary people in Greece, as I do for those in Iceland and Ireland, who are paying the price for the folly that is the Euro and the program of European political integration. What kind of life will it be for ordinary people under the Greek government’s new austerity program? And which country will be next in line.

I always take any statistics with a pinch of salt, but by being a selective they can be useful to emphasize or exaggerate a point.

GDP per capita [IMF 2011]

Netherlands $42,330, Denmark $37,741, UK $35,974, Greece $27,624, Lithuania $18,338