The Greek solution to mass scale tax evasion is to build a surveillance state, while outsourcing the actual surveillance to tourists.
If you’re a tourist in Greece, there are so many things to do: visit the Acropolis, admire the architecture in Santorini and maybe try to catch some local tax cheats. No, really.
The Financial Times published a letter that Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis sent to Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem. Varoufakis suggested that “students, housekeepers and even tourists” would get paid by the hour if they were willing to get wired and go more-or-less undercover, posing as customers and trying to catch tax evaders in the act.
This is apparently part of the Greek government’s effort to make a credible commitment at reform. Talk of a ‘primary surplus’ is no longer relevant with Greek revenues imploding. That makes continued support from the European Union more necessary for the country but also harder to obtain.
Surely this proposal won’t be as bad for tourism as the new government’s proposed crackdown on all-inclusive resorts. But help me model it — will suggesting tourists inform on their hosts increase activity in a sector that may represent as much as 20% of the Greek economy (by offering a financial incentive for tourists) or reduce tourism (by degrading the welcoming culture in the tourist industry if Greek business owners suspect their guests of being informants)?
If this idea makes the cut, of course, the new government is already out of ideas.