According to The New York Times, “What’s Broken in Greece” is that the cost of labor in Greece from 2005 to 2010 has been, on average, 25 percent higher than in Germany. This “pricing distortion,” the Times asserts, “helps explain why Greece required a 110 billion euro ($150 billion) bailout last spring in order to keep it from defaulting on its debts.” Really? Do labor costs explain why, according to the head of Greece’s equivalent of the IRS, the only people in Greece who pay taxes are “wage earners and pensioners whose incomes are taxed at the source,” since everyone else cheats on his or her taxes? Or why Greece’s tax revenues, at 19.8 percent, are the lowest of all the countries that use the euro, where the average is 26.1 percent?

Is everything the fault of workers, even the rampant tax evasion of the rich?

Moshe Adler teaches economics at Columbia University and at the Harry Van Arsdale Center for Labor Studies at Empire State College. He is the author of “Economics for the Rest of Us: Debunking the Science That Makes Life Dismal” (The New Press, 2010).

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