Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Fuel Strike

With the car’s fuel guage registering three-quarters of a tank we took Caroline’s parents to the airport. Over ensuing days we took one trip to Sitia and two trips to Makrigialos, on the last of these my intention being to fill up the petrol tank. There was a queue into the garage we normally use (the cheapest) so I drove on past. No hurry, really. Big mistake. I soon learned why they were queuing.

During a further necessary trip to Sitia (Caroline uses a dentist here to have her teeth cleaned – one hour of teeth cleaning as opposed to the British NHS ten minutes then out the door). The car was getting near to sucking fumes so I thought it might be an idea to stick 10 Euros worth in from one of the more expensive Sitia garages. One I passed was open, but I would go in one of the next two. They were both closed. After the dental visit we headed back home then subsequently to Makrigialos. Our station was closed, little paper signs up on the pumps with the word Telos on them, which means end, ending, close, which in turn means here that the tanker drivers have gone on strike again.

So now we were in Makrigialos and not entirely sure we had enough petrol to get home, or rather, do a round trip to home and to a garage again. I took a walk up to another station there and thankfully found them to be selling something. I got the car and drove up there, putting in €20 worth of Super 100, the high octane stuff for older cars at a cost of €1.75 a litre.

I don’t know why the tanker drivers are on strike – I don’t have enough Greek to follow the news on TV. I’d like to think they’re objecting to the ridiculous business-killing tax on petrol here, but I doubt it. I do know that the the lefties have a lot of power here and that they’ve been kicking up a big stink about the government measures to try and get Greece out of debt. The dockers, who across the world seem controlled by Bolsheviks, have been butt-fucking the Greek tourist industry by stopping tourists getting to their ferries.

Most likely this is about the driver’s pay, the taxes they have to pay on it, their inflated pensions and early retirement. When things get tough the unionists take the opportunity to kick everyone else in the teeth. Here is a chance to strike a blow for the cause and push everyone further along the road to the socialist utopia.

All of this of course raises other spectres. Two days of strike and service stations are empty. How long before the shops start emptying? Which lefties are going to get the knife in next, maybe the power workers, water workers, the post, other truck drivers, water? And will I receive the Peter Lavery edits of The Departure anytime soon, since the typescript is coming via DHL?

Here on Crete, as well demonstrated by Caroline’s recent trip down into the village and subsequent return with a gift of a big bag of potatoes and a melon, people aren’t going to starve in any great hurry, but I have to wonder how similar scenarios would pan-out in Britain, with its 60 million supermarket dependents. I have to think too about things like the Hubbert Peak, all the problems in those areas of the world where most of the oil comes from. Our civilization is like a car: take out the fuel and it ceases to be any use at all.


I’ve just been apprised of the reason for the strike and it is this: Greece is full of closed shops. The problems we had with the electricians here was due to one such closed shop; the registered electricians in Greece have to pay something in the region of €750 every two months for the privilege. The truck drivers, it turns out, have to pay a ridiculous amount for their life-time license – I’m told its €250,000 – and they are understandably pissed off that under EU rules such closed shops are not allowed, and must themselves be closed down. So, how was the strike ended? Under Greek law the drivers can be conscripted into the army in times of emergency with the result that if they strike they can be imprisoned and have their trucks confiscated. This is what is happening, slowly, because some of the councils that are supposed to issue the paperwork are not complying, and many of the truck drivers are in hiding, so the papers can’t be served on them. I rather think this is going to get ugly.


vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

revered asshole weapon investor president/actor Reagan did the same thing with air traffic controllers. threat of martial law makes you wanna boycott earth, humanity, eating, driving, participating. get your garden into high gear, here comes the crunch.

so, as OLD MAN'S WAR was pretty good, i took a (nebish rosewater leaking) stab at HALF PAST HUMAN, thinking it would be another ~pretty good~ -stop!- read on your list of suggestions. this guy T. J. Bass (Thomas J. Bassler) is a wunderghost. wrote two books and then went back to his pathology thang or ...became invisible?
this was not only an education, it was a book i could not set down for almost 8 hrs. wow and wowee.
that book is up there with your SHIVA 3000 recommendation. keep 'em comin.

funny thing, this other Bass writer, a pathologist also, runs the body farm in Tennessee:

his stuff intrigues me, but haven't read anything past the back covers. wonder if his adjectives hold the same fantastic fecund super-mucus bond as T. J.'s.

Anonymous said...

Essentially what's happening now in Greece is everything that the Greek authorities should have been compelled to do in order to be permitted to join the EU. Closed shop trade agreements harm everybody; the reduced trade that results from the lack of capacity of the closed shop even hurts them, as people find ways around the closed-shop which steal potential custom from them.

The other problem for the Greeks is that they're still trying to operate under their previous financial model, which is to have lots of extremely generous benefits and trade restrictions, and to revalue the currency every so often just before the whole system collapses. This is effectively a periodic mass theft from the middle classes; the rich bank elsewhere and the poor don't have anything to steal, so the poor old middle classes get it in the neck just like always.

Once in the Euro, the periodic revaluation cannot happen so the Greek government, finding the various benefits too generous to finance, with too little tax revenue coming in (rampant and unpoliced tax evasion too, in addition to grossly sub-optimal trading environment) chose to borrow heavily to put off the day when all the chickens would come home to roost. And now, all the problems they've been saving up for themselves have come back to haunt them.

My advice to you, sir, is this: bank somewhere outside Greece, make sure your property is well secured and has fire extinguishing water to hand, and if possible keep firearms in the house too. Finally, stockpile some fuel for your car, in case you need to get away.

Graeme said...

Grow your own food, grow energy crops, fit some solar panels get a waste digester and do lots of big gassy plops (methane) adopt a good life lifestyle and let em get on with it.

Not so sure Dr Holdsworth advice on getting a gun is sensible. After all how many Greeks would you be able to shoot if it got shitty... unless you just kept bullets to eat yourself... however you can't do that... because I WANT ANOTHER BOOK.

Banking outside the country is probably sensible.

Neal Asher said...

Glad you liked it, Vaude. The Godwhale is pretty good too but to me, not the best one.

Here's a recommendation: Time and Timothy Grenville by Terry Greenhough. Of course James Kahn's World Enough & Time is pretty good too.

Dr Dan, I bank with Alpha here which, I'm told is Italian (though that's one of the PIIGS). Yes, I can see how things might get pretty nasty. Now it's the power workers protesting about their closed shops being opened up. I need a generator.

Graeme, I'm working on it. As for all the rest about being self-sufficient, I'm working on that too. Problem is that self-sufficiency in water here is not an option.

Graeme said...

Interesting point about water. This summer across East Anglia rain has been a rare commodity.

It rained yesterday properly for the first time in weeks. I've diverted all the gutters to water butts but it has still left us short and we've had to revert to the hose. And how we've escaped a hosepipe ban I can only guess at.

There is no easy answer to the water issue. How much rain can you catch, how much Grey can you store. It's a conundrum for sure.