Opening an online business in Greece. Opah? Nopah!
I believe in regulation.
Maybe it’s all those years in Catholic school absorbing from teachers who were no doubt closet Jansenists that human beings are inherently evil, but – while I do so want to believe in the perfectibility of man – I have to come down on the side of this: without regulation, every waterway would be the Love Canal, every factory the Triangle Shirtwaist, and every airline Value Jet.
I will acknowledge that there are no doubt countless completely dumb-ass regulations on the books, and all sorts of ‘what-ifs’ concocted by bureaucrats with nothing better to do than to lard on tons of crazy, picayune nonsense to otherwise worthy (or at least well-intentioned) regulations. (Sarbanes-Oxley, anyone?)
Still, there’s all those Love Canals, Triangle Shirtwaists, and Value Jets that suggest that, left to their own devices, many folks would do what is most expedient and/or cut every corner they can to save a few bucks, trading off the short term for the long.
And sometimes, in the long run, by the time the market corrects things, we’re all dead. (Obvious nod to that market interventionist Keynes…)
So I don’t hold that all regulation is all bad, all the time. Or that American business is so over-burdened by regulations that they can manage to extract only the most meager of profits. (Again, this is not to say that our regulations couldn’t be culled and streamlined.)
But, when it comes to regulation, we’ve apparently got nothing on Greece.
This should not, of course, surprise us, given how their economy has nearly run itself into the ground for a varied array of reason, depending on who you want to listen to. But early retirement, cronyism, tax-avoidance, and stupid bankers (both their own and in the Euro zone) all seem to be part of the mix.
So, apparently, is dumb-ass regulation.
As reported in the Libertarian blog Acting Man, in Greece, getting an online business going is a “nightmare:”
As is the case elsewhere in the world, online business is growing fast in Greece. It is one of the areas of the economy that has experienced brisk growth in spite of the economic downturn. Ekathimerini recently published an article about the difficulties involved in starting such a business in Greece. To just name one point: the approval for the application to the FDA in the US was received by this business within 24 hours. It took 10 months to get exactly the same approval in Greece.
So much for the over arduous FDA approval process, at least when it comes to Olive Shop “which sells olive oil-based products such as cosmetics, mostly to foreign markets.”
As an olive oil fan, I wish them luck – especially with the cosmetics. A few years ago, I bought some olive oil based skin cream in an OO shop on Newbury Street, and it was great. (An earlier venture with olive oil cosmetic-ry did not end as well. When I was in 8th grade, I suffered a bout of dandruff. Rather than do what 99% of American mothers would do – i.e., go out and buy some Head ‘n Shoulders – my mother told me to use olive oil on my scalp. She neglected to point out that I needed to wash it out. And I was too stupid to realize that until, 8 hours after massaging a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into my scalp, I woke up smelling like a salad and with greasy dripping hair. Rather than do what 99% of American mothers would do – i.e., let me skip school and spend the day washing the olive oil out of my hair – my mother let me make one shampoo-pass, and then made me go to school with my smelly, dripping hair. I must say it was the most miserable day of my grammar school experience – an experience which, I assure you, had many days that were quite miserable. But I digress…)
Acting Man included an excerpt from the article linked above which highlighted a number of gems:
- The Greek bank they tried to do business with had a requirement that their website be entirely in Greek, which wouldn’t exactly have aided their overseas commerce much. The Olive Oil founders decided to do business with PayPal, instead. Which is why we can do business with their online store without scratching our (dandruffy) heads and saying, ‘It’s all Greek to me.’
- I may not have read the article correctly, but it appears that they also had to have “obligatory headquarters” that they paid rent on, even before they were up and running. (Let alone that they’re an online business with no need for bricks and mortar.)
- The shareholders of the company were required by their local health department to provide chest x-rays and stool samples.
If this is what the bureaucracy is like, no wonder everyone in the country tries to retire at 50. By that point, they must be completely worn out.
The nom de blog for Acting Man is Pater Tenebrarum, father of darkness for those of you who took Greek rather than Latin.
Thus, I will borrow from the Latin to tip my Greek fisherman’s cap to Rick T, my frater-in-legem (that would be brother-in-law), for sending me the link to this blog.
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