Several years ago, Despina Antypa and her husband worked at a leading newspaper in Athens.
Then came the economic crisis.
The bad news was “just a whisper” at first. But when friends began losing work, she had the foresight and discipline to plan a new career. One unrestricted by language or country — just in case they ever had to leave Greece. She chose pastry, taking classes every weekday for two years, practicing techniques on weekends.
Sure enough, in 2011 the couple lost their own jobs. Despina threw herself into the task of confecting a signature delicacy good enough to sell; some 3,000 trials and errors (“mostly errors”) later, she was satisfied.
Then came the work of developing a website, packaging, selling.
Orders poured in. The labors were paying off. Except that—
The business was killed in its crib by bureaucrats.
The Greek government demanded a lot, including
- advance taxes equal to “50 percent of estimated profit in the first two years” (money never to be returned were the business to fail);
- minimum square footage for her shop much greater than necessary; and
- a separate toilet for walk-in customers (although there would be no walk-in customers).
The arbitrary burdens proved too great. In 2013, her husband got a job offer that meant moving to Brussels. They jumped at the chance. There they forged the new life they could have forged in Greece — had they been allowed to.
It seems that the road to recovery is not helped by hobbling the runners.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.