On three recent trips to Athens I noticed that the proportion of taxi drivers seeking to rip me off on the fare was surprisingly high at around 50%. It got me thinking. These weren't evil scheming men, rather they had obviously found a way to justify their dishonesty to themselves. Somehow they had considered themselves entitled to a little extra of my cash than they were due. It does feel like a misplaced sense of entitlement is the route cause of Europe's woeful budget deficits. After all, you could say that the way most EU states' artificially inflate income through welfare spending is really no more than a giant state-operated, inter-generational Ponzi scheme.
So might not countries whose populations have the greatest sense of entitlement be expected to have the greatest budget deficits? I thought about how Taxi drivers' sense of entitlement through fare rip-offs might reflect a general populations' attitude to what the state should give them. My European list for most shady taxi drivers would run as follows:
1. Greece / 2. Spain / 3. Italy
I haven't been to Portugal recently enough to add them into the equation but the list does closely follow the league table of EU countries in dire fiscal straits. Perhaps the theorum falls down a little with the UK (London taxi drivers, as we all know, being the best in the world and largely scrupulous whilst our budget deficit is epic in scale).
Perhaps a bored Economics grad. student might care to invesitgate this correlation further!