If you're a paedophile, into S&M, a flasher or a kleptomaniac, Greece is clearly the place you want to be.
In a bizarre move, the Greek government has decided to expand a list of state-recognised disability categories to include the above conditions. But wait, that's not all: also on the list are pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and Peeping Toms.
It wouldn't be so incredible if it weren't for the fact that Greece has been fighting bankruptcy for the last three years, and public spending on health and welfare has been cut severely. Thousands of truly disabled people have been ordered to have themselves reassessed, presumably in an effort to shorten the list of the disabled receiving grants.
And now this.
While I have great sympathy for people who are unable to curb their desires to set fire to things, or to be beaten to a pulp by a leather-clad dominatrix, or who are simply just unable to resist stealing lipstick from shops, I fail to see why this should preclude them from working.
A pyromaniac can surely work in an open office where he is watched by others, an S&M enthusiast should be quite capable of data-capturing and a kleptomaniac can go and work in a place where everything has been nailed down. Paedophiles can surely make a huge contribution in places such as old-age homes, or offices that need to be cleaned at night.
I see no reason at all why Greek taxpayers should pay for someone to lounge about at home, planning his next gambling session using his disability grant. Or a flasher to plan where he's going to buy his next rain coat and which bus stop he's heading to this weekend.
Think of the stigma for poor truly disabled people. People who are truly unable to work because of their disabilities might now secretly be suspected of being paedophiles or kleptomaniacs because they are receiving a disability grant. Maybe this is the government's way of dealing with their threatening bankruptcy – these new policies might shorten the list of people who get disability grants.
But then I digress.
Now onto a practical problem, which I suspect Greek bureaucrats have not thought through:
How do you prove you're a paedophile, a Peeping Tom or a kleptomaniac? If only those who have been convicted for their crimes are eligible, surely the government is making a guilty verdict something to strive for? Whether they will pay people in prison for their crimes is a moot point.
I can just see the scene in the disability application office:
Applicant: Which form must I fill in for 'kleptomania'?
Employee: The one that is glued to the desk.
Applicant: Which form must I fill for 'Peeping Tom'?
Employee: Look through the binoculars and you will see it.
Applicant: Which form must I fill in for 'pyromania'?
Employee: The one next to the fire extinguisher.
Applicant: Which form must I fill in for 'sadomasochist'?
Employee: This one, you no-good low- life scum.
Applicant: Which form must I fill in for being deaf?
Employee: This one, but I don't rate your chances very highly.
Something is seriously wrong with this scenario.
Right, excuse me while I trot off to the Greek Embassy to find out what my chances are of becoming a naturalised citizen. I will be wearing a raincoat, carrying a bullwhip, 3 lighters, a pair of binoculars, and a bag of casino chips. I think my chances are pretty good, don't you?
(Susan Erasmus, Health24.com, January 2011)