Rory O'Farrell: Government deficits can be broken down into two parts: interest payments and the 'primary balance'. The primary balance includes everything other than interest payments; so it includes social welfare, money raised through taxation, salaries etc.
Greece is often portrayed as a basket case that just can't get its act together. However, as can be seen (click graph to enlarge), Greece's primary balance is better than France and Netherlands. Greece's problems are largely due to the legacy of the past.
Rory O'Farrell is an economist lecturing in TU Dublin. He previously worked for the OECD and for NERI.