America, welcome to a snapshot of your future! Greeks take to streets in protest of deep spending cuts.
Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Greece on Saturday, including hundreds of black-clad youths who clashed with the police here, as Greeks vented their rage at tough new austerity measures aimed at securing aid and avoiding a debt default.
The protests, and a planned strike on Wednesday, are a sign of the challenges ahead for Greece. On Sunday, Prime Minister George Papandreou is expected to announce cost-cutting measures totaling 24 billion euros (about $32 billion) that will include freezing public-sector salaries, raising taxes and slashing pensions. In return, Greece is expected to receive up to 120 billion euros in aid over three years.
Greece is, thanks to having their arms twisted, slashing their runaway “social democratic” spending ways, all in hopes of receiving an influx of necessary euros to keep their country from collapsing. I mean, long story short.
But surely the can-do attitude can keep the country of Greece running, right?
Wrong. Many in Greece are responding with nothing short of rage. Sweet, sweet rage at the government that they require and expect to sustain them from the cradle to the grave.
The government’s proposals for deep spending cuts pushed by the International Monetary Fund have met angry resistance in a country where one out of three people is employed in the civil service, which until now has guaranteed jobs for life. The shake-up of Greece’s bloated public sector represents one of the biggest overhauls of the country’s welfare state in a generation. Fears are growing that once Greek society begins to feel the effects of the austerity measures, social unrest could unhinge a potential recovery or force the government to dilute some changes.
“This crisis is not my fault, I won’t accept these austerity measures and I want to know where all the money has gone,” Emily Thomaidis, 29, the owner of a coffee shop, said as she marched through central Athens past vendors selling newspapers with the headlines “Fear. Rage. Hope.” She added, “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”
I can’t remember the last time I read such a delicious, delicious quote in a newspaper. “Why should my generation have to pay the price for problems created by our parents’ generation?”
Oh my… the glorious irony… the lip-smacking schadenfreude.
Because this is how it works, Emily. This is government in action. This is the essence of government, being acted out on the global stage: Patching and solving problems by passing the buck to its future generations.
Given the tragedy and farce of such beautiful American endeavors such as the “stimulus,” and Obamacare, I hope that the New York Times archives this piece of work for future reference, because they’re going to need to run it again and again in the coming decades. Except the scene won’t be Athens. (Well, Athens, Georgia, perhaps.)
But there is hope yet. Surveyed Greeks claim to support these fat-trimming measures (84% claim that the economic difficulties present the chance to introduce needed reform).
One can only hope that they’re not three to five generations (at least) too late.