Ignoring the Social Costs of Austerity Is Dangerous for Greek Leaders
The financial governing authorities classed as the “troika” are obsessed with budget targets rather than human needs, and needs are what protests underway in Greece on Tuesday are all about, writes Helena Smith, Greek correspondent for The Guardian.
Athens’ coalition government insists the country is on the road to recovery. But Efklidis Tsakalotos, a left-wing lawmaker for Greece’s Syriza opposition party, says otherwise. According to The Guardian, he told parliament Tuesday morning:
The people running this country live in a different environment. They go to different hospitals. Their kids go to different schools. And they don’t understand what people are going through.
In a debt crisis that seems fated never to end, those Greeks have endured austerity measures that plunged 1.3 million into joblessness, cut salaries by an average of 25 percent and driven more than a third of the population into poverty.
Parliament is heedless, however, even as those dispossessed Greeks take to the street. Lawmakers are readying an “omnibus reform package” designed to win further rescue funds from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund at a cost of more austerity for ordinary Greeks.
Smith says there are reasons to believe Greece is reaching the point at which all this is too much to bear, implying that the response from the desperate public could get worse.
— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
WAIT, BEFORE YOU GO…
Helena Smith at The Guardian:
Had the public sector been streamlined earlier, when other indicators were not so off-target, the sackings may have been more palatable. If, in six months, there were tangible results with privatisations, such news might have been better too.
As it is, the timing could not be worse. Barely a month after the debacle that followed prime minister Antonis Samaras’ attempt to close ERT, the state broadcaster, the government has egg on its face again. When he visits Athens on Thursday, the protests will be a vivid reminder to Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, that far from being a success story Greece remains a minefield in the euro zone.
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