Riots in Athens Over Austerity Measures
Violent protests of Greece’s austerity measures have redoubled, as the Greek people have continued to express their dissatisfaction with their government’s fiscal irresponsibility and their accompanying duplicity regarding the actual severity of the situation. The economic situation provides only grim prospects for the nation, as the measures, while necessary in order to hack away at a deficit accrued over many years of rampant spending, will decrease the overall standard of living significantly. As a result, the Greek people have vented their frustrations in the streets, but it is but a flailing, helpless protest they are waging. Mark Blyth, a professor of international political economics at Brown University, put it in graphic but apropos terms:
“In Greece, they’re basically hacking themselves to pieces.”
Dark words for a dark time, and although they are not words anybody in Greece or any other participant in the global economy wants to hear, they are what they need to hear. People expect the world to progress exponentially, never dipping back down and never relinquishing a standard of living that has come to be expected. Countries like Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and yes, even the United States, may be in for a reality check in the next couple of decades as they try to pay back bailout funding to resuscitate failing economies saddled with deficits representing a significant percentage of annual GDPs (and often exceeding them). The decisions will not make any of Greece’s political leaders popular by any means, especially PM George Papendreau (who recently received a vote of confidence by such a small margin that one can hardly consider it a representation of confidence). But, the question that nobody wants to answer is: what are the alternatives? For Greece, who has received bailout funding from the IMF and private investors (e.g. European banks), there don’t seem to be any. However, that won’t stop its people from being unhappy with what has transpired, and who can rightfully blame them? Irresponsible spending done by those in power was naturally beyond their control, and the current response in the streets is but a manifestation of that anger.