Thursday, May 06, 2010

Getting ugly in Greece

The past few months have seen a slow-motion train-wreck in Greece, as the government faces increasing debt as a result of the global economic crisis. The government has negotiated a bailout from the EU and IMF, but the cost of that is savage austerity measures: a 25% cut in public sector salaries, wage freezes, cuts to pensions and public services, VAT (but not income tax) increases, followed by a terminal dose of NeoLiberalism. But there's a problem: the Greek people don't like it. They especially don't like the fact that the burden is being unfairly dumped on them, rather than the politicians who lied systematically about the country's accounts, or the wealthy who systematically evade their taxes. And their protests have grown louder and louder.

Yesterday, they stormed the Acropolis. Today, they held a general strike and set fire to banks - in the process killing three people. Things are getting very ugly indeed, and if the government persists in bowing to the international money markets, they will only get uglier. In 2001, the government of Argentina was toppled by its people in similar circumstances, and if the Greek government is not careful, they could find themselves sharing the same fate. Unfortunately, in that case, the bankers will probably make out like bandits anyway.