Forcing The Gates of Heaven
From: In Greece, austerity kindles deep discontent - WaPo May 13, 2011 (edited)
No country is under more pressure to roll back spending than near-bankrupt Greece now saddled with 35% youth unemployment and facing the prospect of years of depressed growth.
Buckling under a culture of tax evasion and rampant overspending, Greece received a $170 billion bailout from the IMF and European Union last year.
Since then, pensions have been cut, the retirement age extended and public sector pay slashed.
Even so, Greece is still drowning in a sea of debt, and some analysts believe it may yet have no choice but to default on at least a portion of its bonds held by investors.
A second massive bailout would come with a requirement to slash domestic spending even further.
“In some countries, the rolling back is happening more gradually, but in Greece, with the nation at the edge of bankruptcy, it is happening like sudden death”....
Polls show that a majority of Greeks — tired of waste, corruption and public largess — support the reforms. But extremism is on the rise and could disrupt attempts to get the nation back on track.
Angry young Greeks, such as 19-year-old law student Nikolas Ganiaris, are signing up with left-wing youth groups.
After the government raised transit fares during the austerity drive, Ganiaris’s group began jumping aboard public buses, blocking customers from punching their tickets as part of the “I Won’t Pay” campaign.
“They are taking everything away from us,” Ganiaris said. “What will happen when I finish law school?
"Will I only find a job making copies in a shop? Will I then need to work until I’m 70 before I retire? Will I only get a few hundred euros as pension? What future have I got now?”
For 20-year-old Nikos Galanos the anarchist movement has become an outlet for anger.
Last year, Galanos’s mother lost her job as a guard at the Acropolis. His father, also a government worker, saw his salary slashed by 15% and must now labor more years before meeting the retirement age, boosted last year to 63.
Galanos, an electrician, has few job prospects outside the massive black market economy in Greece. But with the nation’s economy still contracting, even the off-the-books work he counted on to put himself through technical school has dried up.