Thursday, February 4, 2016

Strike!

Check out all the strikes that went down today:

The farmers are still demonstrating and blocking off roadways, too, but that's outside the city.

Everybody's mad about pension cuts and austerity measures. There are plenty of better-written, better-researched articles on the subject right now, but if you want my quick, mostly uneducated take, read on. 

The Greek pension system is unsustainable. A huge part of the reason the system is unsustainable is that there aren't enough jobs to go around. People are unable to support themselves without assistance. In some cases, entire families are relying on a single pension. Greece was accepted into the Eurozone with a messy economy, and it's been a massive drag for all parties. Europe's solution was to implement austerity cuts, which may have restricted the economy even further. 

Things came to a head when we moved here this summer, and Greece ultimately agreed to implement deeper cuts so they wouldn't get kicked out of the Eurozone. The original problem still remains, though. How are you supposed to stimulate an economy by decreasing government assistance, and increasing taxes, without working toward a solution for the high levels of unemployment?

On top of that, you have the refugee/migrant crisis. This is totally editorializing on my part, so take it with a grain of salt, but I feel like Greece has been thrown under the bus by the rest of Europe. Greece is the entryway to the Eurozone, and it is a wide, watery entryway. Even if Greece had a solid Scandinavian-like economy, it would be extremely difficult to implement the kinds of border controls that many Europeans are now demanding. 

Thousands of people are pouring into Greece, and Greece does not have the economic or physical infrastructure to deal with them. Europe has pledged assistance, while at the same time threatening to kick Greece out of the open border (Schengen) agreement. Greece has been accused of being slow to accept help, but I don't entirely blame them. They seem to constantly be under threat from the Eurozone for failing to implement policies that they are just not capable of implementing successfully without significant aid.

So, people are pissed. They're pissed at Europe, and they're pissed at their government. Demonstrations and strikes are a regular part of dissatisfied Greek life, but today was a notably big, dissatisfied strike day. The Greek newspaper reported that 50,000 people marched on Syntagma. I'm not sure what the outcome of all of this will be, but I can imagine a scenario where things get a lot nastier before they start improving.

I'm done. Congratulations on surviving to the end of my lecture, and thanks for letting me get it all off my chest. Today's rant was brought to you by laiki agora, which didn't happen because of the strikes. 

Ask Bella how I felt about not getting fresh strawberries today.

This photo will never not be funny.


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