The Greeks had feta play along

At the heart of Greece’s catastrophic financial crisis is one simple question. If you play the capitalist game and lose, should you be forced to abide by the consequences?

For those who have watched the riots and walk-outs unfurl without a clear idea of why such desperate stands of political opposition are occurring here’s a brief low-down. Greece’s national debt currently stands at 115% of the country’s GDP. Essentially what this means is that if all the cash Greece produced in the course of a year went towards clearing the national debt then there would then it still would not have enough money to pay off that 15% extra. To put that kind of figure in context, British debt is stands at 56% of national income, a total that is still considered unsustainable.

In order to counteract the effects of Greek instability on their own economies, fellow Eurozone nations such as France and Germany have offered a £95 billion bailout in conjunction with the IMF. With this cash and numerous austerity measures that act as a pre-condition on Greek acceptance of the proposal, the ailing nation aims to cut its public deficit to less than 3% of GDP by 2014.

Problem solved then? Not by a long shot. Over the course of our British General Election you will have no doubt have heard that all major party leaders have proposed to save money through efficiency cuts, through prioritising which departments they choose spend in and by squeezing those where expenditure has drifted beyond that necessary. Such talk is small fry to Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou.

He does not hold the luxury of choosing where the axe should fall hardest. Firmly positioned between a rock and a hard place, he simply has to swing as brutally as possible whilst hoping that the general population take numerous wage freezes, pension cuts and tax rises on the chin.

And herein lies the reason why, at the time of writing, police are clashing with protesters outside parliament, flights are grounded and thousands of public sector workers are seeking early retirement in order to get out before the cuts land. Those who are being forced to suffer the dearest for their country’s mismanagement are not those responsible for the mess.

A young generation simply doesn’t stand a chance of holding a job with a decent pension or making more than their parents. Likewise a rate of 23% VAT means that the consumer culture which most western democracies luxuriate within is unattainable to them. As if to thrust salt to into what is already a pretty gangrenous wound, those who have already experienced the sweet side of capitalist life retain the means to dodge the requisite tax hikes by virtue of the good fortune of being born before the bubble burst.

So to return my opening query, should you be forced to abide by the consequences if you play the capitalist game and loseven if you have to unfairly shoulder the burden of responsibility? Even if that burden will stunt the possibility of you achieving something purposeful in the span of your career?

The answer to that question, as is the typical of the unjust results of this financial collapse, is that such a choice doesn’t feasibly exist. Of course the Greek population could refuse to coalesce to cuts but all such action would result in would be for their nation to default on its debt and plunge its citizens into further uncertainty with the possibility of even harsher consequences placed before them than at present.

According to Aristotelian philosophy, by operating within the parameters of their county’s society, the Greek populace have already implicitly agreed to abide any measures the state views to be in their best interests. One cannot help but feel sympathy for those who have balked when this ancient maxim has been so unfairly applied yet in order for Greece to rise again from the ashes of fiscal ruin apply it must.

If Greece does not acquiesce to austerity, then the same terrible buck they have faltered at will likely be passed to their Eurozone brethren in Portugal and Spain. Whilst it seems almost too much to ask for the damned masses to show selflessness where others have shown none, this demand is the true price of a nation’s capitulation to the forces of capitalism.


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