Greek Workers Still Protesting Austerity Measures


Greek Protests

Greek workers are continuing to strike and protest against austerity measures voted on by the Greek Parliament. Workers are protesting municipal cuts in pay and layoffs after the government agreed to slash 27,000 jobs, demanded by international lenders.  One in five Greek workers is already unemployed so the last thing anyone wants to listen to, is the decision for more layoffs.  The crisis is Greece is grave.  There is so much that needs to be done in order to save the economy that it may already be too late.  In addition to layoffs, retirees are looking at huge cuts in their retirement benefits.  Pensions above one thousand euros ($1,298 USD) will be cut by 20 percent.  Those who retired at that level or above and who were under the age of fifty-five, will see their pensions slashed by forty percent.   Health costs, such an important entitlement in Greece and throughout Europe, will be cut by up to 1.8 billion euros (2.3 billion USD) by 2015.  The tax-free threshold will be lowered to half what it is now meaning people who can ill afford to pay taxes will now be required to do so.  In Brussels, Euro zone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officials agree to release a 43.7 billion euros ($56 billion USD) of bailout funds which will help the country reduce its debt by 40 billion euros by 2020 ($52 billion USD)  While the austerity measures seem harsh, without them and without the loans, Greece would face an almost certain collapse.  Even with the bailout money, the situation in Greece is precarious.  Ultimately, there will need to be greater privatization as the public burocracy can no longer sustain itself.  The public sector does not create wealth and therefore must depend on taxes to raise capital in order to pay salaries and benefits.  If people are out of work and not paying taxes, where does that money come from?  Citizens of Greece, along with citizens of other European countries, are going to have to recognize that in order for there to be prosperity, people must work harder and longer and not depend on the government to provide that which should be provided for by the individual.  It may be difficult to swallow but that’s the harsh reality.

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