Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Greek Tragedy: No Money, No Hope

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: Despairing middle classes could be the biggest threat to Greece's future, writes Paul Mason in Athens.

Dmitris Andreou made the last sale out of his small estate agents business in June. His wife Mary, makes her living preparing high-school students for English exams.

But her living has dried up. Their savings are exhausted, their disposable income has dropped by about 50 per cent in two years, and they are angry.

"Some days we only buy the basics and a few days lately we were not able to buy even those. We have to count our cents to decide between buying bread, milk or butter," says Mary.

"Some days are better, but some are difficult. We don't buy clothes any more. People don't go out. There is simply no money around out there."

In their neat apartment in an Athens suburb, surrounded by family heirlooms and lace tablecloths, they are a world apart from the anarchist demonstrators who snatch the headlines whenever opposition to the EU-imposed austerity measures is discussed.

But what's happening in living rooms like theirs presents the bigger danger to the future of Greece. People are switching off: from politics, from the mass media, from social life.

"We would like to see the politicians executed," says Maria, not smiling as she delivers the joke. "Most people are saying this: politicians deserve capital punishment – at the Greek equivalent of Traitors' Gate. It would be a nice time for politicians to be heroes, to stand up and defend the people. But they're not." » | Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight's Economics Editor, Athens | Saturdaay, September 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Greece unveils more austerity measures: The struggling nation plans to cut 30,000 state jobs and reduce pensions in an effort to avoid default. » | Anthee Carassava, Los Angeles Times | Wednesday, September 21, 2011