Friday, 24 February 2012

A message from the streets of Athens: “save us no more!”

A message from the streets of Athens: “save us no more!”

By Leonidas Oikonomakis On February 23, 2012

We don’t want your money. We don’t want your lies. We don’t want your conditions. We just want to live. No sheep was ever saved through bleating.
By Leonidas Oikonomakis

To Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik,
who were murdered in Homs yesterday
Tuesday, 16 February 2012. Brussels.
The bad pupil, once again, is Greece. And so the eurozone Finance Ministers approve a ‘rescue’ package deal (as they prefer to call it) of 130 billion euros to ‘save’ her from her bad self.
I watched them smiling and congratulating each other, jubilant that they had a deal: Luxemburg’s Prime Minister and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker, Greece’s unelected Prime Minister Lucas Papademos, IMF Chief Christine Lagarde. I also watched Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos and ex-Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou (both members of the political class that led Greece to this point) hailing the deal and urging for more democracy in Europe [sic], while at the same time apologizing for the misbehaving citizens of their country who “had for years been disillusioned by wealth with feet of clay.”
Wednesday, 17 February 2012. Athens.
The citizens of Athens — pensioners, workers, unemployed and students — are protesting against the new deal and the new austerity measures that accompany it, ahead of the vote for approval of the related emergency bill legislation. They do not share their — unelected — government’s jubilant mood and consider the new austerity measures a stairway to poverty and despair. And they express their sarcasm for the dominant rhetoric:
“Have you heard the news? They have rescued us again!”
They are not being ungrateful; they are right. Because what the new austerity measures will mean for them is:
  • An additional 15 percent wage cut to their salaries — which have already been reduced by 30 percent since 2009 — to increase ‘competitiveness’, or so they say;
  • A 22 percent reduction of the minimum wage: 32 percent for people under 25, to tackle youth unemployment [!], or so they say;
  • Which in turn automatically brings unemployment benefits (for those lucky ones who are eligible for one, for Greece does not have a minimum income scheme) to a level below the poverty threshold;

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