Greek Strikers, Sabotaging Stabilization of Economy
Is nation-wide unemployment and total economic collapse preferable to pay freezes, and cuts, and layoffs? In Greece, strikers continue their violent protests, clashing with police. Following the collapse of the Greek economy, and the more than hundred-billion dollar bail out deal funded by the EU, Greek workers are continuing to turn to violent opposition to the government reforms. Without these reforms, there would have been no economic support for the nation, which was suffering from a catastrophic financial collapse. Some in Greece seem to think that violent opposition to these measures, further damaging the frail economic situation, are justified. This is not the case.
Due to the fact that the economy of Greece is currently heavily reliant upon foreign investment and tourism (tourism, according to the CIA World Fact-book, accounts for approximately 15% of the nations annual revenue, and the service industry accounts for approximately 65% of the labour force) the protests, strikes, and violent outbursts are further hampering the economy of the nation. As transport, hospitality, and flights in and out of Greece, are being targeted or impeded, the main source of revenue for the struggling nation is being undermined. The resulting further economic decline will require further, more aggressive measures to allow financial stability to be regained. The strikers, through their actions, are in fact working against their goals. This counter-productive course of action is only further damaging the prospects for these strikers of achieving their aims, and regaining a sense of financial stability and secure employment.
While the Greek economy has indeed been hampered by a variety of factors, namely excessive spending, corruption in Government, and tax evasion (this list is, of course, not exhaustive, but definitely these are the “big three” as highlighted by the Wall Street Journal and the BBC, among others), the fact remains that the damage has been done, and the people of Greece are now all suffering the consequences. It is an unfortunate situation, but one that cannot be addressed without changing the current political and economic systems that are in place. There is no quick fix for years of damage to the economy, and violent strikes and protests to maintain the status quo will accomplish nothing but to ensure that further suffering will occur down the road. Indeed, the system that has been in place for many years, the system the unions are trying to maintain, has already failed. It is now not an option to stay on this path. A new course must be set, rectifying these key issues now. The unemployment rate is high, yes (estimated at approximately 20%); it will only get higher, if people allow the economy to further disintegrate. Short term discomfort can help avoid long term destitution.
In a Democratic nation such as Greece, the government is elected by the people. As such, the theory goes, they are accountable to the people, and act for the people. Does this mean that the people are thus accountable for the actions of the government? In an ideal world, yes, because a truly democratic system would ensure that the entire populace was represented in making the decisions or guiding the actions of that nation. In the real world, this is not possible. The government is elected by the people to make the decisions for the people; however, there is very little opportunity for public input. It is not feasible to have the whole of a nation involved in every decision. As a result, in Greece, the people are now suffering the consequences of decisions made on their behalf for many years. But the current government, acting to remedy this damage, can no more allow each person to have a say in the proceedings than its predecessors. Nothing would get done, and the nation would fall apart. There are tough times ahead, but in this situation, that is unavoidable. Anything else would only lead to further decay of the nation.
A government with less corruption, lower spending, an end to wide-spread tax-evasion, these things are necessary, or the entire nation of Greece will suffer further. It is too late to prevent the damage, it was done long ago. Now it is time to look towards the future. Protests and strikes of the kind going on today will only further hamper economic recovery. Without the changes being instituted, Greece will not get the financial bail-out being offered by the EU; without the bailout, the collapse of the Greek economy will be complete. It is time to stop holding on to the system that lead to this atrocious situation, and focus on setting one up that will help Greece recover. Further alienation of Allied nations, who require these changes in order to justify funding the necessary bailout will only lead to the taps being shut off, and Greece being left on her own, to deal with the creditors and some less than friendly neighbours. It is time to start thinking long term; the short-sighted policies of the past are what has brought the nation to this point. Do not keep throwing good money after bad, do something proactive. In the short term it is unpleasant, but the long-term consequences of ignoring these issues could be disasterous.