Those Darn Greek Socialists and Their Angry Mobs
Here comes the outrage! Grab the flaming pitchforks, America, as this is our fate before too long if you idiots get up off the sofa, turn off the teevee, brush off the Big Mac crumbs and take back your damn country. If not? I hope you sleep well at night knowing you stood by as your great great grandchildren were auctioned into economic slavery.
They called it a "river of fury". And the seemingly endless flow of Greeks who marched in protest today over the government's painful fiscal policies were motivated by a single force: rage.
Anger in Athens starts with graffiti and by dawn the calls to battle were daubed across the facades of banks and shops and government buildings. By noon it had morphed into a "resistance movement" as militant leftwingers and striking civil servants – some holding banners, some pounding drums, some shouting themselves hoarse – took to the streets to denounce measures seen as the only way to extract Greece from its worst economic crisis in decades.
"We are at war with the government because it is clearly at war with us," snapped the former communist MP Dimos Koumbounis. "The working class will respond with ever greater force and intensity to overturn these unjust and antisocial policies."
Under unprecedented pressure from markets and his EU colleagues, the socialist prime minister George Papandreou said he had no other choice but to implement the "painful but necessary" policies last week. The measures include public sector pay freezes, the raising of the retirement age, slashing of bonuses on salaries and tax rises across the board. For the newly-elected socialists, forced to roll back many of their campaign promises, these measures are imperative if Greece is to rein in its €300bn (£270bn) public debt. Papandreou has pledged to trim the deficit from 12.7% to within the EU's permissible 3% limit by 2012.
There's a government accounting trick to be wary of here, one that the US might have to pull out and that's not a luxury Greece has at the moment. Inflating their way out of this is not really part of the game plan as they have the Euro to worry about and Trichet isn't crazy enough to tank the entire EU just to save Greece. Is he?
Hey! Didn't Michael Panzner try to tell you kids the story would go down this way? Now get the damn pitchforks! Hurry up!