It has been four years now that spending cuts and austerity measures are implemented in Greece with reference to the bailout plans funded by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. Greek economy suffers from macroeconomic deficiencies, a debt incremental race, extremely high rates of unemployment and poverty, lack of growth policies, and a political leadership that cannot negotiare properly and safeguard national interests.
But someone should not only point out what are the deeds of the government and troika in respect with austerity politics, but mainly how deep and harsh are the consequences over the Greek society. Journalist reports and policy briefs neglect to put emphasis on the hardship of the people, and this is the very reason why Europe and its citizens cannot fully understand what is really going in Greece.
Usually there is a certain image about the Greeks and the crisis, and this is based on previous evidence and sporadic highlights spread from the media. Greeks are overly presented as lazy ones that resort to demonstrations and strikes in order to safeguard their privileged position in the public sector. This is not at all the real image. Indeed, according to official statistics and after extensive reporting, there are some striking facts that have to be mentioned:
1. official unemployment rates reach 28% (i.e. rate for people being registered for receiveing public unemployment allowances of 150 euro per month) whereas unemployment rates for non-registered is about 35%. For the youth between 18-35, the rate comes up to 58%, which is literally fairly above the half of the population
2. poverty rates reach almost 30% while homeless people are increased by 300 per day
3. wage and pension cuts since 2010 have reached 40% of the annual revenue overall. Especially for farmers and newly-entries in the private sector, the starting wage is 380 and 534 euro respectively, while new austerity cuts are dealing with a further cut of 20% of the wages aforementioned
4. there is no growth plan designed to boost Greek economy and engender new job openings
5. further cuts are planned for the health care system and additional fees are elaborated for education. In fact, public health insurance funds can cover only 30% of the medical treatment received, whereas education fees are expected to exceed 7,000 euro per year for Master programs altogether
6. net prices of consumer goods are increased by 7% per semester in average, while further taxes are imposed to real estate
Therefore, social unrest is growing and it is not just hypothetical to point out that as long as Greece is turned out to be a pauper state, civil upheavals will strengthen and extreme right will gain significant ground. And these are only some of the striking facts that someone should know when it comes to provide analysis about the current social conditions in Greece. I will come back with deeper analysis in the days to come.