Andrew Neather, a journalist from the London Evening Standard, came to Greece to get a first-hand look at what austerity measures hath wrought and wrote that he was stupefied by how difficult life is for so many people.
He had the chance to visit Naoussa and a Greek church where a huge number of people had gathered, not only to hear the communion, but also to receive any help they could get.
Neather said he couldn’t believe his eyes when he came face-to-face with the grim reality many thousands of Greeks are facing and dealing with on a daily basis. He wrote that, “Disposable income has plummeted 30% in the past two years. All wages and salaries are down, while taxes are up sharply and the price of petrol has almost doubled.”
How could anyone live like that? The crushing economic crisis, and pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions have driven many people into poverty and cranked up the suicide rate, with unemployment at 24 percent and more people becoming desperate as the government readies more austerity measures on the order of international lenders who want to make sure that investors are repaid before money goes into Greek society.
Neather wrote that one Athenian told him: “Everyone thought their child would be a lawyer or a doctor,” and now what a change with many young returning to their parent’s village in a bid to survive with unemployment among those under 25 at nearly 55 percent. It’s going to get worse with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras about to levy another $17.45 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes.
Neather said that the crisis affecting Greece, and which is spreading to other countries in the Eurozone taught him that, “We need to tighten our belts- but we should keep a sense of proportion,” and that austerity alone isn’t the answer.