Greece: what austerity really means
We sometimes use the word ‘austerity’ to describe what is happening to Greece as if it was a mild drestart medicine. Not exactly pleasant, but nothing to get excited about. So it’s always important to remember the human cost of what is happening, as demonstrated by the suicides, increased sexual violence, children given up for adoption and so on. And it’s important to remember the objective impact on the Greek economy that ‘austerity’ is having.
Greek trade unionist Zoe Lanara, international secretary of the private sector GSEE confederation, has written those figures up in an FES pamphlet. She sets out the reduction in the size of the Greek economy (down by 16% since the crisis began), the growth in unemployment (the rate has doubled from 10% to 20% since 2010) and the Growth of poverty. It’s worth noting that if Britain had the same unemployment rate as Greece, there would be over 5 million on the dole, as well as those who are economically inactive.
Economics is often dry stuff. What is really happening in Greece explains why the unions are so often on strike, and the voters have abandoned the traditional parties of government.