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In the ‘pressure cooker’

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Video: Hundreds of protesters clashed with riot police across central Athens on Wednesday, smashing cars and hurling gasoline bombs during a nationwide labour protest against the government’s latest austerity measures. The former Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis was attacked by protesters outside a luxury hotel. He was escorted, bleeding from the scene as his attackers yelled “thieves” at him. Source: Russia Today

In the Greek daily Kathimerini, Alexis Papachelas writes:

There are no easy answers and, to make matters worse, we still have no idea about how the global crisis will affect Europe in early 2011.

The Greek government chose a course of treatment for the economy that is much like shock therapy, meaning that it tried to squeeze as many changes as possible into a short period of time.

If this strategy is successful, the government will have a strong card to play when it has to deal with its European peers and market forces in the case that debt restructuring is offered as a solution. If, however, the strategy fails, the shock therapy may turn into that extra bit of force that breaks the valve on the pressure cooker that is Greek society.

Read Acton Research Director Samuel Gregg’s new essay on Public Discourse titled, “Socialism and Solidarity.”

John Couretas John Couretas is Director of Communications, responsible for print and online communications at the Acton Institute. He has more than 20 years of experience in news and publishing fields. He has worked as a staff writer on newspapers and magazines, covering business and government. John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Humanities from Michigan State University and a Master of Science Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University.


  • Roger McKinney

    I have heard all my life that inequality breeds social unrest. So why are the egalitarian Europeans burning down their cities? Because socialism impoverishes nations and causes people for fight ferociously over the small remaining bones.

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  • Roger — Exactly right. When you have an incredibly bloated public sector (accounting for about 40 percent of GDP) you wipe out private initiative and reward payoff from political and bureaucratic connections. This breeds corruption, which is epidemic in Greece. I recall seeing a poll some years ago (can’t find it now) that showed how college students in Greece were aiming in large numbers for government jobs. Very rational. That’s where the bacon was to be found. Now, young people and those with education are leaving the country in droves. The expansion of the welfare state, with its illusory promises of security, also destroys solidarity in the civil society. People, at a certain point, focus on the government for their needs, not on building community. You see this now with various factions and labor unions in Greece — farmers, judges, ship captains, doctors … you name it — working very hard to shut the country down if they don’t get what they want. They’re all competing for the same limited (even more so now) pool of taxpayer funding. Every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.