Over the course of five days, the Greek government — led by the understated conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras — overcame two high hurdles in a dash to qualify for the austerity program set out by the so-called troika, made up of the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.
The first hurdle was the parliamentary vote last week, when the austerity measures were passed by just 153 votes out of 300. The second important vote took place in the wee hours of Sunday night in Athens, this time with a comfortable margin of victory as 167 of 300 lawmakers voted for, in essence, more austerity.
What will be the consequence of this austerity?
The budget for 2013 makes for painful reading. A projected contraction of 4.5% next year and a record sixth year of recession, with the economy shrinking more than 30% in that time frame. Public debt to GDP is due to increase to 189%, having risen more than 50% since this whole crisis started. Unemployment last week hit a record 25.4% with youth unemployment leaping to 58%.
During the presidential race, Romney regularly warned that America would end up like Greece if we didn't do (and here was the madness in his thinking) precisely what Greece is doing: cutting government jobs and services, reducing the deficit, and blocking the government from managing or stimulating the economy. Not only was this thinking crazy, it's also wrong to see the debt in Greece as the same as the debt in the US. They are not the same animal.
Two things: Greece, one, should leave the Euro; and Greek citizens, two, need stop blaming poor immigrants for their mountains of bank-related problems.