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Watching as Greece falls apart

Athens has become a battlefield of late. The country has to save 28 billion Euro by 2015 or risk default. I’d ask how the hell that happened but then all you have to do is look at the mess Ireland is in. Sure, they’re very different situations but the end result is the same. Recession and austerity.

How did things get so bad in Greece? This post might go some way to explaining things.

You see, as precipitous as the rise in national debt has been over the last couple of years, it is still amateur stuff compared to the way we piled on the debt between 1981, the year of Αλλαγή, the Change, ushered in by a massive 48% majority, (Time coverage here) and 1993, when the Maastricht rules finally started to bite and we were forced to pull the handbreak on our burgeoning government budget.

Didn’t the Irish Government do something like that in the 70’s? Borrow and borrow and borrow again? Cue Charlie Haughey’s famous quote in 1980. Even though he was living the high life the rest of the country suffered through a bad recession in the 80’s, as it is now..

I don’t know what’s going to happen in Greece. The impression I’ve got from the media here is of a country of self employed people who mostly don’t pay taxes and where jobs go to family members (rather than on merit), of a massive civil service that people aspire to join rather than go into private business (due in no small part to the fact that family members get the best jobs). How depressing but as an outsider looking in I don’t know what’s fact and what’s fiction!

For more, follow some English speaking Greek people on Twitter:

Photos of the protests: 1, 2, 3, 4.

These days will pass, but I have a feeling the EU and the world at large will be a very different world.