July 11, 2013 Leave a comment
My friend Illias took a drag of his cigarette as he contemplated my question.
“Our government tells us that this will be a better year. No one really believes them. But all we can do is be optimistic. Too many people are committing suicide.”
His statement probably best sums up the situation in Greece right now. It’s as if the hopelessness has gone stale, and the only thing they have to replace it with is desperate, misguided, faux-optimism. And anger.
There are roughly 11 million people in this country. 3.4 million of them are employed, of which roughly one third work for the government.
1.34 million people are ‘officially’ unemployed. To put this in context, it would be as if there were 36 million officially unemployed in the US.
More startling, if you add the number of ‘inactive’ workers (i.e. those who gave up looking), the total number of unemployed is roughly 57% of the entire Greek work force.
And as you probably know, the situation for young people is even worse. Only 1 in 3 people aged 25 and under has a job.
This phenomenon, sustained for several years now, has cut deeply into the psyche of an entire generation that is growing up without productive work experience or the prospect of improving their lives.
The middle class here has been completely gutted. Aside from a few pockets of wealth, the country is either unemployed or working poor, hamstrung by debilitating debt.