Monday, February 13, 2012

Athens Riots: Austerity And Anarchy

If you have trouble envisioning what modern day socialism looks like, you need look no further than Athens, Greece.

Aristotle once said, “Bring your desires down to your present means. Increase them only when your increased means permit.”

The latest reports from The Washington Post suggest that more than 100,000 rioters destroyed or seriously damaged 93 buildings while police said at least 45 were burned. They included nine listed as national heritage buildings, mostly in the neoclassical style, while dozens of stores and cafes were smashed and looted.

More than 170 people were hurt in the rioting which also broke out in other Greek cities. Authorities said 106 police needed medical care after being injured by gasoline bombs, rocks and other objects hurled at them, while at least 70 protesters were also hospitalized.

In order to stave off a calamitous default, the Parliament voted 199-74 to accept rescue loans amounting to $172 billion.  Part of the agreement means axing one in five civil service jobs over the next three years and slashing the minimum wage by more than a fifth.

Greece has been in a devasting recession for the last five years.  Unemployment is 21 percent and it is rising.  Economists fear that the bailout money will still not be enough to preserve social and political cohesion in the face of growing unrest and political extremism.

Today, the current occupant of the Oval Office unveiled a $3.8 trillion spending plan. The new 10-year blueprint shows annual deficits exceeding $600 billion every year except 2018. And the portion of the debt held by outside investors would grow to $18.7 trillion by 2021, or 76.5 percent of the economy—a full $1 trillion higher.

It took Greece four thousand years to reach the precipice of economic insolvency.  This president is bringing a 236-year-old republic to its knees.  He’s up for re-election.  We cannot afford four more years of his fiscal insanity.

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