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Lessons from Greece?

2/24/2012

“Unemployment has hit record levels in the EU, putting nearly a quarter of those Europeans
who until now had a decent standard of living at risk of sliding into social exclusion. The
phenomenon is undermining the EU’s strategies against poverty.” --Presseurop.eu

“Unemployment has hit record levels in the EU, putting nearly a quarter of those Europeans
who until now had a decent standard of living at risk of sliding into social exclusion. The
phenomenon is undermining the EU’s strategies against poverty.” --Presseurop.eu

Although a reform package has been approved, the cuts can be foreseen as quite drastic to
those that are barely managing a middle class existence.

Under the plan the national debt has to be reduced from 160% of GDP to 120% by the end of
the decade.

In order to accomplish this, Greek parliament has pledged to:



Reduce the minimum wage from €751 to €600 per month. For those under 25, the
minimum wage will be slashed by 32%.
Cut pension provision and include a “strict link between contributions and benefits”
Make 15,000 public sector workers redundant by the end of the year.




In addition to these cuts, there is a long list of proposed reforms which include modernizing the
health system, and at the same time keeping public health expenditures at or below 6% of GDP.

Greece is on a long and winding road to recovery and the EU crisis has knocked them flat to the
point where basic needs are not met for many families that once were managing with what they
had.

Pensioners are receiving less monthly income while the cost of medications for them is
going up. They are sometimes forced to choose between medicine and milk. Those that
became unemployed when the crisis first hit are exhausting their benefits. If there is no family
to fall back on, these citizens are forced into poverty and homelessness. For many, things
happened very quickly, they lost their good paying jobs and with no money to pay rent they find
themselves on the street.

In 2011, there were 20 percent more registered homeless people than the year before. It is no
wonder that the suicide rates in Greece have nearly doubled.

As we sit in America with our own budget issues and reluctance to make drastic changes, are
we headed for a similar crisis? We should be paying close attention to what is happening in the
EU and take the necessary steps to avoid a continued recession which inevitably leads to the
destruction of human spirit, which is what our country was built on.