Greek Strikes

Kerameikos closed

Here in Greece, it is hard not to notice that the Greeks are angry at their government, which can only prevent a state bankruptcy by taking desperate measures. For example, people can no longer retire in their mid-fifties. They will have to work longer, even when they have a right to an early retirement. Or another case: many people working on the archaeological sites haven’t received their wages for twenty-two months. I do not know to what extent the situation is comparable to my own country, where I find some economic measures hard to swallow because the people who have gotten us into this mess have remained unpunished: the CEOs, the bankers, a couple of politicians, a handful of accountants, a lot of economists. To some extent, I can sympathize with the angry Greeks.

This morning, the inevitable happened: we found an archaeological site closed. Everyone at Kerameikos was on strike. I should probably count my blessings that this afternoon, they will reopen the museum and the excavation. Yet, strikes create victims – and it is a stupid to focus on foreigners. They won’t influence Greek public opinion for the strikers, but can influence foreign public opinion against Greece.

Targeting foreigners is not only stupid, it is also ungrateful. After all, to keep the euro stable, the other member states have had to offer loans to Greece, and this money must come from somewhere. This has added to the problems in northwestern Europe. My parents could benefit from a pension when they were sixty-five but I will probably not be able to retire before I am sixty-eight or sixty-nine, partly because of the Greek bail out. It has long been known that my generation has to pay for the babyboom and I have learned to live with it sometime in the late nineties, so it’s fine with me, but I think the Greeks cannot reasonably ask that they can retire at fifty-eight when this means that others have to work until they’re sixty-eight.

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