Klaipeda news in English
Despite anyone’s efforts, it seems the European debt crisis stubbornly refuses to get resolved. Regardless of Germany and the European Central Bank’s constant efforts, bailouts fail to do their job and serve to plunge the continent into a further state of disrepair. The recent Grecian Bailout may have helped the country limp along, but economists are not seeing a happy ending for many countries in Europe. They warn Europe is getting closer and closer to a catastrophe of untold proportions.
Countries like Italy and Greece still suffer from crushing unemployment and in a horrible twist, Greece seems to be showing a heightened suicide rate. Part of these problems is, without a doubt, internal. The economic policies in place in both Greece and Italy are highly supportive of older workers, people in their 50s and 60s. Yet those policies mean that those workers are very difficult to fire. While fine in its own right, this means that younger workers, those just out of university, are forced to deal with short term contracts and find it immensely difficult to keep a job. What hope is there for younger people in these countries? Some say, there isn’t any.
Another Generation Lost
In Der Spiegel magazine, Fiona Ehlers wrote extensively about the Italian job crunch and its effects on the youths of the nation. She summarizes the struggles eloquently by saying, “Young people remain benchwarmers – perpetual interns who are seen as not capable of doing much of anything.” This is a reference to the Italian job market. With Italian labor laws as they are, young people, instead of staying and hoping to find something, have started leaving the country in droves.
These people who are fleeing the country often do not return. Some do of course, but the majority stay abroad with the positions they have managed to acquire outside of Italy. People like Sandra Savaglio, an astrophysicist working in Bavaria, only return to Italy “for the scenery.” While working in Italy S. Savaglio was forced to remain a nobody, once told that if she wanted to publish it would have to be under her superior’s name. After she left Italy, she quickly found her position in Bavaria and is now regarded as a highly influential figure in astrophysics not to mention an Italian hero for criticizing the state of the country and its treatment of young workers.
With a history of corruption and utter lunacy under the reign of Silvio Berlusconi, young Italians are finding it harder and harder to justify staying in the country. Without them the economy has little hope of truly changing in the near future. Without skilled workers to replace those currently employed, it could take decades for Italy to recover. And all the while the nation teeters on the brink of requesting a bailout from Germany.
No Reason to Bother
To put the severity of the situation in broad terms, the benefits to joining the European Union are slipping faster than anyone wishes to admit. Turkey has been bidding long and hard to get admitted to the European Union. However, in light of recent events, the aspirations to join the EU are losing support across the country. Turkey’s economy is reportedly in a boom, with a growth rate reported at 8.5% last year.
The EU used to be a symbol of the times and something to rally around in order to keep Europe together. With the rising powers of China, India, and Brazil, the European continent was facing adversity in its own ways. While they were still generally the top in many fields, the alarming growth outside the continent no doubt kept European economists on the edges of their seats.
Then the global sovereign debt crisis started to spiral out of control. With countries like Greece and Ireland hemorrhaging money, steps were taken to stabilize the region. Yet as recent history has shown, nothing yet has worked to properly support the common currency. Countries left and right are finding themselves in debt crises in need of bailouts. Most recently Greece may very well need a second bailout sooner than anyone cared for. Italy too is starting to slip along with Spain. And in the end the simple fact is that the bailouts do not seem to be working. Before one country can be bailed out, another falls into disrepair and the process starts all over again. Even then the bailouts or policies put in place for a bailout appear to simply not work. As seen in Greece, even with a bailout their economy has not improved noticeably.
The Most Macabre Protest
Greece has, without a doubt, been decimated by the sovereign debt crisis. Poised to ask for a second bailout in the coming months, the country has limped along with help from Germany and the International Monetary Fund for months. With Greece in a position to be bankrupt by the fall, people have taken horrifying steps for reasons impossibly to know. Many Greeks have started to kill themselves.
It may be hard to divine politics to be the only factor in a person’s decision to take their life. No matter what claims are made in a farewell letter, if any, can be seen as direct political action. The decision to end one’s life is not made overnight. There are a host of factors that could lead someone to the brink. While people after the fact may see the suicide as a cold hard act of political protest, it is dangerous to deify anyone. Acknowledgment of tragedy is one thing, openly congratulating someone for such a thing is another.
That said, these suicides, like the exodus from Italy, point to a very hard truth about the entire Euro-Zone crisis. People are tired. They are tired of the roundabout politics and a refusal for anyone to take responsibility and make drastic changes. Politicians may be able to endure and fight for whatever they choose, but while they do the people suffer in situations human beings were not meant to. People starve because they have no money for food, and they cannot sell their possessions because no one else has money to buy them. And all the while the political situation worsens and the people grow more bold.German Magazine Der Spiegel calls it “a Civilization on the Edge.”
Edge of What?
In the Der Spiegel article, Julia AmaliaHeyer (as translated by Christopher Sultan), J. Heyer details the amount of hyper-nationalistic groups that have started massing in the Greek capital of Athens. These groups reportedly act as a vigilante force if certain supportive shop or home owners ask for assistance. The assistance is, of course, brutally violent. One such group, the “ChrysiAvgi (Golden Dawn)” party. If called member will arrive on moped, armed and masked, the “deal” with whatever situation arises.
Hyper-nationalism is often a refuge for people in massive economic and political crises. Not to fall into Godwin’s Law, but it was a similar situation with Adolph Hitler in the 1930’s. The times were bad and people rallied around a nationalistic approach to government. This is by no means implying that Greece will turn into a variant of Nazi Germany, simply a nod to the history of hyper-nationalism. Slogans such as, “Greece for the Greeks” have started to crop up in Athens. It seems only a matter of time before something drastic happens to tip the scales one way or another. And all the while more and more people suffer trying to get out.
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