I've thought long and hard before writing this post. I aim to keep "Leaving Cairo..." as upbeat as possible and talk about the beauty of Greece and the 'funny' experiences had by Bex here. However, obviously we cannot blithely ignore all that's been going on here, and I feel I need to address some sort of post to it here:
Recently, I read an article about how mental health is in decline due to austerity measures in Greece. It got me thinking about Greece's 'lost generation.' I started to draw parallels with my experiences of Cambodia: during 1975-1979, Cambodia was ruled by the awful Khmer Rouge under Pol Pot which, to simplify it, sought to bring the country back to 'Year Zero' and killed anyone who was considered to be intelligent. This led to a generation of people who were illiterate and by the time I went to Cambodia to partake in some work for an small NGO in the early 2000's, I noticed that the literacy rate was very, very poor. Many a time I would be the one reading the map and pointing out where to go for the taxi driver who was trying to make a living.
I am not saying Greece is going through it's Pol Pot equivalent, I am suggesting that there is evidence of decreasing standards of health, hygiene and education in this country due to the social cutbacks that are always implemented under the auspices of austerity (ironically defence spending rises, but this is a 'condition' of the bailout loans).
Articles such as these can no longer be avoided (and I am not a fan of the Daily Mail, but they highlight the phenomenon of what is going on, in the name of austerity).
So, how could a country that produced Socrates, Hippocrates and Alexander the Great get it so wrong? My final bone of contention is LaGarde and her God awful interview to The Guardian newspaper (interestingly, apparently this provoked the most Comments about a newspaper article ever - over 3,200!). Her interview lumped all people living in Greece with the same brush and suggested that NO-ONE pays tax. Er, let me assure you Ms LagGrde, I do and I am a FOOL, given that there are people on MUCH higher salaries than me, who avoid paying tax AT ALL!
Another example to give: I know of someone who pays over half their monthly salary in taxes and social security contributions, therefore he/she has to do more cash in hand work in order merely to survive! Surely the system is perpetuating people to break the law?!
I love Greece, I really do. But I hope to God she gets her act together, before a whole generation of people are lost to malnutrition, depression and the like - because let me assure you, dear reader: austerity is never designed to assist a county...it is always designed to destroy (look at other countries the IMF has weaved it's evil wand in) - the question is, WHY do they want to destroy?