All over the internet, misinformed people are mocking the Greek protesters. In blog comments, the haute couture have been outright cruel, laughing at them for protesting a bumped-up retirement age and other measures more "austere." More often though, the Greeks are taunted for turning down "free money."
Having never seen anyone truly look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to investigate these protests myself. Are they really protesting a bailout, I wondered? And I discovered it can be hard to tell. Most news stories focus on the terms of the bailout and that protests are occurring, rather than what it is propelling them.
There's really no emerging media narrative to explain Greek sentiment behind the protests and so, in this press-neglected vacuum, people in the blogosphere have written their own I-am-better-than-you, Aesop tales.
So now then, why do you suppose the Greeks are protesting?
Well, imagine for a moment that you're a Greek, 55 years old, with a modest savings account of 50,000 Euros. Your government has been telling you for years that it can afford to and will take care of you for your life, give you healthcare and daycare, and meet its other obligations as well.
Busy then, with your children and your life -- and since good news is always good, why bother to research? -- you believed what your government told you, without question. And you planned everything-- your retirement, your old age, spending time with your grandchildren -- around your promised government pension. And of course, you kept voting those same rosy bureaucrats into office.
And then one day you were told it was all a lie: your government could no more afford to pay you a lifetime pension, take care of your healthcare, and take care of its own obligations than the man in the moon.
To make matters worse, now the world is mocking you. That you believed such ridiculous, logic-defying notions, that you never sought the truth? Ha! says everyone. Shame on you!
But lies they were, and now a foreign country -- with whom you've reluctantly shared a common currency for only a few years -- says it will bail out your banks and your bureaucrats and impose unilateral, draconian cuts on your wages if you, lucky you -- you, the birthplace of democracy -- will sacrifice your government and other promised benefits.
Or, they threaten, you can take the other option: exit the Eurozone, keep your overblown independence and go back on the Drachma. Which is hardly a solution for you at this time in your life -- it means your meager 50k in Euros will be converted into Drachmas and your longtime savings will be cut by a good 45%.
Still laughing at the Greeks now? Oh, I do hope not.
Let's turn to our own country, shall we? We've been taxed endlessly for social security and medicare, with no choice in the matter, all the while being assured we'll get back what we pay into it. Anyone who dared question that assumption was labeled a heretic, or worse, a "Tea
Now Obama promises free-ish health care and, by no god, free birth control for all. Together with free schools that "know better" than parents do --
and a "healthy lunch" school patrol.
And to finance the lovely-sounding "tax cut" on payroll, all new home borrowers have to pay an extra tax: .01% of their mortgage to the government. Lest we forget, for the pleasure of that intimate TSA feel-up at the airport, Obama wants another $5.00 from us -- soon to be $7.50.
Sure, these taxes and fees and intimate intrusions are exhausting. But why not endure these indignities, after all, if there's a pot of gold waiting for us at the end of it?
Mmm, what's that, you say? You hadn't heard? You didn't realize the government was giving out free birth control on your nickel (because if Catholic employers aren't paying for it, you damn sure are), policing mom-packed school lunches, and charging money to radiate or feel you up?
Never heard that all new borrowers pony up another .1% of their total mortgage to pay for the payroll tax cut? (I don't know about you, but I love being forced to borrow money to pay for my own "tax cut.") And had you no clue that the money you've been forced to pay into social security and medicare will never recouped?
What are you, man? Greek?
Here's looking at you, kid.
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