Thursday, 3 November 2011

May we live in interesting times (?)

Well, these certainly are interesting times, aren’t they?
At least, they are if you define “interesting” as “unpredictable, subject to wild mood swings, uncertain and teetering of the brink of an abyss” rather than “engaging and worthy of further study”.

I guess there’s a reason why the phrase is considered a curse rather than a blessing.

Turmoil has been a key characteristic of life in Greece for at least a year now. Crippling austerity is being imposed on the majority of simple hard-working, working and middle class people, who are understandably peeved when they see the country’s fat cats continuing to enjoy most of the privileges that have contributed to the dire state of the national economy. The overpowering mood of the country is one of frustration, disillusionment and powerlessness in the face of the overwhelming odds that are casting a huge black cloud over everything.

So, you might think that some would welcome Prime Minister George Papandreou's announcement of a referendum to ask the Greek people to vote on whether they want the austerity measures.

The same austerity measures that have been announced as non-negotiable and have already started to be implemented over the past months.

The measures that have cut salaries, raised taxes and put a stranglehold on the country’s commercial life.

If we were going to have a referendum, wouldn’t it have been a good idea to do so BEFORE the measures we’re to be asked about started raining down on the heads of common people? Or before extra funds were devoted to printing and sending out of demands for extra taxes to households around the country? Or before assuring our creditors that Greece is committed to the changes they demand to secure a bail-out?

If Angela Merkel and Nicola Sarkozy were gob-smacked by the Monday evening's bombshell, you should see how it hit us. The first reaction was disbelief and “What the ...?”.
Then, we started to think through the likely consequences of the shock announcement and we were left angry, bemused and utterly at a loss at what could possibly be gained from such action at this late stage in the game.

Personally, I wonder if the PM simply had a brain fart.

I’m no political Svengali but from where I’m sitting the PM's apparent attempt to throw responsibility for the fate of the country to its people – basically telling them “give me the mandate or on your own heads be it” – looks like political suicide.
Actually, it looks like a political suicide bombing - as it’s certainly set to take a lot of folk with him.

Maybe it’s all part of a complex conspiracy to destroy the Euro Zone or establish a New World Order? Who knows?

I do know is that these are the kind of interesting times I could do without.
I also know that I am powerless to do anything about it.

All I can do is hang on and grit my teeth, along with everyone else, as history takes us on a crazy ride with an unknown destination. And as the autumn evenings close in on us, I’ll be curling up on my sofa (as long as it’s still mine), wrapped in an old blanket, sipping my tea and thinking about what soup I can make from the dregs at the bottom of my fridge.

Some don’t have it so good.

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