OPINION

The chancellor is right

The new wave of cutbacks in public spending will hurt Greeks, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has confessed, suggesting that he knows that further cuts in public sector salaries and pensions are unfair and will fall heaviest on the shoulders of the weakest members of society. Of course, the Greek people have seen the same story repeat itself over the past two years and are no longer surprised. The premier also promised that this would be the last wave of cuts — and Greeks have heard that story before as well. It has all been said before, and every line and limit has been crossed and will be crossed once more; and again, Greeks are being asked to have faith and confidence in their leaders, to tap into what little trace there is left of these lofty sentiments.

Samaras is not looking to bamboozle the Greeks nor to make a liar of himself. Unfortunately, the path he is following — the path of squeezing people?s incomes even further and overtaxing those who play by the rules and those who are already treading the fine line of poverty — inevitably leads to complete asphyxia. The cutbacks that began in 2010 and will last through 2015 have already pushed unemployment and the recession to wartime levels. How much more can the defeated and retreating Greeks take?

Meanwhile, every new austerity measure gnaws away at the state?s revenues, causing it to sink into poverty along with the people. The most dangerous facet of this kind of bankruptcy though, is that it cannot be measured in numbers: The unemployed are slowly being pushed out of the ranks of active society, bereft of a means of earning an income and even of healthcare benefits. Young people are abandoning the country as they see no rebound from the fiscal nosedive, and nobody trusts anybody anymore.

In the meantime, there appears to be no plan for rebooting the economy, no direction for the country to head in order to hope for a recovery anywhere on the horizon. There is no justice. Money that has been earned in shady ways and has not been taxed has been deposited in banks in Switzerland and vaults in other tax havens, money that if taxed could go a long way toward righting many wrongs and possibly even mean scrapping a few of the more painful measures that are being proposed today. But, nothing is being done to look for such alternatives, so maybe German Chancellor Angela Merkel would be right to once again say that it is the only weak who are paying for the Greek crisis.