Sacrifices… but by whom?

Discussions at the workplace, mostly among gloomy people, no longer concern the existence or the size of the problem but rather the intensity and the duration of the crisis. The question is whether the government has any plans for medium-term growth and structural reform, or just a set of austerity measures. Will burdens be shared in a fair manner, or will there simply be a painful redistribution of wealth? How many jobless 40- and 50-year-olds can our society tolerate emotionally, morally and politically? Will an entire generation have to sacrifice itself so that the country can get back on its feet? The question is, ultimately: Is the existing political system, which is largely responsible for the current mess, in a position to correct the wrongs and punish those who are responsible for them? Is it capable of averting a prolonged recession? Could it inspire a new beginning? The people, gloomy and skeptical, acknowledge the need for sacrifices. In fact, they have already started making sacrifices: Incomes freeze or diminish, as price hikes take a toll on low- and medium-income households. The acknowledgement of necessity comes with a silent upswell of indignation: The longstanding impunity of corrupt politicians and state officials, the overt display of illegally acquired wealth – at a time when the economy is tottering and sacrifices are being demanded – become magnified in the collective mind. Our troubled society is now demanding sacrifices from the elite. It is asking for sacrifices of atonement. Can the political elite break the omerta of the post-1974 system? Can they be harsh on their own kind? Can they set the example of catharsis and sacrifice which is exactly what they are demanding of voters and clients? The system is being called upon to handle its own decline.

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