OPINION

Don’t forget to feed the donkey

The government has been marching ahead under the «reforms or bankruptcy» banner, trying to scare the people into swallowing the bitter pill of reform or suffer a worse fate. Judging by society’s rather subdued reaction to the measures, the Maximos Mansion and the bureaucrats of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank believe that the measures will fly. This assessment paves the way for additional reforms, as the colonial-style bailout agreement reigns above all else. In the meantime at least, social security and labor will be the first to be hit. Up until recently, workers’ strikes and protests were like a kind of unofficial negotiation with the government that gave society some balance. The movement of protest has lost steam now, not because it is convinced of the righteousness of the measures, but because it sees the country as being under foreign control. People aren’t fighting for the rights they have earned because they know they have nothing to gain from doing so. Those who do participate in protest action do it to express their rage; for most households, the first order of business is to adapt to their new circumstances. Most societies can survive some cutbacks. However, none can survive the violent upheaval of what they see as their constants – jobs, wages and pensions. Right now, all indications are that the recovery plan as it is will entrap the economy in a vicious cycle of a self-perpetuating recession and, despite the soothing rhetoric, the crisis is at risk of evolving into a full-blown market crash. Wages will not suffice to cover basic needs, unemployment rate will rise and the small and medium-sized business community will go bankrupt. This is the first time since World War II that the survival of the entire middle class – the stratum of society that holds up its structures – is under threat. Society’s ability to survive rests mainly on the middle class’s ability to do so, and the social balance is becoming very shaky. Subdued protest should be more a cause for concern than comfort. If social despair does reach a critical mass, the explosion will be massive and the temporary residents of the Maximos Mansion should best remind themselves that when the donkey got used to not being fed, it simply died.