Five years ago, Greeks immunised their children; their children were protected from measles, meningitis and polio. It was not true, five years ago, that nearly a third of Greeks weren’t covered by any form of health insurance. Five years ago, unemployment in some districts didn’t approach two-thirds of the working age population.
Five years ago Syriza was a tiny fringe part of the Greek Left.
Five years on, doctors, those that haven’t lost their jobs, have had their wages and pensions reduced by a third. Five years on, Greeks are taking their malnourished children to health charities, for the hospitals have no drugs. Five years on, one Greek man takes his own life every day because of his poverty. Five years on, family break-ups are soaring.
Five years on the Greeks have voted Syriza as their Government.
What has brought about such a change? One word: austerity.
Austerity, peddled as the cure for Greece’s ills has proved worse than the disease itself. Medicine is often hard to swallow but it isn’t supposed to kill the patient. That is what austerity has done to Greece. Austerity is killing Greeks.
The Greeks have now rejected austerity. All of Europe must do likewise.
A financial crisis that began in the United States, that spread across the world, caused by bankers, speculators and city traders is the sickness. Austerity, the medicine prescribed by the very people responsible for the malaise, is killing its victims, while those responsible are now richer than ever before.
The Greeks know this. They were offered the chance to blame the weak, foreigners and immigrants for their problems. Golden Dawn, their version of the BNP or EDL, has been rejected in favour of hope.
Hope comes with new jobs, raising the minimum wage, while collecting all the taxes due from the richest; from those who who have prospered as the rest have suffered.
The price of accepting austerity is never going to be paid by those who caused the problems we all face today. It’s time for us all to become Greek.