When accessing the media these days there is one theme above any other that seems to haunt us. Austerity! We're bombarded with it. We all have to cut back, we're all in this together. Some have to take a pay cut or a cut in their pension, while others have lost their jobs. Services are being cut: healthcare, benefits, policing; every area of society is to be examined and cuts made where possible. We all have to take it on the chin and pull together as a society, the country's broke and so is Europe. Politicians love to talk about the need to come together and tackle the debt as a society, claiming that nearly everyone is negatively effected by the austerity measures. The problem is, most people see it for what it really is; an attack on the poor and most vulnerable in society.
People who had absolutely no hand in causing this mess are the ones who are truly suffering. But of course, this is nothing new. In times of recession it's usually the case that the poorer and more disadvantaged suffer, while the wealthier and elite segments of society have very little to worry themselves about, except the constant complaining and whining of the majority. It amazes me that instead of raising tax on the wealthy, we're cutting the safety nets from under the poor. I know all the economic arguments that are used to justify lower tax rates on big business. Governments often believe that by implementing high tax rates, they run the risk of discouraging businesses from setting up in their respective countries, especially when other countries can offer a lower rate of tax. I believe this to be a somewhat genuine concern, but it just reflects the general attitude of the worlds wealthy – money and short term gains over people. It does appear that governments are often at the mercy of big business, but they also seem unwilling to challenge the status quo. And why would they, many politicians benefit hugely from their relationships within the business world. Some make massive financial gains whilst still in government, while others are a little more cautious and cash in once their political career is over. That's not to say all politicians are selfish and corrupt. There are many that are trying to change the system from within but find it almost impossible to make any headway, accomplishing only small victories for fairness and equality.
There are signs that people are fighting back, with Francois Hollande and The Socialist Party winning the recent French presidential elections, and the anti-austerity politics of the Syriza party gaining popularity in Greece. Within the Euro-zone it is Greece who is suffering more than most. With massive unemployment and cuts to services such as healthcare, many Greeks have fallen below the poverty line, relying on handouts from NGOs and other charitable organisations. Is it at all surprising that the level of anger among large sections of Greek society is so high? To be told that the cuts will need to go deeper before a bailout can be agreed does not sound like something that would placate your average Greek citizen right now. There's much speculation surrounding the implications of a Greek government that wouldn't accept the bailout conditions that are being proposed, but whatever happens I sincerely hope the people are put first, and not the multinational corporations who are just foaming at the mouth at the thought of buying up state-owned assets on the cheap.
One positive to be taken out of the current climate of austerity – people are uniting and fighting for a fairer and more just system. People have become more aware of social issues and social justice; the more that the inequalities between the rich and poor become apparent, the angrier and more determined the people become. Lets just hope that this wave of discontent can be turned into an ocean of change for the better.