Οχι

Whatever the actual text of the referendum, the Greek people were voting on “austerity”, and rejected it. Greeks are probably the best-placed in Europe to judge the merits of “austerity”, given that they have suffered its full effects under previous governments.

And apart from the misery for the individual, especially the unemployed, the disabled, the sick, the young and the elderly; the Greeks have seen that “austerity” damages the economy and reduces government income, making it less likely that the government can repay its debts.

NO“Austerity” has little support among economists. In fact, even right-wing economists who previously favoured the idea are now claiming that they were misunderstood, misquoted, never said such a thing. You can’t get more concrete proof of an embarrassing wrong turn than that.

The people who are still plugging “austerity” are right-wing politicians, and, worse, unelected right-wing technocrats, and the idea with Greece was to force an elected government to adopt policies which it knew didn’t work. With the clear evidence of recent Greek history (and the UK: slowest recovery of the largest EU nations) I wonder why they stick to it.

The cynical answer is that “austerity” simply represents a rolling back of the welfare state, that vile communist idea that a country should care for all its people. The right-wingers would prefer that inequality of wealth is maintained and enhanced.

It’s not just fairness that demands that the rich should pay their share. It’s common sense too, if you look to the statistics which show that more equal countries are more successful.

And so with “austerity”. Superficially, it might look attractive to the wealthy and their political cronies, but it doesn’t work, and everyone ends up worse off.

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