An audio interview with Burgi is available here. Burgi claims that both individually and collectively Greeks are unable to cope with what is happening in the country due to austerity measures. The welfare state is quickly being dismantled with nothing to replace it. Right across Greece Burgi claims people say:"Who knows what tomorrow will bring?". A small business owner laments: "There have always been difficult times, and we always made it through. But now, all hope has been taken from us,.""
The Greek bureaucracy is burdened with new regulations and is unable to cope. One hapless citizen had to pay 200 Euros and present 13 papers and proof of his identity just to renew his driver's licence ! There has been a large increase in theft and even murders with the police often refusing to respond to calls.
While some salaries are falling by 35 to 40 per cent new taxes are being imposed. Net incomes have often fallen by 50 per cent or even more.
Since the beginning of November both pensioners and public and private employees often cannot anticipate what their monthly earnings will be . Many even go without pay. Between now and 2015, 120,00 public employees over age 53 are slated for semi=retirement. They will receive only 60 per cent of their base pay.
With lost income bills are not paid and consumption is down. Stores are closing throughout the country and unemploymennt is rising. Last May the rate was 16.6 per cent and among the young 40 per cent.
The national health-care system is in crisis as hospital and public health care centre budgets have been cut by 40 per cent. According to unofficial figures the suicide rate has risen 25 per cent from 2009 to 2010 and a further 40 per cent during 2011. The medical journal The Lancet reports increases in prostitution and rates of infection of sexually transmitted diseases. There are now unprecedented numbers of homeless. Sotris Lainas a psychologist at Aristotle University in Salonika said that existing safety nets are tearing and"Everything is falling apart," For much more detail about the horrendous effects of the austerity measures on Greeks see the full article.
Noëlle Burgi, a specialist in French and European social and employment policy, is a senior researcher in sociology and political science at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), a member of the Sorbonne's Centre for Political Research, and a consultant. She has worked in the UK with the London School of Economics and the University of Essex, as well as in the US with Harvard's Center for European Studies.