Sunday, June 13, 2010

Meet Olga Stefou, a Perfect Symbol of Greece's Downfall

The Los Angeles Times has a story that provides an inside look at the attitudes that have contributed to Greece's fiscal collapse. Let's start with Olga Stefou, who is a good (or bad) symbol for her nation's downfall. She protests in favor of bigger government, naively asserting that the budget shortfall can be solved by pulling 122 troops out of Afghanistan and taxing the Orthodox Church. Olga's entitlement mentality is not unusual. The story also notes that young Greek women think a government job is the most desirable thing in a potential mate. At the risk of being politically incorrect, the people of Greece (at least the ones in the moocher class) deserve a miserable future.

Olga Stefou is 20. She speaks passable English and studies political science. These days she goes into the streets to shout slogans against the government and the International Monetary Fund. She has no choice, she says: She believes that upon graduation she'll be lucky to land a job that pays $500 a month. "I'll be forced to live with my parents and work three jobs," she said, pausing among the throngs trickling into the street as a recent demonstration got underway. "I'll be doomed to a fate I haven't chosen. This is the state of my generation." Stefou believes that the government is bound to respond to her discontent. And she has suggestions: Greece should make up its budget shortfall by pulling its 122 troops from Afghanistan and levying steep taxes on the Orthodox Church rather than squeezing the workers, she says. The government is "in some way afraid of us," Stefou said with a shrug. "There are too many of us." A hot spring night was creeping over Athens. Thousands of demonstrators packed the street; many of them looked to be about Stefou's age. They marched in a slow circle down Stadiou Street to Parliament and then back again, yelling slogans: "Down with the junta of the IMF!" "Euro is here and it makes you poorer!" "Thieves, thieves, banks, stockbrokers and politicians!" ...Last year, Michas did a study of Greek marriage agencies. He found that the top attribute sought by middle-class young women in a potential mate was a job in the civil service or the military. Government service has long been prized because of the elaborate set of benefits attached to the position. "This is the mind-set now," Michas said. "It's a culture of dependency, first on parents, and it becomes a dependency on the state."

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