Yesterday the world witnessed a new and more severe outbreak of violence in Greece. Youths and union members clashed with police in a riot complete with tear gas, flash grenades, molotov cocktails, and tens of thousands of protestors.
What, exactly, were they rioting about? The answer is actually quite simple. They don't like the austerity being imposed on them by a government desperately seeking to find some sort of fiscal discipine, something to which neither the government nor the public sector workers are accustomed.
The people rioting were largely the government empolyees who face pay cuts amidst the new austerity measures, and leftist union members who insist on keeping collective bargaining power. Their grafitti read, "Eat the Rich!"
The nation of Greece has been living beyond its means for some time now. The government workers, like those in the US, have enjoyed above average salaries, short work weeks, and bloated pensions, all at the expense of the private sector which must bear the burden. The country itself funds this excess at the expense of the more productive Eurozone countries. But this has gone on so long that the people now feel entitled to their lifestyle. They firmly believe that their plunder of the productive sector of society is justified, and that they have a right to eat the fruits of the labor of others.
When socialism is entrenched for long periods of time, people become accustomed to living off of other peoples' money. When it taken away they feel cheated and angry. Angry enough to riot.
So now we witness the public spectacle of government workers rioting with the police, who are also government workers, over not getting a bigger slice of the pie. They apparently are not stopping to think about the fact that the whole pie was completely consumed years ago, and the only pieces now remaining are being purchased with borrowed money.
Amidst their riots, they burn cars and damage buildings. They apparently are not stopping to think that destroying goods and infrastructure cannot possibly make their country more wealthy.
These people are not simply reacting to some difficult economic conditions that have been mysteriously thrust upon them. They are reacting to a problem of their own making. Wanting to eat without working, they elected leaders who would grant them more luxury at less cost. Now that the bill is due, they refuse to pay.
Socialism is not simply bad economic policy. It wreaks destruction on the soul of the country. The real harm is not simply to the people's wallets, but to their culture and their humanity. This is real tragedy in Greece, and it is also playing out in other European countries, and in America. Solzhenitsyn said that it would take 100 years for Russia to recover from communism. We can hope and pray that Europe and America can recover more quickly from the indurate leftism that has so effectively penetrated the western world.