Some young Greeks prefer to blame their elders for the mountain of debt that has resulted in Greece, like a wayward child, being placed under the tutelage of the men from the IMF.
“I cannot help but blame my parents a little for what’s happened,” said Achilles Zacharoulis, a 36-year-old cardiologist. “They were here all that time,” he added, referring to the past three decades of mismanagement and fiscal insanity. “But what did they do to stop it?”
Vaggelis Gettos, 24, is just as alarmed at the burden being heaped on the young by austerity measures expected to be announced today, and has pledged to resist them in more protests this week against what he sees as a plot to impoverish Greece.
“We will live much worse than our parents,” he said. “Why should we be made to pay for their mistakes?”
The question of who was to blame and who should pay for the greatest crisis to afflict the single currency was a subject of heated debate, particularly after a leading credit rating agency put the cradle of civilisation in the same category as Azerbaijan by reducing its government bonds to “junk” status.
Economists regard the bloated civil service with its jobs for life and generous pensions as a cancer consuming the country’s resources. The older generation, the experts grimly concur, turned the state into a giant cash machine to be plundered at will.
Even greater social unrest is expected as resentment simmers among poorer families at being told to tighten their belts when wealthy Greeks can protect their fortunes by moving their money abroad, some of it into property bargains in London.
As if in the path of an advancing army, Greeks are hiding their money. In the end, Stefanos, the retired captain, opted like his friends for a safety deposit box. The super rich, for their part, have shifted an estimated â‚¬11 billion to Cyprus and other havens since the start of the year, according to Konstantinos Michalos, president of the Athens chamber of commerce.