Greece's primary struggle centers around bringing to heel its massive government debt. Steps towards this end have been termed 'austerity measures' by the global media. Multiple steps are under consideration, but perhaps the greatest in magnitude and most controversial is the slashing of benefits and pensions given to the country's current and former workers. Nationwide protests greeted the measures as thousands of unionized labor participants poured into the streets and deemed the austerity measures as unfair or even unnecessary (by those who understand little about how economies work).
Cutting government entitlements in order to prevent economic collapse does not seem protest-worthy. To put another way, protesting against the economic survival of your own nation seems reprehensible and unfathomable. For this reason I cannot accept that the average protester understands that maintaining their benefits, pensions, and jobs will come at the expense of the entire nation's economy and result in Greece expulsion from the EU.
Walker and Galloni rightly point out that Europe has a choice to make. The EU can choose to create a society with broad and generous social safety nets and sacrifice economic growth, or they can cut spending on pensions, benefits, and social programs. The term 'austerity' brings something harsh to mind, but harsh measures are exactly what walking countries like Greece back from the edge of economic abyss requires. Countries in socialist-leaning Europe will need the willpower to break the back of organized labor.
The following excerpt from Walker and Galloni's article represents the thinking prevalent in many European workers:
Even in France, some erstwhile oppoents of reforms are changing their tune. Julie Coudry became a French household name four years ago when she helped organize huge student protests against a law introducing short-term contracts for young workers, a move the government believed would put unemployed youths to work...Today, the 31-year-old Ms. Coudry runs a nonprofit organization that encourages French corporations to hire more university graduates. Ms. Coudry, while not repudiating her activism, says she realizes that past job protections are untenable. "The state has huge debt, 25% of young people are jobless, and so I am part of a new generation that has decided to take matters into our own hands," she says. "We've decided that we can't expect everything from the state."
Let's hope America's youth never get to the point where they have to decide that the state isn't their provider.