Everyday the only thing we hear about on television is how the economy worsens, how EU or other high-ranking officials are calling for more measures, how another austerity package is to be adopted, how spreads rise, stocks fall and credit rating agencies downgrade one economy after another. To an ordinary citizen none of this makes sense. About a year ago, it is doubtful whether people knew what a spread is, or that credit rating agencies even existed. And now, this has become part of our daily lives, of our everyday news and most of all, of our most dreaded fears and concerns. “What if this gets worse, how will I be able to pay my bills?” – this is the most frequent question the citizen of today is called to answer. Because, given the situation, things don’t seem to be getting any better. Only worse. By the minute. And yet one thing no one seems to be able to answer, or at least answer in a satisfactory way, is how on earth did those elected officials, that earn more money in a month than an entire household earns in a year, manage to get our countries into such a terrible mess? And why is there no better way to get out of it, than depriving citizens of hard-worked money? Of taking away the jobs they worked years to get, the education they spent to get there and the sacrifices they made to create a descent life. And all this, while at the same time, shattering the very dreams they built in the process.
The vision of a European integration was for Europeans to be united as one. And contrary to what it appears, or what Eurosceptics and others seem to think, Europe does work. It does. All of Europe is currently suffering a state of no money, no jobs, and lots of worries. It’s just those high ranking officials at the top – the very same making statements every so often about how bad this crisis is, how it is spreading across the Eurozone like a plague with no remedy, and how further tougher measures need to be taken in response – that seem to be the ones better off. Because a millionaire is still a millionaire, even if he loses a few thousands. But a low-paid worker is on the brink of poverty when he loses a few tens. So does anyone realize that by continuing to cut wages, reduce subsidies, and increase taxes, the ordinary citizen is suffering? How is all that supposed to help exit this crisis? A crisis for which the ordinary citizen is not to blame. Why is it the hard-working shop owner’s fault if the people representing him have abused their power and misused public finances for their own gain? How is it our fault if their dreams have been realized on our expense, leaving absolutely nothing for us? And now, it is our dreams that have been taken away from us, not theirs.
An ancient Chinese curse wished that “we may live in interesting times”. Our times are anything but interesting. And the rapid succession of dramatic events seems to be simply aggravating an already exasperated people that take the streets in their thousands in order to avoid another known saying, that when you stop dreaming, you stop living.
(04 December 2011)