The country of Greece is in catastrophic economic chaos due to a history of irresponsible spending. This is where the U.S. will be in few years unless drastic changes are made. The question is no longer if, but when. At some point, there will no longer be any low-interest credit available to continue letting Santa Claus run the U.S.; the interest owed on existing debt will exceed tax revenues.
We can get a feel for what will happen to us by looking at Greece. When Greece reached that point six years ago, the Greek government was forced to impose painful austerity measures, with little success, in order to try and rein in the spending.
Living conditions in Greece have become shocking. Greece's universal coverage health insurance, which no doubt was a significant contributing factor to the overspending, is now utterly unaffordable, so the country is relying on volunteer doctors and medical personnel to work for free. It is estimated that 100,000 children are working – illegally – just to help their families get by. It is reported that 70,000 children dropped out of school in 2012 to do so.
In June, the prime minister shut down the state-owned public radio and television broadcasting corporation, ERT, in order to block criticism of the austerity measures. By 2010, the government was still spending 12% more than it was bringing in from revenues. An emergency property tax was implemented and collected through electric bills. In 2011, a “solidarity levy” was levied twice on households. Excise taxes were increased by one-third on fuel, cigarettes and alcohol. 1,978 schools were closed or merged.
Unemployment continues to rise, and is now over 27% – that's one out of every four workers. Unemployment is above 60% for those age 25 and under. The restaurant sales tax increased to 23%, and only recently did the government agree to reduce it to 13%. The number of homeless people has increased from 7,720 to over 20,000. Almost one quarter of Greek workers and pensioners are living below the poverty line.
25,000 government employees will have their wages cut by the end of the year, and their jobs eliminated next year. This is a massive number of employees, considering the population of Greece is only 11 million. Government employee pensions were cut last year by 12% for all but the smallest pensions, and in 2011, public sector wages were cut by 20 to 30%.
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