Grim scenes from an economy in ruins

I’ve warned many times of the economic turmoil facing us in the not-too-distant future. Just how close that may be is impossible to determine. It’s possible within weeks or months; it’s probable within one to two years; and unless sanity takes hold, and our government expenditure is reined in, and the deficit addressed, it’s damn near certain within five to ten years.

Greece, where the same economic turmoil has dragged the country down into the grip of depression, recession and virtual bankruptcy, is now a living example of the social consequences of this sort of financial collapse. Der Spiegel reports:

The gangs of right-wing thugs, sometimes up to 20 at a time, approach their victims on foot or on mopeds, carrying clubs and knives. They are masked, faceless and fast. They appear suddenly and silently before striking.

The neo-fascists are hunting down immigrants in the middle of downtown Athens, in the streets north of the central Omonia Square. They call it cleansing.

They hunt people like Massoud, a 25-year-old Afghan from Kabul. He has been living in Athens for five years without a residency permit, even though he speaks fluent Greek. He studied geography in Kabul, but in Athens he works as a day laborer.

The gangs also hunt the dark-skinned man pushing a shopping cart filled with garbage and scrap metal through the streets. Or the woman with Asian features, who now grabs her child and the paper cup with which she has just been begging in the streets.

. . .

Here, in the middle of the city, the central issue is no longer the nation’s insolvency but its social bankruptcy. The plaster is crumbling on the polykatoikias, the apartment buildings typical of Athens, and so is civilization. And in the places where poverty and destitution are most clearly evident, hatred is outpacing any desire to help people.

. . .

The situation is untenable, says Kanakis, and the mood becomes increasingly aggressive among both Greeks and immigrants. There is more violence, including muggings and holdup murders. Everyone knows this, even though no one is keeping accurate statistics. Doctors are diagnosing more syphilis and tuberculosis, at levels that haven’t been seen in decades. In 2011, the rate of new HIV infections increased by 1,250 percent over the previous year.

. . .

Many residents feel abandoned by the state, the city and the police. According to a study by the University of Peloponnese, more than 90 percent of shop and tavern owners in the downtown area believe that their neighborhood is “very unsafe.” More than half say that they have already been attacked and robbed. Hotels are closing or hiring security personnel.

There’s more at the link. Where the article speaks of ‘immigrants’, think instead of racial or ethnic differences here in the USA: black, hispanic, Far Eastern and European cultures mingling with the several regional cultures (e.g. Mid-Western, New England, Southern, West Coast, etc.) that make up the people of the United States. Anyone not conforming to the ‘norm’ for a given area, or city, or suburb, may face problems as severe as those outlined in the article above.

If you think that similar patterns of behavior and social breakdown would not be exhibited here if (when) the economy goes pear-shaped, you’re crazy. Go read the whole article, and begin thinking and planning right now for how you’re going to cope when ‘the crazy years’ begin. Some would say they’ve already begun.


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