Greek journalist Kostas Tsapogas, who used to work at the newspaper Eleftherotypial before being fired – after he went unpaid for months while the company’s owners weren’t – told the New York Times how badly the country’s crushing economic crisis and austerity measures are affecting his countrymen.
“Since the newspaper where I worked for 23 years (my wife for 17) went out of circulation in December of 2011, we have both been unemployed. Neither of us have received a paycheck in 18 months, as our newspaper stopped paying us five months before it closed. With unemployment for journalists at over 30 percent, and the official unemployment rate at 26 percent, our prospects for this year are, shall we say, not terribly favorable.”
It got worse. “Our story is typical of many in Greece, though some are much worse off and some have it better.
But like an overwhelming number of Greeks who are struggling just to get enough food, to keep their homes warm and to maintain a semblance of normalcy, we are fighting to keep our dignity intact and avoid the depression that is enveloping our country,” he wrote.
Tsapogas also wrote about the smog-filled air of Athens at night as Greeks, unable to afford expensive oil because of pay cuts, tax hikes, slashed pensions and big jumps in fees on fuel, have turned to burning wood, construction materials, plastic and whatever else they can find to keep warm while the Parliament building remains heated and lawmakers don’t miss a $10,000 a month check.
The coalition Greek government led by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is imposing another round of austerity measures while letting tax cheats who owe the country more than $70 billion largely go unpunished, and exempting Parliament workers from more pay cuts.