Friday, February 15, 2013

A Very Greek Depression

by Kostas Tsapogas

International Herald Tribune

February 14, 2013

Like many Greeks caught in the maelstrom of the economic crisis, my wife and I live a day-to-day existence.

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.

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.

We have been lucky in some ways. Our son, like many young people, has left Greece and found work as a software engineer in Scotland, and we are watching as the country loses a generation of highly skilled university graduates. Our parents, though elderly, are healthy and manage to survive on their pension, which has been cut by almost 50 percent in the last two years. They have offered to share what little they have with us — something common in Greece, where traditional family ties often offset ineffective social welfare programs.


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