14.12.08

AMERIKA, DU HAST ES BESSER. Greece is full of disaffected youth.
Few of the dozen people interviewed in Athens, walking to and from work or at the protests, said they had a permanent job or a job that guaranteed a pension. Many older spectators said they had sympathy with the young--even if they didn't like the ruin left behind. "I feel sorry for the young," said 40-year-old Tsikala Stephania, a public sector worker, who watched students and police trade insults in the street Friday. "They don't see much of a future, and they have to show their wrath in some way." "What Greece is experiencing is a vacuum in values, of ideals--and you have a bad economy," said Dmitrious Atheneus, 45, who works part time in advertising. "You only get ahead here if you have connections. The young see that there is no meritocracy. In America, democracy works. Here, democracy only works for a few." Tear gas, blasted with bone-rattling frequency by police on the street Friday afternoon, was meant to scare the young away. Their bitter fumes had almost no effect. The next generation, it seems, was already choking on a sense of powerlessness. "I can't keep waking up every day not wanting to wake up," the young man wearing the helmet said. "We see how our parents were manipulated by the system and how afraid they were to take chances. ... This is a rage against that kind of decay."
It's not Atlas shrugging, exactly, it's people who don't perceive the opportunity to become Atlas, even if that involves the risk of being looted and mooched from.

There are sympathy riots elsewhere in Europe.
As Europe plunges into recession, unemployment is rising, particularly among the young. Even before the crisis, European youths complained about difficulty finding well-paid jobs -even with a college degree -and many said they felt left out as the continent grew in prosperity.
I'm not familiar enough with the European university system to attribute the disappointment to access-assessment-remediation-retention, although that is a likely place to look.

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