Oh the joys of austerity. In Greece things are finally warming up, even as the weather is cooling off, and vacation bills come due. Don't expect to see any live footage on CNBC, as Waddell & Reed may be forced to sell 10 ES contracts and wipe out the entire market, but back in Athens things are right about where we left them off on May 6: Greek civil servants have stopped work
for 24 hours, "pushing ahead with protests against
EU/IMF prescribed austerity measures despite a waning turnout." Reuters reports: "Tax offices, public schools and some public services shut
down, while public hospitals worked with emergency staff.
Flights to and from Greek airports were to be grounded for four
hours up to 1600 GMT, when air traffic controllers joined the
action." For the sake of keeping the ponzi alive, we hope at least Fed helicopters are allowed to make emergency landings in the general area of the Acropolis, or to at least paradrop buckets full of green colored linen to keep the peasantry content for a few more weeks.
Civil servants have been particularly hit, with wages cut by an average of 15 percent, in addition to tax hikes and a pension freeze agreed to help restore the country's finances in return for a 110 billion euro ($154 billion) EU/IMF bailout.
"Thank God I don't have a family. I'd be in great trouble. They've slashed my salary by 20 percent," said Christos Kourniotis, 44, a public school teacher marching in Athens. "We can't go on like this."
But fewer than 3,000 people turned out at a peaceful protest march, chanting "Thieves" and "Crooks" and holding banners reading "Tax the rich" and "No sacrifices for the IMF" -- a far smaller crowd than in similar demonstrations this summer.
A pension reform protest in July drew 12,000 people, already a drop from the 50,000 who took to the streets on May 5.
Public and private sector unions have staged six general strikes this year, but their failure to change the government's course has discouraged protestors. Many Greeks have also been put off by the deaths of three people at a violent protest march in May.
This being Greece of course, some have taken a unique twist on striking: they are protesting the protest itself:
"I can't blame those who don't take to the streets any more," 18-year-old protester Danae Burnu said. "They think: I shouted, I protested, so what? What happened? Sometimes you can't save yourself and the world at the same time, and they lose money when they strike."
In other words, learned helplessness defined. Next up: just line up and take you bullet.
Yet there are still those who continue find it in them (not Americans) to take on the government:
But civil servants will not back down, said their union, which represents half a million workers. "We will keep protesting, demanding that the new budget does not include any further salary cuts," said Ilias Iliopoulos, general secretary of public sector union ADEDY.
And here is the only picture of today's festivities we could find - apparently the photographers are also striking. If the parliament is stormed, we will bring you a live feed, in lieu of CNBC.