Pittsburgh Post Gazette:
Opinion: By Bradley W. Bateman
Week before last I had the good fortune to travel to Athens, Greece. I have lived and worked in Europe, but I had never been to Greece. So when I was given the chance to travel to a conference in Athens, I gladly accepted. I wanted to see the ancient ruins in Athens and experience the brilliant Mediterranean sunlight. I also wanted to see how the country was dealing with its economic crisis.
Greece, of course, has been at the center of the news in recent months as it struggles with a terrible debt crisis that threatens to break up the eurozone and send the world economy into another crisis. The country had been forced to hold its second national elections in two months the weekend before I arrived because the inconclusive results of the first election had made it impossible to form a new government.
The source of the political instability in Greece is the austerity being forced on it by other countries in Europe. They have lent Greece money to help pay its debts and, in return, they have demanded that the Greek government cut spending and raise taxes. The reasoning is obvious: "If you have borrowed more money than you can pay back, then you need to cut your spending and raise more revenue. We aren't going to help you unless you stop doing the things that caused the problem."
But austerity has been wildly unpopular, which is understandable, given that the economy has been shrinking. Greece has been in recession for five years, so the latest spending cuts and tax increases have been particularly painful.