Throughout this crisis, nothing has convinced me that massive cuts to government spending (instead of say, raising taxes, or just making sure people and companies pay their taxes) is a path to growth or recovery. So with the parting gift of austerity, Berlusconi’s departure is bittersweet.
With the Greek PM also announcing that he’ll quit and give way to an interim government, the crisis is claiming more victims. But again, this will do nothing to lessen the immediate pain. Part of giving up day-to-day gains involves giving into pain. The austerity and suffering will continue across Europe for many election cycles. Yet I want more pain.
This recession won’t hurt so sharply if it feels like things are really changing—not tighter red tape, but recognition that short-term gains aren’t worth it, since taxpayers so often are called upon to bear the burden. I hope the revolting downswing will be matched by an upswing revolt. As a masochistic optimist I’ll bear pain in the hopes a more robust system will result. Perhaps the Occupiers will grin and bear the winter cold of their camps with a similar instinct. After months of reading extended metaphors relating to this generation “kicking the can down the road,” I’m ready to chug it and accept the hangover.
It has become mentally exhausting to follow the crisis so closely. Now, the one thing I’ll be paying close attention to is the election manifesto of the liberal opposition in Italy, and the conservative opposition in Greece, to see if they have any plans to fix the fixed system. Better governments and policy might not follow, but different ones will. We surely can’t keeping failing: Europe is too great to fail.