Greece’s budget crisis forces Greeks to find new ways to save money in order to make ends meet. In the long run, tougher austerity measures may lead to a new wave of educated emmigrants to the United States from not just Greece, but other westernized, Mediterranean countries that are experiencing budget woes.
I was listening to the BBC World News this morning on the radio while I was on my way into work and heard an interesting piece on what the media is dubbing the ‘Greek Potato Revolution’. As many of you probably know, Greece is facing a huge budget crisis and its government has taken drastic steps to bring its spending under control. For the Greek people this has meant that salaries have been cut 20% – 40% in both the private and public sectors, and the tax rates have increased leaving less disposable income for families to spend on necessary items such as food, clothing, and transportation.
So what have the Greeks done about this? Well, for one they are cutting out the middle man in the food business which has helped slash the overall cost of the products up to 50%. The idea started only a few weeks ago but has become so popular, with hundreds of Greeks queuing up in some places at a time, that the idea is spreading across the country and is now reaching the capital Athens. It is a bit shocking to see such a thing as this is a westernized, European Union country, and it is reminiscent for older Greeks of some of the food lines that were encountered after World War II.
The last part of the article brings up another important question: Will we see Greeks leaving their country in large numbers once again? Greece right now is experiencing a sort of ‘brain drain’ in which some of its more educated workers are leaving the country for other countries, particularly those in the EU, where they can earn a much higher salary. Here in the United States, we have not seen a large wave of Greek immigrants come through since the 1970′s where cities such as New York, Boston, and Chicago saw large, flourishing communities. I almost wonder if the economic crisis in Greece will spark another wave of Greek immigrants to come to the United States for the first time in four decades. If so, those who settle here will most likely be highly skilled this time around and already possess a fair level of the English language. However, how are American employers going to handle an influx of workers from a Mediterranean culture? Would this present an integration problem for them since American and Greek cultures vary in many different ways?
Te chances of this happening are slimmer given that Greece is a European Union member country which allows its citizens to easily emmigrate to another member country and seek employment compared to the United States. However, many thousands may still seek work here, resettling with family members who arrives in decades past. Is the American workforce and society in general ready for a new wave of westernized immigrants? Right now it could only be the Greeks, but in the next few years could we see Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese immigrants coming to American shores once again in search of work as their economies continue to falter?
Please leave your comments on what you think could happen if the situation in Greece and the other Mediterranean countries worsens. Do you already see signs of it here or in your home country?
If you are interested in reading the original article by the BBC, please click here.