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The X euros generation
by Thanos Kalamidas
2008-03-23 10:38:14
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What happens when a known politician jokes about something really serious and when the bitter truth is behind the joke? But let me start with the facts; Berlusconi, my favourite European clown …sorry politician I wanted to say, while on a televised press conference, was asked by a female student how she would survive all this financial insecurity that has spread across Italy in the last few years.

It was a logical question that expected some kind of propositions and ideas, but the magician brought something else unexpected out of his hat. He said that the best advice he could think of for her was to find a rich boy, like his son, and marry him! Adding in the end that with a beautiful smile like hers she should have no trouble at all!

I know, most of you think that I’m angry with a sexist comment like that and I will spend the rest of the page talking about it but somehow I’m not surprised of the sexist side of the man, after all he has said and done much worse than this. After all, the young woman, after Berlusconi’s show, said that she thought it was a clever answer and it proved that even the rich have humour!

Ok, this is the part I started getting angry and I’m not angry with Berlusconi but with the young lady who didn’t understand that this man, this rich man who surprised her by having humour, is a candidate for the seat of the prime minister and the person who will be responsible for her well-being over the next few years. This is the same man who screwed her future a few years ago and the very same man who is partly responsible for Italy’s economic situation and all that protected by his riches.

However, still what made me angrier is that the man said probably for the first time the truth; the first time for all his political life! There is a new generation, the young people between twenty and thirty that can barely survive and the only thing they can do is fight day after day, the generation of the 1,000 euros in Europe. This 1,000 varies from country to country but it is the money they get working sometimes ten and twelve hours a day when they have work, getting money that cannot cover basics and this is why you see once more the phenomenon of thirty-year-olds still leaving with their parents. The internet and the blogs are full of those kids who want to live, want to have fun and they cannot have anything with their limited income.

When I was young, education was very important and a degree gave you the key to a life with dignity, nowadays a degree is the ticket to unemployment and the best solution for these kids really is a rich spouse! I heard the same thing not only once but a few times from young people and I heard it in Greece, I heard it in Finland and I heard it in France. But who is responsible for this, isn’t it people like Berlusconi, like Sarkozy, like Blair? The very same people who ask their vote, promising what? Something they cannot give because they are the ones who are responsible for the end of the period where employment meant something, where welfare state meant something.

It is illegal to work more than eight hours a day and the employee should be paid overtime, do you think it happens? Whoever believes that has delusions. The bigger percent of the young people nowadays work overtime and they get paid less than they did proportionally a few years ago. Unemployment is waiting around the corner and 10% unemployment as it is for the most European countries, is high especially when it mainly hits young people.

Silvio for the first time in his political life said the truth, the future for the young lady looks really dark and this is not only in Italy but for the whole Europe if the states don’t do something radical. For these kids the ‘who you are’ is dead, what counts is ‘who you know.’ The only chance they have to escape their destiny is to marry rich as Berlusconi’s son!

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Emanuel Paparella2008-03-23 18:29:39
Indeed Thanos, the likes of Berlusconi and other “enlightened” leaders in Europe and America have never heard that meaningful employment is a right within any decent society; the only effective antidote to the dark despair that many young people feel in a society dedicated to profits and greed. An angry man like Lenin had a solution: shoot all the sons of bitches. He actually put the policy into effect following the social theory of another angry man, Karl Marx that suggested that the exploiters of the poor are the real problem of a heartless capitalistic society and wealth had to be more equitably distributed. Distributive justice was a favored subject of the late Pope John Paul II, with meager results. Lenin went to the root of the problem and began with the Czar and his family which included innocent children. We know the rest. It did not work very well and what resulted was hardly a workers’ paradise which had been predicted all along. Pasternark found out on his own skin. Be that as it may, assuming that indeed meaningful employment is a human right within a democracy, one would have to wonder if Andrew William has it on target with his book The EU Human Rights Policy: a Study in Irony. More encompassing than even that is the question in Bernano’s Diary of a Country Priest: is our protestation love of the poor or envy of the rich?

Nunobark2008-03-23 18:47:58
I agree completely with you Thanos Kalamidas, great article. I'm a 27 year old unemployed with a degree and I live in Portugal. I can really relate to what you say. You talk about 1000 euros, well that is a very good income here in Portugal, it's a rare thing for people of my generation to gain that kind of money working.

Thanos2008-03-23 22:39:18
Emanuel unfortunately it seems that this new generation and the ones to come they have to deal with a world much harder than the one we had to face. At least thirty and forty years ago you could start from nothing and build a future; nowadays they have no chance at all!

My friend Nunobark I’m really sorry, I have friends with kids in this age and relatives in Greece and the media started already talking about the generation of the 700 euros – that’s the average money they make a month – an amount you can do …nothing and this is the age you want to do everything, create a future and have fun (that’s a creative part of the young life). I think what makes it worst is that we cannot see a solution.

Emanuel Paparella2008-03-24 00:54:58
Indeed Thanos and Nunobark, 700 euros per month in some parts of the third world would allow one to live like a king. Plato said it best perhaps some 24 centuries ago: poverty has nothing to do with how much or how little one has but how big one's desires are. Madison Avenue knows that much about Plato, if nothing else. On the other hand, Aristotle too had a point when he reminded us in his Nicomechean Ethics, later echoed by Marx, that there are minimum needs within human nature (material, intellectual, spiritual needs) that have to be met and harmonized or human nature is degraded. I suppose, the problem begins when those minimum needs are not met or one or the other is ephasized at the expense of the others. The young lady who naively laughed at Berlusconi's cynical answer is probably one of those who is envious of Berlusconi's material wealth. If she had considered for a moment his intellectual, spiritual and ethical destitution, she might have not have been disposed to laugh so readily.

Eva2008-03-24 01:06:42
And so who "earns their living"? What is your point, Thanos?

Thanos2008-03-24 04:02:38
Unfortunately the ones who make the rules Eva, in Finland the Director General of the Confederation of Finnish Industries Leif Fagernäs said that the unemployment benefit is too high and lasts too long! How does he know? He only thinks that the employers pay too much; screw the over 45 because is ...too old, screw the young because has ...no experience!

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