This morning the Wall Street Journal featured an article about a Greek graphic designer who previously worked in Athens, and has been unable to find work for the last two years. He is returning to his birthplace to survive on what he can cultivate from his family’s small bit of land.
This individual calls himself “Nouveau poor”, but doesn’t know how lucky he is. In many parts of the world people that left the land for illusions of prosperity fueled by debt, don’t have land to return to. Many families sold the land previously owned for generations and now their descendants have nowhere to go but endure hardship in decaying cities. In some parts of the World much of this previously fertile land is no longer available.
The title of the article “For Greeks, Crisis Reverses a Generation of Progress”. What progress? The progress that is being reversed in this case is someone who worked “making slick packaging for multinational drug companies” having to return to “gathering firewood, tending chickens and preparing for the olive harvest in this hillside village in southwestern Greece.”
We obviously look down on a lifestyle where people work on the land and produce something tangible. Our culture still defines progress as paving over farmland so that malls may be built, enabling more people to consume resources, while producing nothing.
Chances are great that Europe will be caught in depression for the next 10-15 years, while productive land becomes increasingly rare and valuable. Mr. Triantafyllopoulos may not appreciate the opportunity that he has today, but it is likely that his ancestors will.
Wall Street Journal – For Greeks, Crisis Reverses a Generation of Progress: