In reaction to fiscal austerity, Greeks have apparently decided on a campaign of grassroots sabotage:
They blockade highway toll booths to give drivers free passage. They cover subway ticket machines with plastic bags so commuters can't pay. Even doctors are joining in, preventing patients from paying fees at state hospitals.
Some call it civil disobedience. Others a freeloading spirit. Either way, Greece's "I Won't Pay" movement has sparked heated debate in a nation reeling from a debt crisis that's forced the government to take drastic austerity measures -- including higher taxes, wage and pension cuts, and price spikes in public services.
What started as a small pressure group of residents outside Athens angered by higher highway tolls has grown into a movement affecting ever more sectors of society -- one that many say is being hijacked by left-wing parties keen to ride popular discontent.
A rash of political scandals in recent years, including a dubious land swap deal with a rich monastery and alleged bribes in state contracts -- has fueled the rebellious mood.
At dawn last Friday, about 100 bleary-eyed activists from a Communist Party-backed labor union covered ticket machines with plastic bags at Athens metro stations, preventing passengers from paying their fares, to protest public transport ticket price hikes.
Other activists have taped up ticket machines on buses and trams. And thousands of people simply don't bother validating their public transport tickets when they take the subway or the bus
"The people have paid already through their taxes, so they should be able to travel for free," said Konstantinos Thimianos, 36, an activist standing at the metro picket line in central Syntagma Square.
This is not really novel, of course; it's just a slightly more flamboyant variant on the tax-dodging and corruption which has for years characterized the interaction of Greeks with their government. Which goes to show, I think, the folly of adding countries like Greece to the euro.
This article available online at: