What did Einstein say about trying the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?
So it goes with Greece: round after round of savage spending cuts have not solved the country's financial crisis and have instead made its citizens' lives more difficult. In the newest phase of this cycle, the Greek government must cut €11.5bn of spending before receiving its next €31bn of European bailout funds.
That's a tough spot for a government to be in: heap more misery on the country's shrinking middle and growing lower class, or face bankruptcy in weeks.
Centre-right prime minister Antonis Samaras has chosen the path of more austerity, and in an entirely anticipated response, trade unions led a general strike today, and tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Athens and Thessaloniki. Schools, hospitals and government services were shut for the first time since February. In Syntagma Square police and anarchists exchanged Molotov cocktails and tear gas.
The crazy thing is that the troika charged with stewarding Greece's finances (the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF) knows that the cuts will not solve the country's debt crisis: IMF chief Christine Lagarde has said so herself. But the course does not change – Greece is saved from bankruptcy but forced to cut (and privatise national holdings).
The country clearly needs to build a firmer economic base and overhaul its tax system, but these ratcheted cuts – this time to pensions via retirement age minimums – are not the answer. They cruelly and disproportionately affect the country's struggling workers (and out-of-workers).
Meanwhile the European "rescue" continues, inspired by an ideological faith in austerity and reckless dismissal of the possible power of stimulus to get the choking economy moving again. Innovative changes are urgently needed here before this one step forward, one step back insanity extends into another year.
Read more: How to save Greece? Here are a few different views: billionaire financier George Soros points to Germany; Businessweek pitches a Latin American style recovery; and the Guardian explores the nuclear option of how Greece could leave the euro.
Sources: Quotations Page, BBC, Ekathimerini, RT, YouTube, Business Week, Guardian