Austerity, while popular with rightwing pols, can wreak havoc on a society. Greece today is austerity's punching bag.
Austerity inevitably translates into cutbacks in services, even essential services. In Greece this has resulted in a one-year increase in HIV/AIDS infections among IV drug users of 1250%. And the rest of the population isn't getting off easy either as malaria makes a comeback in epidemic proportions.
As the public finds private healthcare increasingly unaffordable, creating a 24% increase in demand for public healthcare, the public healthcare budget has been slashed by 40%. The head of Doctors without Borders, Greece, Reveka Papadopoulos, says the entire health system is rapidly deteriorating.
In Greece and other debt-ridden Euro states, the austerity crackdown is stimulating the rise of extremist left and rightwing movements riding the tide of public unrest.