The Law of Diminishing Returns states that a continuing push towards a given goal tends to decline in effectiveness after a certain amount of effort has been expended. If this weren't the case, Usain Bolt would be able to run the mile in less than 2-1/2 minutes.
From an economic standpoint, this law now seems to be fully in force in Greece. The latest jobs figures from the twice-bailed out euro zone country paint a bleak numerical picture of the impact of unrelenting austerity in ordinary Greeks, regardless of whether it was self-inflicted or not. To wit:
More than one in five Greeks is unemployed.
There are more young people without a job than with one.
The record 1.08 million people without work in January was a 47 percent tumble in a year.
Putting aside for the moment the question of what such a condition means for political dissent, there is now the issue of whether any of this austerity-fueled pain is actually helping the Greek economy.
Austerity mixed with the inability of euro-tied Greece to devalue its currency means Greece is now in its fifth year of recession. As for job-creating small and medium -sized businesses, the latest projections are that more than a net 130,000 of them will have shut down over two years by the time 2012 is over.