It is not easy being broke. And it is even harder to be the leader of an entire country that is totally broke. Just ask Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou how it feels, as his entire country faces default of epic proportions.
Greece is broke. If they would default and just basically give up, falling into almost 3rd world status immediately, it would hurt the Euro extremely bad. And experts say that it could shake up the global economy even more then it already is.
The Greek PM proposed many budget cutting plans, including laying off a large amount of government workers. This led to massive protests in the streets about the cuts, and Papandreou even had to shake up his internal government due to the unrest that was going on internally. Even they did not want to make budget cuts, even when faced with certain bankruptcy.
With his new government in place and ready to tackle the hardest times in Greek history, well, at least modern day history, he got a vote of confidence on his plan to cut the budget. The vote was 155 to 143 in favor the going forward.
As said earlier, state workers would be laid off. In addition to that, Greece would sell off all of their state owned assets, like roads, banks etc. The European Union has agreed to bail out Greece, due to the effect it could have on the entire world, but is forcing Greece to really make cuts before any money Is given. One of them is to raise $50 billion Euros, or $71 billion USD ASAP through the privatization of the government assets. Also, on June 9, they approved a bill that would cut the government workforce by 150,000. A huge number, but it is unfortunately needed.
Basically, the Greek PM said while it is extremely unpopular, it is needed in order for the country to keep moving forward. If not, things would get much, much worse. There would be widespread poverty and total lawlessness. Riots would ensue and no one would be safe. So, considering the alternative, it was an easier decision.
While it is usually best to listen to the will of the people, especially in an educated country like Greece, this is one time that the government must make the tough choices, as it has an effect on the entire world, not just them. Kudos to the Greek government for making those choices.