(ATHENS, Greece) -- Greek demonstrators ran amuck through Athens on Sunday after Parliament passed unprecedented austerity measures to keep the country's government from default.
By a vote of 199-74, the members voted in favor of the plan that frees up $170 billion in bailout money from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Sunday's vote followed Prime Minister Lucas Papademos exhorting lawmakers to look at both sides of the issue and make the tough decision to avoid bankruptcy, or otherwise send the world economy into another recession since nearly all the money Greece has operated on for decades has came from foreign sources.
With the new austerity, Papademos also acknowledged the pain of the Greek people and the plan that "calls for sacrifices from a broad range of citizens who have already made sacrifices."
As lawmakers made their tough choice, Athens burned with thousands taking to the street to vandalize or loot stores and businesses. Many feel that life as they have known it will change forever as half the workers are employed by the government, receiving a pension of 95 percent of their salary upon retirement.
The trio of foreign lenders is also making huge sacrifices to keep Greece propped up, writing off 70 percent of what Greece owes European banks in exchange for the government imposing higher taxes and deep cuts in social services.
Among the reductions Greeks can expect is the minimum wage slashed from 750 Euros to 500 Euros a month. Unemployment, currently at 20 percent, can expect to rise with planned layoffs in the civil servants sector.
If Greece defaults on its debts, which are owned by European banks, it would cause a recession, making it far more difficult to get loans. It would also limit U.S. exports, which would also affect the American economy.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio