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“Clausewitzian” Health Care: Austeritywitz in Greece

German Outpatient Clinic

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COMMENT: We have highlighted the ideas of Prussian military theoretician Carl von Clausewitz in many articles. Positing war as the continuation of policy by “other means”, von Clausewitz also saw politics as the continuation of war by other means during the unfolding of what he called “the postwar.”

As the continuation of war by other means continues to unfold in Europe, the lethal nature and consequences of Germany’s “postwar” assumes greater and more horrible dimensions.

(This post should be digested against the background of the German role in precipitating and handling the Greek economic collapse. In addition to consideration of the plans for using a German-dominated European economic union as a vehicle for world conquest, this post should be considered in light of the deliberate role of German banks in creating the crisis. Those banks are, of course, under control of the Bormann capital network and the Underground Reich.)

Having plundered Greece during World War II and also deliberately shirked its duty to tender reparations, Germany is using the EU and EMU to generate profit for its medical establishment, while forcing deadly medical and social reality on the Greek people.

(NEVER forget that this is the fate that awaits the American people, should the Nazified GOP regain control of the government. When we say the Republicans are Nazis, this is NOT a rhetorical flourish or hyperbole. After drastic budget cutting, which will precipitate a deflationary spiral, Medicare and Medicaid will be gutted, leading to “kinder, gentler” extermination. The so-called “progressive” sector is doing its part, sanctioning euthanasia–public health care of the future if the GOP can get back into power.)

Consider how German policy is, literally, war by other means. There is no need for firing squads, anti-partisan units or death camps when one can implement what Germany is doing:

  • Greece is experiencing a 40% increase in infant mortality!
  • Note that, even as Greece is forced to slash the health care expenditures for its people in accordance with “guidelines” for budgetary austerity, Germany has exceeded those very same guidelines! “According to the stipulations handed down by the Troika, Greece’s health expenditures should not surpass six percent of the country’s gross national product – in Germany these expenditures were at 11.3 percent in 2011.”
  • The slashing of Greek health care can only accelerate as the country’s GDP recedes in a classic deflationary spiral, with catastrophic results for the Greek people. 
  • Eventually, the new “Knauer case” that is unfolding in the EU will provide the “solution”–and a final solution it will be–to the problem of insufficient health care. This solution will be “Austeritywitz.”
  • We have also noted that Germany mandated the installation of the fascist LAOS party as part of the Greek provisional government in 2011. This was done with no input whatsoever from the citizens of Greece–the cradle of democracy!

“Austerity Kills”; german-foreign-policy.com; 7/25/2013.

EXCERPT: The reorganization of the Greece’s health system, under German direction, is advancing. “A final timetable is to be presented in the second half of this year,” declared the German Health Ministry (BMG). The German government sees deficits also in the lack of an “effective cost management,” but most of all in the lack of “competitive elements.” In a “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU), the BMG and the Task Force for Greece (TFGR) have reached an agreement with the Greek government on the introduction of the highly criticized German-modeled so-called case flat-rates. The criticisms stem from the fact that patients are not being treated in response to their medical needs but on the basis of economic efficiency. The massive consequences the austerity measures are having on the public health in Greece are becoming more evident. A growing number of Greek citizens are losing their health insurance, due to unemployment and therefore must pay medical costs themselves. The shortage of medical aid, for example, has caused an increase of 40 percent in the child mortality rate since 2009. Diseases such as malaria or AIDS are spreading more rapidly. The German government continues to insist on its austerity course in spite of these ramifications.

Within the framework of the EU austerity dictates, Germany took the lead in the reorganization of the Greek health system back in March 2010. “The German Ministry of Health is in support of the Greek government’s measures to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of long-term health care, by substantial and effective transformations in the organization of its health system,” declared the State Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Stefan Kapferer in February 2011, on the occasion of the signing of the corresponding “Declaration of Intent.”[1] The concrete measures had been specified by the German Ministry of Health and the Task Force for Greece (TFGR) in the April 2012 “Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU) with the Greek government. These measures include the introduction of case flat-rates, a change in hospital management structures, the reorganization of the National Organization for Healthcare Provision insurance (EOPYY) and new pricing models for medicine. The German GIZ development aid agency was given the responsibility of the final elaboration of these plans, which thereby opens “new markets in industrialized countries.” .. . .

. . . . These proposed transformations are being implemented within the framework of the austerity measures being enforced by Berlin. According to the stipulations handed down by the Troika, Greece’s health expenditures should not surpass six percent of the country’s gross national product – in Germany these expenditures were at 11.3 percent in 2011. Since, as a result of the austerity policy imposed on that country, the Greek GNP has been on the decline for years, the expenditures for the health system are sinking drastically. By 2012, these expenditures were reduced to around 9.5 billion Euros, from 14 billion Euros in 2009.[5] The Greek government has already shut down 46 of its 130 hospitals and cut the budget by 40 percent for those remaining. This has added thousands more to the unemployed created by the devastation of the health sector. . . .

. . . . Dr. Giorgos Vichas, speaks of a “humanitarian crisis.”[7] Since 2008, the child mortality rate has risen by 40 percent. The number of HIV positive drug users has risen from 10 – 15 in 2007 to 314 in the first eight months of 2012 alone – mainly due to the drastic cutbacks in preventive programs. Malaria and tuberculosis, the West Nile and dengue fevers are continuing to spread. . . .

. . . . “The interaction between austerity policy, economic shock treatments and deficient social protective measures seems to ultimately lead to an escalation of the health and social crises in Europe,” concluded a study by several scholars published in the renowned “The Lancet” medical journal,[8] Epidemiologists, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu drew the same conclusion in their book “The Body Economic – Why Austerity Kills.” . . .


7 comments for ““Clausewitzian” Health Care: Austeritywitz in Greece”

  1. Here’s an absolutely stunning article, too long to fit here but seems to be in “The extermination category”:

    Tea Party and the Right
    AlterNet / By Max Blumenthal

    Shocking ‘Extermination’ Fantasies By the People Running America’s Empire on Full Display at Aspen Summit


    July 25, 2013
    Seated on a stool before an audience packed with spooks, lawmakers, lawyers and mercenaries, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer introduced recently retired CENTCOM chief General James Mattis. “I’ve worked with him and I’ve worked with his predecessors,” Blitzer said of Mattis. “I know how hard it is to run an operation like this.”

    Reminding the crowd that CENTCOM is “really, really important,” Blitzer urged them to celebrate Mattis: “Let’s give the general a round of applause.”

    Following the gales of cheering that resounded from the room, Mattis, the gruff 40-year Marine veteran who once volunteered his opinion that “it’s fun to shoot some people,” outlined the challenge ahead. The “war on terror” that began on 9/11 has no discernable end, he said, likening it to the “the constant skirmishing between [the US cavalry] and the Indians” during the genocidal Indian Wars of the 19th century.

    “The skirmishing will go on likely for a generation,” Mattis declared.

    Mattis’ remarks, made beside a cable news personality who acted more like a sidekick than a journalist, set the tone for the entire 2013 Aspen Security Forum this July. A project of the Aspen Institute, the Security Forum brought together the key figures behind America’s vast national security state, from military chieftains like Mattis to embattled National Security Agency Chief General Keith Alexander to top FBI and CIA officials, along with the bookish functionaries attempting to establish legal groundwork for expanding the war on terror.
    CNN sponsored the forum through a special new website called CNN Security Clearance, promoting the event through Twitter and specially commissioned op-eds from participating national security figures like former CIA director John McLaughlin.

    Another forum sponsor was Academi, the private mercenary corporation formerly known as Blackwater. In fact, Academi is Blackwater’s third incarnation (it was first renamed “Xe”) since revelations of widespread human rights abuses and possible war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan threw the mercenary firm into full damage control mode. The Aspen Institute did not respond to my questions about whether accepting sponsorship from such an unsavory entity fit within its ethical guidelines.
    ‘Exterminating People’

    John Ashcroft, the former Attorney General who prosecuted the war on terror under the administration of George W. Bush, appeared at Aspen as a board member of Academi. Responding to a question about U.S. over-reliance on the “kinetic” approach of drone strikes and special forces, Ashcroft reminded the audience that the U.S. also likes to torture terror suspects, not just “exterminate” them.

    “It’s not true that we have relied solely on the kinetic option,” Ashcroft insisted. “We wouldn’t have so many detainees if we’d relied on the ability to exterminate people…We’ve had a blended and nuanced approach and for the guy who’s on the other end of a Hellfire missile he doesn’t see that as a nuance.”

    Hearty laughs erupted from the crowd and fellow panelists. With a broad smile on her face, moderator Catherine Herridge of Fox News joked to Ashcroft, “You have a way with words.”
    Competing with Ashcroft for the High Authoritarian prize was former NSA chief Michael Hayden, who emphasized the importance of Obama’s drone assassinations, at least in countries the U.S. has deemed to be Al Qaeda havens. “Here’s the strategic question,” Hayden said. “People in Pakistan? I think that’s very clear. Kill ’em. People in Yemen? The same. Kill ’em.”
    With the revolts blurring the old boundaries imposed on the Arab world during the late colonial era, former CIA director John McLaughlin rose from the audience to call for the U.S. to form a secret, Sikes-Picot-style commission to draw up a new set of borders.

    “The American government should now have such a group asking how we should manage those lines and what should those lines be,” McLaughlin told the panelists, who dismissed the idea of a new Great Game even as they discussed tactics for preserving U.S. dominance in the Middle East.
    ABC’s Chris Isham asked Jim Jeffrey, the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq, why, with a recession on its hands and Middle Eastern societies spiraling out of control, should the U.S. remain militarily involved in the region. Without hesitation, Jeffrey rattled off the reasons: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, and “world oil markets.”
    During a panel on inter-agency coordination of counter-terror efforts, Mike Leiter, the former director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCC), suggested that one of the best means of preserving America’s vast and constantly expanding spying apparatus was “by reinstituting faith among the public in our oversight.”

    Even as current NCC director Matthew Olsen conceded, “There really are limits in how transparent we can be,” Leiter demanded that the government “give the public confidence that there’s oversight.

    Since leaving the NCC, Leiter has become the senior counsel of Palantir Technologies, a private security contractor that conducts espionage on behalf of the FBI, CIA, financial institutions, the LAPD and the NYPD, among others. In 2011, Palantir spearheaded a dirty tricks campaign against critics of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, including journalists, compiling electronic dossiers intended to smear them. Palantir’s target list included progressive groups like Think Progress, SEIU and U.S. Chamber Watch.


    Once again, Palantir…

    My apology if I shoe-horned this into the wrong category.

    Posted by Swamp | July 26, 2013, 8:45 am
  2. Jockying for a “special relationship” with Merkel is now a form of eurozone survivalism. At least, that’s the plan:

    Analysis – Southern Europe’s leaders eager for Merkel, public fearful
    AU Lisbon to Athens just fear more German-ordained austerity.

    Four years into the euro zone debt crisis, people in debt-laden Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal and Cyprus are deeply worried that a third term in power for the conservative German chancellor may only bring them more economic pain.

    The five countries that implemented Merkel’s anti-crisis recipes and cut spending massively in areas such as health and education, have been in or close to recession since 2008. Unemployment tops 27 percent in Spain and Greece.

    Their leaders, however, disagree with the public view. Confident that Merkel will tone down her budget cutting mantra and accept more burden-sharing within the euro zone, they are positioning themselves as close allies of Europe’s main paymaster.

    “I think we will see a different Mrs Merkel after the elections,” said Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, echoing a view shared by most of his fellow southern European leaders.

    In Greece, where crunch time for plugging a budget gap with a third bailout of the country starts at the end of September, hopes are high that debt issues can finally be sorted out after the German election, maybe through a new debt write-off.

    In Italy and Portugal, policymakers believe Merkel will accept a shift from the emphasis on unpopular austerity to a more balanced model for managing the economic crisis if she wins.

    In Spain, where banks were rescued with 42 billion euros of European money, expectations are that the chancellor will lean towards common euro zone debt issuance and accept a full-fledged banking union, unlocking credit in the recession-hit nation.


    While market turmoil has eased in the euro zone and last year’s massive capital outflows from southern Europe to safe-haven Germany have started to reverse, the underlying problems are far from resolved.

    The correction pace of imbalances in the European Central Bank’s Target 2 cross-border payments system, a key indicator of financial stress within the single currency zone used by ECB President Mario Draghi to monitor monetary policy, remains slow.

    Continued German support will be key to keep the fever down.

    Senior government sources in southern European countries insist Merkel has signalled flexibility on these issues in recent private talks. But she has given no public indication of such a U-turn and many in Berlin caution it is highly unlikely to happen, warning against wishful thinking.

    “Many people are waiting for the elections then hope, expect … a change in the German position. This is not what I would expect,” German European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen told Reuters in an interview this month.

    Noting that other countries such as the Netherlands, Finland, Slovakia and Estonia shared Berlin’s doubts, he said: “It’s easy to hide behind Germany… It’s a group of countries, it’s not only Germany.”

    What’s more, a good part of Merkel’s post-election crisis response will depend on which party she needs to team up with to secure a majority.


    Anastasiades, Portugal’s Pedro Passos Coelho, Italy’s Enrico Letta, Spain’s Mariano Rajoy and Greece’s Antonis Samaras share a common appetite for closing ranks behind Merkel as she tops the polls 60 days to the vote.

    Earlier this month, they flocked to Berlin to cheer her at a summit on youth unemployment in Europe which many saw as a mere political show for her campaign.

    Centre-right governments in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus hope to bank on a new political landscape in the European Union after the departure of France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Italy’s Mario Monti, Merkel’s closest allies in the continent.

    New French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Letta, both from the centre-left political family, while working on their relations with Merkel do not enjoy the close ties of their predecessors.

    “Hollande will always be there of course but Germany needs a very strong ally in the south and that should be us,” said a senior Spanish government source who talked to Reuters on condition of anonymity. “No effort should be spared in gaining this place we already enjoyed in the nineties.”

    Rajoy is not alone in pushing this line. Samaras, Passos Coelho and Anastasiades are also jockeying for a “special relationship” with Merkel which they say will help secure their countries better bailout deals.

    Although results have been limited, they intend sticking to their game plan after the September 22 elections.

    “Irrespective of how harsh she was towards us, she is a capable leader both of Germany and of Europe,” Anastasiades said, adding that Merkel’s leadership was behind recent successes by the euro zone in tackling the debt crisis.

    “NAZI, NAZI”

    But while politicians, businessmen and bankers are convinced different winds are blowing in Berlin, ordinary citizens have yet to be persuaded.

    The efforts deployed by Merkel and her finance minister Wolfgang Schauble to support governments in the struggling countries and restore Germany’s damaged public image have had little or no effect so far.

    The dominant feeling remains that Germany was too slow to respond to the debt crisis and when it did, it pursued only national objectives such as indirectly bailing out its banks exposed to southern Europe, and shielding its own taxpayers.

    An anti-Merkel sentiment has grown in these nations as she insisted on austerity policies in return for financial support, adding to historical animosity towards Germany dating back from World War Two.

    “I just hope it’s not true that treating us badly makes her more popular in Germany,” said Teresa Reis, a technology student in Lisbon. “That would mean something is seriously wrong with Germany and Europe. But anyway, we all need better leaders and I hope Germany gets one too.”

    Just keep kissing that ring boys.

    You also have to wonder what, if any, impact statements like this have on the German election because a number of European leaders basically publically asserted that Merkel is blatantly lying to the German electorate on a major issue of the day.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 26, 2013, 9:56 am
  3. getting rid of the Jews was to be just the start. “We are obliged to depopulate. We shall have to develop a technique of depopulation…” THE VOICE OF DESTRUCTION, by Hermann Rauschning. Pages 34 to 38 also see: POPULATION CONTROL UNDER THE NAZIS: A DOCUMENTED HISTORY

    Posted by David | July 27, 2013, 3:41 pm
  4. @David–

    Do examine the most recent post on German Clausewitzian economic policy.

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 27, 2013, 3:47 pm
  5. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-07-25/greeces-unemployed-young-a-great-depression-steals-the-nations-future#r=rss

    Greece’s Unemployed Young: A Great Depression Steals the Nation’s Future

    By Stephan Faris
    July 25, 2013

    Outside an unmarked green metal door in the hallway of a suburban Athens high school, Tina Stratigaki waits for a job interview. It’s a Tuesday in mid-July. Stratigaki, 29, applied for the job as a social worker weeks ago and had taken an hour-long test the Friday before. Based on the list of applicants posted on the wall outside the exam, she estimates there were some 2,000 candidates for 21 open positions. This is the last interview she’s likely to get before Greece shuts down for the summer holidays. Her unemployment benefits—about €360 ($475) a month from her previous job working with disadvantaged women and children—have just run out. “I’m a little bit stressed,” she says.

    Jobs of any kind are scarce in today’s Greece. Nearly six years of deep recession have swept away a quarter of the country’s gross domestic product, the kind of devastation usually seen only in times of war. In a country of 11 million people, the economy lost more than a million jobs as businesses shut their doors or shed staff. Unemployment has reached 27 percent—higher than the U.S. jobless rate during the Great Depression—and is expected to rise to 28 percent next year. Among the young, the figure is twice as high. Meanwhile, cuts to Greece’s bloated public sector are dumping ever more people onto the job market. In July, 25,000 public workers, including teachers, janitors, ministry employees, and municipal police, found out they would face large-scale reshuffling and possible dismissal. An additional 15,000 public workers are slated to lose their jobs by the end of 2014.

    Greece’s jobs crisis is a window into a wider emergency that threatens the future of Europe. Across the continent, a prolonged slump has disproportionately affected the young, with nearly one in four under the age of 25 out of work, according to the European Commission. (In the U.S., youth unemployment is 16.2 percent.) That understates the severity of the situation in Italy and Portugal, where youth unemployment rates have soared above 35 percent; Spain’s is 53.2 percent, the second-highest after Greece, at 55.3 percent. European Union leaders have announced an initiative aimed at guaranteeing that all young people receive a job, apprenticeship, or more education within four months of joining the ranks of the unemployed. Governments have pledged €8 billion over two years to combat unemployment in Europe’s worst-hit countries, and the European Investment Bank is offering €18 billion in loans to encourage hiring by small and midsize businesses.

    Such pledges of help come too late for Greeks like Stratigaki, who are already spending what should be the most productive years of their lives poring over notice boards and alternating long periods of unemployment with all-too-brief periods of work. Absent a rapid and dramatic economic turnaround, an entire generation in Southern Europe faces years, possibly decades, of dependency and disillusionment—with consequences that can’t be measured in economic terms alone. “Our generation has depression,” says Stratigaki. “We are at the best age. We have the power to do everything. And we can’t do anything.”

    Personal happiness can often be measured in the difference between what was expected and what reality delivers. Stratigaki and her peers came of age as Greece seemed set to cement its place in the ranks of the world’s richest countries. The 2004 Summer Olympics were presented to the country and to the world as a coming out party for a nation that had long been seen as one of Western Europe’s stragglers. It didn’t last. The global financial crisis revealed deep corruption in the Greek economy and an unwillingness on the part of its fellow European states to continue to prop it up. Greece quickly turned from success story to pariah. Just when Greeks of Stratigaki’s cohort were looking to launch careers and start families, the floor fell away.

    Patsa makes ends meet working for her ­sister’s startup and with help from her fatherPhotograph by Finn TaylorPatsa makes ends meet working for her ­sister’s startup and with help from her father

    In Athens the crisis isn’t conspicuous. Family networks have kept the majority of the afflicted from landing on the streets. Empty storefronts are common, but so are cafes doing a brisk—if reduced—trade. Time has yet to work its fingers into the cracks and weaknesses of the city’s infrastructure. That said, it’s unusual to walk more than a few blocks in central Athens without encountering a knot of riot police, lounging on a street corner with their plastic shields and body armor. During the week of Stratigaki’s job interview, the trash collectors were on strike, leaving garbage piled around the bins. The local police, facing possible job cuts, were demonstrating, crisscrossing the city center in convoys of cars and motorcycles, sirens blaring.

    Stratigaki’s struggle to find stable employment has lasted more than half a decade. In high school she was the top student in her class. She studied social work at the Democritus University of Thrace in Northern Greece, finishing her studies in 2007. While there, she held down three jobs, waitressing, bartending, and tutoring to supplement what her parents were able to give her.

    Stratigaki’s first job after university was as a bank debt collector in Athens, calling people who owed money on loans or credit cards and haranguing them. She spent eight hours a day being cursed at and insulted; some of her co-workers turned to pills to fight depression. “It was the worst job I have ever done,” she says. Even so, Stratigaki excelled, bringing in payments with a calm and soothing sales pitch. In March 2009 she was finally offered a job in her field, and she leapt at the chance.

    Stratigaki was hired by the municipal government of an Athens suburb to help people find jobs and arrange appointments with counselors and psychologists for individuals and couples. The position was perfect except for one thing: She wasn’t getting paid. When she asked, her bosses would tell her that the funds for her position, which were to come from both the local government and the EU, were tied up in red tape.

    Desperate for the work experience, she stuck it out. She’d moved back in with her parents and worked nights tutoring students in ancient Greek and philosophy. After 13 months on the job she arrived at the office one day to find a letter telling her she was being fired. She hadn’t received payment for a single hour of work. “The crisis had begun,” she says. This time she was unemployed for more than a year.
    In June 2011 she was hired to answer phones at a travel agency, using her French and English to handle calls from abroad. She worked there for six months before finding another job in social work—this time in a government center, working with women and children who were homeless, unemployed, or victims of trafficking. That job, like many in Greece these days, was given to her on a one-year contract. When it expired at the beginning of 2013, it wasn’t renewed.

    Since then, Stratigaki has been out of work. She’s living on help from her parents, on her unemployment insurance, and on a partial payment of the money she says the municipality owes her, which she obtained after hiring a lawyer. Her mother has been unemployed since 2011, when she lost her government job. Her father is a clerk at a shipping company. Her brother, 25, studied nursing but works as a handyman, fixing air conditioners and installing car alarms and radios, pulling in about €200 a month.

    Shortly after her government contract expired, Stratigaki tried to go back to her job at the travel agency, but there were no positions available. “I feel horrible,” she says. “I sit with my computer, searching, searching, searching.”

    Studies of joblessness in the U.S. and Japan have shown that extended periods of unemployment in the early years of a worker’s career can depress earnings for decades. Nikos Kotsalos, 33, has been unemployed since November 2011, when he lost his back-office job at the national postal service. Until then he had never been without a job for more than a few months. In September he expects to finish an undergraduate degree in physics from the National University of Athens—a credential that’s barely sufficient to get an entry-level job. (To cite one example, the government recently announced it will be laying off all university security guards, except those with a master’s degree or a Ph.D.) “Sometimes we are angry. Sometimes we are sad,” says Kotsalos. “I’m 33. It’s not normal that I live with my parents. My father, when he was 33, he already had two children.”

    Out of work since late 2011, Kotsalos will soon finish a degree in physics—which may not help land a job­Photograph by Finn TaylorOut of work since late 2011, Kotsalos will soon finish a degree in physics—which may not help land a job

    For young Greek adults, the sense that their lives have been put on hold is palpable. Rare is the conversation that ends on a happy note. “It’s not only a financial crisis,” says Marianina Patsa, a 34-year-old Athens resident. “It also has a severe psychological impact. People feel like they’re losers.” Patsa, a successful freelance journalist before the crisis, watched her work slip away in the months following the crash. She now works in a media startup her sister co-founded called Doc TV, earning about €350 a month. “All the rest of the bills go to my dad,” says Patsa. “If my dad wasn’t around, I wouldn’t be around.”

    Many are already gone. A study by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki last spring found that 120,000 professionals with advanced degrees had left the country since 2010. When young Greeks talk about another country, they might mention its weather, its culture, or its language. Almost certainly, they’ll note its rate of unemployment. In February, Elena Vourvou, 29, lost her job in the marketing department of a major pharmaceutical company. In June her boyfriend, Nikos Bogdos, 34, was let go from his position in the supply department of a marine electronics company. The two are moving to London, where they’ve been accepted in master’s programs. “We deserve a better future,” says Vourvou. Adds Bogdos: “My country is going to be where there is work. Wherever there is employment, that’s where I’m going to live.”

    Greek society and the education system have done a dismal job preparing citizens to compete in a globalized, technology-driven economy. Up until the crisis, it was the dream of every parent to have their child become a doctor or a lawyer. Now the country has an excess of both. Meanwhile, with the public sector sweeping up many recent graduates, there was little incentive for universities to offer the technical skills companies now demand. The Greek government, prompted and assisted by the EU, has started to roll out measures intended to reduce youth unemployment, including training programs, grants for small businesses, and subsidies for companies that hire young people. But those policies are unlikely to do much as long as the economy continues to sink. “I admit there are structural problems in Greece,” says Theodoros Ampatzoglou, governor of the Greek Manpower Employment Organization, the government agency in charge of tackling unemployment. “But the basic problem isn’t matching labor supply and labor demand. The problem is that there’s very little demand.”

    Six years into Greece’s recession, abandoned storefronts like this one are an all-too-common sight in downtown AthensPhotograph by Finn TaylorSix years into Greece’s recession, abandoned storefronts like this one are an all-too-common sight in downtown Athens

    There are signs that the economy is beginning, if not to turn around, at least to plummet at a less alarming rate. After years of bleeding budgets followed by the shock therapy of austerity, the government says it expects to take in more revenue than it spends this year, not counting payments on its loans. “The progress is significant, but it has been achieved with blood,” says Aggelos Tsakanikas, research director at the Athens-based Foundation for Economic & Industrial Research (IOBE). The Greek central bank forecasts the economy to start growing again in 2014.

    Some Greek analysts say 2012 marked the peak of the crisis, a year in which a Greek exit from the euro appeared plausible and roughly 30 percent of the country’s top companies slashed salaries or cut working hours, according to a survey by the ICAP Group, a Greek business services firm. In 2012 the average take-home pay for a company director dropped from €105,000 to €63,000, managers’ earnings plummeted from €55,000 to €29,000, and manual laborers’ from €16,000 to €7,000.

    According to Alexandros Fourlis, managing director of Kariera.gr, a jobs site owned by Careerbuilder.com, firings still outpace hirings. But the gap is starting to close. In October 2012, after four years of decline, the number of job listings began to increase. At the height of the crisis, in January 2012, there were on average more than 330 applicants for every job posting on his site, compared with a little more than 80 in 2009. For popular jobs not requiring specific skills, such as a bank teller, the number could reach as high as 11,000. Today the average number of résumés a job listing receives is back down to about 160. “The picture is still negative,” says Fourlis. “But it’s vastly improving.”

    For her interview, Stratigaki has put on a white blouse and black pants. Gold-rimmed sunglasses hold back her red hair. Open sandals reveal pink toenails. On her left wrist she wears a chain with a tiny glass evil eye, a charm to ward off bad luck. The summer heat has penetrated the interior of the high school. Three young women sit near her outside the green metal door.

    Another applicant in white slacks and a white linen shirt paces back and forth, from the hallway into the stairwell. He says his name is George but declines to give his last name. He’s 29 years old, holds a master’s degree in economics, and has been unemployed for a year and a half, not counting the five months he worked as a street cleaner.

    “It’s more difficult for the highly qualified,” he says. “The market thinks we will cost too much.” He’s applying for a position as a secretary, a job that requires a high school degree. For a couple of minutes, he and Stratigaki discuss whether his education will be an asset or a liability, and then their names are called.

    The position Stratigaki is applying for, a social worker in an office distributing discounted groceries and medicine to the city’s rising numbers of disadvantaged, would be a coup. For one thing, it’s a two-year contract. The salary of €700 a month would be low by the standards of a few years ago but is considered generous in the current economy.

    Stratigaki estimates she spends two hours a day looking for jobs, an effort that’s netted her nine interviews in six months. One was for a position as a secretary at an economics newspaper in Athens’s richer southern suburbs. It quickly went off the rails when the interviewer began mocking the working-class neighborhood where Stratigaki grew up.

    In addition to three jobs sites, including Kariera.gr, Stratigaki regularly checks the home page of her university’s career office. She set e-mail alerts for positions in her field but has received only two notices. Another alert, for secretarial work, generates mostly spam from companies looking to staff call centers with young people working on commission. Increasingly, many postings are for unpaid internships. Two or three times a week she makes the rounds of the websites of nearby municipalities, checking in the evening, when she’s learned that they usually refresh. Sometimes, to break the monotony, she meets for coffee at the home of close friends to go through the listings together. “It’s expensive for us, as unemployed people, to go to a cafe,” she says.

    Siderakis returned from London to be closer to his ailing father. He found work as a chef, but his paychecks have shrunkPhotograph by Finn TaylorSiderakis returned from London to be closer to his ailing father. He found work as a chef, but his paychecks have shrunk

    With the rest of her time, she helps take care of her parents’ house and that of her boyfriend, Stelios Siderakis, 32, who moved back from London in 2010 to be closer to Stratigaki and to his father, who died of cancer last year. She recently began studying photography, shooting mostly landscapes but brainstorming with her classmates about earning some money shooting weddings and baptisms. The one thing she and her boyfriend don’t want to do is leave Athens, unless it’s to move to the island of Chios, where Siderakis has family. “I don’t know why,” says Stratigaki. “Maybe I’m afraid. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve always found something sooner or later.” Siderakis, a chef, has had relatively little trouble finding work, though his paycheck has shrunk with every new job. “I’d feel like I was betraying my country” by leaving, he says. “I have friends who have left, but they didn’t have any other options. The jobs they were doing were gone. I know that I can make it somehow or another.”

    When Stratigaki, George, and two other women emerge from their interviews, all four say they’re happy with how things went. They compare notes on the way down the stairs. Greece shuts down in August, even in this time of crisis, so Stratigaki didn’t expect to hear back about the interview until September, but the interviewers tell her they plan to make their decision by the end of July. “Now it’s time to wait,” she says. “This is the hardest part.”

    In the meantime, the job hunt goes on. Two days after the interview, Stratigaki drops by her old travel agency to book a couple of ferry tickets to Chios. She takes the opportunity to ask once more about getting rehired. The answer, again, is no.
    Faris is a Bloomberg Businessweek contributor.

    Posted by participo | July 28, 2013, 9:40 am
  6. it is truly amazing to see all the people I see in the bright lights of New York City at night shopping here and eating there, having no idea that there are others without the means to spend money like they do because they just don’t have it. Indeed, they don’t know about the millions of unemployed because they don’t want to know. They don’t care because not to care makes it easy not to care. But sooner or later the shit hits the fan and one day these people who could not care less are going to all their ice cream turned to shit.

    Posted by David | August 4, 2013, 5:02 pm
  7. Buried in this already disturbing article is this: “revelations emerged of Golden Dawn hit squads being trained by special forces commandos.”


    Greece’s democracy in danger, warns Demos, as Greek reservists call for coupGreece ‘backsliding in democracy’ in face of joblessness, social unrest, corruption and disillusion with politicians, says thinktank

    No country has displayed more of a “backslide in democracy” than Greece, the British thinktank Demos has said in a study highlighting the crisis-plagued country’s slide into economic, social and political disarray.

    Released on the same day that judicial authorities ordered an investigation into a blog posting by a group of reservists in the elite special forces calling for a coup d’etat, the study singled out Greece and Hungary for being “the most significant democratic backsliders” in the EU.

    “Researchers found Greece overwhelmed by high unemployment, social unrest, endemic corruption and a severe disillusionment with the political establishment,” it said. The report, commissioned by the European parliament, noted that Greece was the most corrupt state in the 28-nation bloc and voiced fears over the rise of far-right extremism in the country.

    The report was released as the fragile two-party coalition of the prime minister, Antonis Samaras, admitted it was worried by a call for a military coup posted overnight on Wednesday on the website of the Special Forces Reserve Union. “It must worry us,” said a government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou. “The overwhelming majority in the armed forces are devoted to our democracy,” he said. “The few who are not will face the consequences.”

    With tension running high after a crackdown on the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, a supreme court public prosecutor demanded an immediate inquiry into who may have written the post, which called for an interim government under “the guarantee of the armed forces”.

    The special forces reservist unit whose members appeared in uniform to protest against a visit to Athens by the German chancellor, Angela Merkel said Greece should renege on the conditions attached to an international bailout and set up special courts to prosecute those responsible for its worst financial crisis in modern times. Assets belonging to German companies, individuals or the state should be seized to pay off war reparations amassed during the Nazi occupation.

    Underscoring the social upheaval that has followed economic meltdown, the blog post argued that the government had violated the constitution by failing to provide adequate health, education, justice and security.

    Insiders said the mysterious post once again highlighted the infiltration of the armed forces by the extreme right. This week revelations emerged of Golden Dawn hit squads being trained by special forces commandos.

    Fears are growing that instead of reining in the extremist organisation, the crackdown on the group may ultimately create a backlash. The party, whose leaders publicly admire Adolf Hitler and have adopted an emblem resembling the swastika, have held their ground in opinion polls despite a wave of public outrage. Golden Dawn, which won nearly 7% of the vote in elections last year and has 18 MPs in Athens’ 300-member parliament, has capitalised more than any other political force on Greece’s economic crisis. “Much will depend on how well it will withstand the pressure and they are tough guys who seem to be withstanding it well,” said Giorgos Kyrtsos, a political commentator.

    Posted by Swamp | September 27, 2013, 10:35 am

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