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“Clausewitzian” Health Care: Austeritywitz in Greece


Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

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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