educators choose suicide

This is a brief follow-up to my recent post about suicide in Greece.

Two Greek educators – an elementary school teacher and a university professor – committed suicide this week.

The elementary school teacher, Savvas Metoikidis, was very politically active, taking part in protests and demonstrations over the past few years.  Aged 44, he hanged himself in a storeroom on Saturday.  Saturday marked the 45th anniversary of the military junta’s coup d’ etat in Greece, and he chose this day to protest the current situation in Greece with suicide.  He died in the village of Stavroupoli, near here in the region of Xanthi, in Thrace.  A tribute to him says

Savvas was always in the front line of our struggles, at strikes, in the small and large daily battles inside and outside the schools, fighting for the right to education for our children, for free public education, for the teacher, the worker, the unemployed, the immigrant, for a different tomorrow.  Sensitive, socially aware, open to others, beside anyone in need, he never considered the personal cost in money, exhaustion, danger.  With fairness and truth, a traveler of the open horizon, always laughing, a person primarily of deeds and not words.  But his word was always his ‘sword.’  [my translation from here.]

He chose in the end to let his deeds speak for him.

The professor, Nikos Palyvos, PhD, a geologist and fellow WordPress blogger, was a lecturer at the University of Athens.  Although he had been technically hired to the position of lecturer there, austerity measures prevented his hiring from going through to payroll and he was held in limbo, unpaid, for two years, along with 800 other professors.  At the age of 38, he was no longer able to endure the privations of two years without income, and killed himself on Monday.

Dr. Palyvos specialized in the seismology of central Greece and the Peloponnese region.

___

The Suicide Helplines in Greece are 1018 and 801 801 9999.  They are 24-hour, 7-day toll free numbers and a caller can remain anonymous.  The email is help@suicide-help.gr.

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a little Greek crisis humor

Of course there is such a thing! What kind of a crisis would it be if we didn’t have songs crying about it, plays mocking it, modern dance dramatizing it, visual art bursting with pain over it, graffiti condemning it, and viral internet articles making fun of it?  It’s always good to see the silver lining in any situation, wouldn’t you agree?

My very free translation (because otherwise it might not make any sense to those not familiar with Greece) of the anonymous article.

17 Reasons I’m Enjoying the Greek Economic Crisis! 

1. When I ask my boss for a raise, instead of giving me a dirty look, he busts out laughing. Not to mention that he fired two annoying coworkers.

2. A lot of my friends emigrated for a better future, so I’ll have new options of places to visit abroad, and they’ll probably even send me something for the holidays.

3. Gasoline is too expensive to buy, so I don’t use my car very much.  It will last longer, my heart health is improving, and I look flush in front of my friends when I suggest taking the car on the highway. And when we go to the beach in the summer, they chip in for gasoline, whereas in the past they would pretend to forget.

4. The cafes are full of unemployed scientists with two masters degrees, so while I drink my ouzo I can talk not about soccer but about black holes, at least.

5. As far as girls are concerned, you can be 100% certain that they don’t just want you for your money.

6. The man selling bagels outside the nightclub does a brisker business than the lady selling flowers to throw at the act, inside the club.

7. The coffee I win playing backgammon with my buddies makes up 2% of my salary which means that if I win 50 games, I’ve made a month’s salary.

8. They did away with social welfare.  Good:  I couldn’t stand waiting in line.

9. The future of our country is uncertain – we all need a little adventure in our lives.

10. I can be depressed without people giving me a hard time. They always said “What’s your problem? You have a job, a car, what else do you want?”

11. You never have to wait behind someone with two carts full of food at the supermarket. Or if you do, you can ask him to invite you to the party.

12. Everyone who saved money so carefully for years has lost it all, so I can feel better about myself for spending every euro as soon as I got it; instead of “profligate” I’m now considered “wise” because at least I got some use out of it.

13. There are no more weddings to have to attend, because when you elope, they don’t charge you for the decor.

14. Everyone has become an environmentalist, and they explain that they are spending less to “protect the environment.”

15. I like it when they say we’ll go back to the drachma, because I’ll finally be able to spend all those drachmas that I’ve been keeping as souvenirs, which drove me nuts when I didn’t have a penny and I figured that I had around €60-70 in drachmas, but the bank no longer exchanges them.

16. When I tell people I work two days/week, they look at me with sympathy and tell me to be brave, whereas in the past they were thinking “what a lazy ass.”

17. I will have a good story of suffering and misery to tell future generations about our country’s history, like we had to listen to about the military dictatorship and the German occupation. Otherwise they’d think of me as a total wuss.

notes on suicide

All the links are to Greek sites, either because they are primary sources or because English-language media did not cover the stories.

By now, I suppose everyone knows about Dimitris Christoulas, the retired pharmacist who shot himself dead in the central square of Athens, in front of the Greek Parliament.  His suicide note blamed the government, which he compared to the collaborationist government during the German occupation of Greece during World War II, and his reluctance to scavenge in city trash bins for food, for his decision to end his life.

The government was quick to distance itself from the situation.  They cloaked his death in a thousand lightweight “oh how sads” while some even accused the pharmacist of being responsible for the crisis itself:  for example, the second to the Minister of the Interior, Paris Koukoulopoulos, said that instead of killing himself, he should have explained to the government how pharmaceutical expenditures more than doubled in five years (the government blames pharmacists and doctors for this).

Similarly, Panos Beglitis, currently just a parliamentarian but previously the Minister of Defense, appeared to suggest that the pharmacist was to blame for his poverty because he threw away his money, either on himself or his children, rather than accepting that a person with health problems (Mr. Christoulas had recently been diagnosed with cancer) might have a hard time making ends meet after the extremely harsh cuts to his pension; in fact, he used the Greek idiom “either he ate the money, or his children did.”

This phrase is extremely politicized in Greece, because the current Vice President of Greece, Thodoros Pangalos, claimed that “we all (Greeks) ate the money together,” meaning that all Greeks equally shared in the corruption and benefited personally from bankrupting the state.  Since Pangalos is a very rich landowner, and the grandson of the dictator of Greece, this particular line from this particular politician became an instant battle cry for the young Greeks who in fact neither had any part in nor benefited in any way from the political corruption that Pangalos appears to assign to them.

(Despite his wealth, Pangalos claimed that he “couldn’t afford” to pay the new special property tax (the tax: €7,500; his and his wife’s income: over €800,000) that has had a particularly harsh toll on pensioners.)

It has been often reported that in Greece, suicides have increased 40% in the past two years, due to the crisis.  The ‘typical’ suicide here is a 36 year old man who has lost his job.

Anyway, that’s all old news.  Up here where I live, in the quiet and unassuming region of Thrace, which is a mostly agricultural area producing cotton, sunflowers, tobacco, and olives, we seem to be a world away from the drama of Parliament and the square.  But here things are not so idyllic as one might think.  The crisis has hit Thrace particularly hard.  Our region’s unemployment is now 22.8%, the highest in Greece.  The number hides the many more people who were fired from black-market employment, who are underemployed (one of the newest massive social problems in Greece are the severely underemployed, people who are stuck in jobs making only a few euros/week, and ineligible for unemployment benefits much higher than their current salaries) or the young people who haven’t even been able to find a first job (unemployment for wannabe-workers under 25 is over 50%).

This past weekend was Easter weekend here in Greece (the Greek Church uses the Julian calendar).  Our region of Thrace lost three more people to suicide because of the crisis:  a woman in a village in the mountains of Xanthi, a young man in a village in Rodopi, and an older man in the city of Alexandroupoli.  All three of these suicides here this weekend were by hanging.

In our quiet agricultural area, suicide is becoming a social issue for the first time.

In response to the growing suicide problem I suppose, the Greek government has now decided to withhold pensions from mentally ill retirees.  When seeking medical help for suicidal thoughts results in losing the only income for an entire family – it is very common now in Greece that a single pensioner is supporting his children and grandchildren on his pension, due to the same widespread unemployment I just referred to – how on earth can anyone actually bring himself to seek help?  And once a pensioner does commit suicide, his family is left completely destitute.

The way it will work is as follows:  when a pensioner is committed to a mental health institution, as suicidal people often are for their own protection, his pension will be reduced by 50% to 80%.

Perhaps it makes sense to the politicians; after all, what would he need his pension for?  He has a roof over his head, so he wouldn’t need to pay his rent on the home he shares with his wife, children, and grandchildren, who may have no other income; the hospital is feeding him, so he wouldn’t need to be able to purchase food for his wife at home, or the other family members dependent on his pension for survival.  Sure, they’re taking care of his needs in the short term, but what happens when he leaves?  He’s been evicted from his home for nonpayment, he owes back payments on utilities, and his wife is starving to death.

Yes, the pension is meant only to support the retiree, not his entire family, but the reality of Greek life is different now:  many retirees support entire families because that’s what high unemployment means in reality.

The Greek government’s spectacular failure to recognize and appreciate the massive social change brought about by the crisis so far is unforgivable.  

According to recent statistics, the three prefectures of Greece with the highest suicide rate (a prefecture is like a state; there are 51 prefectures total) are Rethymno (on the island of Crete), Rodopi, and Zakynthos.  I live in Rodopi, so this hits close to home for me.

While I don’t wish suicide on anyone, I do understand it.  The psychological toll of the crisis can be extreme, especially when there is physical or mental illness and debt that must be paid.  Even just the upkeep of a home, free from debt, can be impossible when there is no income.  While suicide is far from an ‘easy way out,’ it’s certainly a fast way out, and it does reduce the hungry mouths by one.  When an entire people is told by its government on a regular basis, “there’s no light at the end of the tunnel,” can there be any hope for struggling families?

The Suicide Helplines in Greece are 1018 and 801 801 9999.  They are 24-hour, 7-day toll free numbers and a caller can remain anonymous.  The email is help@suicide-help.gr.  

a visit to a Greek hospital during the Crisis

This has been a rough winter for S and me, health-wise.  He’s been sick with various colds and flus five times since October.  As his loving, small-apartment-dwelling wife, I’ve managed to avoid only one of those.  Back on New Year’s Day, just as he was getting over an annoying but not particularly serious week-long stuffy nose, I came down with it.  At first, it was just annoying.  But after the first month of it and somewhere around the six-week mark, it started to get really tiring.  It had no other symptoms, so I didn’t go to a doctor.  Then S got the flu.  Then I got the flu, combined with my now two month old stuffy nose.  Suddenly other things started to happen, like me going deaf in my right ear.

So, today, we decided to have me looked at.  I had never been to a doctor in this city and as it turns out, only two doctors in the whole city accept our insurance, and neither of them sees patients on Wednesday afternoons.  So we did what all Greeks do:  we went to the pharmacy instead to ask for advice.  Usually the pharmacist will just give you whatever the doctor would have prescribed.  Greek pharmacists are extremely well trained and are very knowledgeable about a whole range of medical problems.  They are far more involved in patient care than pharmacists in the US, who often never even come into contact with patients at all, preferring to send their assistants to deal with the pesky customers.

However, pharmacies aren’t open on Wedneday afternoons either.  So S got online and found where the ‘duty’ pharmacies were, the two pharmacies that are open during the time when all the others are closed.  So off we went, to ask for their advice.  The pharmacist asks me what’s wrong.  “I woke up deaf on my right side.  I’ve had the flu since Saturday….”  The pharmacist looked at the other pharmacist.  “You need to go to the hospital.  That could get ugly.”

So, off we go to the hospital, to the Emergency Room.  Only the patient – no spouses, no friends, no nobody is allowed to come with you into the ER.  I fibbed and said I needed S for translation purposes, so the gate-keeper let him come with me.  There were about 3 chairs and no desk, no nurse, no nothing.  S found a security guard sitting in a wheelchair and asked her if there was a ENT doctor on staff that day.  She hailed a nurse who happened to be passing by, who said she’d call someone and ask.  S trailed off after her.  Good news: there was one!  So we were able to get out of the ER and go to the External Clinic, which is basically doctors’ offices at the hospital, which are usually only open in the morning.

We wandered the labyrinthine halls of the hospital – narrow, dark, dingy, no signs anywhere, equipment scattered around, overflowing garbage bins.  We pass a shrine with lit candles and a heavy smell of incense.  The only sign of life is a fully-stocked mini-market selling packaged junk food.  We come out into a long, teal-painted hallway.  There are patients trying to sleep in some of the rooms.  The hallway is cold.  At the end of the hall there’s a sign for the ENT Department.  A pleasant resident notices us walking down the hall and invites us in.

As I explain my symptoms, the doctor sends S to the Hospital Bureaucracy Office to get a paper stamped and signed.  The doctor does an exam, gives me a professional ear cleaning with no warning, and then starts asking me if I have pain, headaches, and various other things.  I don’t.  He’s not satisfied.  “You don’t have the symptoms of a sinus infection, but I still want to do a cranial x-ray.”

S is back with the stamps, so he sends us to Radiology.  We get lost at least three times trying to find it, but eventually we do.  When we get there, S explains briefly what we’re there for.  The radiologist sends him to the Hospital Bureaucracy Office to get a paper stamped and signed.  While I wait for him to come back, I read a small piece of paper on an office door, announcing that “the staff of the Hospital has not been paid since the 3rd quarter of 2011.”

S comes back with the stamps, and I’m taken to get my cranial x-ray, which of course takes about a second.  Then S and I wait for two minutes while it’s processed.  The radiologist gives us the x-ray and the bureaucracy paper.  We make our way back to the ENT Department.

The doctor herds us back into his office.  He puts the x-ray up on the light.  “You have a sinus infection.  See that white area?  That should be charcoal black, like your mouth.  You have it on both sides, but mainly on your right side.”  He goes on to explain in great depth what this is and what we can do about it.  He writes me a prescription for an antibiotic that’s not on the list of things I’m allergic to, steroid ear drops to help with the deafness, steroid nasal spray to help with the stuffiness, and tells me to flush my sinuses with sterile saline four times every day.  He also says that when I shower, I should soak cotton balls in olive oil and put them in my ears.  The olive oil will prevent water from entering my ears.  He reminds me to bundle up and not go out with wet hair.  He spends about ten minutes entering all the numbers and codes necessary for the new government mandated prescription drug program, which requires all drugs prescribed to be entered into a national database.  This is supposed to reduce prescriptions and waste, but it is clearly time consuming for a hospital doctor.

The doctor says to come back in 3-4 days if my hearing doesn’t improve, but in any case, to come back in 8 days so he can evaluate my progress.  He’s spent about forty-five minutes with me, providing me with a full exam, an ear cleaning (kind of neat – never had that done before), a cranial x-ray and reading, and a very in-depth explanation of the problem.  We paid 5 euros for his services.   There was no waiting at any point, unless you count the one minute for S to get my x-ray paper stamped, and two minutes for the x-ray to be developed.

As we walk out of the hospital into the snow, a young man walks in carrying four heavy blankets, apparently for a family member who is in the hospital, and who isn’t able to stay warm with the hospital blanket alone.

We go back to the duty pharmacy, and I hand the pharmacist my prescriptions.  “Well, what did they say?”  “Sinus infection.”  “It’s good you went – he’s prescribed an antibiotic.  Definitely the right thing to go to the hospital.”  She fills my four prescriptions plus the syringe.  “12 euros and 84 cents.”  As I leave, she and the other pharmacists tell me they hope I get over my sinus infection quickly.  “Stay warm!  It’s cold out” they say, as I go back into the snow.

My conclusion:  things are not always as they seem.  The hospital is ugly, drafty, dreary, and in some ways downright unpleasant.  But there was no waiting, the ENT spent as much time as one could possibly ask, the x-ray was performed and read immediately – and I didn’t have to “insist” on having one done (I had an illness go undiagnosed for 3 years, leading to ultimate organ removal, because no American doctor out of the dozen I went to was willing to do an ultrasound or x-ray).  I was given a well-rounded treatment, involving not just pills but a whole series of topical treatments as well.  And I was invited back for hearing tests and tympanography in three days if necessary.  There were no appointments, the doctor did all the paperwork himself, there were no nurses involved – the doctor took my history and covered my allergies, etc.

It is easy to jump to conclusions when you see a Greek public hospital.  It is easy to say “this place looks like a dump!”  It does look like a dump – but it isn’t one.  It’s a hospital, with well-trained (if unpaid) doctors, with no wait, with no struggles to get services.

You could look at the papers, and the running around for stamps and signatures, and say “what a lot of useless bureaucracy!”  But you would be forgetting that there’s no need to make an appointment, no need to ‘fight’ to get your instant ear cleaning and x-ray.  If you have your paperwork in order – and there is no reason why you wouldn’t – it’s not particularly difficult:  if it were difficult, I’m sure it would have taken S more than a minute each time.

You could look at the full trash cans, the dark hallways, and say “this place is unsanitary.”  But it isn’t.  The trash that’s overflowing is the mini-market trash, not biological waste.  The bathrooms are old and very, very ugly, but they are clean.  The hospital had no smell at all – not the ‘hospital antiseptic’ smell, nor any other.  It just smelled like nothing at all.

You could look at the man bringing blankets, and say “the care here is lacking.”  But you wouldn’t know the whole story.  I didn’t ask him why he was bringing those blankets.  Maybe he was donating them.  Maybe his relative wanted his or her comforting blankets from home.  I didn’t find the care lacking at all.  And I can only speak about the care I received.

You could look at the international media, which talks about how if you visit a public hospital in Greece and want a doctor to treat you, you have to give him money under the table, the so-called “little envelope.”  The five euros we paid?  That’s what it costs on our insurance plan to see an ENT.   The little envelope?  I’ve never seen that in real life.  Neither has my husband, who has lived here for 33 years.  I don’t presume to speak for anyone else, but I can speak for us.

This is not the first time I’ve been in a Greek hospital – that organ removal I mentioned up above?  That was done in Greece – a week after a doctor insisted on giving me an ultrasound for something I didn’t even tell her was bothering me.  There, again, the care was stellar; but that was in 2010, before the crisis was as intense as it is now.  I want to concentrate on this experience:  in the depths of the crisis, a hospital whose employees haven’t been paid since the 3rd quarter of 2011, working in a hospital with obvious infrastructure problems, in a working-class city.

Last night I was thinking about all the things that have hit us and those around us since The Crisis began.  Poverty, hunger, unemployment, illegitimate government, police violence, the end of “green” programs for the protection of the environment, increase in sales tax, income tax, property tax, increases in electricity costs, doubling in heating costs, 40% increase in the cost of public transit, gas for $10/gallon, constant strikes, every citizen being treated by the government like a criminal, foreign technocrats writing our laws, an unelected banker for a prime minister, a terribly corrupt media, the selling off of public assets for a penny on the dollar, insulting anthellenic propaganda from “allies” in the Eurozone, homelessness, suicides, ‘cultural clinical depression,’ the closure of public television channels, the disappearance of textbooks from schools, the end of fellowships for qualified postgraduates, the drastic reduction in the minimum wage and non-minimum wage scales, the furloughing of public employees, the sharp reductions in retirement pensions, the constant inflation in the price of basic food items like flour and sugar, the cuts to the health system, the constant political scandals and bickering and finger-pointing…

out of everything we’re all experiencing, the thing that is bothering me the most today is the unbelievable surface coverage by the international media of the Greek Crisis.  They are covering the Crisis, but they are covering to a depth of several millimeters.  One reason I translate articles on this blog is that I know that many – if not most – English-language articles about the Greek Crisis include mistranslations.  I saw a video of a major European news network announcing that the Greek Parliament had passed the most recent deal a full 24 hours before they even voted on it.  I saw the BBC show video clips of the riots in December, 2008 for the shooting death of a teenager by a police officer, labeled as “Athens Riots” during 2011 – as if they were current.  I’ve read multiple articles where politicians are given the wrong titles.  I’ve read many mistranslated quotes.  I’ve read about how Greece called for a Parliament vote “at midnight to reduce the effect on the markets,” ignoring the fact that the Greek Constitituion requires votes of that type to be at midnight – and always has.  I’ve read multiple articles freaking out about Giorgos Papandreou’s ‘decision to hold a referendum,’ when Papandreou, as prime minister at that time, didn’t even have the constitutional right to call a referendum.  But what bothers me the most isn’t these examples of ignorance.  Ignorance is forgivable, even in journalists, because they’re human; none of us can be an expert in everything, and there happen to be very, very few journalists writing in English who are experts in Greece.

What bothers me is the lack of depth.  The acceptance that one need not scratch the surface.  One can develop an entire story around a single weak anecdote.  One can mention several things about Greece that are certainly different than in other countries, and draw the conclusion that things must be wretched and wrong here, just because they are different – not for any other reason.  One can ‘shock’ one’s readers with pictures of dilapidated hospitals, with schools with no textbooks, and so on.  One can walk around the center of Athens for a week, and presume to speak for a country of 11 million people, spread out over mountains and plains, coasts and farms, islands and cities, urban metropoleis and microscopic villages, men nearing retirement and newborn baby girls, Greeks and immigrants, and so on.  One can take a picture of a person throwing a rock and draw conclusions about this person’s political beliefs.  One can write entire stories about “life in Greece” and “this is what’s wrong with Greece,” without ever having visited the country.  All of these things are considered acceptable by the English-language media-consuming public.

Well, no.  I don’t accept that.  That is crap.  In a time when newspapers and journalism as a whole are under threat from new media, the only thing professional journalists have to offer is their professionalism, their ability to go deep into a subject and to pull multiple sources of information together, weigh them, and draw reasonable conclusions.  But they aren’t doing that.  They aren’t even coming close.  You, who consume the English-language media, are consuming garbage.  And you have the right to know that.

horror tactics

Today I bought a newspaper, Proto Thema, which included the following article.  I think it’s essential that as many people read it as possible.  This article sets out the points that were made to the Greek Parliament in an effort to convince the 300 members of Parliament to vote in favor of the new deal with the Troika.  Many people living here are hoping the deal will be voted down, allowing Greece to default and return to its own currency.  In an effort to convince the MPs not to allow that to happen, the following was presented to them:  [original article in Proto Thema newspaper print edition, pages 8-9, February 12, 2012, by Giannis Antypas.  The translation is mine, and unofficial.]

The first 72 hours

– Mass withdrawals and attacks on banks

The citizens will flood the banks to make mass withdrawals of their deposits. Financial institutions under threat of collapse close their brick and mortar locations for 2-3 days and when they reopen, they place a limit on withdrawals of 200-300 euros per month per account. Citizens attack the banks, they commit arson, and violent protest breaks out. The police forces intervene. The EU sends us a timeline for removal from the Euro currency.

The first two weeks

– Scarcity: fuel, food
– Looting begins

Fuel begins to become scarce, as the country is not able to import it. Endless lines at gas stations, with the price of gasoline and of petroleum products beginning to take off thanks to speculation. Problems in city transit due to the drastic reduction in all routes. Public transit tickets increase in price by up to 200%. Supermarkets begin to have problems stocking food products, especially imported ones, which make up the largest portion of the national diet. Greek items become dramatically more expensive. The first looting episodes are noted sporadically, at food markets.

The first month

– The public sector unpaid
– schools, hospitals close

Stop payment in the public sector with 800,000 public workers not receiving their monthly salary. Multi-day strikes begin, one after the other. The public sector is paralyzed. The hospitals stop accepting emergency cases as supplies cannot be found for surgeries. Pharmacies can no longer stock drugs as imports are frozen. Many schools close, as teachers go on strike due to not being paid. The same happens at universities. Foreign multinational corporations close en masse. The country’s creditors move against us in international courts.

The first trimester

– Blackouts
– 300,000 laid off in the public sector

The national electric company blacks out, sinking the nation into darkness. The hours of service are announced, not to exceed five non-successive hours of electricity per day at the absolute maximum. Many stores close as consumption takes a nosedive. Up to 200,000 workers in the private sector are fired. After two months of non-payment, the government, unable to continue the payment of workers, announces the closure of public services and organizations. 300,000 public workers are immediately fired. The first banks collapse.

The first six months

– Clashes in the streets
– International humanitarian aid

Crime increases dramatically. The penal system collapses, as the prisons cannot handle such a large population of prisoners. Prisoners escape en masse. An explosion of violent clashes in the streets with loss of human life and thousands of arrests. The police forces are on alert. The first international aid organizations arrive in Greece to help the starving population.

The first year

– Two million unemployed
– threats from abroad

Unemployment officially reaches 35% and the unemployed reach 2 million [out of 10.3 million total population]. The per capita income of Greeks collapses to 1980 levels and the income at the end of 2012 lose 65% of its buying power compared to 2011. The inflation in the market reaches 70% annually. Public organizations, airports, ports, and publically owned land are sold for a song. National defense collapses, the moment that threats from neighboring countries begin. Greece suffers major diplomatic losses on all fronts (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greek-Turkish issues, NATO, Cyprus, etc.).

The first five years

– Poverty, hunger, speculation, and threat of war

Greece of 2017 bears no relation to Greece of 2012. In early 2013, the exit from the Eurozone will be decided, along with the return to the drachma currency unit, initially at a rate of 1 euro = 1000 drachmas. A 50%-70% devaluation follows in order to strengthen competitiveness. The labor market is completely liberated, eliminating union contracts and a minimum wage. The Greek GDP of 2014 will equal Romania’s current GDP, and the average annual income will not be more than 6,000 Euros (today’s value). The few banks that survive will begin mass foreclosures of homes as they will have inherited the mortgages of the failed banks. A large sector of Athens’ population will flee to the provinces to work the land. Greeks with money outside the country, and foreign speculators, will buy up the entire production base of the country, land and businesses, at unthinkably low prices. Greece’s position within NATO will be called into question as she can no longer meet the obligations. It is likely that invasions of neighboring countries would follow, in an effort to expand their territory. 4% of the nation’s population will die from the crisis in one way or another.

P.S. The presentation to Parliament also includes a series of political ramifications, in which the political system will be strongly questioned. The media will shrink. Society will become deeply divided. “Democracy will be in danger,” notes the author of the presentation.

The questions I would like answered are:

1.  If the Troika and practically every analyst alive has already agreed that this agreement will only delay default, but not prevent it, then what is the advantage of putting it off?  If we have to go through this anyway, isn’t it better to do so now, when we have not been worn down by a few more years of unbearable austerity?

2.  How many of the above things will likely happen even without an official default?

3.  How many of the above things are already a reality for many families in Greece (hunger, inability to purchase fuel, unemployment, violence, etc.)?

4.  Why are only negatives presented?  Are there no positives whatsoever?  And if there are, what are they?

If you were one of 300 people tasked with making this decision, and this was presented to you, it would take tremendous courage to make your decision based on the wishes of the actual people that elected you – who of course do not agree with each other.  If you were a member of Parliament, how would you feel having your decision influenced by such heavy-handed scare tactics?

Many Greeks want this deal to go through; many others do not.  Whatever happens tonight at midnight will horrify many people, and will satisfy many others.  But we are all going to lose, no matter what they choose.

If this deal will only delay the fallout in that presentation, isn’t the courageous thing to go ahead and get it over with?

 

Note:  the original article is only available in the print edition of the Proto Thema newspaper, not online.