Tag Archives: austerity

There is life after austerity

samargouria

The guy in the photo (right) is Angel Gurría, general secretary of OECD. When he last met Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras (left) last November he congratulated him for managing to bring Greece in the top position, internationally, of the list with the countries carrying out structural reforms.

These reforms were supposed to improve the way the Greek economy functions but also to rationalise the Greek public sector. Last summer, the Greek government had decided to suddenly close down ERT, the Greek Radio & TV Broadcasting company. The idea of firing all of a sudden around 2,500 employees was that ERT was a corrupt and expensive public organisation. At the beginning there was absolutely no plan – after the huge public pressure and uproar that ERT closure’s caused, the government announced that there would be a new state broadcaster created soon. It would more efficient than ERT, cheaper and more transparent.

Almost a year later, a few days ago, Eleftherotypia newspaper published the cost of a show that is now being broadcasted by NERIT, ERT’s kitsch and unpopular successor. It’s a new version of a show about tourism (that used to exist during ERT), trying to convince Greeks to spend their summer (money) in Greece rather than abroad. As if there is enough income distributed in the society for international plane tickets. Anyway, back to the show, here’s its budget.

nerit-spatali

On the left column you can see the people hired for the show (by specialty) and on the right you can see their payment (for the 2-month period which this contract is valid for). In the country where the minimum wage is down to around 500 euros per month, there is a journalist who will be paid 5.208 euros for reading the text messages that viewers send to the show. Out of the 11 people that will compose the journalistic part of the team, two will be handling the social media, each also paid 5.208 euros for these two months. The same will be the payment for the person who will be responsible to call and book the guests of the show while the editor-in-chief of the show will receive 8.060 euros. For two fucking months! That’s efficiency and rationalisation of ERT’s costs.

And if you want to compare with ERT’s already high wages [compared to the rest of the media market] the guest-booker in the old version of the show (at ERT) was earning about 30% less than the current NERIT’s payment.

As for increased transparency, these people have been hired without a some kind of competition, no job vacancy announcement, no evaluation of applicants.

A vicious circle, creating worst monsters than the ones we had in a supposed attempt to modernise, to get improved, to restructure [sic].

venizelos gurria

Back in his December 2013 visit, Angel Gurría had also met Evangelos Venizelos, the Frank Underwood of the Greek political scene. After the many congrats for Greece’s obediency, the OECD general secretary told him a sibyllic ‘There’s life after debt” which kept me wondering what the hell he was trying to say.

I get it now. There is indeed going to be life after the austerity. Those who get paid 5.000 euros for reading text messages will survive. The rest will have to emigrate abroad. Those who can afford their basic medication will survive. Unlike the woman in Lesvos who died last week [inside the local hospital!!!] simply because she couldn’t afford her medicines for hypertension.

There will be more international congratulations for this government and for these policies that cause such collateral damage. The elections are approaching and Samaras has invited everybody to congratulate him so that Greeks can be convinced that we’re on the right track, that we are exiting the crisis. Angela Merkel will be the next one with her visit planned in the coming days. Others will surely follow. They should all feel responsible if this vicious circle continues.

Greece is on fire or the altar of austerity

A new austerity-related epidemic of deaths has appeared in Greece.

First we had the epidemic of suicides. Now the fires at houses has been added. Meteorologists have reckoned that last November was one of the warmest in recent years. But we’re now in mid-December, the weather turned cold and the fireplaces have been filled with firewood to keep this nation warm.

Last night a middle-aged woman (possibly coz they can’t tell until now from the state she was found in) was found dead from a fire in an apartment near my neighbourhood. Two days ago another middle-aged man was found dead from a fire in his apartment in Kato Patisia area of Athens. Almost every second day someone is dying from a fire at his/her house. They’re all people who have no heating and are trying to burn wood in order to get a bit of warmth. A couple of weeks ago Greece was shocked to wake up to the news that a 13-year old girl died from carbon monoxide poisoning from the fumes of a make-shift brazier. The girl from Serbia was living together with her mother in an apartment without even electricity in  Thessaloniki. Last year two students died in the same way in Larisa, Central Greece. The list is endless.

The high-tax on heating oil, combined with the absence of income, has driven thousands of residential buildings to turn off their central heating systems. I live 10 mins from the Parliament in the centre of Athens and, at night, I smell the burned wood from the fireplaces. The laundry have the same smell when they are left at the balcony to dry. A usual part of the daily weather chit-chat is “Do you still have heating at your building? No, most of the residents can’t pay so we turned it off this year”.

fire

Greece 2013. In the land where Prometheus gave fire to humanity,  an act that was supposed to enable progress and civilisation, people are suffocated or burned to death on a daily basis, in their attempt to keep warm.

Statistics are a bit blurry and this is more worrying, adding to the general suspicion that the government is trying to play down these ugly numbers, same like the deaths from labour “accidents” during the 2004 Olympics’ construction craze. But one day, at some point in the future, we ought to count the martyrs who were sacrificed on the altar of austerity.

Greek cartoonists on Merkel’s visit

I always loved to calm fears and tensions with some sense of humour. It’s a humanising effect that is becoming more and more rare during the troubled times this country is going through. Plus, I’ve nothing against Merkel – I keep all my frustration and anger against the austerity, this type of austerity, and the lack of a way-out plan. But, that’s another, huge discussion. Here are some cartoons by Greek cartoonists on the Angela Merkel visit to Greece (I think she landed at the time of writing of this line).

By Dimitris Hatzopoulos

By Dimitris Georgopalis

Translation: Angela Merkel is holding a sign that says AUSTERITY

By Dimitris Hatzopoulos

Translation: REPENT… MERKEL IS COMING…

By Kostas Mitropoulos

Translation:

Soldier: Presnt arms!

Merkel: Are the arms German, Antonis?

By Petros Tsiolakis

Translation:

Samaras: Are the austerity measures enough, Madam?

Merkel: You are pitiless! I bleed with what you are doing.

(sing on the right has a euro-swastika symbol and writes New Occupation)

By Panos Maragos

Translation:

Merkel: What is this Paul [Thomsen of IMF]? The Greeks don’t live in slums, neither do they survive with acorn!!

Paul Thomsen (holding the troika report): The reforms are not completed yet Mrs Merkel.

Last but not list, another one of Dimtris Hatzopoulos. It’s a bit older (I think it was published a week ago) and it’s not directly linked to Angela Merkel. But I really like his style so here you have it.

By Dimitris Hatzopoulos