Do You Have an Idea What’s Really Going On in Greece?

Posted by in Society

Many trees make a big forest. And many puzzle pieces make a big picture. Let’s take the example of a normal day, like today: September 20th. It would  be a normal day some years ago. Let’s say in 2005. People would go to work without any problems, would do their duty and return home.  Members of the Parliament and ministers would might enjoy a prolonged vacation. Some housewife would call around to invite friends over the weekend. And she would start writing down a long shopping list although she would certainly complain about the long hours she would spend in the kitchen to prepare dishes full of delicacies for her guests.

The 20th September 2012 looks quite differently:

The morning started with the metro, the tram and the urban train on strike. 800 to 900 thousands residents of Athens forced to seek alternative ways to go to work. Those who still have work. Because, according to official data, almost one out of four Greeks have no work and no income. Most likely they also have no car.

This Thursday morning it turned out, that the majority of this privileged society group has also a car. So the people took their car to go to work. And found themselves stuck in traffic jams.

Austerity Talks

The day continued with the political leadership and the leading economic team of the country trying to ‘close’ the austerity package of 11.5 billion euro – as a Troika precondition to release the 31-billion-euro bailout tranche.

There seems to be some disagreement among the government partners on the measures, between the government and the Troika, among the Troika itself.

The measures-adding does not bring the essential result. The Troika wants saving measures of 11.5 billion euro. Greek government is currently unable to present more than 9-9.2 billion euro. Too many objections by the two junior coalition government partners PASOK and Democratic Left. Finance Minister Stournaras hinted, trance and measures may be fall shorter for the time being. And that the difference (measures of 2-2,5 billion euro) might come later together with the rest of the bailout tranche.

Austerity Package and Bailout Tranche

From these 31 billion, my neighbor or my father will see nothing. They will be spent for the recapitalisation of the banks and for outstanding state debts to private suppliers.

My father is a pensioner of 600 euro per month. He has no loan to repay, nor has he any plans to get one. Neither for private nor for commercial purposes. My father was never involved in business with the state in form of a supplier of any kind. So, he thinks he would have no gain from the bailout. However he is called to pay more taxes (1,000E for 2012 and 500E in advance for 2013). When he went to the tax office to make an arrangement, he told them, he had good chances due to two cancer operations and a recently implanted pacemaker to be a … dead taxpayer in 2013.

My neighbor is without job. He has too kids and a wife who brings home 900 euro. He doesn’t believe either, that the bailout would help to build a future for his children, as propagated by the government. In fact, the man has no hope at all. Under immense pressure by his wife and his relatives, he sought a neurologist. He diagnosed ‘depression’. The man stays home all day, he doesn’t speak, he shows no interest. Together with the prescription the doctor forbad him to watch television and definitely not the prime time news. His family is anxious about the progress of his disease. And that he might do some unexpected…

Metro workers on strike symbollically hang a metro worker


This morning of 26th September 2012, protesting policemen, firefighter and coastal guards got a taste of what thousands of protesters inhaled for two years. They got tear gassed. By their fellow colleagues from the riot police. This had never happened before. But for everything there is a first.

At the same time, seamen and metalworkers booed finance minister Yiannis Stournaras who had the genius idea to walk through the masses of anti-austerity, anti-wages-cuts protesters.

Protesting Coastal Guards in Crete {I have no idea what the banner in Spanish says}

Judicial personnel is also on a kind of ‘strike’ and refuses to takes work at home, i.e. to work overtime. And if this was not enough – hear! hear! – they want to have offices in courts and thus with computers and access to data bases! They consider, their upcoming wages cuts as against the Constitution that foresees their salaries and equivalent to those of MPs. “If our salaries were to be cut the same should happen to the MPs’ salaries,” they say -which is fully correct!

At the same time, there are the little news that make the austerity soup more spicy: for example, owners of touristic buses assigned with the transport of pupils to schools will stop their services as of tomorrow in Attica. Due to outstanding debts from the side of the state.

Health? What health?

State hospital doctors have not been paid overtime work for several months.

Employees at Alzheimer’s daily care centres have not been paid for the last six months. A meeting with the health minister ended ugly. It looks as if the minister believes that people should work without payment.

At the same time, insured patients continue to pay prescription medicine from their own pockets, as pharmacists in 18 perfectures of the country continue and will continue to boycott the national health care organisation until Sept 30/2012. 

PS A friend spent the whole Thursday morning visiting more than seven pharmacists in Piraeus to get together five different drugs for her chronic-ill mother. She didn’t. She found one drug here, two in one pharmacy and two in another. However, she can’t  use one prescription in different pharmacies. Where are the drugs?