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Catch up with weekend news: taxes, health care and smog

It’s always difficult to catch up with the news if there has been a blogging break for a couple of days. And it is more difficult when re-start blogging occurs on a Monday. Nothing extraordinary important occurred during the weekend. Bloggers need a break from time to time, to step back and reset their priorities. And furthermore because there is life beyond blogging. 🙂

Top issues of the political, economic and social agenda in Greece over the weekend were the usual stuff: taxes, taxes, taxes. Top on the agenda, how the Troika will grab the last cent from the Greek pockets with the help of the government.

How the property owners will pay rent to live in their own homes. What if there is a new bill unifying a couple of property taxes? The “emergency property tax” imposed in 2011 and planned for just two years, it has become permanent. Despite the fact that the new “unified property tax” supposed to cover all running property taxes, owners of properties worth more than 300,000 euro will pay additional taxes. All this awesome property taxation system is based on commercial values of 2007, even though in year 2013, property value have dropped at least 30%.

The “restructuring” of the public health care was on the agenda as well and how the devoted supporter of neo-liberalism, the former telemarketing book seller who plays the role of the minister. He will overhaul the health sector, he praises, “for the benefit of the country”. But not for the benefit of the patients. Ask anyone, especially the chronic-ill, if they manage to pay for their prescription medicine. At the same time, the strike of Greece’ biggest insurance fund IKA-doctors since more than three weeks is leaving thousands of patients in desperation as they see their appointments being cancelled. But who cares? Neither the minister who seeks to please the Troika, nor the doctors who seek to protect their rights. The Greek patient is always in the middle, hostage without proper health care and without medication as he cannot afford to pay for it.

The third issue that actually topped the news agenda was the home heating and the smog caused by the use of fireplaces and wood stoves. With temperatures causing teeth jitter and pockets empty from chattering euro to pay for heating oil or natural gas, wood and coal are the cheap alternatives also for the winter 2013. With the effect that heavy, sticky, suffocating clouds of air pollution swallowing the skyline of big Greek cities.

Over the weekend the ministries of Health and Environment issued two warnings asking people to refrain from “unnecessary use of fireplaces.” Unnecessary? Like start a fire to grill sausages in the living room? Or start a fire and open a bottle of red wine for a romantic Saturday evening? Just for fun?

Everybody knows that the solution to the problem of winter smog is to lower the tax on heating oil and natural gas. But the government won’t do it, because it has to table successful revenue figure to the Troika. happen. Last week, the government promised to give free electricity to those in need during the days of fireplace smog, when the air pollution is higher that 150microgram/m3. The measure -not approved yet- aimed to persuade people using electric heaters instead of stoves and fire places. And the days of free electricity would be double than the days of high air pollution.

So now the government will give four days free electricity due to high air pollution and warning? No, it was rather a bad government farce. The measurement of air pollution in Marousi in Northern Athens, for example, showed 110 mgr/m3…. So no free electricity and keep this in mind next time you will falsely assume “smog=free electricity”.

While the vast majority of Greeks struggling to come through the winter, the Greek Parliament published today the income declarations of political party leaders and lawmakers. Be assured. They all earn in the average over €70,000 per year, they have properties and assets and bank deposits in Greece and abroad and furthermore they work in appropriate heated offices paid by the taxpayers who cannot pay to heat their own homes.

But this is Greece: the country of social injustice and IMF-loan agreements, of “creative accounting” and politicians devoted to save the country and their own pockets.

Fact is that the ‘internal devaluation’ of the €uro will continue and the households will keep bleeding financially. With or without heating oil, with or without fireplaces, with or without health care.

Neither the Troika nor the Greek government will let a tiny hole in the thick wall of austerity so that citizens to take a breath. Independently of winter smog

What if the European Commission has repeatedly said, there would be no haircut in the bank deposits of less than €100,000? Greeks will keep paying for the debts of the government until there is nothing left to undergo a haircut…

PS Before judging and condemning, think positive! If the health sector collapses for the patients, the government will record a primary surplus on the papers.


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  1. So. Everyone will burn as much of the dirtiest wood they can find. Bang the air pollution levels up. Get free electricity. Go for it.

    • No, we burn clean wood. free electricity? you have to die from smog suffocation first, according to the condition for freepower.