Greece is dying – Suicides are skyrocketing


 

By Kosmas Loumakis

The number of suicides are skyrocketing in Greece. The Greek people have undoubtedly been hit very hard by the austerity cuts which have led to the fact that far too many, compared with just two years ago, take their lives.

Greece used to have the lowest recorded suicide rates in Europe. However, from spring 2010 there has been a very worrying rise in figures of people taking their own lives.

My sun-kissed motherland with once the lowest recorded suicide rates in Europe, have seen a huge rise in suicides. The first 6 months of this year we saw a surge in the number of suicides among the poor and those older than 65. It has risen by more than 37 percent against the same period for 2011  – 1 400 people have taken their lives since January 1.

All suicides are the result of depression, but a few also carries a political message; some are ending their lives in an act of ultimate political protest.

More than 3 400 people have taken their own lives since 2010. ‘This is the number for confirmed suicides. Psychiatrist think the real number is much higher (apx 5 000 people). That is one and a half times a 9/11 attack and we all know what grief that brought to all of the 300 million Americans. What grief do you think that all of us Greeks, 11 millions, feel when 5  000 of our fellow country men and women have  ‘been killed’ by financial Terrorism?

Greece, that has been led with a leash to its death (controlled bankruptcy), saw 60 deaths and a further 420 suicide attempts in the capital Athens in June alone. Numbers of dead are rising across the country for more reasons than suicides. Many of the poor, old people are nowadays forced to choose between eating or buying their medicines, so many die from not being able to afford their necessary medicines. The average age in Greece has been reduced with 10 years in only two years.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is since taking office, striving to assure the EU/IMF he will honour a pledge for more austerity. This Wednesday the coalition voted through the new Memorandum which promises harder cuts and in fact a complete sellout of the country’s wealth and assets but also its sovereignty and independence. The bulk of the cuts will come from state salaries and pensions, and up to 60,000 public sector firings, further angering an austerity-weary public that openly and frequently has been protesting on the streets for almost three years now.

Mr Samaras said: ‘We’re all having a difficult time’, and only that sentence from his mouth is actually received as  if he is mocking and humiliating the suffering Greeks.

Before the financial crisis began, Greece had the lowest suicide rate in Europe at 2.8 per 100,000 inhabitants, according to Eurostat (ca 280 people per year).

Deaths like that of a 77-year-old pharmacist who shot himself to death on Syntagma Square in downtown Athens in April, and Dimitris Christoulas, who blew his brains out at the same place in the same month, have captured headlines and stoked fears among experts that much worse is to come. Last year, Apostolos Polyzonis, 55, out of work and out of money set fire to himself in the middle of the street

And worse has come… People have hanged themselves in public, set alight to themselves in public and died in numerous other ways in the privacy of their own homes.

A note written in red letters on a piece of cardboard are pinned on a memorial to Christoulas in Athens.

It says: ‘The government has annihilated all traces for my survival, which was based on a very dignified pension that I alone paid into for 35 years with no help from the state.

‘I see no other solution than this dignified end to my life so that I don’t find myself fishing through garbage cans for my sustenance.

‘I believe that young people with no future will one day take up arms and hang the traitors of this country on Syntagma Square.’

The newspaper Ta Nea describes the mood among Greeks as a ‘society on the verge of a nervous breakdown. That is true if one think that it only is the economic reasons that torment the Greeks… but its not. It is also for the national reasons of the country’s independence and sovereignty that some Greeks can’t stand the humiliation. To most of us it is a catastrophe to loose our land that has been won piece by piece and with a lot of  bloodshed from soldiers and civilians, women, men and children. When some people understands that millions of Greeks died in heroic battles and  wars, so a few dark suits with iPads could come from Brussels and Berlin and just claim the country because of a fictive debt, they can’t stand it anymore. I would say that the Greek society is not on the verge to a nervous breakdown anymore, its beyond that. It is actually heading with furious steps towards a full scale revolution, because the young ones have had enough with having their parents and grandparents committing suicide and their small brothers and sisters feinting at school from malnourishment. They have had it with watching their friends and relatives migrate to USA, Central-Europe  or Australia. It is the fourth time in the last 100 years that Greeks are forced to migrate on a large scale.

Berlin insists that Athens honour its pledges and that attitude, make more and more Greeks interpret the current situation as a proper occupation by foreign powers, and that is what it actually is about right now and no one in the European media want to call it by its name.

Now however, it is not possible to cut anymore, the knife has reached the haggard white bone of the exhausted Greek citizen! It is boiling in Athens right now and throughout the rest of Greece… A very deep anger begins to show also on previous calm faces. The Greek society is about to explode and not in any, by the State ‘controlled’  way, as both this Greek government and the EU would prefer, but out of anyone’s control and without any warning.
_______________________________________________________________

About athenianvoice

Kosmas Loumakis - Sociological consultant, analyst, field operative and tactical field coordinator of national and regional social projects in Sweden. Was contracted for almost two decades by governmental bodies and NGO's, in governmental gang crime and extremism preventive efforts. Have produced a number of socio pedagogic action plans and developed methods, field tactics and strategies for gang crime and extremism preventive projects.

Posted on November 10, 2012, in Articles in English, Hot. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Please let me know if you’re looking for a author for your weblog. You have some really good articles and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d love to write some content for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine.
    Please send me an email if interested. Cheers!

  2. The following is a description how the economic problems could be handled in a way that doesn’t hurt the vast majority of the people and also prevent the same bad things happen again.

    Orderly exit 1(6) Per Almgren 2012-01-31
    Orderly Exit from the European Monetary Union
    By Per Almgren, MSc (Technical Physics) 1/31/2012
    For a country that wants, or finds it necessary, to leave the European Monetary Union the first thing to do is to analyse what is the real cause of the problem with the economy. This is not so easy since it requires thinking “outside the box”. You must question some cornerstones of the mainstream economy.

    First recognize that the economy is a “zero-sum-game”. Looking at the society in any country, you can define three groups:

    1. The government and its associated organisations, mainly financed by taxation.
    2. The commercial business sector, mainly financed by earnings from sellinggoods and services.
    3. The citizens, mainly financing their needs and wants by wages and salaries paid for work done and to some extent with contributions from governmental institutions. In order to
    simplify the description the non-commercial enterprises and associations are included here.

    Most people don’t question that the commercial business sector should make a profit, i.e. their earnings need to be greater than their costs, at least on average. In Sweden, there is now a law which states that the government and its associated organisations also should make a profit on average. Within the EMU there is a limit to the maximum allowed deficit for the public taxed-financed sector.

    If groups 1 and 2 at least together should earn a profit, it forces group 3 to receive less income from the business sector and the public taxed-financed sector than they have to pay in taxes and for purchasing goods and services. This is a pure mathematical fact and should not be disputed.

    The members of group 3 have to annually increase their accumulated debt or face growing unemployment when the business sector and the government make cut-backs in order to at least try to maintain profits or reduce deficits.

    If the members of group 3 doesn’t increase their average debt, they can only for a very limited time pay more than they earn by using their savings. When the savings are emptied, the only way for this group to continue to pay out more money
    than they earn each month, without increasing their debt, is to accept that some members of the group will loose their jobs or accept lower wages when the business firms and/or the
    government, from month to month, should pay out less money for wages and salaries.
    The
    reduced out-payment will of course make the purchasing power of group 3 decrease again. This means lower incomes the next month for the business firms. They will have to fire some more people and so on. The same holds true for the government and their associated organisations.

    In the present economy, the choice is between an “endless” debt-financed growth of the economy and a continuing shrinking of the economy, accompanied by a growing number of literally starving people.

    The first alternative will soon be blocked by the limits of usable natural resources, both due to physical and biological facts and laws. These conditionsare not negotiable or possible to change by our efforts. They are just to be accepted and included in our calculations.

    It is important to notice that this problem will not be solved by any technological or biological break-trough.

    The only way out of this dilemma in a money economy is to adjust to the fact that the profits and interest payments either should vanish or at least not be added to the money capital which then demand larger profits or interest, if the goal is a stable economy, not ending in a crash.

    You could of course point to the fact that some countries have a positive balance of payments compared to other countries but that only moves the problems of increasing debt forward, it doesn’t solve it.

    If we adhere to the now dominating economic principle that the capital should give a profit, part of which should be added to the capital for further growth, we will get the following well-known consequences:

    There will be increasing economic differences in group 3 between those people who own businesses or have well-paying jobs, and those who own little or nothing and earn less money and/or receive welfare. This will cause growing social unrest as we already can see.

    Even in Germany, looked upon as one of the “soundest” economies in Europe, the number of poor people is increasing. With the growing debt of todays society follows increased interest costs and, as already seen in many countries, and losses when the debtors are unable to repay their loans.

    For a while the break-down could be postponed by debt-financed growth in some sectors, but we are already facing the fact that collectively we use more natural resources every year than nature manages to restore.

    So far experiences has shown that when we learn to produce goods and services using energy and materials more efficiently, we start to buy more instead of actually decrease the total amounts used. We therefore have to reduce the drive to increase the economy and reverse it for many years, in order to reach a balance between what is actually produced by nature and what we consume each year, and for resources that don’t regenerate, really refine the recycling processes. The conclusion is that we also must shrink the money economy, not allow it to grow each year.

    This cannot be done unless at the same time an effective redistribution of economic wealth takes place, reducing the economic gaps between different groups instead of widening them. A growing part of the most poor populations in almost all countries have really experienced a continuing decrease in their living standard in the recent years.

    If we don’t manage this redistribution, everybody will be a looser in the long run, and the long run may be shorter than most of us can imagine. It will require a taxing system that at the same time is effective and acceptable to the great majority of the population in order to change this situation.

    In this regard we must also question what profit and interest levels are acceptable for a stable society.

    The simple answer is that they must be so low that they will be completely used up by the consumption of goods and services and interest levels even be below zero percent. The rule of thumb is that on the average no interest or profit should used to add to the owners capital. Any other use will increase the debt burden for the less wealthy and thus the demand for continued growth or just cause inflation.

    It can be shown, both mathematically and with statistics, quite contrary to what is told in the textbooks of economy, that an increase in the interest rate causes a rise in inflation instead of a decrease. It ought to be obvious that if you increase one part of the cost of a product the price of the product will usually increase.

    Now to the practical details.

    This proposed means to reconstruct the economy of the country includes a combined taxation and money reform, linked with a basic income for every registered resident of the country.

    The base for taxation will be based upon liquidity (M3), not upon income. The allowed fields of business for the Banks will be decreased in order to increase the stability of the economy. The new type of taxation will reduce administration work and thus improve competitive strength.

    To make a big change in the economy will need a stable support from the population, and the citizens should have the possibility to say yes or no to a proposal in a referendum. The main parts of the changes have to be described in such a way that a huge majority of the citizens will understand them.
    Perhaps a special law must be passed, stating that all major contracts, business agreements and transactions made from now on are conditional and might have to be reversed and redone according to new legislation if the result of the referendum is yes.

    The actual transition from one type of money to another should not be a problem. The present type of money could be used for a period of say a half year, but their printed face value will not be the same as the actual value that will decline according to the time since the decision date and the taxation rate.

    The new type of money ought to be ready for distribution within a month or two. The quite simple computer programming for banks and some other institutions should also be ready and implemented during that time.

    The larger, or time consuming, problem may be the updating of computer programs and equipment for all the shops and service institutions in the society. This kind of programs ought of course to be ready, debugged and tested in advance before any country really needs to use them.

    The new currency will be allowed to float, demand and supply will establish the value compared to other currencies. No decided devaluations or appreciations will be needed.

    There should be no need for surprised redenomination. The starting exchange ratio to the Euro might be set to 1:1. Due to the inherent design of the money system, the price level will be
    quite stable.

    The country that wants to resolve its economic problems shall declare that it will pay the actual principal of foreign debts, but no more in interest, with exception of what could be a small annual fee for the real administration costs of handling the loans.

    If not acceptable to the lenders, the other choice would be a negotiated write-down of the debt. In both cases the repaying period should be long enough to be realistic depending on
    what the actual situation within the country dictates.

    Time for repayment of foreign debt should be between 5 and 20 years, depending on the circumstances of each case. The sums to be repaid could be fixed in Euro.

    The mortgages could continue to be fixed to the Euro amount after the change of currency. The same will be true for part of contracts, but any part containing payment of interest will
    have to be adjusted to just cover real handling costs for credits and fixed penalty amounts when not followed.

    The banks that will continue operation will not be allowed to create money by just transfer the lended amount into an account belonging to the borrower and do the corresponding
    transaction on the borrowers new debt account. Instead the banks will just have to act as a broker between the customer who want to lend/invest his or her money and the borrower.

    For the service done the bank gets a fee. There will not be any governmental unconditional funds to cover losses for the depositors. If they want, they can participate in an assurance
    association to lower their risk but their fees will have to cover the total losses.

    The banks will of course be able to lend their own capital. This arrangement will make the payment system sure and the banking system much more stable than the present system and would not create any burden for reconstructions upon people not involved.

    Financing for private and/or small scale projects of different types could be arranged using the principles established and launched 1983 within the cooperative JAK financing system, now a cooperative bank in Sweden. The main principles are non-profit and balance between what you borrow and save, measured by a money-times-time unit.

    Due to the later described taxation system, most people would probably want to lend or invest their surplus money to projects or other persons. The money and taxation system proposed will not fuel inflation since the interest on money
    will be low, or even negative, if existing, and the average level of profits will be low.

    If the central bank is not owned completely and directly by the government, this should be changed so that the central government is the sole owner or, if it will appear more suitable, the ownership could also include regional and local government.

    The laws should if necessary be changed so that the government/s is entitled to borrow money directly from the central bank. The limit for the total debt should be proportional to the size of the population registered to be living permanently in the country (/region/municipality).

    In many countries with the most severe problems there are difficulties for the government to collect taxes. To correct this situation, and at the same time do away with a lot of
    administrative, controlling and collecting work, a different method designed as follows should be used:

    All taxation of income, VAT, payroll tax, estate tax and special goods are abandoned. Instead a daily fee on liquidity (M3), is introduced on all present money accounts. This means that the amount deducted will be 0.4 to 0.5 percent of the total amount in the account. Two or may-be three types of accounts will not be taxed.

    One is an account into which money that is received when foreign currency is sold directly to publicly owned exchange institutions or governmentally owned banks. Another is the
    personal accounts into which a basic income is paid by the local and/or central government.

    This basic income will be large enough to live on and paid out to all registered inhabitants in the country, citizens or non-citizens. In order to continue to get this basic income, you have to regularly show that you still live in the country.

    The third account, if implemented, will be used by the local or central government when paying for real estate or similar things when bought from private persons or business firms. It may also have a substantially lower rate of taxation, if not completely free from taxation.

    No other type of deposit to these three accounts should be possible. The holder of the accounts (or custodian for children and some other persons) can only make withdrawals,
    either to other (taxed) accounts or as cash.

    Practically no money needs to be transferred electronically from taxed accounts to any account belonging to local or central government. They only need to know the total amount
    issued and paid out from the non-taxed accounts in order to calculate how much new money could or should be used for their costs without increasing the total amount of circulating
    money above what is limited by the law.

    When someone wants to buy foreign currency from the governmentally owned banks, the payment must be done direct from one of the non-taxed accounts.

    Cash is taxed in the following way. Each banknote have an issuing date and a table telling the actual value each day in steps of for example 1 percent of the initial value. There is also a strip code that could be scanned in the same way as price labels in the shops today. This code is processed by the computer in the store that calculates the value.

    After someyears the banknote has no remaining value. No cash needs to be collected for paying the tax. It is enough to know the amount issued one day and what tax rate printed on the bill to know how much new money could be spent without increasing the total circulating amount.

    An interesting thing is that this way of taxation means that all money (except those stored in the non-taxed accounts) makes all jobs automatically become “white” and a lot of handling, reporting and controlling work will no longer be needed. This means lower costs both for the government and for the business sector, associations and private persons.

    Thus the competitive power of the country increases and this will ease the payback of foreign debt.

    Since the basic income will be sufficient for the most basic needs, there will be no need for special loans to students, insurance systems for sick or disabled people (if not needing special care or equipment), people that are unemployed and so on. This means further reductions of administrative work and costs.

    Since the tax on liquidity is paid by the holder of the money, buyers will want to pay early or in advance, and sellers would prefer late payments, quite the opposite situation of today.
    There will also be easier to be allowed to make partial payments.

    One possibility to avoid being a taxpayer is to directly lend ones money to some other person or business firm. The
    lender is entitled to get the lent sum back and the borrower or his or her suppliers pays the tax. The financing of good projects will thus be easier than now to achieve.

    One question that most people will ask when informed about this system is if not everybody will try to buy goods that can be saved or real estate in order to escape the taxing. The answer to this is that it will have to be at least two parts to making such transactions. One wants to buy but the other one may want to wait as long as possible to sell, for the same reasons. So it will not be so easy to buy things that have a lasting value. But since some people probably want to use the money, it could be an increase in the business for selling services or for cultural arrangements.

    In order to avoid speculation with real estate and natural resources, it should be arranged that the ownership of such things are transferred to the local governments who then will rent them to people or businesses (site leasehold). The price should preferably be decided on by open bidding, but for farming and similar things, the user or his/her relatives or children may have some type of first right to have the contract transferred to them, maybe even for a lower price than the highest bid. Contract time could be long, 49 or even 99 years, if agreed on between the local community and the other part.

    In order to test this type of economy system and detect things that ought to be modified, it would be very valuable to conduct a real life project in some municipalities. To perform such
    tests agreements with the central government is needed. The area must be large enough to have a diversified economy, in order not to be to burdened by a lot of exchange transactions
    between the local and national currency/Euro.

    Islands or archipelagos like Åland, partly self-ruling in the Baltic between Sweden and Finland, with 25 000 inhabitants would be suitable areas. Experiences gathered in the 1930-ties and later showed that also quite small municipalities, i.e. Wörgl in Austria with less than 5 000 inhabitants, by implementing a local currency, managed to change the situation quite quickly to the better for their inhabitants. This project was studied by the American economist Irving Fisher who came to the conclusion that implementing this full-scale in the US would cure the depressive economy within 6 months.

    When running such a small society, you will have to make agreements with the authorities of the country about responsibilities and taxations, handling currency exchanges, payments for governmental services that are not so easy to implement in a smaller scale, may-be also for some costs for the test and what would occur after the test period.

    Acknowledgement

    The idea of combining a basic income with taxation upon liquidity in accounts was to my knowledge first launched in Sweden in 1994 by Åsa Brandberg, Stockholm. How to
    implement this with paper money was designed by this author around 2002.

    Per Almgren
    email: per.almgren(at)mp.se

  3. Ringer dig vid 4-tiden idag…

  4. ring när du har tid så fikar vi.

  5. Broder,… jag lägger upp en artikel senare idag om just det du säger.. Fika imorn e.m?

  6. det finns inga ord, jag ser min fiende i ögonen varje dag i hopp om att människor kommer att leva i en lite mer balanserad värld i framtiden och jag vet var jag står, och hur sjukt det än låter så får jag en kick av att sparka folk i baken som tror att dom sitter på säker mark.
    God bless

  1. Pingback: On assisted suicide:Greece « Dogma and Geopolitics

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