Monday, February 27, 2012

Meanwhile In Greece

Courtesy of Lambert Strether at Naked Capitalism, a collection of articles on some social aspects of the ongoing collapse of the Greek state:

Under Zeus' gaze, austerity-hit Greeks queue for potatoes (Reuters)
Katerini, a once prosperous town and local hub for agriculture, transport and tourism, has been hit by the crisis as hard as any other in debt-laden Greece. Streets are full of shuttered shops. Pawnshops offering to buy jewelry are mushrooming. Just like everywhere else in the nation, unemployment has climbed to record levels.

The Pieria Volunteer Action Team, a group of local activists, decided to use the Internet to help people get cheap food. They first contacted a potato grower in northern Greece with surplus stock and a license to sell directly to customers.

Then they invited members and friends to place their orders on the Internet. "Within 12 hours, 530 people ordered 24 tons of potatoes. We had to stop taking orders," said Elias Tsolakides, a 54-year old member of the group.
Greeks 'fell trees for warmth' amid economic chill (Yahoo)
ATHENS (AFP) - Rising oil prices and chilly economic times are prompting increasing numbers of Greeks to chop down trees for winter warmth, a group of forest engineers warned Tuesday.
Greek Suicide Rate Up By Forty Percent (Telegraph)
Un a country where suicide is so vehemently stigmatised that it amounts to the social problem that dare not speak its name, a specialised telephone service offering counselling to those in despair began as recently as 2007. Today, the psychiatrists and psychologists who answer whenever someone dials “1018” are busier than ever. As the national economic crisis has worsened, so the volume of calls has grown.

In 2010, the service spoke to 2,500 people judged to be contemplating suicide. Last year, Greece’s first euro bail-out failed and the country’s unemployment rate rose by half in the space of 12 months, climbing from 13.9 to 20.9 per cent. As more and more people confronted redundancy and destitution, the plaintive calls to Klimaka more than doubled: 5,500 people thought to be at serious risk rang in 2011.
And somewhere, Karl Marx has to be laughing his ass off at this: Some Greeks Might Have to Pay for Their Jobs (Atlantic Wire)
It's being called the "negative salary": Due to austerity measures in Greece, it's being reported that up to 64,000 Greeks will go without pay this month, and some will have to pay for having a job. Numbers in austerity reports have usually reflected figures in the millions, since they reflect industry-wide cuts (i.e. a 537-million euro cut to health and pension funds). And plans of cutting minimum wage by up to 32% is all but a given in the country. Today's "negative salary" deal—which could have government employees returning funds— reveals the real human impact of the austerity measures.
And see this: Is Greece's the longest recession in history? (BBC). Props for mentioning the Black Death and the Decline of the Roman Empire. You really have to wonder when we'll get economics figured out.

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