While Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and his cohorts were celebrating because Greece floated a bond, a 35-year-old woman fell – without floating – to her death when she jumped off a building in the western Athens neighborhood in Peristeri.
That came a couple of days after a report from the University of Portsmouth found a direct link between austerity being imposed by the government on the orders of international lenders and 551 suicides in two years.
While Samaras and his cohorts were celebrating because Greece had achieved a primary surplus – on the backs of workers, pensioners, the poor and the dead – a 40-year-old uninsured single mother on the island of Mytilini died from a stroke because she didn’t have eight euros to buy blood pressure medicine.
She was one of somewhere between 1.9-3 million people in Greece, or about 20-30 percent of the entire population, who don’t have health insurance anymore because they lost their jobs and their year-long 360 euro a month – before taxes – benefits had expired, or because pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions left them unable to afford it.
In the 21st Century, in the age of the Internet, Greece isn’t sure how many people don’t have health insurance but it doesn’t matter to the authorities and Samaras and Health Minister/TV Infomercial Salesman Adonis “The Grim Reaper” Georgiadis because they do and so do all their rich friends, or they have so much money they don’t need it.
The next time either Samaras or Georgiadis see a poor person or pensioner, at least without fainting or sterilizing their hands because they had gotten too close to the great unwashed of society, it will be the first time.
When Samaras needed an eye operation, he didn’t have to stand in line for two hours to be admitted to Attikon Hospital, aged and worn medical booklet in hand, praying to get good care and not have to worry whether the doctors would have syringes or medicine.
He’s been preaching what he calls Greece’s “success story,” which to him means taking care of his banker friends who gave his New Democracy Capitalists and their coalition partners the PASOK Anti-Socialists 250 million euros in fake loans they don’t have to repay.
That’s less than one-third of the 700 million euros Georgiadis said would be needed to insure every Greek citizen so a lot of them don’t have to die. But Greece doesn’t have the money, he said, without mentioning that the government is giving the banks 50 BILLION euros – some 70 times more.
He should have compared his platitude speech with Samaras, who was at the same time saying, “Greece doesn’t need more money,” which was news to everyone in Greece.
But people who need operations and don’t have health insurance will either die or suffer, but it doesn’t matter to Samaras or Georgiadis or Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras because they won’t be one of them.
No one knows how many have died because of a lack of critical supplies or not enough doctors to diagnose and treat people, but Georgiadis has killed so many more people through what he’s done they should call him Charon.
And while Georgiadis says Greece, allegedly a country with a Socialist medical system to provide health care for all, can’t afford it, the government provides free college education and won’t recognize degrees from private universities, even if Harvard or Yale opened a branch in Athens.
So how much does the “free” college education cost?
Now he’s been shamed into trying to save people’s lives and said the government will provide free drugs to people who don’t have insurance. Here’s a better idea: give them health insurance.
“We want to find a way in which the state can directly cover an obligation which we recognize the state has,” he said. “And this certainly has to happen in a way in which we have clear control over how much is spent.”
Here’s how it can be done: stop buying billion-dollar submarines that don’t work and aren’t needed and provide health insurance. A country which doesn’t do that isn’t civilized in the first place.
He said some 13 million euros ($18 million) confiscated from defense contract kickbacks would go into a fund to pay for operations for people who can’t afford them, so at least corruption is covering people because the government can’t, and won’t.
The only way for uninsured Greeks to get drugs they can’t afford is from clinics set up volunteer doctors and staffers who care, like Doctors of the World, or a medicine bank run by the Athens Medical Association and the Federation of Greek Pharmaceutical Companies.
The Metropolitan Community Clinic at Elliniko says it is treating people who should be in hospitals.
“At a same time that the banks and lenders are receiving billions of euros, the government can’t spend 700 million euros to help the country’s three million uninsured citizens (according to the health minister, that’s all it would cost),” it said in a statement.
IT JUST DON’T ADD UP
But these are all just numbers to politicians and ministers who don’t go to public hospitals because they go to private hospitals, either in Greece or elsewhere in Europe or Boston or New York or wherever they want.
As for Greece’s poor – or workers or the unemployed – they come under The Georgiadis Rule: let them die. It’s cheaper anyway since the government then doesn’t have to pay doctors or hospital care for them.
The only real number in Greece that matters is this – 1. That’s because a single unnecessary death diminishes us all. Fortunately no rich person or politician committed suicide nor was denied health care as we have to depend on these people to provide for us because they know what we really need and we should look to them like dogs to a master.
If you want to see the real picture in Greece, go to a hospital emergency ward and see the Hieronymus Bosch hell scenes inside: sick people sitting on the floors, security guards trying to keep back angry people desperate to see the few doctors on hand, most of them skilled or young interns who haven’t been paid.
Go to the rest room but bring your own toilet paper and paper towels – and toilet seats and soap – because there isn’t any because Georgiadis has cut the health care budget so much there’s not enough money for basic supplies.
If you’re admitted, hope the overworked and understaffed nurses don’t give you the wrong medication or that there’s a syringe for your injection.
These are the figures that add up, not the phony 1.5 billion euro primary surplus the government declared and was certified by the European Union’s statistics agency ELSTAT.
That was just in time to give Samaras a boost before May’s critical elections that show his party behind the major opposition Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) that threatens to revise or renege on bailouts that would jeopardize the Eurozone.
Greece has gotten almost 240 BILLION euros ($330.7 billion) in the last four years, most of it to repay the people who lent it, with interest, and not for social services.
Now Samaras is pointing to the phony primary surplus that doesn’t include interest on 310 billion euros ($430 billion) in debt, the cost of running cities and towns, social security, state enterprises, some military expenditures and other numbers manipulated to create a mirage of belief that Greece still isn’t broke.
Those figures were rigged, and everyone knows it, to benefit the government and an EU scared to hell – rightfully so – that SYRIZA would come to power one day, stiff the public investors the same way the government did to private investors and put the last nail in the coffin of Greece.
Of course, Georgiadis would say there isn’t enough money to pay for the nail.