More austerian misery on the Mediterranean

In the European Unions, Great Recession bailouts were contingent on harsh memoranda from the Troika — the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission — documents spelling out harsh conditions, ranging from mandated selloffs of ports, transportation systems, and other state resources, as well as those pay, pension, and healthcare benefits.

The hardest hit countries in the European Union were the PIIGS, Portgual, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain.

Two PIIGS are feeling the pain, one physically.

Spanish unions battle the Troika.


Spain’s two biggest unions said on Thursday that they “firmly opposed” measures demanded by Brussels to reduce the public deficit and demanded a hike in the minimum wage.

“We firmly reject the adjustment of €5.5 billion demanded by the European Commission,” the head of the UGT union, Pepe Alvarez, told a joint news conference with Ignacio Fernandez Toxo who heads the nation’s biggest union Commissiones Obreras.

Spain had agreed with Brussels to reduce its public deficit from 5.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 to 4.6 percent this year and 3.1 percent in 2017.

But the draft 2017 budget which Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government sent to Brussels last month forecasts a public deficit of 3.6 percent this year.

The European Commission responded by demanding that Madrid adopt additional measures to lower the deficit down to 3.1 percent, which will require roughly 5.5 billion euros ($6.1 billion) in spending cuts and tax increases.

The pain is physical in Greece

The Hellenic republic was the hardest hit of the PIIGS, and employment is still at stunningly high levels, with nearly half of Greek young people jobless and unemployment rates rising among older workers.

The latest numbers, released Thursday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority:

Austerity measures have been notably harsh, and the anti-austerity Syriza-led government surrendered to the Troika, inflicting still more pension, pay, and healthcare benefits whiles selling off more of the commons.

Just what impact the Troika has had can be illustrated in one sobering story from Kathimerini:

Spending on dental care in Greece declined by up to 64 percent between 2009 and 2015, according to data compiled by the country’s statistical authority which also showed that overall health spending fell by slightly over 19 percent over the same period.

According to ELSTAT, in 2009 Greeks spent a total of 1.95 billion euros on oral care (an average 473.4 euros per household). Six years later, spending had dropped to 701 million euros (an average of 169.5 euros per household).

Experts say that pressed by the ongoing financial crisis, Greeks chose to sacrifice oral care in favor of less flexible health spending such as medicine and hospital treatment.

Experts warn that the situation is made worse by the deterioration of public dental care service which has been hit by shortages in staff and equipment.

So the cash keeps flowing out of the country, while pain and suffering increases.

So is the power of the lootocrats.


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