Category Archives: Elders

Death dominates lives of young African Americans


We’ve long known that life expectancies of black Americans are significantly shorter than those of white Americans, as summarized in this from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Life expectancy, by race: United States, 1970–2010

Life expectancy, by race: United States, 1970–2010

But there’s another set of deaths rates given, until now,  little attention.

And these numbers carry profound and multifold impacts, the loss experienced by children as parents and other close family members die.

From the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin:

African-Americans are more likely than whites to experience the loss of a parent during childhood and more likely to be exposed to multiple family member deaths by mid-life, according to a study by the Population Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin.

It’s a trend that is likely to be damaging to the health of black Americans in the long run, the researchers said. Racial disparities in life expectancy and mortality risk in the United States also suggest that blacks are exposed to more family member deaths earlier and throughout their life than whites.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [$10 for article access], UT Austin researchers examined racial disparities in exposure and timing of family member deaths to uncover an underappreciated layer of racial inequality, which results from reoccurring bereavement that may lead to the intergenerational transmission of black health disadvantages.

“The potentially substantial damage to surviving family members is a largely overlooked area of racial disadvantage,” said Debra Umberson, a sociology professor who is the director of the Population Research Center. “By calling attention to this heightened vulnerability of black Americans, our findings underscore the need to address the potential impact of more frequent and earlier exposure to family member deaths in the process of cumulative disadvantage.”

Using nationally representative datasets of more than 42,000 people, Umberson and her colleagues compared non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white Americans on their exposure to death of biological parents, siblings, children and spouses, as well as the total number of deaths experienced at different ages.

Umberson emphasizes that bereavement following the death of even one close family member has lasting adverse consequences for health. Premature losses are especially devastating.

“If losing a family member is a disadvantage in the present in ways that disrupt the future, racial disparities in these losses over the life course is a tangible manifestation of racial inequality that needs to be systematically documented,” she said.

The study showed that blacks experienced more family member deaths overall than whites. They were twice as likely to experience the death of two or more family members by age 30 and 90 percent more likely to experience four or more deaths by age 65. In stark contrast, whites were 50 percent more likely to never experience a family member death by age 65.

The researchers found overall that blacks were at greater risk of losing a mother from early childhood through young adulthood, a father through their mid-teens, a sibling in their teens and a child by the age of 30. The race-gap diminishes only slightly at ages 70 and up when whites begin to experience more loss, the researchers said.

Specific findings include:

  • In a cohort born in the 1980s,
    • Blacks were three times more likely to lose a mother, more than twice as likely to lose a father and 20 percent more likely to lose a sibling by age 10.
    • Blacks were two and a half times more likely to lose a child by age 30.
  • Among several older cohorts born in the 1900s to the 1960s,
    • Blacks were nearly twice as likely as whites to lose a spouse by age 60.
    • Blacks were 50 percent more likely to lose a sibling between the ages of 50 and 70.
    • Between the ages of 50 and 70 Blacks were three times more likely than whites to lose a child.

“This is the first population-based documentation of earlier and repeated bereavement experiences for Black Americans,” Umberson said. “Death of family members is highly likely to disrupt and strain other family relationships as well as the formation, duration and quality of relationships across the life course, further contributing to a broad range of adverse life outcomes including poor health and lower life expectancy.”

Troikarchs continue to ramp up heat on Greece


No extra help for pensioners, they declare, even though a series of more than ten pension cuts have pushed half of elderly Greek below the poverty line,

From Kathimerini:

The institutions involved in Greece’s aid program have issued a “critical” report assessing whether unilateral measures announced by Athens are compatible with its bailout obligations, a German Finance Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

“The report is preliminary and it is quite critical,” spokesman Dennis Kolberg said, adding that the German government would evaluate the content in detail next week.

Germany had asked the institutions involved in Greece’s aid program on Wednesday to assess whether a planned pre-Christmas payout to poor pensioners was compatible with Greece’s bailout obligations.

More from Reuters:

Under Greece’s latest bailout, Athens can spend more on social programs if it exceeds its fiscal targets, provided it consults its creditors first. Earlier this year, Greek lawmakers approved a social justice bill providing health insurance to vulnerable citizens and offering jobs for the unemployed.

But political experts say the bonus was calculated to garner public support ahead of a big showdown with Greece’s emergency lenders, the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

>Snip<

Almost a dozen pension cuts have pushed nearly half of Greece’s elderly to below the poverty line with income of less than 665 euros a month. After rent, utility bills and health care, they barely make ends meet.

Chart of the Day: European celebratory isolation


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From Eurostat, which reports:

13.0% of the population aged 16 or over living in the European Union (EU) reported in 2014 not being able to get together with friends/family for a drink or meal at least once a month due to lack of resources, while 17.8% could not afford to regularly participate in a leisure activity.

Working age people (aged 25 to 64) were slightly more affected. The shares in this age group stood at 13.9% and 19.6% respectively, while they were 11.0% and 16.3% for young people (aged 16 to 24) and 11.2% and 13.5% for the elderly (aged 65 or over).

Around one third of the population in Hungary (36.5%), Romania (35.7%) and Bulgaria (30.0%) said they could not afford to get together with friends/family for a drink/meal at least once a month. High shares were also observed in Greece (20.7%), Malta (19.2%), Ireland (18.4%) and Lithuania (17.4%). The elderly in Romania are particularly affected: in the age group over 65, the share there reaches 43.0%. In Hungary, the share is higher among the young (40.0%).

At the opposite end the scale, the share was below 1% in all age groups in Sweden. Less than 5% of the population feel unable to get together with friends/family for a drink/meal at least once a month also in Finland (1.5%), Denmark (3.2%), the Netherlands (3.3%), the Czech Republic (3.4%) and Luxembourg (4.1%).

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.

From TheLocal.es:

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:

blog-greece
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.

Chart of the day: Employers ditch pension plans


From a sobering new report on the American workforce from the Pew Research Center:

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Film’s neglected, distorted portrayal of the aging


Following up on our previous post about inequality in the world of American film comes another study of bias on the silver screen, this time reflecting the neglected and distorted portrayal of folks of esnl’s own vintage.

Again, from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism:

New research reveals few characters aged 60 and over are represented in film, and that prominent senior characters face demeaning or ageist references. These negative and stereotypical media portrayals do not reflect how seniors see themselves – or their lifestyles. These findings stem from two studies conducted by health and well-being company Humana Inc. and the Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative at USC Annenberg. The studies also reveal that aging Americans who are more optimistic report having better health.

Led by Professor Stacy L. Smith, USC Annenberg’s study analyzed the 100 top-grossing films from 2015 to assess the portrayal of characters aged 60 and over. Humana also conducted a quantitative analysis, asking seniors to identify the lifestyle traits that are important when aging, to assess the degree to which these traits describe them and to provide their point of view on senior representation in media. Major findings include:

In film, seniors are underrepresented, mischaracterized and demeaned by ageist language.

  • The findings show just 11 percent of characters evaluated were aged 60 and over; U.S. Census data shows that 18.5 percent of the population is aged 60 and over.
  • Out of 57 films that featured a leading or supporting senior character, 30 featured ageist comments – that’s more than half of the films. Quotes included characters being referred to as “a relic,” “a frail old woman” and “a senile old man.” According to Humana’s quantitative survey, seniors report they are highly aware (95 percent), resilient (91 percent) and physically active (71 percent).
  • Only 29.1 percent of on-screen leading or supporting characters aged 60 or older engaged with technology, whereas 84 percent of aging Americans report that they use the internet weekly.
  • Of the senior characters that died on screen, 79.2 percent of deaths were a result of physical violence — such as being shot, stabbed or crushed. This does not accurately reflect causes of death for the aging population, which are heart disease and other chronic illnesses.

But that’s not real life and seniors know it – people aged 60 and over lead active social lives and value internal, psychological strengths.

Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Japan’s swiftly aging population


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From the Yomiuri Shimbun:

The percentage of Japan’s elderly population aged 65 or older rose to 27.3 percent as of Sept. 15 this year, with women of the same age bracket reaching a record high of 30.1 percent of all women, according to estimates by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry.

The total number of elderly rose 730,000 from the previous year to 34.61 million, with the percentage among the total population of the nation rising 0.6 percentage points, according to the estimates that the ministry released in connection with Respect for the Aged Day on Monday.

Both the number and percentage continued to extend record highs. In particular, the number of elderly women rose to 19.62 million, surpassing 30 percent of the total female population for the first time.

The number of men aged 65 or older was 14.99 million, accounting for 24.3 percent of the total male population.

Chart of the day: Elders love her, the young don’t


From Gallup, the Hillary Clinton generation chasm:

BLOG Hillary

Chart of the day: Multigenerational households


While growing numbers of youth in Europe are jobless and not in school or training [see previous post], in the U.S. the Great Recession has spurred a rise of multigenerational households, reversing a trend that had dominated the last half of the 20th Century.

Another factor in the shift has been the growing percentages of the Latino and Asian populations, cultures in which multigenerational households are the norm.

From the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Gens

More From the report:

The number and share of Americans living in multigenerational family households has continued to rise, even though the Great Recession is now in the rear-view mirror. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

Multigenerational family living – defined as a household that includes two or more adult generations, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren – is growing among nearly all U.S. racial groups as well as Hispanics, among all age groups and among both men and women.  The share of the population living in this type of household declined from 21% in 1950 to a low of 12% in 1980. Since then, multigenerational living has rebounded, increasing sharply during and immediately after the Great Recession of 2007-09.

Coup government targets Brazil’s elder workers


The bloodless coup that replaced the government of President Dilma Rosseff with an acting president and ministers far more corrupt than the Rousseff’s government is adopting one of the desiderata of neoliberalism: They are targeting older workers with measures to extend the retirement age while slashing social security payments.

Rousseff has been sidelined pending her trial by the senate, an action now delayed until after the Summer Olympics, and the popular former President and Rousseff party colleague Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will likely run to ensure that the programs he began and Rousseff continued will be restored.

But until and if Lula returns, the future looks increasingly bleak for Brazil’s seniors, who will now be faced with the world’s oldest retirement age in a country with a lower average death age that countries in the industrialized North.

From teleSUR English:

Pension reform has become a national priority for Brazil’s coup-imposed President Michel Temer, who wants to establish the world’s harshest retirement age for worker’s irrespective of the level of their contributions to social security.

Although no country in the world has a minimum retirement age above 67, Temer is holding negotiations with a labor commission that has excluded many of the country’s main trade unions and involves government representatives.

Speaking to the press Friday, Presidential Chief of Staf Eliseu Padilha said the project has yet to be submitted to Congress, but it will be approved by the end of the year if the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff is confirmed by the Senate.

Analysts say the move to raise the retirement age to 70 would be unprecedented, impacting future generations in a country where the median age is 29 and life expectancy is 71.6 for men and 78.8 for woman, according to official government statistics.

Another measure announced by Temer’s government is the plan to reduce benefits paid by social security. The minimum pension individuals currently receive in Brazil is equivalent to the minimum wage, which accounts for 70 percent of pensioners.

And lest we forget, Barack Obama himself once proposed reducing Social Security payments, a move torpedoed by a guy named Bernie Sanders. . .

Chart of the day: Stunning Brexit demographics


Those who voted for it will live the least with it, while those who opposed it will bear the greatest consequences from a revolt of the elders.

From YouGov:

BLOG Brexit vote

Chart of the day: Oldest Americans working more


BLOG Elders

The only group of Americans with employment levels recovered from and surpassing those reached before the start of the Great Recession are folks who have passed the normal retirement age.

And more elders, the largest growing sector of the population, are working full-time, meaning few job openings for younger workers.

We suspect part of the reason is that price increases in basic staples, including housing, have surpassed fixed income pensions and Social Security payments:

From the Pew Research Center:

More older Americans – those ages 65 and older – are working than at any time since the turn of the century, and today’s older workers are spending more time on the job than did their peers in previous years, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of employment data from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In May, 18.8% of Americans ages 65 and older, or nearly 9 million people, reported being employed full- or part-time, continuing a steady increase that dates to at least 2000 (which is as far back as we took our analysis). In May of that year, just 12.8% of 65-and-older Americans, or about 4 million people, said they were working.

We used the employment-population ratio – the employed percentage of a given group’s total population (including those not actively looking for work) – to measure employment among different age groups. The steady increase in the share of working older Americans contrasts with the adult population as a whole, whose employment-population ratio fell sharply during the Great Recession and has yet to recover to pre-slump levels. In May 2000, according to the BLS’ seasonally unadjusted data, 64.4% of all adults had jobs, a figure that had drifted down to 62.5% by May 2008 as the recession took hold. The ratio bottomed out at 57.6% in January 2011, and as of last month stood at 59.9%.

John Oliver tackles those pension fund cons


We’re not talking about shark-suited hucksters peddling Brooklyn Bridge futures.

No, we’re talking about the ones peddled by women and men offering “financial products” issued by household name banksters and insurance companies, products likely to do more poorly than the stock market but certain to earn the agents who sold them nice fat commissions.

Once upon a time, folks worked for companies that built up their own pension funds to pay retired workers, but in the neoliberal era, those companies have long snapped up and merged, taken over partly to gain access to those very pension funds, leaving the workers scrambling to make sense of markets so complex that Wall Street banksters are hiring the finest computer minds of the age to play with them.

And we’re left with having to bankroll our own pensions, with a little bit of help [sometimes] from our employers, and prey to those smiling folks and their “products.”

And now, on with the show.

From Last Week Tonight:

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Retirement Plans


Program note:

Saving for retirement means navigating a potential minefield of high fees and bad advice. Billy Eichner and Kristin Chenoweth share some tips.

Headline of the day: Lest we forget. . .


From the Intercept, battling Barry to save seniors [esnl included]:

Obama Wanted to Cut Social Security. Then Bernie Sanders Happened.

The Obama administration argued in 2012 for reducing Social Security benefits by recalculating the way cost of living adjustments are made.

Recession kills, and the victims are mostly male


Today we’ll consider research on suicides and the Great recession.

Our first and newest study comes from the Research Society on Alcoholism [via Newswise] and reveals a noticeable increase in the correlation between higher alcohol consumption and male suicides during tough economic times. There was no change for women:

Prior research has shown a link between the impact of contracting economies, especially as reflected by the unemployment rate, and suicide mortality risk. This study assesses changes in the rate of heavy alcohol use among suicide decedents, for both genders, during the 2008-2009 economic crisis.

Researchers obtained data for suicide decedents ages 20 years and older from the National Violent Death Reporting System, a surveillance system that records detailed accounts of violent deaths. Individuals participating in the 2006-2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which surveys alcohol use, comprised the comparison group. The data were examined to see whether changes in acute intoxication – a blood alcohol content equal to or greater than 0.08 grams per deciliter – in the deceased group before (2005-2007), during (2008-2009), and after (2010-2011) mirrored changes in heavy alcohol use in the living sample.

Results indicate that acute alcohol use contributed to suicide, particularly among men, during the economic downturn. Male suicide decedents experienced a significantly greater increase (+8%) in heavy alcohol use at the onset of the recession than men in the non-suicide comparison group (-2%). Among women who died by suicide, the rate of heavy alcohol use was very similar to that of the general population. The authors suggest that women may show resilience – or men show vulnerability – to the dangerous interaction of alcohol with financial distress.

In an June 2014 report published in Social Science & Medicine, Rutgers sociologist  Julie Anne Phillips discovered another fascinating correlation — men committed suicide at higher states in states with higher levels of women in the workforce:

BLOG Suicides

In yet another study, researchers found another interesting change in Great Recession suicides in the U.S., as reported in the May 2015 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine [emphasis added]:

Suicide circumstances varied considerably by age, with those related to job, financial, and legal problems most common among individuals aged 40–64 years. Between 2005 and 2010, the proportion of suicides where these circumstances were present increased among this age group, from 32.9% to 37.5% of completed suicides (p o0.05). Further, suffocation is a method more likely to be used in suicides related to job, economic, or legal factors, and its use increased disproportionately among the middle-aged. The number of suicides using suffocation increased 59.5% among those aged 40–64 years between 2005 and 2010, compared with 18.0% for those aged 15–39 years and 27.2% for those aged >65 years (p<0.05).

In yet another study, sociologists from Rutgers and the University of Wisconsin found a clear correlation between suicides and home foreclosures. In other words, the banksters who made all those dirty loans were killing people. As Jason N. Houle and Michael T. Light conclude in their report published in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, “Rising home foreclosure rates explained 18% of the variance in the middle-aged suicide rate between 2005 and 2010.”

Changes in suicide and foreclosure rates: all 50 US states plus Washington, DC, 2004–2010.

Changes in suicide and foreclosure rates: all 50 US states plus Washington, DC, 2004–2010.

And on to Europe, first with a Greek exception

All studies of suicides during the Great Recession reveal that the greatest increases have been among middle aged males, with the notable exception of Greece, where cuts in aid to the elderly, both in terms of direct payments and in medical care assistance, have led to a dramatic increase in suicides among the oldest male cohort, as revealed in this graph from a report published 25 March 2015 in the open access edition of the British Medical Journal:

Suicide rates by sex and age group in Greece [2003–2012].

Suicide rates by sex and age group in Greece [2003–2012].

Perhaps the most fascinating piece of research comes from a 6 October 2014 article [open access] in the European Journal of Public Health, looking at changes in suicide rates in 20 EU countries from 1981–2011.

Researchers found that two factors accounted for much of the increase in male suicide rates: Unemployment and debt. Two factors had no impact on the suicide rates: Unemployment benefits and antidepressant pharmaceuticals.

Another decisive variable was whether or not a country has an active labor market program [ALMP] and, if so, whether the program was well funded or not.

ALMPs consists of state-run employment offices, job training programs, and subsidies either to private sector employers or through work programs operated by the state.

All in all, much like the programs implement by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the U.S. during the Great Depression.

So what kind of impact does an ALMP have?

Consider these two charts from the report:

Trends in male suicide and the unemployment rate, by ALMP, 2006–10. Notes: Luxembourg, Malta, and Cyprus are excluded due to small sample size. High/Low is measured as above or below the median level between countries of the within-country means (i.e., US$135 per person per annum) of spending on active labour market programmes. Source: WHO Health for All European Mortality database 2013 edition; OECD 2013 edition

Trends in male suicide and the unemployment rate, by ALMP, 2006–10. Notes: Luxembourg, Malta, and Cyprus are excluded due to small sample size. High/Low is measured as above or below the median level between countries of the within-country means (i.e., US$135 per person per annum) of spending on active labour market programmes. Source: WHO Health for All European Mortality database 2013 edition; OECD 2013 edition

The authors summarize their findings at the end of their report:

  • Suicide increases in Europe during the great recession have been concentrated in men, but large variations exist across nations and over time.

  • Unaffordable housing was not significantly associated with suicides; in contrast, additional job losses and household indebtedness were stronger determinants of population suicide rises.

  • Economic risk factors significantly increase suicide rates among men of working age but not among those >65 years of age.

  • Where active labour market programmes (ALMP) and social capital were relatively high, there was no elevated risk of suicide during the recent recession.

Headline of the day II: An epochal shift in Asia


From the Japan Times:

Welfare-dependent elderly households top 50% of total in Japan

Welfare-dependent households consisting of persons aged 65 or older accounted for 50.8 percent of the total in March, becoming a majority for the first time, the government said Wednesday.

Greece surrenders to the troika, more austerity


As thousands of Greeks demonstrated in Syntagma Square outside the national legislature, the national parliament drank the Kool-Aid and passed the austerity measures demanded by the Troika of international lenders, a move that may foreshadow the end of the Syriza Party’s term at the helm of the national government.

Alexis Tsirpras and his party emerged as the victors last year on a promise to overwthrow the yoke of imposed austerity.

Instead, they have embraced it.

From eKathimerini:

Greek MPs approved on Sunday night a multi-bill containing a range of measures, including another 1.8 billion euros in tax hikes and the framework for a vast new privatization fund, paving the way for the Eurogroup to release more loans to Athens.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras saw 152 of his 153 MPs back the controversial package of legislation, meaning the government’s slim parliamentary majority was not put at risk.

Vassiliki Katrivanou voted for the legislation “in principle” but against the articles regarding the privatization fund and an automatic mechanism applying fiscal cuts if the primary surplus target is not met.

Eurozone finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday to decide whether Greece has done enough to complete the first review of its latest bailout program. If the green light is given, Athens is set to receive a minimum of 5.7 billion euros in fresh funding. However, there are still questions regarding whether the eurozone creditors and the International Monetary Fund will agree on how to reduce Greece’s debt or whether this will prove an obstacle to the next disbursement.

Some of the reaction to the vote and more on the measures embraced from the Guardian:

“They are with the exception of the Acropolis selling everything under the sun,” said Anna Asimakopoulou, the shadow minister for development and competitiveness. “We are giving up everything.”

The multi-bill, which also foresees VAT being raised from 23% to 24%, is part of a package of increases in tax and excise duties expected to yield an extra €1.8bn in revenue. Earlier this month, Tsipras’s leftist-led coalition endorsed pension cuts that were similarly part of an array reforms amounting to €5.4 bn, or 3% of GDP.

At the behest of the EU and International Monetary Fund, the government has agreed to adopt tighter austerity in the form of an automatic fiscal brake – referred to as “the cutter” in the Greek media – if fiscal targets are missed.

Despite official claims that goals will be achieved, there is a high degree of scepticism as to whether this is feasible. The Greek economy has seen a depression-era contraction of more than 25% since the outbreak of the debt crisis in late 2009, and with high taxes likely to repulse investment, economic fundamentals are also unlikely to improve.

The Associated Press examines the causes and more of the effects:

Greece now hopes the creditors will complete the first assessment of its third bailout program, freeing loan disbursements that will allow Greece to meet its obligations and avoid default.

>snip<

[I]t will have to navigate differences between the International Monetary Fund, which call for a generous debt cut albeit with more austerity measures, and the Europeans, chief among them German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who want no such cuts.

At the end of an acrimonious four-day debate, including in committee, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras blasted the main conservative opposition and other centrist parties for having supported last August’s third bailout deal, but not the laws that have been voted on as prerequisites for concluding the assessment.

Opposition leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis countered that the bailout terms never included the superfund, which will expire in 2115. He said the precise terms were the results of Tsipras’ failure to negotiate reforms he and his leftist party have never believed in. He said he would prefer spending cuts to higher taxes and would negotiate with the creditors for lower annual levels of budget surpluses (2 percent of GDP instead of 3.5 percent) from 2018 onward.

The government majority was momentarily shaken Saturday when the junior partner, right-wing Independent Greeks, objected to freezes in pay hikes for so-called “special categories” of civil servants, including military, police, diplomats, judges, public health service doctors and university professors.

The pay cuts, which would have saved about 120 million euros ($135 million), were shelved and will be partly replaced by bringing forward taxes on Internet users and beer.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day II: Voter generational shifts


From the Pew Research Center, Boomers have met their match, but will Millennials vote to the same degree?:

BLOG Voters

Quote of the day: World’s greatest sportscaster


Vin Scully is finally calling it quits after 67 years as the announcer for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Literate, witty, and blessed with a tone that never condescends to his listeners, Scully is always a pleasure to hear.

When he drops the mic at the end of this year’s season, both the Dodgers and baseball will the poor for it.

From a valedictory retrospective Sports Illustrated profile of Scully by  baseball writer Tom Verducci:

At age 88, in preparing for his 67th home opener, Scully notices a player on the opposing Diamondbacks’ roster with the name Socrates Brito. The minute he sees the name, Scully thinks, Oh, I can’t let that go! Socrates Brito! Inspired in the way of a rookie broadcaster, Scully dives into his research. So when Brito comes to the plate, Scully tells the story of the imprisonment and death by hemlock of Socrates, the Greek philosopher. Good stuff, but eloquentia perfecta asks more:

“But what in the heck is hemlock?” Scully tells his listeners. “For those of you that care at all, it’s of the parsley family, and the juice from that little flower, that poisonous plant, that’s what took Socrates away.”

It’s a perfect example of a device Scully uses to inform without being pedantic. He engages listeners personally and politely with conditionals such as For those of you that care … and In case you were wondering…. Immediately you do care and you do wonder.

Scully isn’t done with Socrates. In the ninth inning, Brito drives in a run with a triple to put Arizona ahead 3–1.

“Socrates Brito feeds the Dodgers the hemlock.”

Map of the day II: The world is going gray


From the U.S. Census Bureau [PDF]: