Greek pensioner kills himself before parliament

ATHENS (Reuters) - A cash-strapped Greek pensioner shot and killed himself outside parliament in Athens on Wednesday saying he refused to scrounge for food in the rubbish, touching a nerve among ordinary Greeks feeling the brunt of the country's economic crisis.
The public suicide by the 77-year-old retired pharmacist quickly triggered an outpouring of sympathy in a country where one in five is jobless and a sense of national humiliation has accompanied successive rounds of salary and pension cuts.
Just hours after the death, an impromptu shrine with candles, flowers and hand-written notes protesting the crisis sprung up in the central Syntagma square where the suicide occurred. Dozens of bystanders gathered to pay their respects.
One note nailed to a tree said "Enough is enough", while another asked "Who will be the next victim?".
The "Indignant" protesters, who have turned out in the thousands against austerity measures imposed by foreign lenders in exchange for bailout loans, said they planned a march later on Wednesday.
"This is a human tragedy," government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis said as politicians in parliament decried the death.
Acts of suicide have been instrumental in the past in provoking popular protest. A Tunisian vegetable seller triggered the start of the so-called "Arab Spring" by setting himself on fire in December 2010.
Witnesses said the man put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger after yelling out: "I have debts, I can't stand this anymore."
Another passerby told Greek television the man said "I don't want to leave my debts to my children."
A suicide note found in his coat pocket blamed politicians and financial troubles for driving him to take his life, police said.
The government had "annihilated any hope for my survival and I could not get any justice. I cannot find any other form of struggle except a dignified end before I have to start scrounging for food from the trash"," the note said.
DIGNIFIED
The president of the pharmacists' union in the broader Attica region, Costas Lourantos, said he recalled meeting the man several years ago and was struck by his dignified manner.
"When dignified people like him are brought to this state, somebody must answer for it," said Lourantos. "There is a moral instigator to this crime - which is the government that has brought people to such despair."
Shortly after news of the man's death, Lourantos says he received an anonymous call from a pharmacist saying she would be next to follow suit.
"I am now frantically looking to find out who it was so we can stop her," Lourantos said.
The busy square, through which thousands pass by during the morning commute hours when the suicide occurred, was cordoned off while the body was taken away.
Greece is stumbling through its worst post-World War Two economic crisis as austerity measures demanded by foreign lenders in exchange for financial aid push the country into its fifth year of recession.
The government last year said suicides had increased 40 percent over the previous two years as the worsening crisis drives ordinary Greeks to despair.
With financial hardship fast becoming an unavoidable facet of life for many, some Greeks said the pharmacist's public suicide would not be the last.
"This is the point to which they've brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?" asked 54-year old Maria Parashou, who rushed to the square to pay her respects after reading about the suicide.
"They've cut our salaries, they've humiliated us. I have one daughter who is unemployed and my husband has lost half of his income, but I won't allow myself to lose hope."

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/greek-pensioner-kills-himself-parliament-134353929.html

"This is the point to which they've brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?"

Uhm, Slovenian pensioners have been getting that amount for years already lady. People like her shouldn't whine. Greek pensioners can retire at age 51 and get fat payouts. We Dutch don't get full pension untill age 65, and anyone of my generation will have to work untill 67 and get less money in purchasing power. Despite of worse conditions, Slovenians contributed to saving Greece from bankruptcy in the bailout.

Then again, I image if you're used to fat payouts every month from age 50 onwards, with paying taxes being completely optional, then every form of austerity will hit like an 8.0 earthquake.

Blablahb:
"This is the point to which they've brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?"

Uhm, Slovenian pensioners have been getting that amount for years already lady. People like her shouldn't whine. Greek pensioners can retire at age 51 and get fat payouts. We Dutch don't get full pension untill age 65, and anyone of my generation will have to work untill 67 and get less money in purchasing power. Despite of worse conditions, Slovenians contributed to saving Greece from bankruptcy in the bailout.

Then again, I image if you're used to fat payouts every month from age 50 onwards, with paying taxes being completely optional, then every form of austerity will hit like an 8.0 earthquake.

This. There's nothing I want to add or dispute here.

Blablahb:
"This is the point to which they've brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?"

Uhm, Slovenian pensioners have been getting that amount for years already lady.

Well yes... however:
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Slovenia
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Greece

Cost of living in Greece is higher than in Slovenia therefore 300€ in Greece is more dearer than in Slovenia where it is less dearer. 300€ would go further in Slovenia than 300€ would go in Greece...lol 300 and Greece

Blablahb:
People like her shouldn't whine. Greek pensioners can retire at age 51 and get fat payouts. We Dutch don't get full pension untill age 65, and anyone of my generation will have to work untill 67 and get less money in purchasing power. Despite of worse conditions, Slovenians contributed to saving Greece from bankruptcy in the bailout.

Then again, I image if you're used to fat payouts every month from age 50 onwards, with paying taxes being completely optional, then every form of austerity will hit like an 8.0 earthquake.

Yeah I agree with everything else though xD

Bassik:

Blablahb:
"This is the point to which they've brought us. Do they really expect a pensioner to live on 300 euros?"

Uhm, Slovenian pensioners have been getting that amount for years already lady. People like her shouldn't whine. Greek pensioners can retire at age 51 and get fat payouts. We Dutch don't get full pension untill age 65, and anyone of my generation will have to work untill 67 and get less money in purchasing power. Despite of worse conditions, Slovenians contributed to saving Greece from bankruptcy in the bailout.

Then again, I image if you're used to fat payouts every month from age 50 onwards, with paying taxes being completely optional, then every form of austerity will hit like an 8.0 earthquake.

This. There's nothing I want to add or dispute here.

Other than, youknow. Slovenia having a lower cost of living. Lower apartmentprices lower foodprices lower everything. As such 300 Euro can last a lot longer. Its like saying a Danish Pensioner can get by on the same a Spanish can, with the Spanish living at half the cost of a dane, the Dane would essentialy get half of the Spanish. And this is pretty much common knowledge 'especcialy' on a forum that is supposedly full of people who look this stuff up before they open their mouth.

Nikolaz72:
And this is pretty much common knowledge 'especcialy' on a forum that is supposedly full of people who look this stuff up before they open their mouth.

Yeah sure but Blablahb made a convincing argument that Sheep just flock too...

I dunno why you quoted the Sheep when you should have really quoted the Lion instead >.>

From what I've seen of all the "benefits"(for lack of a better term) by at least American standards many of them are completely outrageous and even their proposal here would get someone laughed/booed off the senate floor. I'm not really in the "they had it coming" camp of thinkers, but when things like being able to retire at a lower age then many other western countries, free newspapers(or so i've heard), and other fairly extensive government services start seeming like god given rights; you have an issue.

If the government cannot afford it than they can't. End of Story. Sorry. We know that some governments went crazy with the benefit programs and now they have to pay the piper so to speak. That said, It made me really sad that it drove someone to kill themselves, but that's not the right way to get out of the problem. Suicide does not nullify the debt on the rest of his family, and what was his goal? Was he trying to make the government feel guilty? Or make people angry at the Greek Government? Or to make them aware of the people's problems? It just seems like a waste to me.

Nikolaz72:

Other than, youknow. Slovenia having a lower cost of living. Lower apartmentprices lower foodprices lower everything. As such 300 Euro can last a lot longer. Its like saying a Danish Pensioner can get by on the same a Spanish can, with the Spanish living at half the cost of a dane, the Dane would essentialy get half of the Spanish.

Slovenian here.

You haven't the slightest clue what you're talking about.

Apartments in Ljubljana are more expensive than apartments in fuckin' Vienna, and don't even get me started about quality. Or management for that matter, some apartment related issues in this country are so retarded they almost cross the line again and back into funny.

Gas is more expensive than in Austria as well. And food prices aren't anything to write home about either. I can get better clothes in Italy for a lower price than here.

And that's nothing to say about just how completely fucked up the situation is here, and I'm only waiting for the shit to hit the fan. Things will get ugly if our wonderful leaders don't get their heads out of their asses.

And this is pretty much common knowledge 'especcialy' on a forum that is supposedly full of people who look this stuff up before they open their mouth.

Yes, it would seem so.

Comando96:

Well yes... however:
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Slovenia
http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=Greece

Well yeah. Going to invoke "Lies, damned lies..." here, because those numbers don't reflect upon the reality too well. Sure apartments may be cheap in places where you won't find a job if you look for one with a flashlight in the middle of the day...and since most suppliers still consider Slovenia an "Eastern Europe" market, the product quality is worse than, for example again, in Austria. Stuff like that.

Comando96:

Nikolaz72:
And this is pretty much common knowledge 'especcialy' on a forum that is supposedly full of people who look this stuff up before they open their mouth.

Yeah sure but Blablahb made a convincing argument that Sheep just flock too...

I dunno why you quoted the Sheep when you should have really quoted the Lion instead >.>

The Lion is lazy and will not be convinced to change his ways. The Sheep merely needs to open his eyes and see the Lion's a carnivore. . . Alright that had nothing to do with the arguement but yea. I think I have a better chance of convincing sheep of anything than lions.

It is such a sad story that a man, an intelligent qualified man, would be driven to such extremes because of his debts. It is easy right now to blame him, to blame the Greek people, but then again noone predicted the 2008 crash or the devastating impact it would have afterwards. People have been lied to, had stupid financial decisions made for them, had their democracy taken away. The ones who won in this remain the winners, whereas everyone else will pay the deficit through their hopes and dreams. This is because hopes and dreams rely on a very important thing: good hard cash. He won't be the last victim in this and quite frankly I would rather the instigators of this crises would blow their brains out instead....or get eaten by wolves or something.

Greeks are actually amongst the hardest workers in the world.

the early pension age thing is hugely massively overstated as is the idea that they were living a life of riley on state handouts. i advise anyone who things its was all "retire at 50" to actually go and read about the pension set up from a non biased source.

the real reasons for what is happening is Greece was a lying government (of all colours), systemic tax evasion (a problem that is a cancer eating away at the economies of pretty much ALL our countries) and the fact they should never have gone into the Euro because of these and other factors which made their economy unsuitable without addressing reform beforehand.

as for what is happening to the people it is horrific.

just try and fathom this for a second: millions of people of all ages and creeds are suffering, truly suffering, the largest drop in human living standards ever recorded in history through no fault of their own and worst of all THEY DONT HAVE TO because in reality, in the cold hard light of day, THERE IS ACTUALLY NO SUCH THING AS A SOVEREIGN DEBT DEFAULT which is what this vast amount of real pain being inflicted on a population by well fed politicians in far off meeting rooms is supposedly about avoiding.

its not a governments job to inflict misery on its own people for the benefit of external others and we all should be very, very scared about what is being done to the Greek people.

Sleekit:
just try and fathom this for a second: millions of people of all ages and creeds are suffering, truly suffering, the largest drop in human living standards ever recorded in history through no fault of their own and worst of all THEY DONT HAVE TO because in reality, in the cold hard light of day, THERE IS ACTUALLY NO SUCH THING AS A SOVEREIGN DEBT DEFAULT.

Except the Greek people have consistently voted for those governments who both overspent and forged the numbers. Centrist or right wing parties do not even control a third of the seats in the Greek parliament, and this hasn't really ever been the case either.

By contrast, the Communist Party is the third largest party in the parliament, shortly followed by a radical religious party.

I mean, if we Dutch gave the Socialist party (radical left with Maoist origins) 90/150 seats, communists a further 20 and the liberals not much at all, I'm pretty sure we'd have seen a few financial disasters by now.

I'd feel pretty hypocritical if we Dutch did that and then went "Holy cow, we voted to spend everything we had and more, now there's nothing. Who could've foreseen this?".

And what's that stuff about they don't have to? The alternative is going bankrupt. When a nation goes bankrupt, it has no more money. Government employees cannot be paid, neither can all essential services. Nobody will lend them money for that because it's not coming back. What services remain operational is totally up to how much the people there are willing to put up with, but generally after a few months of no pay and no longer being able to purchase food and stuff, even the most loyal people get pissed and leave. Yes, that means that if you call the police because someone's robbing you, there's nobody to answer the phone because they're out to scavenge some money.

On top of that, Greece bankrupting itself would destabilise the euro and bring problems for many other countries. The Greeks got themselves in that mess and in the eurozone, now they have an obligation to get themselves out of it. They ate their cake, so now they can't have it anymore.

Captcha proceeds to provide hilarity: 'game is up'

sovereign nations can never go "bankrupt".

its all just 1 and 0s and bits of paper.

back in the real world Greece CAN feed its people, its population will continue to trade with others and people will continue to run and profit from business conducted on it shores just like they always have throughout a great deal of human history and all it really has to do is make the choice in its own favor.

there is a very good chance they will eventually do so and drop out the EU and "default" specifically because it is actually in their best interests to do so.

oh and PS here a small tip supposedly from history: its not good to speak glibly of "cake" when real people are enduring real suffering.

I think Greece was living beyond its means.

But I remember reading Emile Durkheim's "On Suicide" when I was a morbid youngling.

Some wise stuff from that book (I seem to remember) was that it wasn't poverty that causes suicide but sudden and extreme change in one's life. Because if it was just poverty then we wouldn't have even made it to modernity. Now that change can be anything so long as one is severely disorientated and lost.

I sympathise with Greece because it is going through this for real right now.

But at the same time they were living way beyond their means so this is almost inevitable.

Regards

Nightspore

Sleekit:
sovereign nations can never go "bankrupt".

Okay wise man, you know best: What do we call it when the money is out, there's hundred of milliards of debth, and nobody willing to lend a penny?

Sleekit:
there is a very good chance they will eventually do so and drop out the EU and "default" specifically because it is actually in their best interests to do so.

Uhm, no, it's not. If they default, it'll be a lot uglier than paying off their debths in the long run. Besides, leaving the EU would instantly degrade them back to a third world country. Greece owes most of it's current wealth to the EU. For one thing it's agriculture would collapse on the spot because the EU subsidies disappear.

Mm, in regards to Greek economics, I honestly think the best answer would be for Greece (and possibly Ireland, considering how they damn near nationalized the bank debts) to leave the euro (and possibly the EU), and reinstate the drachma and other local currencies.

It's a painful option, as it would inject unnecessary uncertainty into the market, but the Germans, Dutch, Finns, etc. aren't going to be lending to the Greeks much anymore; the situation is sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Banks don't want to loan to Greece, because they're (rightfully) afraid it will fail. By not receiving those loans, however, they're nearly guaranteed to do so. As an addition, they wish Greece to get a handle on its deficit, but due to the instability, the interest rate on the loans are astronomical, preventing Greece from getting a handle on the deficit.

Really, the problem is Greece never should have been let into the eurozone to begin with; when it switched to the euro, incomes rose, but productivity stagnated (contrasting with the Germans, where income and productivity rose). It started getting loans it shouldn't, treated taxes as 'optional', and overspent and mismanaged to a woeful extent.

Normally, when a country is faced with a recession like this, they have the tool of monetary policy to be able to rectify that. A country like Greece, if it had its own currency, could devalue it to make investment and commerce more attractive. If you can buy Greek land for pennies on the dollar, if you can buy Greek goods for 1/10th of what you can buy anywhere else, you're going to have economic growth. But by using the euro, they don't have that ability; they can't just devalue their currency into the ground to stimulate growth and reinvigorate their economy, to get enough euros flowing into Greece to be able to pay off their debts.

Which is why I think Greece needs to leave the euro, reinstate the drachma, devalue their currency, and start trying to become competitive again on a world market. The only other options, that I can see, is instituting massive austerity to increase investor confidence and investment, leading to growth (which I doubt would work, but that's another debate in and of itself), or a massive, long-term recession that will cause prices to drop so drastically that they'll be able to be competitive (i.e. the hard way of devaluing themselves).

Really, though, the euro was just a bad idea to begin with, without the political power to be able to re-allocate funds to governments. Just my two cents.

Blablahb:

Sleekit:
sovereign nations can never go "bankrupt".

Okay wise man, you know best: What do we call it when the money is out, there's hundred of milliards of debth, and nobody willing to lend a penny?

Sleekit:
there is a very good chance they will eventually do so and drop out the EU and "default" specifically because it is actually in their best interests to do so.

Uhm, no, it's not. If they default, it'll be a lot uglier than paying off their debths in the long run. Besides, leaving the EU would instantly degrade them back to a third world country. Greece owes most of it's current wealth to the EU. For one thing it's agriculture would collapse on the spot because the EU subsidies disappear.

sovereign debt is not the same as "normal" debt.

in a way it doesn't really exist because there is no 3rd party enforcement agency.

since a sovereign government, by definition, controls its own affairs, it cannot be obliged to pay back its debt

source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereign_default

do some reading on the subject or ask anyone you can find with a decent enough knowledge of economics.

Greece could easily drop out the EU, "default" and start printing its own money again indeed as i said before there's a very real likelihood that's what will happen. creditors would then push for "debt restructuring" BUT, and this is the thing you apparently have to try and get a grip on, THAT'S ALL THEY EVER DO when a country "defaults". basically their only option is to go : "...ok...can we have some money back ?..eventually...please..."

the only other response to a Sovereign default is war which simply isn't going to happen (not in this century and not now that the debts are no longer solely owed to other governments) indeed there's probably more chance of a revolutionary change of government in which case the debt would likely be completely written off as "odious debt".

as for the "third world" comment people are dumping their kids in the street with "please look after them" notes and killing and setting fire to themselves. people don't do this kind of stuff simply because "things are a wee bit tough" -.-

"Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece sent a letter to the banker prime minister Lucas Papademos saying that "the phenomenon of the homeless and the famished, a reminder of WWII conditions, has taken the dimensions of a nightmare," adding that "the homeless increase by the thousands everyday, while small and medium-sized enterprises are forced to go out of business. Young people, the country's best minds, choose to emigrate, while our fathers are unable to live after the dramatic cuts in pensions. Family men, particularly the poorest, those with many children, wage earners, are in despair due to repeated wage cuts and unbearable new taxes. The unprecedented tolerance of the Greek people is being exhausted, rage pushes fear aside and the risk of social upheaval cannot be ignored anymore by those who are in the position to give orders and those who execute their lethal recipes." He went on: "in these difficult and undoubtedly, crucial times, we should realise that every Greek home is plagued by insecurity, despair and depression, which unfortunately, have caused, and sadly enough, continues to cause the suicides of those unable to bear the ordeal of their families and the pain of their children."

^ that's the head of the Greek church. i don't care if you're a religious man or not but i ask you to pause for a second and consider just how bad things would actually need to be for the head of whatever is the major religion in your own country to be making such a statement to the government.

 

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