Jun 192015
 June 19, 2015  Posted by at 8:07 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Marion Post Wolcott Main Street. Sheridan, Wyoming 1941

Just about exactly three days ago, I wrote an article telling you that I will be going to Athens next week: The Automatic Earth Moves To Athens. I also announced in that article that I was setting up an Automatic Earth fund, the proceeds of which I will donate to needy Greek foodbanks and clinics. The reactions to that fund drive have been amazing in more ways than one. But first, here’s some of what what I wrote June 16:

I don’t think I can go to Athens and not try to see if there’s something I can do to alleviate some of the misery in my own small way. But since that way would be extremely small given where the Automatic Earth’s financial situation and funding stand at the moment, I thought of something.

I’m hereby setting up an “Automatic Earth for Athens” fund (big word), and I’m asking you, our readership, to donate to that fund. I will make sure the revenues will go to clinics and food banks, to the worthiest causes I can find. To not mix up donations for Athens with those for the Automatic Earth, which are also badly needed, I suggest I take any donation that ends with 99 cents, as in $25.99, and single those out for Greece. Does that sound reasonable? Let me know if it doesn’t, please.

I’m not expecting a flood of cash, but I hope that you, like me, think that in a civilized country people shouldn’t have to bring their own bedsheets to a hospital, or that these hospitals should be forced to work their doctors into burnouts, or simply lack basic treatments, medicines, etc.

Or for that matter that children should go hungry.

As I said, the reactions were amazing in more ways than one. Here’s the rundown: within 24 hours of posting the article, the count was already at close to $2000. I kid you not. Thing is, after that not much else has come in. We’re now, some 48 hours later, at $2217.49.

And that just don’t seem right. I think we should be able to do much better than that. If only because when I saw that initial run of donations, I realized we could do some real good. I had expected a few hundred bucks, but nothing like that. So that leads the mind to exploring more options, to thinking bigger.

Two things. Number one is that of those $2000, half came from just 1 individual in Colorado. Who in correspondence after told me how much he was touched by what I said, and how much he felt obliged to do what he could. He blew me away regardless.

Number two is that another sponsor of the “AE for Athens” fund, from California, who donated $200, suggested today that he would try and engage people and groups around him, community groups, to join in and collect donations, which we can then direct towards the people in Athens and the rest of Greece who need it most.

Please, if you at all can, follow that example, make it a group thing. I swear on all my ancestors’ graves that I will do all I can to make sure the money goes where it is most needed. EVen if at times I get the impression that this would mean just about every single street corner in ‘Athina’.

If you think it’s not all that bad, please read the Daily Mail article I will post at the bottom of this mercifully short post, an article, by the way, sent to me by a certain Nicole Foss ;-). That should tell you all you need to, and perhaps didn’t yet, know. It’s bad. Europe has created the third world inside its own borders. Me, personally, I find that inexcusable.

It makes me wonder how would Germany react in such a situation, or Holland, Britain? Where their life expectancy plummets, where babies are held ‘hostage’ in a hospital until the bill is paid up? They can’t even imagine this, while it’s happening right on their very doorstep.

But this post is not about politics, and some Americans may even say it happens stateside too. Which makes it sort of ironic that Americans are the most generous. So far. But maybe I can still turn that around. Maybe I can yet wake up the Europeans.

It’s their governments that made it happen, after all, though Washington is by no means an innocent bystander. The entire thing consists of dirty and ugly power politics executed in YOUR name, and that’s as true for Americans as it is for Europeans. And you have the opportunity to soothe some of the pain, even if it’s just a tiny bit.

So please, join the amazingly generous people who have donated so far, and show them they’re not alone in their generosity.

The amount donated so far is $2217.49. Isn’t that just amazing? We were close to $2000 in 24 hours!

And I have counted only the donations that end in $.99, for reasons I explained earlier. But I will donate as much as TAE can afford anyway, along with whatever comes into the fund.

So please, let your heart speak, and help me help. As I said, if the reason why is still not clear, here’s Ian Birrell for the Daily Mail. That should do it.

Thank you in advance, on behalf of those whose lives we can, together, make a little more bearable. It’s the least we can do. But, again, that’s just me.

You can donate through our Paypal widget at the top of the left sidebar. Make sure if you want to donate to Greece to end the amount with $.99.

You can also donate bitcoin at this address: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Thank you so much.

Greece Is Literally Dying To Leave The Euro

How does a nation die? This week, in the beleaguered hospitals of Athens, I saw a glimpse of the shocking answer. It is when its own people die in their thousands simply because the state cannot afford to heal them. [..]

There is no greater metaphor for a country’s health than its own healthcare system. And it is only when you see for yourself the horrors convulsing Greece’s NHS that you realise just how insane it is for this once-proud nation to continue as it is. If it was your country, it would make you weep with pain and shame. In its overloaded hospital wards, I either saw or heard first-hand accounts of babies held hostage for payments and dying patients left unattended; of porters sent out as paramedics, patients told to bring their own sheets, brakes failing on ancient ambulances travelling at high speed and hospitals running out of drugs and dressings.

Five years ago, Greece spent £13 billion on the health of its 11 million population – above the European average. It is now spending about half this. Worse still, in the first four months of this year the 140 state hospitals received just £31 million, a 94% fall on the previous year. And to make matters even blacker, any reserves have just been taken back by the government in its desperate scramble for cash to pay public servants and international debts.

There are claims of an astonishing three-year fall in a Greek person’s life expectancy in just five years since the country’s economy crashed. If confirmed, this would be without precedent in modern Europe. And the individual human stories are pitiful, verging on the macabre.

‘The situation is like a war zone without the bullets,’ said one source at the charity. ‘If things keep going the way they are, we could see a totally collapsing health system.’

The tragic consequences could be seen visiting Nikaia hospital in the port of Piraeus, as a handful of night-time staff struggled to cope with patients pouring in for emergency care. One old lady with a deathly countenance lay immobile on a trolley in a corridor, abandoned for the four hours I was there since she appeared to have no family to fight her corner.

Five more elderly people lay on trolleys, two clearly in pain and one in a neck brace, amid a scrum of patients with smashed faces, scraped bodies and fractured limbs being aided by relatives. Police officers escorted a blood-covered prisoner in chains. The daughter of an 84-year-old woman curled up in agony under a coat told me they had been there for four hours, staff shortages forcing her to wheel her mother to the X-ray unit and for blood tests. ‘Greek hospitals are like hell,’ she told me.

‘The decision to stop all hirings of medical staff was a criminal action in my view,’ said [neurosurgeon] Papanikolaou. ‘Intensive care doctors estimate we lose 2,000 people a year that should not be dying.’

Nurses told me there were no sheets so patients had to bring their own; at night, they placed nappies and light mattresses on top if patients bled or wet the bed since there were no replacements. In one ward, they clubbed together to buy a blood pressure monitor and thermometers due to equipment shortages. Since pay has been cut by one third as pressures surge, such actions highlight the heroism of some medical staff struggling to keep the system afloat.

[..] as another nurse put it: ‘If two people are dying, only one can get help – it is that bad.’ Later, I talked to an ambulance driver who told me of a recent incident in which the brakes on his 11-year-old vehicle had failed as he rushed a car crash victim to the hospital.

‘If you have a six-month wait to start radiotherapy there’s no point coming – either you die or the cancer is so advanced it is pointless,’ [..] cardiologist George Vichas set up a free community clinic staffed by volunteers, with 39 similar set-ups across the country.

The consultant said they had even come across five cases at a maternity hospital where new-born babies were held hostage until their parents paid for their treatment. ‘We have seen an absolute collapse of the state health system,’ he said.

How did it ever come to this? And what does it meas for the nation’s future in the eurozone – and the eurozone as a whole? Before the crash, Greece’s health service was inefficient, badly managed and corrupt like the rest of the public sector – yet it provided well-trained staff and one of the world’s most comprehensive healthcare systems. But after the crisis struck and the country was ordered by international lenders to cut costs, new benefit rules and rising unemployment saw the number of Greeks without health cover soar from 500,000 to 2.5 million people.[..]

The EU and the eurozone were projects designed to bring countries closer together. Instead, they have sparked poverty, decay and division. Yet still the euro-zealots demand further austerity, while the latest set of Greek politicians seem as incapable of resolving the crisis as their hapless predecessors. The country and its blighted people are trapped between many more years of this slow stagnation or the sharp pain of euro exit. No wonder the latter increasingly seems a better bet.

[..]it could do the one thing that is the modern definition of a nation: it could begin to cure its own people of their ills. Ultimately, what could be the rebirth of Greece may be the death of the original European dream.

Let’s leave the political ramifications alone for the moment, I deal with that on an almost daily basis here at the Automatic Earth already. Let’s for a moment focus on the more immediate. Let’s see what we can do here and now.

Please support the AE for Athens fund. You can donate through our Paypal widget at the top of the left sidebar, Make sure if you want to donate to Greece to end the amount with $.99.

You can also donate bitcoin at this address: 1HYLLUR2JFs24X1zTS4XbNJidGo2XNHiTT.

Thank you ever so much.

Home Forums Update: Automatic Earth for Athens Fund

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    Marion Post Wolcott Main Street. Sheridan, Wyoming 1941 Just about exactly three days ago, I wrote an article telling you that I will be going to Athe
    [See the full post at: Update: Automatic Earth for Athens Fund]

    John Day

    Well, I know it is quite modest, but I just sent the same to Doctors Without Borders for their work in Yemen, and also to Bernie Sanders, for his Quixotic and valiant efforts here.


    The media is giving hints that the illegal immigrants are suffering more than the greeks.
    I’m sure that your reports will not need to make up “bad scenes”.

    Ceteris Paribus

    Sent a modest donation in Euro. Good luck on this journey to Greece. I am hoping that the country will come out of this tailspin and recover sooner rather than later.
    What we need is a general, world-wide Jubilee, and let the chips fall (and losses occur) where they may.

    Ceteris Paribus

    Now that I’ve finally taken the trouble to register (though I’ve been a longtime reader) let me say how much I enjoy your site and especially those thought-provoking, beautiful old photos.


    just sent donation to greece keep up good work

    Charles Alban

    i’ve made a small contribution. but as we know, money never solved anything. there has to be a better solution. the people need to band together in small self-supporting bands, and get access to land to practice intensive permaculture. we all need to wean ourselves off this dependence on money. we need to bring back a tribal culture where groups of people take care of each other without dependence on government. the romans had a legal structure called a “gens”…a legal “tribe”. this concept should be reexamined. the greeks are already doing this to some extent with one pension check supporting a whole group of people.

    and interesting parallel is the US. here we have many people struggling to live on pension checks averaging $1100 per month or $13k per year. they can’t make it, what with rent payments, medications and so on. then you look at a community like Twin Oaks in Virginia, where 100 people live comfortably on $500k per year, or $5k per head.

    so 100 pensioners are bringing in a total of $1.3 million per year (!). if they were to band together and live like the people at Twin Oaks, they could support another 160 people who have no income at all, and they would all live much better than they currently do. the power of sharing.


    Thanks, Charles.

    The Greeks are much better than Americans at community and sharing, or the misery would be much worse. They go a long way towards Twin Oaks. Whole families living on a single pension, that sort of thing. Entire hospitals more or less run by volunteers. And much more. But in a city things are harder at the same time. I know it’s not about money, but short term it’s not going to hurt. Hungry kids is a no-no.


    Tbh I love this website and I truly appreciate the sacrifices illargi must be making on a daily basis but I really have to express my resentment at this idea that has been put across the last few blogs in which the poverty and distress the Greeks are suffering is inexcusable simply because they’re are European and inside the European Union.

    The country I’m from, Kosovo, is also geographically in Europe. The unemployment rate for the last decade has been 40%! Kids are dieing from cancer on a reoccurring basis due to the uranium bombs dropped during the war and they aren’t even given a fighting chance due to the horrific health system.

    This is how the world is for a shamefully large percentage of people yet it’s suddenly inexcusable that the Greeks have joined the club. I don’t know but I find that abhorrent.

    Anyway, please don’t take this as an attack on your character illargi, I’m sure you mean well and I have massive respect that your practising what you preach by going to greece and I can only wish you success in your endeavours there…what’s happening to the poor in Greece is terrible.

    My only point is that poverty, indignity and distress is inexcusable no matter who is suffering from it.


    koso man

    I know what you’re saying, and I know it’s not just Greece, and I’m as much a victim of media focus as the rest, but just because it happens somewhere else too doesn’t mean it’s alright that it happens in Greece. The entire EU is immoral -or amoral-. So write to me about Kosovo, about what goes on where you live.


    I’ve made 2 small donations: one to help cover Ilargi’s personal costs getting to Greece and another for the Athens Fund. In the back of my mind is the fact that Greece was the major super-power 2400 years ago. It’s Mediterranean neighbours Rome(Italy), Portugal and Spain also had stints as world super-powers and each of their currencies were the accepted reserve currency at the time. They are all among Europe’s struggling nations today. The UK has experienced the same rise and demise in some of our lifetimes. The current world super-power and it’s citizens should take stock and realize how fleeting this powerful privileged position can be.

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