How Greek Pensioners Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Cuts

What’s all this fuss about Greece’s economic crisis? It’s just not that hard a problem to solve, even seven years deep into harsh austerity measures, big government spending cuts, slashed pensions, reduced salaries, worker firings, the sell-off of state enterprises, cutting the minimum wage, and stripping workers of what rights they have left, including collective bargaining.

Sure, Prime Minister and Looney Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras has reneged on his 40-point plan to bring the country back from the dead, but it was for the good of workers, pensioners and the poor who were draining assets from those who are really deserving: the rich, politicians and tax cheats who are the backbone of Greece, even if they don’t have any themselves.

Tsipras came to his senses and realized it’s Greece’s elderly who are the real problem anyway, those damned geriatric leeches who make up only 19 percent of the population but are sucking the blood out of the country’s vitality and making today’s workers pay for their pensions.

True, today’s elderly paid for the previous generation of pensioners to have benefits because that’s the way the system works, but with a rapidly aging population – and with scores of thousands of Greece’s young having fled to other countries in search of a job, a future and a life – there’s just not enough money to go around and tomorrow’s retirees won’t have enough to live on.

So the government has devised a plan to save them from themselves: just keep cutting their benefits until they either can’t buy enough food and will die from starvation, thereby sacrificing themselves nobly for today’s young when they become older, or kill themselves as some already have, but not enough to suit Tsipras’ zealots

Under him, many in the United Pensioners Network, who believed him when he said “not a single euro more of austerity!” (which is technically true since he imposed more than 14.5 billion euros worth) said pension cuts that will total losses of 70 percent for many means they don’t have enough money to buy medicines, food and pay their bills.

Well, that’s just tough. Let them learn to cut something, either food of medicine. The government has done too much to help them anyway including setting up a hotline where they can get free appointments with doctors in the morning at hospitals and there’s a couple available on Dec. 24.

We’ve heard too much whining from these people.

The head of the network, Nikos Hatzopoulos, told Kathimerini that “the reductions that pensioners’ incomes have suffered are huge. It’s not just the cuts, it’s also the (social security) contribution hikes, tax hikes and all the levies that have impoverished the veterans of the work force. Pensions corresponding to revenues withheld from a lifetime’s work have been turned into a mere gratuity through the bailout agreement regulations.”

A tip should be enough for them anyway and the money cut from their pensions can go to more worthy causes, such as letting the rich who stole money from banks, where pensioners put their meager savings, can afford a second or third summer home and another boat.

Those are the people propping up the economy during a crisis so bad that successive governments have had to borrow 326 billion euros ($365 billion) from international lenders who now own the country and have the right to tell the elderly (along with the poor but that’s another story, those welfare cases draining Greece of its money) to either like dog food or find another substitute in a dumpster somewhere.

The country’s lenders said Greece’s pension system has been too generous anyway, which has been true up until the last seven years, because people as young as 35 could retire. But thanks to the two-tiered double standard of pensions, sly managers in the public sector can still get all they earned by giving themselves promotions just before retiring and not have to wait for their money, unlike other retirees who won’t see a check for a year or two and are barred from working.

It’s getting tedious too watching these elderly slowly shuffle through downtown Athens in protest at more pension cuts, especially since many of them voted for them when they elected Tsipras and therefore deserve what they get. They are taking up street space anarchists need to break marble off buildings and set up positions to throw Molotov Cocktails at riot police.

The pensioners network said some 1.5 million retirees with annual incomes up to 4,500 euros ($5038), or about what politicians spend on lunch in a couple of months, have sunk into poverty while new cuts to current pensions will in 2019 have led to a total loss of income of 70 percent since Greece entered the bailout mechanisms in 2010.

New main pensions will not exceed 655 euros ($733) monthly for average-paid workers and seven cuts to supplementary pensions have slashed benefits up to 78 percent.

Of the total figure of 2.89 million pensioners, 2.15 million (or 74 percent) have to make ends meet on monthly pensions that do not exceed 1,000 euros ($1120), way too much money for them to have anyway because everyone knows they’ll blow it on food, medicines, bills and to help their children and grandchildren. Let’s get them next.