Take it to Berlin


Last night Alexis Tsipras, the new Greek prime minister, took the war reparations issue with him to Berlin, where Angela Merkel stood beside him looking for a bulge in his suit where loan repayments might be hidden. Naturally, Merkel responded coldly, making clear that for Germany the issue is closed. An unaffected observer might view Tsipras’ raising of the reparations issue as a mere ploy to recontextual Greece’s problems, but for those of us living through austerity and reading again and again that all that is asked of us is that we accelerate privatisation, cut labour costs (jobs), and lower wages, even as we know this will lead to even lower wages, lower living standards, and an outflow of profits to foreign predators, the issue is the same one. We are still living in the era that began with US predominance during and after WWII, in which the Germans were punished by the winning allies with extraordinary rebuilding gifts, the passage for gifted Nazis to the US and elsewhere in Europe was lubricated, and Greece was viewed as little more than a place to draw the line against the shadow of a communist behemoth. Well, either Greece got their money or they didn’t. Apparently they didn’t. What the rest of the world got was US economic hegemony, which as we all know has no moral application, accelerates the concentration of wealth, and disintegrates salubrious social fabrics.

Here in Slovenia we are still tied with the US in most global analyses of health systems, about the 37th best in the world. What hinders Slovenia is the small numbers to be expected in a country of around 2 million people. What hinders the US is the extraordinary number of people without health care, the cost per person of their system, the refusal of the state to rein in pharmaceutical and other medical infrastructural corporations. This is the next front on which Slovenia’s relatively healthy social system can expect an assault. Slovene doctors make far less than their colleagues in the US, and the predatory capitalists of Europe further west and the US expect to obtain control of Slovenia’s health care and pharmaceutical systems.

So despite Slovenia’s poverty, despite the complaceny of Slovene citizens, the country is not yet lost. I give but one example, but I could also point to a number of basic elements of living standards, such as safety and education in which Slovenia vastly outdoes the US. For now, I urge Slovenes to take lessons from Tsipras, to take the fight as a whole to our economic persecutors, to elect a party that will refuse the dictats of the Troika.

While I am on the subject, I think I will look into war reparations owed a region–now a country–that faced genocide from two directions in WWII. Have Slovenes, were Yugoslavs, appropriately compensated?

2 comments on “Take it to Berlin

  1. bmotoh says:

    The war is alread happening – Slovene doctors/hospitals/clinics have a limited number of recepies the can issue, limited number of operations they can do, otherwise insurance companies don’t pay, so that’s why the hospitals are getting lost in red numbers, because the doctors refuse to do their job this way, the economicly oriented way. How do you tell somebody “Sorry, we are over a limit for heart surgeries, wait till next year” ? We’re already losing a battle.


    • rickharsch says:

      For non-Slovene readers ‘recepies’ here refers to both referrals and prescriptions. I have heard of, but not yet experienced myself, drugs once covered no longer being covered, and as for referrals–I went to my cardiologist on March 18 for to make an appointment for my yearly check-up and was given an appointment for November 6 (this year!).


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