Sun Apr 15th, 2012 at 03:44:51 AM EST
TB is coming to a country near you.
We talk about pain, suffering, unemployment, falling discretionary income, new classes of people rummaging in the garbage for food, and homelessness. All true, all so painfully true.
But it goes further than this: austerity kills.
It kills in the form of limited access to health care in the face of cuts to healt spending in Portugal. It kills in the form of suicide among the desperate in Greece, who really haven't yet come to grips with what is befalling them, not unlike workers of the earliest generation of the industrial revolution, and where Dmitris Christoulas, distraught pensioner seeing his access to health care cut and the pension for which had had worked a lifetime ripped out from under him.
Austerity, all in the name of aid from EU institutions and the IMF.
We've been here before. After the the fall of the various Comecon régimes in the 1990's, the IMF was also on the scene providing "development" loans to newly autonomous countries of the former Soviet Union as well numerous countries in eastern and central Europe. "Aid" and technical "advice," but as always with the IMF, with a major string (even a rope) attached: liberalisation, austerity, elimination of as many vital roles of the previously social states as possible.
front-paged by afew
And the results were as conclusive then as they will be now:
The rapid rise in tuberculosis cases in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union is strongly associated with the receipt of loans from the International Monetary Fund, a new study has found.
Critics of the fund have suggested that its financial requirements lead governments to reduce spending on health care to qualify for loans. This, the authors say, helps explain the connection...
The researchers studied health records in 21 countries and found that obtaining an I.M.F. loan was associated with a 13.9 percent increase in new cases of tuberculosis each year, a 13.3 percent increase in the number of people living with the disease and a 16.6 percent increase in the number of tuberculosis deaths...
The lead author, David Stuckler, a research associate at Cambridge University, defended the study against the fund's criticisms, noting that the researchers considered whether increased mortality might have led to more loans rather than the other way around.
Instead, they found that the increase in tuberculosis mortality followed the lending; each 1 percent increase in credit was associated with a 0.9 percent increase in mortality. And when a country left an I.M.F. loan program, mortality rates dropped by an average of 31 percent.
"When you have one correlation, you raise an eyebrow," Mr. Stuckler said. "But when you have more than 20 correlations pointing in the same direction, you start building a strong case for causality."
A decade later, and our elites have learned nothing. Monetary orthodoxy and liquidationism via austerity and unemployment kill. In a word, liberalism kills. It did in the 19th century when the liberals confronted each and every economic downturn with austerity, millions perishing in the process (over a million in the small country of Ireland alone, not to mention the weavers in the UK, the highlanders and other peasants in that country thrown off their land in the great enclosure movement, and on the continent in varying measure, often producing riots and revolution). And it does today.
We are still fighting the battles of the 19th century, notwithstanding those who would suppose otherwise.
As we Europeans pat ourselves on the backs for our championing the rights of man, or the protection of the rights of our minorites, unlike laggard peers such as the United States, we would do well to recall that the vulnerable among us are a minority, and a voiceless one at that, having no effective representation in many if not most of our member states. They are perhaps the most important minority of all for us to protect. And we do a lamentable job. The European ideal, alas, is no longer worth the paper on which it is inscribed.