Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Bedroom Tax & 'Austerity Kills'

SINCE the suicide of the English lady in Solihull concerned about her 'bedroom tax', reported by Blanco on this Blog last Sunday, David Stucker and Sanjay Basu have written an article in the Global Edition of the New York Times (yesterday) entitled 'How austerity kills'.  It seems that early last month a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche in Italy, where a married couple, Anna Sopranzi aged 68, and Romero Dionisi aged 62, had been struggling to live of her monthly pension of 500 euros (£590), and had fallen behind with their rent.  Their problem was that the Italian government had suddenly raised the retirement age and MR. Dionisi, a former building workers had become one of Italy's esodati (exiled ones) - older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net.  On the 5th, April, he and his wife left a note on a neighbour's car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home.  Then when Ms. Sopranzi's brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, aged 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.

 Mr Stuckler and Mr. Basu claim:
'The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the 19th century.  People looking for work are about twice as likely to end their lives as those who have jobs.'

They maintain that this is not just a story of suicides being an 'unavoidable consequence of economic downturns', but that in 'countries that slashed health and social protection budgets, like Greece, Italy and Spain, have seen starkly worse health outcomes than nations like Germany, Iceland and Sweden, which maintained their social safety nets and opted for stimulus over austerity.  Mr Stucker and Basu note:  'Germany preaches the virtues of austerity - for others'.

Stucker and Basu argue:
'What we have found is that austerity - severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending - is not only self-defeating, but fatal.'

If Stucker (senior researcher in sociology at Oxford) and Basu (an assistant professor of medicine at Stanford) are right, then this may raise problems for anarchists, like Chris Draper, who insist that to be consistent the anarchist movement must detach itself from the andencies of the state through a program of cuts in state spending.  Chris Draper opened up a valueable debate for anarchists which must be confronted if an alternative vision for society is to be presented.

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