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Imagine being an elderly person on Social Security and President Romney announces there will be a 40 percent cut in your payments. Then your local government announces that your electricity will be cut off if you can't pay your property taxes. That's what austerity looks like in Greece. That's why Dimitris Christoulas, a 77-year-old retired druggist, killed himself in a public square this week, clutching a suicide note:
"The occupation government ... has literally wiped out my ability to survive, based on a respectable pension which I had paid for during a 35-year period. I find no other solution for a dignified end before I start sifting through garbage to feed myself."
The Republicans in their thoroughly dishonest and amoral way keep trying to draw a comparison between the U.S.'s deficit and Greece's economic crisis, so they can rationalize the same kind of austerity measures here — all to fund more tax cuts for the wealthy, of course.
The news of this one old man's public suicide triggered another round of riots in Athens. Republicans should be careful. After all, you never do know exactly what's going to set people off:
On Friday, police fired teargas at hundreds of Greek workers who had staged a rally outside the Bank of Greece and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security to protest against losing their savings as a result of the country's bailout deal.
The demonstrators chanted slogans such as "Thieves!" and "Take the austerity package and get out!"
“They lowered our pensions. We can’t take anymore. We should all commit suicide,” Secretary of the Union of Dockworkers Fotis Siakaras said during the protest, referring to the retired elderly man who shot himself in the head over financial problems outside the parliament on Wednesday.
The suicide incident has sparked violent anti-austerity protest rallies in Athens.
Greece has been in a financial crisis since 2010 and has relied on international bailout loans ever since.
In order to secure a EUR 130 billion bailout package funded mostly by eurozone member states and the International Monetary Fund, the country had to adopt harsh austerity measures including massive cuts to its private and public sector wages, pensions, health and defense spending, which have worsened the economic recession, leading to thousands of job losses.