Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Εικόνες από το μέλλον: Οι συνταξιούχοι του Ντιτρόιτ έφαγαν κούρεμα και τώρα απλά δε μπορούν να επιβιώσουν

Είχαμε δει σε πρόσφατο άρθρο μας την πρόταση να κουρευτούν οι συντάξεις στο (χρεωκοπημένο) Ντιτρόιτ κατά...84%! [να σημειώσουμε κάτι κάτι ακόμα που λέγαμε και τότε, ότι οι πιστωτές του ντιτρόιτ, δηλαδή οι τραπεζίτες, κουρεύτηκαν πολύ λιγότερο - γιατί και στη χρεωκοπία δεν είμαστε όλοι ίδιοι[

Τέλος πάντων, είχαμε πει τότε ότι αυτό το κούρεμα κατά 84% θα εξοντώσει πολλούς εξ αυτών των συνταξιούχων, μιας και είναι προφανές ότι δε θα μπορούν πλέον να ζήσουν με τα ψίχουλα που θα παίρνουν, πόσο μάλλον να συντηρήσουν και οικογένεια, κτλ.

Δε θα εξετάσουμε εδώ το πως φτάσαμε ως εδώ, μιας και τα έχουμε ξαναγράψει όλα αυτά (πχ εδώ). Ούτε θα συζητήσουμε αν οι συντάξεις ήταν πολύ υψηλές, ή πολύ χαμηλές, κτλ.  Σε αυτή την ανάρτηση, θα δούμε τα πρώτα άρθρα που πλέον καταφτάνουν από τους δημοσιογράφους/ανταποκριτές, κτλ, και περιγράφουν τη νέα καθημερινότητα αυτών των συνταξιούχων.

Ας δούμε λοιπόν ένα χαρακτηριστικό άρθρο του guardian για το θέμα - νομίζω παρουσιάζει μεγάλο ενδιαφέρον, γιατί απλούστατα τέτοιου είδους καταστάσεις θα έχουμε και στην Ελλάδα όταν το κράτος χρεωκοπήσει και επίσημα, και έχουμε νέες, πολύ μεγάλες μειώσεις και κουρέματα στις συντάξεις:

Detroit's decision to fend off bankruptcy: pay pensions or banks?
Fears grow that fight to stave off city bankruptcy may hit the poorest hardest

This is David Allen's second visit to Engine 40's fire station on Detroit's west side since February 2012 when a wall collapsed on him during a fire leaving him unable to walk without an aide. Last time he was here to clean out his locker. This time, as Detroit careens towards bankruptcy, he is back to talk with colleagues about their prospects.

Detroit's firefighters are used to danger and loss. The crew laugh and rib each other and Allen as they get ready to eat. But this time they are facing something other than fire. Beneath the camaraderie there is anger and fear.

Allen and his colleagues are among 30,000 Detroit city workers, past and present, who are about to learn what will happen to their pensions and healthcare if the city is allowed to file for  a historic bankruptcy – the largest of  its kind in history.

A decision could come as early as this week and will be logged by other struggling US municipalities. It is likely to have a profound effect on workers across the entire country.
Detroit has always been ahead of the curve. The birthplace of the automotive industry, Detroit revolutionised travel and created a middle-class army of skilled workers. Now it is forging ahead again, this time into darker territory. What happens to a city that promised its residents so much and now can not, or will not, deliver?

Allen, 50, has seen his wages slashed since his accident. He has got a pension of $3,000 (£1887) a month, for now, down from the base pay of $4,700, before overtime that could have added thousands more. He is unsure how much more cash will go if the bankruptcy goes through.

One proposal gives the city's 21,000 retirees 16 cents for every dollar. That would leave Allen with $480 a month.

Next year he faces a new dilemma. The city is offering him $200 a month to find his own health insurance. He has physical therapy three times a week for injuries that have left him with seven fused vertebrae.

"I don't even dare look online to see what it would cost. Someone told me it would [cost] thousands. Plus, I have two kids. One of them broke his finger last week playing basketball. A little accident like that could ruin everything," he says. "I knew this was a dangerous job when I took it. They told me it would take 10 years off my life. If I had to do the same thing again, I would. But the city promised me something. They promised me a pension and healthcare. I put my life on the line, then they changed the rules."

The fire station crew are worried and looking for answers.

"This has to be illegal," says Verdine Day, a firefighter who is running for president of the local union. "There's a federal disability act. Can the city just ride over that? At some point we have to stand up and fight."

Orr's supporters talked about everyone, the bankers and city workers, getting "haircuts". Kreisberg says: "To me that's disgusting. Seems like the haircuts UBS etc are taking don't compare to shaving some widow's head."

There is no doubting the scale of the financial problems in Detroit. Once a city of 2 million people and the envy of the industrial world, it is literally the crumbling edifice of its former self. The population has dropped from 2 million in 1950 to 700,000; close to half the street lights don't work. And the murder rate is at a 40-year high.

For Donald Smith something more sinister is afoot.The 68-year-old retiree spent his life working for the city – at a hospital, guarding pictures at the Detroit Institute of Art, and later as a detention officer. Now, after bills and medication costs for a variety of illnesses, he is left with $300 a month spending money. He lives on hot dogs and tilapia when it's on sale. A corned beef sandwich is a treat, a car is out of the question.

"All those years they were taking money out of my wages. I was never rich but I never thought it would come to this," he says. "There are times when I have to decide whether I am going to eat or get my medicine. This was supposed to be the American dream? It's a nightmare. I love America but we are being persecuted by our own elected officials."

"It used to be a race thing in this city. This is not a race thing, it's about class. There isn't going to be a middle-class in this country any more. If you haven't got the money to be in the country club, you are out in the cold. They say the banks are too big to fail but that's  not true of the people – in fact they are going to help you fail."

 Και αν νομίσατε ότι αυτή η κατάσταση ισχύει μόνο στο Ντιτρόιτ, κάνετε λάθος. Ήδη έχουμε παρουσιάσει (πχ εδώ κι εδώ) κι άλλες περιπτώσεις πόλεων στην Αμερική που χρεωκόπησαν και περικόπτουν συντάξεις, παροχές, βάζουν φόρους, πουλάνε τα ασημικά τους, κτλ.

Τώρα, έρχεται και νέο κύμα χρεωκοπιών, και θα δούμε ένα άρθρο που παρουσιάζει τις 10 πόλεις των ΗΠΑ με τα μεγαλύτερη χρέη:

Coming Pension Meltdown: The 10 Most Troubled City Systems
Voters in Cincinnati last week soundly defeated a ballot initiative which would have overhauled the pension system for public workers, leaving the city without a plan to deal with $872 million in unfunded liabilities.

Cincinnati is not alone.

Across the nation, cities and states are finding funding for basic services being crowded out of their budgets by the rising cost of retirees' pensions and healthcare.

More and more cities, counties, and even some states will face the harsh reality of having to fix their pension systems or deal with a Detroit-style bankruptcy.

"This is happening in too many cities and towns across America, where social services, because they can be cut, are cut. Because pensions and bonds constitutionally cannot be cut, they're the protected class," Wall Street financial analyst Meredith Whitney told CNBC.

Here are the top 10 cities with the lowest percentage of funding for pension liabilities

City Total Liability % Funded
Charleston, W. Va. $270 million 24
Omaha, Neb. $1.43 billion 43
Portland, Ore. $5.46 billion 50
Chicago, Ill. 24.97 billion 52
Little Rock, Ark. $498 million 59
Wilmington, Del. $364 million 59
Boston, Mass. $2.54 billion 60
Atlanta, Ga. $3.17 billion 60
Manchester, N.H. $436 million 60
New Orleans, La. $1.99 billion 61

"Only Los Angeles, Calif., and Denver, Colo., had even half of the money needed to fulfill their promises to employees. Thirty-three cities had set aside nothing to pay for this bill coming due," the research noted. Cincinnati was not among the cities ranked.