Prisoners in Argentinaget paid 46% more than the minimum payment received by retirees and pensioners. If you worked your entire life, chances are you’ll end up getting about $3.821,33 in Argentina once you retire. On the other hand, if you’re a murderer or serial rapist, you’ll make $6.060 and you’ll even get covered by the prisoner’s own Union (Workers Deprived of Mobile Freedom). No, none of this is a joke, just the sad reality. The nice part is that prisoners don’t even have to actually work to get paid, just being a prisoner entitles you to this, making becoming a criminal a great career choice for many. This is all part of the Kirchner government plan to incorporate criminals to their movement, with the Kirchner inmate political branch being called “Vatayón Militante” (misspelled Spanish for Militant Batallon). Not making any of this up, just the sad reality of a fully collapsed country.
Vatayon Militante: Rapists and murderers get to leave jail for the day and play with children in public schools.
So now you know. Best country to be a criminal in? Argentina. No doubt whatsoever. There’s about 1% of getting caught and if your crimes are bad enough to land you in jail (just being a thief or burglar isn’t enough, sorry) you’ll have housing, medical and food expenses covered, AND sending back home a salary for your contribution to society. FerFAL
Fernando, I have read and studied your book (The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse) thoroughly about the 2001 Economic Collapse in Argentina. I have searched through the book and your blog and there is an area that was not touched upon that is of great concern to me and to others my age. What happened to the Social Security payments that retired people were receiving. Did payments stop all together – forever ? Was it halted temporarily and then resumed after some time ? If it was resumed was it at the original amount or at a reduced payment rate. The only thing I saw on the blog was this quote “Older people have it pretty tough here since most pensions and retirement programs (recently “nationalized”) place the old folks BELOW the poverty line”. This appears to say there was some Social Security, but was it at the previous level or reduced, and was the reason people were below the poverty level due to the fact the payments were the same as they were originally, but now the 200% – 300% inflation had pushed them below poverty levels. If you could expound on what it was like it would be greatly appreciated. Also did Argentina have some sort of Medicare program and if so did it go away or was it reduced. These questions are very critical for those of us that are older and retired and would probably not be hire-able in an environment of 25% unemployment and would therefore not be able to try and rebuild our lives. For some of this is the difference literally between life and death. Please be so kind as to tell us what happened to Social Security and Medicare. God bless you in all your efforts. Dennis … Hello Dennis, Thanks for your email. You observations are very much correct. Pensions kept being paid, but as you say with devaluation and the local currency losing 70% of its value it is hardly enough to keep you above the poverty line. The pensions did go up little by little as years went by, but never really catching up with inflation. It was much harder the first few years though, with the initial devaluation. These days, retired people aren’t doing much better but I suppose they get by. In 2008, the Argentine government nationalized all Private Pensions, effectively stealing $30 Billion Usd. This was of course unconstitutional, but they did it anyway because the government was simply running out of money. Social security, as in unemployment benefits or child benefits, we didn’t have none of those before the economic collapse. It was all created after 2001 and it was mainly as an instrument of social control and to buy political support. Years later, we ended up with a society where being unemployed, or being a single mother with two or three children by the time you were fifteen was a wise choice financially speaking. Just as I highly criticize 99% of what the current Argentine government did I will admit that they did do one thing right and that was creating pensions for homemakers. There’s millions of women (and men) out there that have been doing one of the hardest jobs their entire lives and by the time they can’t work anymore this is not recognized and they have no way of supporting themselves. Not only do I believe it to be fair, I think it also encourages true family values contrary to a system that encourages single mother teenagers to pop one baby after another just to get paid for it every month.
As for medical care, there’s always been free medical care in Argentina as well as private medical care. The public one was not very good but it kept you alive before 2001. After the collapse it just became pitiful and patients ended up in leaking, cold, roach-infested hospitals and were asked to bring their own gauze, cotton and bandages due to lack of supplies. The government is now using the private sector to compensate for the poor public one, making the private care much worse than it used to be. As a general rule, its safe to say that few benefits and schemes, at least few critical ones, simply go away because of an economic collapse. Just going away looks pretty bad in the public eye. What you can expect when there’s very little money around is to have services that are barely a shadow of their former selves. FerFAL
Thanks Greekman. This very much confirms what we’ve been observing and commenting in previous posts regarding cash being king, the problem with importations and how invaluable a bank account abroad can be in times like these. I’ve also read that many Greeks are using Bitcoin to get around the restrictions. Digital Dodge: Some Greeks Using Bitcoin to Evade Currency Controls This could be yet another tool in the tool box, both to avoid the problems with closed banks as well as keeping savings in a different denomination. This advice may be particularly useful for people using weaker currencies or those concerned with fiat currencies in general and looking to diversify for greater security. FerFAL
In Latin America it’s called “Trafico de personas”. You know it as human trafficking. It didn’t use to be a widespread problem in Argentina. It existed, but after the 2001 collapse it increased significantly. Poverty, crime, government and police corruption all works to create an environment where slavery flourishes. The same is happening in US right now. Human trafficking is on the rise. Calls to U.S. trafficking hotline rise 26 percent led from last year by sex victims. When people ask about the similarities between what happened in Argentina and Greece and what could happen in America, I explain that it’s already happening. The difference is that in the case of U.S. it’s a slow, long process with few landmark moments but with very similar results. Poverty, social degradation and loss of standards of living just degrades everything around you until one day you wake up, look around and wonder what the heck happened. This would be the perfect example. Human trafficking, slavery, Child abduction and prostitution are all connected and there’s a good chance you’re not as prepared for it as you should be. Some of the things we learned and that you should keep in mind: 1) It can happen to anyone. It’s not just teens coming from troubled families. Even small children from good homes are kidnapped and sold into slavery. Kidnappers may drive around nice neighborhoods looks for very young children, teenage girls or young women. And it’s not just teenagers and children that are in danger. Even middleclass adults with families of their own have been kidnaped. Such was the case of 23 year old María de los Angeles Verón, a young middleclass mother taken when walking to a doctor’s appointment in broad daylight in the city of Tucuman, Argentina in 2002. María Verón is still missing. 2) It can and does happen in the country. A LOT. Ok, this right here is very important and you must understand how dangerous this is. When you think of children or adults being abducted and sold for prostitution and slavery you often think this happens in Thailand or some hell hole in Latin America. It’s happening all over USA and not just among troubled inner city youths. Rural judges are in fact the ones that have seen the sharpest increase of child prostitution. “Almost one in three of the juvenile judges surveyed said they had seen an increase in the past five years in the number of child prostitutes coming into their courtrooms. Rural judges participating in the survey reported the sharpest increase, with the typical rural judge seeing an average of three youths a month involved in prostitution.” http://edition.cnn.com/2015/07/17/us/child-sex-trafficking-update-hansen/index.html 3) The dangers of the internet Internet and social media are often where these criminal organizations find their victims. The pictures and profiles on Facebook provide a lot of personal information. It also helps traffickers keep an eye on their victims and their whereabouts, tracking them every second. Make sure you know what your children are up to when online, no matter how old or young you may think they are. Know who they are talking with and what they are talking about and be extremely careful regarding people outside their circle of friends they have direct face to face contact with. 4) Once taken, it is very hard to rescue them. When someone is enslaved, they are usually threatened and beaten into submission. Sometimes its financial leverage that they have over the victim. Without ant cash, ID or money, all which are taken away, the victim feels powerless. In the case of sex slaves they are often beaten, raped and kept drugged for months until they are emotionally broken. The kidnappers will often threaten to kill the parents of the children they abduct or in the case of women with children of their own it’s them who are threatened. Kidnappers usually have either political connections or friends among local police. Often they have financial power or leverage because of their clients which are sometimes powerful, influential people. This is often the case of prostitution rings. 5) Its already happening all around you Its not just about prostitution. There’re slaves working in New York City as maids and salves picking strawberries in the fields of California or working in the restaurant kitchen where you just had dinner with your family. It is estimated that there are 1.5 million victims in USA of either sex or labor trafficking. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/5-things-you-didnt-know-about-human-trafficking-20140819
As Greece keeps falling to new levels of despair, more similarities with the Argentine economic collapse and its aftermath keep showing up. In spite of the differences between a Latin American country and a member of the EU, there are striking similarities between the two, especially regarding how the crisis affected people and how they cope with it. The most obvious difference is that Greece is part of the EU, meaning it has means of getting even more money in spite of the massive debt that caused the problem in the first place. We can debate how much of a solution it is to go further into debt but this simply wasn’t an option for Argentina. Argentina wasn’t part of a main global power. Then again, Argentina is almost 20 times the size of Greece. All European Union countries put together ad up to 4,324,782 km2 . Argentina extends over 2,780,400 km2. Argentina has significant natural resources and is a strong primary producer while Greece depends mostly on the export of refined oil (which it first needs to import) cotton and tourism. Argentina has its own currency which it was able to devaluate, which works as pressure release valve, including the ability to print its own money. Greece has to stick with the Euro which it does not control. On the other hand, after its default Argentina became a no-go zone for investors, while Greece still has the Euro and is backed by its EU member status. The Greek crisis had three possible outcomes. First, the one the media loved talking about the most given the tragic implications, catchy name tag included: Grexit. Greece would leave the EU, or get kicked out of it. They would drop the Euro and start printing its own currency. Alexis Tsipras anti-austerity stance was what got him elected in the first place. The Syriza party was supposedly ready to do just that if left with no other choice by the Troika (European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund). This would have been the path most similar to the one Argentina took. In the case of Argentina, this wasn’t a particularly bad economic decision. At least in the case of Argentina, having an already rich country, getting rid of crippling austerity demands and running your own economy would have been a way of getting back on its feet in a couple years and even having a vibrant economy within a decade. The problem with Argentina was its poor execution of such a plan due to corruption and political problems. The more Argentina recovered, fueled mostly thanks to rising soy prices, the more the ruling party took to buy political support and increase its own power. Argentina most certainly didn’t recover a year after the default. It managed to get a couple mouthfuls of air by 2003 but for all practical purses 99% of Argentines saw a non-stop decline in their quality of life and standards of living since then. The second option would have been the most favorable one for the people of both Greece and Europe: Reach a reasonable compromise. Find a middle point between the demands of the Greek people, an honest assessment of what they truly can and cannot do, and the demands of their creditors. In a true capitalist system there are penalties and rewards and if you poorly invest money you risk losing a percentage of that money (sometimes 100% of it!). It’s safe to say that investing in Greece’s economy was a poor investment, so losing some money is understandable. What does this mean? Creditors lose some money, they accept a haircut, just like Greeks accept some unpopular measures so as to get the help they needed from the institutions within EU intended for such purposes. No one is 100% happy but everyone has something to look forward to and recovery is possible. Turns out the worst possible outcome is the one that played out. Greece got sold, like Argentina did during the 90’s with Carlos Menem. Everything that led to the crisis, more debt, more unemployment, more austerity has been accepted in exchange of a short term lifeline. The real winners here are the corporations that will cash in on the crisis. Greeks are now running the gauntlet Argentina went through 15 years ago and is still struggling with. The worse is yet to come for Greece. Greece’s economic circumstances may be even worse than Argentina’ in the long run, but this may be offset to a greater or lesser degree if they manage to avoid the kind of corruption and political collapse Argentina suffered. As for the day to day life on the streets of Greece and what the people have to deal with it’s basically a carbon copy of Argentina after the default: 1)Cash-hungry As banks close their doors and limit people to just 60 Euros per day in cash, the society desperately turns to cash. These days in the streets of Greece, just like it was in Argentina back in the day and still is over a decade later, cash is indeed king. If you have it, you have much greater leverage for negotiation than the guy with money stuck in the bank. 2)Hunting for ATMs and waiting in Line
It becomes a daily task to find an ATM with cash, find one in a safe location, and hopefully one that isn’t packed full of people. Unfortunately there’s no way around it and for many having to wait several minutes or even hours at an ATM or bank line becomes a reality. The solution? Patience. Patience or the stress will eventually kill you. Meditate, do yoga, watch a romcoms, spend time with friends or just do anything you enjoy doing. During an economic collapse you cannot let stress and depression get to you. This is the silent killer that destroys most lives during such events. 3)Budgeting With a 60 Euro daily limit you have no choice but to make the most of it. People that thought they knew how to keep an eye on their expenses have a newfound meaning for the word “budget”. Money can’t be wasted and must be spend on the basics in the most efficient manner possible. Instead of going to the movies you go for walk. Out to a restaurant? No, lets do a picnic with a couple sandwiches. Spending 10 bucks on beer in a pub? Not anymore, those were the good old days. Even when it comes to food your approach is different. Instead of buying ready made quick microwave meals its about buying rice, pasta and getting the most calories per buck spent. 4)Barter
With high unemployment, banks closed and little money on the streets it’s natural that people turn to barter just like they did in Argentina. Having actual cash is of course better and how well barter work is the topic of another article, but when you don’t have anything else you try to make the most of it. It sure isn’t the utopic fantasy many preppers believe it to be. 5)Crime for Cash With more cash on the street and kept at home, criminals know there’s more loot to be found in most homes. The Greek government saw the risk of robbery in ATM lines as well and increased the police presence. Poverty and social instability combined with corruption always leads to more and more violent crime. This is something Greeks should be preparing for. As bad as you may think it already is, it will get a lot worse. https://www.phantis.com/blogs/ioannis-michaletos/rising-trends-greek-organized-crime 6)Suicide The first two years after the Greek austerity programs suicide rates went up 35%. This same thing happened in Argentina after the economic collapse. Spain also saw a sharp increase in suicide rates after the crisis. In my case, when I think of suicide rates I remember the trains. Whenever there were problems with trains, you knew it was because someone killed himself. For years this would happen pretty much every week in one railway or another. Greek Crisis Has Seen a Rise in Suicides and Depression http://www.newsweek.com/greek-crisis-has-seen-rise-suicides-and-depression-353056 7)Riots and Civil Unrest
Molotov bombs, tear gas, rubber bullets. It all becomes part of everyday life. Eventually demonstrations become protests which the government doesn’t bother addressing anyway. These become roadblocks and a pain for commuters. When protesting isn’t enough, when people are too poor, maybe even hungry and simply mad, looting starts happening more often. You just learn not to get involved and just walk past stores being looted and sporadic riot. You try not to think about it too much just avoid the area. 8)Political fallout In the case of Argentina the signs said “Que se vayan todos”, which means get rid of them all, in reference to politicians. Argentines just stopped believing in politicians all together. All they do is talk and once they are elected all they do is steal. Syriza came to power thanks to its anti-austerity banner, only to then rotate 180º and accept even worse bailout conditions. I doubt Greeks in general have much trust in politicians by now. 9)Austerity and Mass emigration With half the people in Greece under 25 unemployed, it is understandable that many chose to leave. 200.000 Greeks have left Greece since the crisis started. The same number of Argentines escaped to Europe alone after the economic collapse. More austerity will mean even less jobs, but most of all far worse living conditions for everyone no matter what age. Argentina, Greece and anywhere else in the world, when SHTF for real those that can will escape looking for a better future. http://www.youthemploymentdecade.org/en/repor/emigration-the-only-solution-for-young-greeks/ 10)The elder are among the most vulnerable
Being retired and living off a pension is not much better than being young and unemployed when an economy collapses. At a certain age, you don’t have tools left to work with and whatever pension you have will have to do. Inflation eats up the purchasing power of such a fixed income and it hardly ever keeps up with it. As banks close and capital controls are enforced, the less tech savvy ones such as older people are particularly sensitive. Many older folks out there don’t even use ATM cards and will always go to the bank so as to speak with an actual person to get their money. These people are particularly vulnerable. In the case of Greece, even with closed banks they had to open for some time just to help such people. The exact same thing happened in Argentina and the images were just as sad. 11)Corruption Corruption exists everywhere and it is true that in some places it is worse than others. Maybe there’s more corruption, maybe it’s the type that allows for worse things to happen. Sometimes there’s a lot of it but a façade is kept so as to keeping up appearances. What you can be sure of is that as poverty gets worse and people get more desperate it becomes the law of the jungle out there. Its every man for himself and whatever can be done to survive goes. Corruption also becomes a part of life and eventually it becomes the reason why getting out of the mess is so hard. The worst part is when corruption becomes socially accepted and for an entire generation that’s all they ever knew. For them, it becomes a goal to get politically involved in certain parties with the specific purpose of gaining financial leverage if not downright stealing from public funds. 12)Poverty and ending up Homeless
That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? When its all said and done, when the numbers and stats have been published and discussed ad nausem its about being poor or even worse ending up homeless and eating out of the trash to survive. This was the reality for tens of thousands in Argentina after the economic collapse. Every night the streets would get flooded with “cartoneros”, trash scavengers. Officially they are looking for recycling material. There’s a much grimmer reality though. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen people grab a quick bite out of something they found while going through trash on the sidewalk. Watching children as young as five eat out of a garbage bag is not something you want to see. Another particularly tragic moment I’ll never forget happened while running errands in the Capital of Buenos Aires one day. I came across this very old lady, about eighty years old. She was well dressed had nice makeup. There was a dignity about her that reminded me of my grandmother. She was holding on to the burglar bars of a window (all windows in Buenos Aires have those) for support and she was crying. She had a small suitcase with her. I couldn’t help stopping and asking what was wrong. I thought she had been mugged, that happens a lot or maybe she got lost. But no. She said she had lost her home and now had no one and nowhere to go. You could tell just by the way she was dressed but most of all by how she stood in spite of barely being able to stand on her feet, this was a woman that had worked hard her entire life and didn’t deserve this. I don’t even remember what I said to her. I do know I didn’t do anything to help her because there was nothing I could do. Like millions of others, I could barely take care of myself and my family let alone help anyone else. When all is said and done, when the numbers have been crunched, the billions made by the hedge funds and politicians, its millions of lives that have been ruined so that a handful can reap their evil harvest.
Molotov bomb attacks on the streets as the Greek Parliament Votes “Yes” on Bailout
It wasn’t that difficult to predict that a Grexit was more of a fear strategy so as to make some good investments and not so much a real possibility given what was at stake. What was a bit harder to guess was how exactly the bailout would work and how much compromise would be made by either side. Turns out that the greatest losers here are the Greeks. They basically got nothing and the austerity they will have to endure means years of misery ahead of them. You know you’re doomed when even the IMF believes that the demands you’ve been forced to accept are too hard. Predictably, the Greeks are mad and showing their discontent. Expect more to come, more protest, more demonstrations. Yes, more violence and more unrest in general, very much the same thing we saw in Argentina after the default. The similarities keep popping up, most of all the way in which the economic disaster affects society and how people cope with it. FerFAL
There’s a famous quote by Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana, better known as George Santayana: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” I couldn’t agree more with the famous Spanish philosopher. I would add to it that the same is bound to happen to those that don’t even know history and current events to begin with, let alone worry about remembering it. I vividly remember going to the movies to watch “Schindler’s List” in 1993. “How terrible!” I remember thinking as I left the theater. As a young teenager, I took comfort in knowing that such brutal barbarism, with people being massacred just because of the faith, was something that had happened before my time. We sure must have evolved and advanced as humans since then and it was now a thing of the past. How naïve. It was only as an adult that I learned that my own people, Catholics, had been tortured and kept in concentration camps in UK from 1971 to 1975 or that at that same time “Schindler’s List” was released Bosniaks were being slaughtered, children getting their throats slit by the thousands and systematic rape was being perpetrated both as an instrument of terror and ethnic cleansing. It’s been 20 years now since the Srebrenica Genocide where more than 8.000 men, women and most of all children were massacred during the Bosnian war. As you read this, bodies are still being recovered and buried by their loved ones. Many are still missing. What about today though? Do we know or even care about what’s happening in places like Palestine and Yemen? Or do we have to wait another decade so as to only then go “how terrible”? “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. Let’s make sure we don’t do that. Let’s make sure we learn what’s really happening around us even if sometimes it takes some extra effort to see through the mainstream media smoke curtain. We have no choice but to do that if we expect to be ready for what’s coming our way. FerFAL
So the Greek people elect a leftist Alexis Tsipras who based his entire Syriza campaign on a socialist, anti-austerity stance. Tsipras goes for a referendum to show the world that not only are the Greek people against austerity (didn’t they do that already? You know…when he got elected?) but that Greeks themselves directly vote if they want to accept more austerity or not. With a strong “no” vote win, it was then only logical that Tsipras would sit with Angela Merkel and the IMF and not only accept more austerity measures than ever before but also sell what’s left of Greek public assets still worth something… oh, wait. Yes, that really doesn’t make any sense. At all.
Premier of Greece, Alexis Tsipras, Accepts Creditors’ Austerity Deal This just goes to show how much of a lie this Left and Right, Socialist and Capitalists agenda actually is. At the end of the day, Alexis Tsipras showed his true colors and instead of sticking to his guns as the Greek people expected him to do he sold out at the last minute. What Tsipras did was in fact similar to what then Argentine president Carlos Menem did with his privatization plan of public assets in the 90s. Corporate friendly, Carlos Menem famously announced one day that telecommunications, roads and the national airways company would all be privatized in his now infamous words “Nothing that should be State-owned will remain in the hands of the State”. Words to live by. Ten years later the country would fail catastrophically. FerFAL