In their new book, "The Body Economic: Why Austerity Kills," economist David Stuckler and physician Sanjay Basu examine the health impacts of austerity across the globe. The authors estimate there have been more than 10,000 additional suicides and up to a million extra cases of depression across Europe and the United States since governments started introducing austerity programs in the aftermath of the economic crisis. For example, in Greece, where spending on public health has been slashed by 40 percent, HIV rates have jumped 200 percent, and the country has seen its first malaria outbreak since the 1970s. An economist and public health specialist, Stuckler is a senior research leader at Oxford University. Dr. Basu is a physician and epidemiologist who teaches at Stanford University. "Had austerity been organized like a clinical trial, it would’ve been discontinued given evidence of its deadly side effects," Stuckler says. "There is an alternative choice that we found in the historical data and through the present recessions: When we place people and their health at the center of economic recovery, it can help get our economy back on track faster and yield lasting dividends to our society."
MARÍA CARRIÓN: Amaia is a former city council member in a town—the town of Barakaldo in the Basque Country. And her case is especially tragic because she actually didn’t share just how bad off the situation was even with her husband. So, most people had no idea that there was a whole—there had been a repossession and an eviction process. She was so desperate and so ashamed of the situation that she jumped out of her balcony, her fourth floor apartment, as court employees came to evict her. This comes two weeks after police found a man dead in his apartment as they went in to evict him from his home after repossession.
And—but, you know, the movement to stop these evictions and repossessions has been working very hard on this for almost two years, and this is just the watershed. This has been the one situation that has actually forced government and the opposition and banks to come to the table and talk about real reform. Before this, you had these evictions taking place—500 orders every single day—silently. And thanks to the 15M movement—this is—was the Occupy movement in Spain just over a year ago—the platform against evictions was incredibly energized. And so, they have been able to stop hundreds of evictions.
But those are evictions of people who come to them and who say, you know, "My home is being repossessed. I’m facing eviction. Can you help me?" There are a lot of people like Amaia who did not do this, out of perhaps a sense of guilt or embarrassment. And so, her case is really representative and emblematic of what has gone wrong in Spain with, you know, thousands of people being left homeless after repossession and eviction.
EMI CHRISTOULAS: [translated] You found it unacceptable that they were killing our freedom, our democracy, our dignity. You found it unacceptable as they tightened the harsh noose of economic austerity and apartheid around us, to the unacceptable act of surrendering our independence and the keys to the country. It was unacceptable to you that Greece did not acknowledge its children and its children did not recognize their own country. You found the bestiality of capitalism unacceptable, that it infiltrated our lives and no one tried to stop it. Then, you made your decision to become the fear, the death, the memory, the sorrow of our ruined lives.
BIRGITTA JÓNSDÓTTIR: Actually, everybody has the same access to health and education. So even I, as an MP, ended up in a hospital in November, and I got exactly the same treatment as the woman working in the factory or in McDonald’s or Domino’s. And I like that. I love that. I think that is so important. And so, we pay just about the same amount of taxes as U.S. taxpayers. We don’t have to live in this insurance jungle. So we just, you know—and that was actually one of the first things they wanted to slash down, the IMF—no surprise.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN: We don’t know what specifically is causing it, but the trend has been consistent. And, if anything, our numbers would underestimate the gravity of the problem. And, of course, even one death from suicide is a terrible tragedy, and many of them are preventable. We know that in times of financial stress, there is generally an increase in suicides. We also know that this is a generation that grew up at a time when they expected more than some have been able to achieve in their lives, and also that they’re stressed with what their kids are going through and what their parents are going through. So it’s, in some ways, the sandwich generation.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: The commander-in-chief thought—came up with the idea of sequestration, destroying the military and putting a lot of good programs at risk. Here’s my belief. Let’s take "Obamacare" and put it on the table. You can make $86,000 a year in income and still get a government subsidy under "Obamacare." "Obamacare" is destroying healthcare in this country. People are leaving the private sector because their companies can’t afford to offer "Obamacare." If you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, let’s look at "Obamacare." Let’s don’t destroy the military and just cut blindly across the board.
PRESIDENT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT: It is three months, my friends, since I have talked with the people of this country about our national problems. But during this period, many things have happened. And I am glad to say that the major part of them have greatly helped the well-being of the average citizen.
In the short space of these few months, I am convinced that at least four million have been given employment, or saying it another way, 40 percent of those seeking work have found it. That does not mean, my friends, that I am satisfied or that you are satisfied that our work has ended. We have a long way to go, but we are on the way.
We come to the relief, for a moment, of those who are in danger of losing their farms or their homes. I have publicly asked that the foreclosure on farms and cattles and homes be delayed until every mortgagor in the country has had full opportunity to take advantage of federal credit. And I make the further request that if there is any family in the United States about to lose its home or its farm, that family should telegraph at once, either to the Farm Credit Administration or the Home Loan Corporation in Washington, requesting their help.
DR. HARALAMPOS POULOPOULOS: Sisa is a form of crystal methamphetamine. They use amphetamines and some other liquids, sometimes battery liquids, to produce this drug. It’s very dangerous for the health of the users. I think the main reason for the increase of sisa is the changes of the attitudes of drug users during the crisis. They are more self-destructive. We have 27 percent unemployment, 62 percent the young people under 25. We didn’t finish yet with the crisis. We are in the middle of the crisis.