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.
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.
Fernando “FerFAL” Aguirre is the author of “The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse” and “Bugging Out and Relocating: When Staying is not an Option”.