The highest circulation daily newspaper in Spain, El País, today announced a historic collapse of the Spanish markets, with the Ibex falling by 5.82% points, a figure only comparable to the decline more than two years ago on the 14 of May 2010. The Euro continues to plummet against other currencies. The autonomic community of Valencia has been the first one to ask for a financial bail-out from the badly bleeding central government.
The crisis in Spain is not just about…
Sadly, the debt crisis in Spain, is not just about red numbers and a serious inability of a government to pay its debts or about rescue plans for incompetent, corrupt, dishonest bank managers and petty politicians shamelessly misappropriating public funds to subsidise their own all-expensed paid holidays in Marbella .
No, the crisis in Spain is not only about a class of finger-pointing, self-absorbed parliamentarians meeting in expensive hotels or historic venues to discuss whose wife will be appointed to the party or whose ineptitude to cover-up next.
Nor is it about a monarchy that hunts for elephants in Africa or that is accused of stealing public funds, corruption and fraud while enjoying a budget of 8.26 million euros ($10.8 million) a year for their expenses.
In the end, the crisis in Spain is not just about a state that has not enough money in the coffers to cover the expenses incurred by the banks who had to cover the expenses incurred by national and translational corporations just to end up at the mercy of the Merkels and Van Rompuys northern of the Pyrinees.
No, it’s not about them because they are only a 1% that always finds ways to self-perpetuate.
The crisis in Spain is about…
Very sadly, the debt crisis in Spain is about the other 99%.
It’s about the 1,295 Valencian Radio Television employees (75% of the network’s total number of employees) who were made redundant en mass last week.
It’s about the worker whose monthly minimum wage this year has been frozen to only €641 while having to face an inflated cost of living, increased price of transport and vastly hiked IVA (Goods and Sevices tax) to an all time high 21% from September 2012.
It’s about miners in Northern Spain marching 400 kms to Madrid to protest about the government’s plans to reduce subsidies for some of the 40 mines the mines that have been the livelihood of the villages in the area since Roman times in order to comply with European Union regulations.
It’s about the persons who everyday join the long queues of jobless waiting to get unemployment benefits to join the more than 5.5 million people already in this situation. They will now also be receiving a decreased unemployment benefit after six months of not having found a job, a measure that according to Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is necessary to encourage people to actively look for work. Not an easy task when private businesses and public entities are shutting down in massive numbers.
It’s about the more than 11.5 million persons living in risk of falling below the poverty line or social exclusion (The percentage of Spanish households under the poverty line is a staggering 22%, with a poverty rate only lower than two other European countries: Romania and Letonia.
It’s about the nearly 8 million Spanish citizens above the age of 65 who from this very month will have to face the consequences of a health system shake up by a conservative government who promised not touch the welfare state before the election in November last year. Now, some pensioners, who receive free medicines, would have to pay 10 percent of their drugs bills while people with jobs would have to pay 50-60 percent, depending on income.
The debt crisis in Spain is about students and teachers who will now see their class sizes increase in numbers by up to 20 percent while the number of teachers’ working hours will also rise.
Or about tertiary students and academics who will now face government cuts aimed to reduce public spending on education from 4.9% to 3.9% of GDP in five years. Tuition fees will increase, associate professors will be made redundant and allocation of scholarships will be restricted.
And the thousands affected by the dishonest practices of Bankia’s current and former executives. Being the fourth-largest bank and the country’s largest real-estate lender Bankia was swamped by unpaid property loans left over from the housing bubble. Too big to fail, Bankia was nationalised by the government in May, using $24 billion in taxpayers’ money. The task proved too expensive, and Madrid was forced to request up to $125 billion in European aid. But investors were left without their very hard-earned savings.
It’s about Jordi, Luis y Rafael who are on an indefinite hunger strike since the 27th of June to ensure that the protests that they and many others have staged for over a year now are heard in Parliament and don’t fall on deaf ears.
Luis is the president of ADESORG, the National Jobless Association and one of the leaders of the very popular movement Democracia Real Ya!(Real Democracy Now). They protest because they believe the government does not give a rat’s ass about the people. They believe the government doesn’t care about the self-employed, the retirees, those who have been evicted, those who no longer are entitled to unemployment benefits but can’t find jobs, about families struggling to survive with the minimum wage…
Time for a change
Clearly, the system is not working but, as Bertol Brech said,
“Let nothing be called natural
In an age of bloody confusion,
Ordered disorder, planned caprice,a
And dehumanised humanity, lest all things
be held unalterable!
Possibly, one of the only positive aspects about having to endure the deep crisis that Spain is experiencing is that we may very well be witnessing the slow death of an ineffective, corrupt, redundant political system.
The current political regime has proven to be totally ineffective and lacking in popular legitimacy. The system of elections only brings into play the vital interests of the two main parties (or rather, those who control them) and there are no incentive to implement long term strategies. And when a political system reaches the point at which Spain currently is, it needs to change. The feared outside intervention from the feared black men of the EU or the IMF will not solve any problem. The creditors will only be concerned with perpetuating the system.
The system must change and the country must evolve into a totally different model. But in the meantime, I hope everyone has the strength to see these essential changes through.