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Archive for 26 diciembre 2012

The new philosopher’s stone of our times is a balanced budget. Apparently, if our Governments reach that goal, all our problems will be solved: full employment will be reached; social and health services for all will be at hand; the education system will make our children achieve high marks in the famous PISA test; and, above all, our retirement will be assured.

Accordingly, European governments have gone into a frenzy of budget cuts meant to make it easier to achieve social nirvana. According to oxforddictionaries.com, “cut” means to reduce the amount or quantity of. This activity is geared at making state participation in the overall GDP of the country smaller.  This is not a bad thing. There could only be a problem if, parallel to the budget cuts in the public sector, the economy shrinks, so that the tax base shrinks too. If that happens, the economy falls into a vicious circle where the more the government cuts its budget, the more the GDP shrinks and the smaller the tax base is. I don’t want to sound pessimistic, but the present situation in Europe looks very much like this.

Governments have taken the easy way. It is easier and requires less thinking (not the main characteristic of most European politicians) to cut a budget than to come up with alternative saving plans. Saving means having a vision, designing a plan and implementing it. This is a process that requires building for the future rather than concentrating on short term results. In the worst case scenario, results could be achieved after the next elections, anathema for the non-leaders of today.

It is about saving, not cutting. Saving means reforming the process by which our welfare state continues providing the services that have made European countries the envy of the world. It is about integrating services while avoiding duplications, for instance bringing together social and health care services that could lead to reinforcing each other, instead of working back to back. It is about integrating all educational levels, from kindergarten to vocational training to university. And so forth and so on.

All of which means having a vision that, unfortunately, our so-called leaders lack completely.

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