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Archive for 18 mayo 2013

I have borrowed the title of this post from an article in the leading Spanish paper El País[1]. It reflects something I have been asking myself since the beginning of the actual crisis and, till now, I haven’t found an answer. Why? Of course there is always the excuse that we have the leaders that society deserves, but that answer is too sad to make it part of my outlook on life.

The challenges facing Europe, and (for that matter) a good part of the developed world, are well known. The most relevant is the demographic change that will make Europe, according to some apocalyptic analysis, a kind of geriatric ward. Following that analysis, the working population will not be able to sustain the increasing mass of retirees. Since older people are the main drivers of care costs, the only solution is to reduce entitlements linked to retirement as well as care benefits.

A clear and easy solution:  let´s cut costs by rationing the expense linked to those pillars of the welfare society that was built, precisely, to overcome the ills of a rapidly changing society in the aftermath of the II War World.

Looking back, Europe was able to manage a similar demographic change when, in the 60’s, the working mass was able to pay for the health and education of an outpouring of new born kids –the baby boomers-. Maybe it was because the extra hands needed for paying for that were allowed to migrate, so that Europe could take advantage of the surplus labor of other countries; just the opposite that certain populist leaders are suggesting these days.

But of course, those were different economic times. Europe was devastated and the needs of the reconstruction created a demand and subsequently an economic bonanza. Today there is no bonanza; as a matter of fact our very non-intelligent leaders have been able to create not one, but two economic crisis in a row. That was quite predictable. If the main “customer” – that is, the State – responsible for 49.4%[2] of the national demand drastically reduces its level of expenditure, what could the result be other than a recession?

And why? Because in their narrow mindedness there is only one mantra: ration. They think, and are proud of saying out loud, that they are like a “good housewife”; they spend only what they have. But I don´t want a “good housewife” leading my country, or any other country! A country is by far more complex than my house, than any house! Leading Europe in such simplistic terms is what has brought us to this sorry state. We need leaders capable of transforming our society, not a bunch of nerds in a position of command, blaming “Brussels” for all ills, hiding the fact that “Brussels” is them.  What comes out of Brussels is their collective will: if you put rubbish in, rubbish comes out.

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