Category Archives: Spain

Rock And Hard Place

Spain in 2012 typifies the old expression concerning being caught between a rock and a hard place. Unemployment is over 25% and for those under 30 it is much higher. The government is cutting, cutting, relying on austerity and concerned if anyone will even loan a dollar to the government. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy warned there is a “serious  risk that investors will not lend us money or they  will do so at an astronomical rate.” So, what to do?

The answer is clear to Angela Merkel, to David Cameron to Mitt Romney, to the Republican party– just cut government expenditures, lower taxes on the wealthy, and let a few people reduce calorie intake in order to end obesity and end rising debt. Of course, there is absolutely no evidence this approach will work, but it certainly looks great to the “job creators”of the modern world.

Somehow, it is still a bit unclear which type of jobs they are creating and for whom are those jobs? In the meantime, cut out the food.

Austerity Not Austere For Europeans

Each day brings new evidence Europeans are disgusted with government policies which seek to reduce expenditures in order to restart economies. Of course, over fifty years ago John Maynard Keynes put to rest false notions that reducing government expenditures is the road out of recessions. In America, right wingers denounce the “European ideas” of Barack Obama even though European nations like Ireland, UK, Spain, Italy, France, etc.. are putting into practice Republican ideas about reducing government expenditures.  Of course these European measures are being carried out by Capitalist governments even while Republicans are denouncing Socialist governments for European problems.

President Obama has made mistakes, but his current programs of stimulating the economy are on the right track. The US economy is leading all but Germany in recovery even as Republicans demand he carry out  austerity programs. Firing people leads to unemployment, not to employment. US corporations have witnessed–under Obama–doubling of the Dow Jones and they are sitting on over $2 Trillion in their corporate accounts. They have NOT been impacted by taxes and the fault lies in failure to hire people, get them working and get them paying taxes.

Reign Of Terror In Spain

If you are considering a visit to Spain, make certain to avoid the island of Mallorca if safety is your concern. A reign of terror has wracked the island due to rise of terrorist Muslim groups. The town council, in an effort to halt the spread of terrorism, has banned  Muslim women from wearing a  burqa or a niqab in public  places. According to Mayort Biel Serra, it is an issue of “public safety.”

Actually, there are exactly two Muslim women on the island who wear a face covering. However, the mayor is concerned that if one of them commits a crime it will be impossible to identify the culprit. There is need on this island to find out who is behind the reign of terror. Frankly, the mayor is right to focus on these two Muslim women as the source of crime and terror. First, they  take over Mallorca, next the two women seize control of Spain.

Perhaps, Karl Marx Was Right

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the ongoing mantra among conservatives, liberals and libertarians has been that capitalism is the only way to function in a modern society. As I recall, Karl Marx predicted that capitalists were greedy and only concerned withe their own economic interests which meant they would be more than happy to destroy the middle class and create a society in which a small group of wealthy were in control. As one examines modern capitalism, that prediction increasingly describes what is.

In nations like the US and England, the top one percent control about 20% of the wealth and the top 5% control over 40%. Statistics reveal the middle class has been continually declining in wealth over the past twenty years. In other words, exactly what was predicted by Marx is now a reality. Does this suggest that Capitalism is inherently designed for the top five percent while the remaining population lives off crumbs thrown by those above?

Perhaps, it is time to revisit Karl Marx and pose a different question: were his ideas insightful, but placed in the hands of those who never understood him, the result was an economic disaster? After all, isn’t that what happened to the ideas of Jesus Christ?

Drive Car Without Driving!

President Obama continues to emphasize the need for America to become a nation driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, but all too many of our business leaders are only focused on the bottom line of profit. Over $2 Trillion are safely stored in bank accounts or invested in the market rather than invested in new ideas. Swedish, German and Spanish automobile companies are experimenting with a new idea that would encourage road safety. They have created a model which allows drivers to go to sleep and still drive their car.

Project SARTRE, Safe Road Trains For Environment, allow a driver to join a “convoy” of cars proceeding on a major highway. There is a lead car which is electronically equipped to drive all cars in the convoy. A driver places his vehicle on autopilot, picks up a book or gets a snooze while his car is being driven by the lead vehicle. When the driver decides to go off on his own, he sends a signal, and within moments is able to exit the convoy and do what he desires.

We await some new ideas from American automobile companies that point the way to the future. How about using some of that $2 Trillion for new development?

In Defense Of Public Nudity

Jacint Ribas is an unassuming man from Barcelona who enjoys hopping on his bike, wandering through the streets of the city enjoying the sights. He is an upright man who enjoys leading with his body thrust right out so everyone can see who he really is in person. Jacint wanders the streets of his beloved city without a stitch of clothes because he believes in nudity. He is head of the Association for the Defense of the Right to Nudity.” When asked why he goes around nude, there is a shrug of the head and quietly he says, “I do it to show it is normal.” At one point he wanted to organize 7,000 stripping down to their birthday suits, but it never came off. There is something intriguing about nudity. For example:

1. It would be interesting if Sarah Palin stripped away the mystery of her bank account and let her followers know exactly how much she has made out of their stupidity.

2. How about seeing Rush Limbaugh in the nude with the stomach hanging down as he rants on about people born overseas.

3. Of course, if Rep. Paul Ryan let us see the real bare facts about his plan to reduce the deficit, he might find a deficit in the number of people who think he makes any sense.

4. I doubt if anyone would pay attention to Michele Bachmann if her idiotic remarks were made in the nude.

Pope Incorrectly Pontificates About Past

Pope Benedict XVI is an intelligent man, but every so often when visiting Catholic nations which are attempting to become integratedf within the 21st century, he has a tendency to twist history in order to fit into the point being made. The Pope is upset at secular actions of the Spanish government which led to statements that were completely out of context to reality. He claimed: “in Spain a strong aggressive lay mentality, an anticlericalism, and secularization, has been born as we experienced in the 1930s.” He was referring to the rebellion led by Fascist Francisco Franco who over-threw the Republican government and instituted a Fascist dictatorship that was close to Nazi Germany. During the Civil War, about 4,000 priests were killed by loyalist forces which charged that the Church was aiding Franco’s armies. Of course, hundreds of thousands of Spanish people died at the hand of the Fascists, a point never mentioned by the Pope. Comparing laws passed to protect gay rights or seeking equality for women with violence in the Civil War is simply an absurd and insulting comparison.

Rarely does the Pope explain why Catholic nations are passing laws that curb the power of the Catholic Church and accord rights to gays or Jews or Muslims. The Church during the Spanish Civil War took the side of Fascists who were working with Nazi, Germany. It ill behooves a man born in Nazi Germany to defend a dictator like Franco!!

Avigdor Lieberman –Mouth Roaring Nonsense

Once upon a time the nation of Israel had leaders such as David Ben Gurion or Golda Meier who were respected in the world as individuals who understood the dynamics of diplomacy. Alas, today, Israel has a foreign minister whose childishness and ignorance have made his nation’s diplomatic corps the laughing stock of the world. At a recent meeting with foreign ministers from France and Spain, Israel Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman proceeded to offer a lecture on the history of Europe. “Solve your own problems in Europe before you come to us with complaints. Maybe, I will be open to accepting your suggestions.” He went on to compare urging Israel to negotiate with Palestinians to European leaders in 1938 allowing Hitler to take over Czechoslovakia. “Israel will not be the Czechoslovakia of 2010.” Naturally, he would not stop spouting nonsense by going on to explain European concerns for peace in the Middle East as stemming from problems in Afghanistan and North Korea!

Europeans know it is important to avoid violence in the Middle East and seek a compromise agreement between Israel and Palestinians. How can that be compared to Hitler taking over Czechoslovakia? Lieberman is an ignorant, uncouth slob who does not belong in any government position, let alone being foreign minister.

Basque Separatists Promise Peace

Israel and Palestinian leaders just participated in discussions which, ostensibly, were initial steps on the road to peace. Just as their talks ended, Spain’s Basque separatist group which has been fighting for autonomy for half a century, announced it was ready to end the fighting. ETA announced to the people of Spain its “commitment to finding a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations. It remains unclear as to how this process will proceed, it remains unclear as to wether Basque militants will unilaterally lay down their arms or will it require some action on the part of the Spanish government. Cynics argue it is a ploy to gain sympathy, but ideas concerning localism have lost power in countries like Spain which is now linked, not only throughout Europe as part of the European Union, but has commercial links in every part of the world.

There is no doubt many areas of the world continue to witness “nationalism” as a powerful driving force that is able to fuel anger and violence. Perhaps, the Basque statement reflects a slight shift in the drive of nationalism to achieve power. Who knows what awaits Spain, the only hope is the future of this country is peaceful and negotiations proceed to a successful conclusion.

Michelle(Marie) Obama(Antoinette)?

Summertime, and the living is easy, at least that’s what Michelle Obama thought when she decided to take daughter, Sasha on a trip to Spain. Little did she consider how right wing kooks would interpret going to Spain in the summer while millions of Americans can’t even go to Six Flags this summer with the kids. Right wing media has unleashed a torrent of criticism concerning a trip that included lunch with the King and Queen of Spain at which Michelle tasted; Andalusian style chilled gazpacho soup, chargrilled turbot, veal escalopes with mustard, oriental rice with sauted mushrooms. And, rather than staying in two or three star hotels as do most Americans, Michelle had to park her body in a 7 star hotel which cost $7,000 a night. Of course, the Secret Service selected the hotel. Most probably this is another of those storm in a teacup episodes in American politics.

However, perhaps, Mrs. Obama might have reflected on the current situation in which so many millions of people are desperate and are cutting back on summer activities for their own children. A trip to someplace in continental America would have resonated with Americans. There are times when the powerful have to be cognizant of how the powerless feel.

Oh, Michelle, after assuming office in March, 1933, Mrs. Roosevelt had a party at which hot dogs were served. In the midst of the Depression, she had to entertain the visiting King and Queen of England– once again, hot dogs were served. Got the point, Mrs. Obama?