I live in a country with a strong anti-European feeling. Most Britons I know refer to Europe as the continent, making clear there is water between them and Europe. I always felt European. Partly because I was born in that continent but also because I liked the idea of a united Europe; perhaps Spaniards often think we are not good enough on our own due to an inferiority complex heritage from the dictatorship.
I liked to think that all countries would unite and we learn from each other, growing all together. That we would be able to travel easily across the continent. That should Spain have a problem we wouldn´t have to confront it alone. I was sad about loosing our currency (peseta) but I thought it was the price to pay and that Euro would help Spain expand internationally.
But from one day to the next something that was 100 pesetas was 166. We thought ¿where is the difference going to? Obviously to the pockets of the intermediaries, politicians and fathers of the Eurozone as payment for their two hours drafting effort, such a bad system shouldn´t have taken longer to be designed. Whilst the cost of every day life was rising up without salaries increasing accordingly, from Europe we were told that our VAT, water and electricity were too cheap. Since we had to be European the price rose without production costs justifying it. In the meantime our politicians sold all the utilities and any industry they could to get the economy Europe was demanding to get into the Euro, without caring if the price was appropriate or the consequences for the country’s future.
Years pass and like everywhere else housing prices skyrocketed because banks wanted to earn more money through loans, politicians (because it was easier for them letting construction create a bubble than investing and promoting real industry) and Spaniards, some wanting to earn money speculating and others because even though they realised they would have to stretch their salary to pay the mortgage, they were obsessed with the idea of having a property more than Gollum was with his precious ring (also we have to acknowledge that in Spain there is no real incentive to renting). And as Gollum fell off the cliff because of the ring, so did we.
And now after years of foreign banks buying Spanish bonds and earning money with our mortgages and economy, we end up in an international crisis of trust because there were too many lies and rip offs together. Europe´s solution is austerity, but not for the banks and markets that caused the crisis, but the citizens that had already made rich the banks with their work and savings but were fools not to realise that their vote was going to people bought by the economic powers. After years of these measures and seeing it is not working they keep doing the same, which must mean that by condemning citizens to misery politicians are also getting a big piece of the cake.
Far away in U.S.A Obama won the election and made cuts (as Republicans wanted) but he also invested in the economy (as Democrats, citizens and economists wanted) and now they are getting out of the mess and creating jobs (if the sequester allows it). A crisis generated by banks should be paid by banks (they keep saying citizens should be responsible for their actions, is only fair we apply the same to companies, after all some even say companies are people and in any case they are managed by people, funny enough none of them are in jail). However to contribute to social and economic stability we all would have agreed to cut a bit on social spending. The problem is all the cuts are directed towards citizens’ rights and social benefits we have already paid for through our taxes across the years, without even touching politicians waste (unnecessary politician roles, assessors, travels, payments for attending their meetings…) nor banks and companies excessive profits neither making any positive structural reform (they are going to delete from the map many municipalities which are the closest point of contact, instead of modifying the regional structure where there is a huge room for improvement).
I am a political junkie, especially of polite, constructive and conciliatory politics that Obama always has and we lack so much in Spain. Every time I hear Obama talking about economy I think “what Europe could be”. Right now he is fighting the Sequester, what could be an European austerity plan that Republicans passed in the House and implements social cuts across the board. Democrats on the other hand wanted to minimise the spending cuts and generate revenue by closing corporate loopholes and investing to create public jobs. On the 1st of March, without an agreement that would avoid the cuts Obama gave a press conference and expressed his preoccupation for the people, saying that citizens have already lost money because of the crisis and they shouldn´t carry any more burdens.
This seems like a dream in Europe. On one hand Germany and the markets demanding to all the countries paying debt only from their side (not the banks or markets that generated the debt) so they don´t have to assume any loss on the voluntarily investments they did for years and produced and produce so many benefits for them. On the other European politicians cutting in social rights rather than themselves or the banks, making citizens loose rights they had paid with their taxes and obtained after years of social struggle. This way they are suffocating more than 150 million people whose biggest crime has been voting a bunch of incompetents because we didn´t have anyone better to vote for and were indulgent with the system because we didn´t see the huge scale of the treason it will force upon us.
Germany killed thousands of millions through history and instead of condemning them for life to isolation and economic crisis we forgave their debt so they could grow. Now they threaten all the Southern European countries. Abusing and killing people you don´t like is wrong; we offered them redemption even though there is no turning back from those crimes because people don´t come back to life. However they are inflexible on an economic issue. This is generating rage and frustration towards politicians, institutions and anyone related to these austerity politics, including Germany. We are seeing it in Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal; since politicians and markets keep applying the same policies, citizens are organising themselves and protesting every week.
My Europe doesn´t do economic and social experiments with countries in crisis when there are other options, forcing their citizens into misery while the perpetrators are living off the benefits without any consequence. My Europe treats all its citizens as equal, sharing the benefits so we all grow because someone dead can´t use the money in the bank; not saving Germany and France banks from the crisis at Southern Countries expense. My Europe doesn´t criminalise whole countries because of clichés (Southern Europeans are all lazy) that look very much like the nazism of the XXI century (we are better than them). They promoted Europe strongly, letting as many countries as possible and profiting from it, the least they should do is assuming consequences for their greed and poor planning. I don´t want to live in a dictatorship, I rather live poorer and free. Southern European countries should say no to this tyranny. Either they force banks to pay the crisis they created or find other solutions that don´t impact middle and lower classes exclusively.