Lessons from Spain for America?

Der Spiegel has a very interesting two part article by a Spaniard living in Germany on what it’s like to return to his country of origin, and see how the economic crisis has affected his family, his friends, and the areas he remembers.  Here are a few excerpts.

I watch the news on television in my hotel room. As usual, it consists of two parts: the horror film and the fairy-tale hour. More and more depositors are emptying their accounts, the Spanish autonomous community of Castile-La Mancha is closing 70 schools, unemployment is almost 25 percent — that’s the horror film. In the fairy-tale hour, they talk about the Spanish national football team.

After watching the news in Spain for a while, you understand why half the airtime is devoted to sports. If it weren’t, people would go mad. Everything revolves around the crisis. Really everything. A DIY superstore advertises 200 jobs and gets 12,000 applications. Academics conceal their degrees on job applications in order to compete with people with inferior qualifications. There are street battles in Asturias between striking miners and the police. Sales of safes are on the rise.

This isn’t news. It’s terror.

. . .

Barcelona is a beautiful city, much more so than Berlin, Frankfurt or Munich, despite the “For Sale” signs hanging from balconies and the gold dealers opening up shop everywhere to sell the jewelry of desperate Spaniards.

To me, the city feels like the wife of a factory manager who refuses to believe that the company is bankrupt. She still has her fur coat, her diamond ring and her china — but everyone knows it’ll be over soon.

The unemployment rate in Barcelona rose from 7 to 17.7 percent last year. Barcelona is Spain’s richest city, and yet 17.7 percent of its working population is unemployed.

. . .

Castellón built an airport from which no aircraft has ever taken off, an airport that cost €150 million in a city that’s only 65 kilometers from Valencia, which already has an airport that’s much too big for the region.

. . .

For years, Castellón suffered from the fact that it wasn’t as important, rich or well-known as Valencia and Alicante, the other two major cities in the region. Someone hit upon the idea of changing that by building 17 golf courses. Seventeen 18-hole golf courses translate into a lot of golfers, hence the airport. The golf courses never materialized.

There’s more at each link.

Note what the author says about Barcelona – that it currently has 17.7% unemployment.  Well, the US unemployment and underemployment rate, measured by the broader U6 index, is about 15%, and according to Shadowstats the true unemployment rate (i.e. not ‘massaged’ according to the requirements of political correctness by government bureaucrats) is closer to 23%.

You can extrapolate from Barcelona’s experience to see how such unemployment is bound to affect this country.  It’s already doing so in many areas – it’s just that the mass media aren’t publicizing most of them.  Only big, in-your-face problem areas that are too big to cover up are being discussed, such as Detroit or the bankrupt cities of an equally bankrupt California.

There are lessons for America in the Spanish experience.  I highly recommend reading both articles in Der Spiegel and considering your part of this country in the light of what they reveal.


1 comment

  1. Thanks to your diligence, I now get weekly eletters from John Mauldin, Cumberland and Stratfor. My blood pressure has dropped dramatically. Yes, it is all bad, but at least I don't feel overwhelmed and/or surprised anymore. I can handle it.

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