State of Panic

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The hours and days go by and the news engulfs us in a spiral of serious and unyielding present hardships and even worse predictions for the future, rendering us all astonished and stunned witnesses of everything that happens around us.

The risk premium rises and falls and has become a familiar unknown constantly mentioned to the relief of some and disappointment of others, without our knowing exactly what or who it impacts. And the stock market falls and rebounds in front of our very eyes, confused by budget cuts in sectors that should never have been touched, while we observe in amazement the unexplained and unexplainable deficits in financial institutions filled with money from the public treasury by an inflexible mandate from the European Union, personified in the German Chancellor.

The policies imposed on us are fallacies”, wrote Valeriano Gómez in “El País” (7.10.12), and several days later in that same newspaper Joaquín Estefanía, an outstanding economist, pointed to National Competition Commission data that indicates that “94% of public subsidies are for banking institutions”.

Our citizens were astonished to see that when our country was ordered by the Director General of the IMF to accelerate and grant addition time in which to reduce our deficit, while the next day Ms. Merkel insisted that we have to slow down and not increase the deadline by even one additional day… What happened to the agreements so solemnly signed in Rome last June 22 under the leadership of President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, for the immediate launch of an economic stimulus program for the equivalent of 1% of the European Union’s GDP? Now we only have Hollande…

Paul Krugman has called Europe’s austerity measures “crazy”. And, yes, it really will be crazy when we overstep all of the red lines of our citizens’ capacity for living in conditions of minimum dignity, in situations of conflict and unrest. I insist that if there isn’t evolution we run the risk of provoking a revolution. Like evictions, the flood of unemployment may just light the fuse. Listen and then decide what is best for citizens as a whole. And explain yourselves in Parliament, since you’re not only there to use your majority as a bulldozer, but rather to reach agreements and understandings (that you have rejected so often in the past).

Miguel Ángel Aguilar was so right when he wrote that what Spanish citizens really need right now is for someone to illuminate the future without succumbing to the temptation –often unduly– of darkening the past.

But when the sensation of “no-way-out” turns to panic is when we will be able to lift our sights and contemplate the future: having been so foolish (swapping talent for money!) not only are we forsaking our great challenges (the environment, poverty, food, water, education and healthcare for all…) but we are also losing our capacity to confront them. A state of panic and inertia because we also know that without incentives the horizon with continue to become even more bleak.

“Europe, sad and downtrodden”, observed Josep Ramoneda in an excellent summary of the situation. Radical changes are needed in security, economic union, fiscal federation… Europe “downtrodden” while the United States, and even the United Kingdom, are beginning to see the light.

I have often written that the solution lies in a “Plan 2012-2020”, carefully specifying the funds earmarked for the deficit, for creating jobs, improving healthcare and education, for R&D+i, and for the necessary infrastructures and construction to turn Spain into the California of Europe.

Allowing our best talent to leave is a serious that is hardly reversible.

As Ignacio Ramonet underscored in his article “Hot Autumn” published recently in “Le Monde Diplomatique”, “there is something fundamental at stake: equal opportunity. For example, health care is being privatized (i.e., transferred to the marketplace). He concludes by saying that we must quickly rid ourselves of our “Eurocratic” ties.

If we join voices and efforts, citizen power is enormous. That’s why they keep us distracted, silenced, submissive. Let’s react peacefully, but firmly. Let’s not let panic overtake us.

Together we can survive the present systemic crisis and invent a different future. Build a democracy in which the parliamentary majority doesn’t refuse to listen and takes into account all of the citizens it governs, in which citizen power, virtually and in cyberspace, expresses itself with specific proposals.

Let’s quickly transcend this state of panic to achieve a state of genuine, serene and audacious, social and fair democracy.