Joy abounding! At last we have the labor market reform, in the form of last Friday's decree. The resort, once more, to a decree confirms that this is the preferred method of the PP, even when it has a clear parliamentary majority. As even its promoters admit, it will in itself be unable to generate employment. So we are looking at a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. We know that it has pleased Berlin, Angela Merkel having called it exemplary. We shall now see whether the text is capable of bringing on a general strike, as Rajoy suggested in an aside at an EU meeting in Finland.
For the moment, the leaders of the two major Spanish unions, Ignacio Fernández Toxo of CCOO and Cándido Méndez of UGT, have declined to charge toward the first red cape waved at them, preferring to wait for objective conditions to develop - that is, for those hurt by the reform to call on them for a response. Once again we see that general strikes are more effective against a Socialist government, as was seen in the days of Felipe González, when even the employers joined in. Social circumstances are now adverse to strikes. Not for lack of reasons, but out of an excess of paralyzing fear. The right and their media orchestra have shown great skill in sowing fear, and are now reaping a harvest of paralysis and docility in the left.
These are the same stimuli that fostered the old political boss culture in Spain. If fear is to function well, you also need a narrowing of horizons. In this case, the European horizon. As we said once before, either the EU recovers its power to radiate rights and liberties in the workplace, or it will end by importing new sorts of servitude and precarious employment. And in this second option, we now seem bent on making our factories more competitive than those in China.
In his book The Information Crash, Max Otte explains the mechanisms of daily disinformation that help so much in the aforementioned tasks. The author impugns the religion of strict-observance neoliberalism, making it clear that the crash did not need to happen; that the financial world has not been bridled, nor a brake been put on the unscrupulous agents of a runaway monetary economy. In his opinion, the trend has been in the opposite direction: the generally recognized guidelines have been allowed to lapse, eliminating the rules that until now seemed to function well, so as to open the markets wide, and to better conceal fraudulent conduct. Otte considers that politics can do anything when it wishes, and that real regulations could have reduced the market's chaotic evolution to more tranquil terms. But he argues that for this we need another economic culture, which would demand a rebellion against the religion of neoliberalism, and the decision not to renounce our own understanding.
The eclipse of Europe is now joined by the decline of the United States, whose political system is increasingly blocked, offering spectacles such as that of the Republican primaries. Paul Krugman explains that inequality is spreading in the US. Statistics show a widening of the salary gap, situating the US high up on the list of countries where one's economic and social condition is most likely to be inherited. Then the conservatives come along, downplaying the stagnation of wages, and highlighting the decline of family values among the working class. For these preachers of traditional morality, it is irrelevant that the average wage, in inflation-adjusted terms, of male high-school graduates has fallen by 23 percent since 1973, while the percentage of private-sector workers in the same group, holding medical insurance, has declined from 65 to 29. Other interesting statistics include the fact that there are now more black men facing criminal charges in the US than there were slaves in 1850. To be continued.