This is indeed a lost generation. The country of my wife and children, Spain, as reported by the Telegraph yesterday, now has a youth unemployment rate of 51.4 percent. Meanwhile, as painted by the English version of the Spanish El País newspaper, the wider picture is just as terrifying:
According to the National Statistics Institute’s (INE) latest quarterly Active Population Survey (EPA), the unemployment rate climbed from 21.5 percent in the third quarter to 22.85 percent in the period October-December. The ranks of the unemployed swelled by 348,700, while the number of people who lost their jobs during the whole of last year amounted to 577,000. The number of people out of work at the end of the year stood at a record 5.273 million.
The solution to this problem? As follows:
The gloomy figures underscored the dire need for an overhaul of the labor market, a task the government wants to complete in the first quarter of this year.
But with an important proviso:
“This shows that the government has to carry out a labor reform that focuses on incentivizing hiring, rather than just on cutting firing costs,” Bloomberg quoted Estefania Ponte, chief economist at Cortal Consors, in Madrid as saying. [...]
And I thought capitalism had all the tools it needed to sort out – all on its lonesome – the pretty mess someone, or something, has got us into.
In 2011 Spanish luxury goods sales were up by 25% despite the economic climate in the country.The luxury goods sector brought in 4,500 million euros up to the end of this year.
Truth of the matter is that capitalism by itself offers no convincing solutions for a broader society. It can’t. It’s been so vigorously – and for such a long time – a fundamental part of the problem.
And as any good experienced teacher would tell you, there is no one methodology in the world which can ever teach you everything you need to know or do. We must apply the same principle to economic practice.
Instead of building these self-justifying barricades between different classes and ways of seeing.
I do wonder if the crisis isn’t rather more profound, mind. What if the deficit isn’t really financial? I mean obviously there’s a shortage of political will to spend our way out of encroaching crisis, as perhaps we have preferred to do so on previous occasions – but, in reality, perhaps the problem is actually that we simply no longer have enough jobs to go around. No mystery here – nor a particularly perceptive remark. But, nevertheless, maybe – in the circumstances – worth revisiting. As the past century progressed, automation struck in more and more professions: we now learn by ourselves; medicate ourselves; bank by ourselves; book our holidays by ourselves; even get to the point where we contemplate the possibility of legally representing ourselves. And maybe – just maybe – all the aforementioned just goes to show that the balance generated by our economic structures between jobs and consumers is suddenly and irrevocably tipping in favour of the latter.
That is to say, our latterday Western economies – as they are set up and structured these days (and for some reason my unpractised eye is totally unable to fathom) – require far more of us to play the role of passive consumers than that of productive workers.
Does it have to be that way? I really don’t know. Wasn’t there a time, for a while, in the last quarter of the last century, that a potentially halcyon period of generous leisure activity began to be promised to our future generations? I can certainly remember the predictions made by the technologically minded stories and thinkers who dominated my scientifically influenced thought processes in my more tender years.
Of that – however – we hear little these days, it would seem. Instead, the things they tend to say now remind us we must work for less; work more flexibly; work more insecurely; and, above all, expect no guarantees whatsoever.
US trade rep Kirk: “More and more Americans question value proposition of trade… think weve traded jobs for cheap t-shirts /iPads #Davos
And it’s not just the jobs – it’s the nature of those jobs.
For Christ’s sake capitalism – get your bloody act together before it’s too late!
You’d almost think your proponents thought there was no alternative.
But there always is – to everything.
So where have all your competitive instincts gone? Is it in fact – and here perhaps we have a horrifying unspoken truth – that, after so much time spent managing and manipulating and operating in monopolistic markets, our capitalist captains have forgotten what real free markets feel and look like? As well as the instincts which should correspond to such mindsets?
Fearful figures, indeed, then, on the verge of an economic breakdown.
All of us, that is. Sooner or later.