Category Archives: General

General sabotage

Today, March 29, 2012, Spain is suffering a general sabotage day. It’s a sabotage by work unions to all citizens who want to work, but who will find themselves without public transportation, or who will run into a group of unionists blocking access to workplaces.

It is sabotage because work unions (and some political parties) have asked the population not todo any shopping and not to make use of any services, sabotaging many other people in their economic activity (street stores, large and small businesses, and freelancers).

It is sabotage and blackmailing because it will erode the economic activity and the welfare of citizens.

This sabotage serves only to justify the very existence of work unions, unable to play a useful role in the necessary task of generating the required conditions to create jobs in Spain.

Today, do not be part of the sabotage; go to work.

Responsibility? Not in Spain

We are tired (here in Spain) of seeing multiple cases of politicians in office declining any responsibility for their wrong acts, or also cases of them assuming their responsibility while staying in office to continue their wrong (unlawful even) behaviour.

But today I read in the news that here in Spain a local politician of the Popular Party, Ignacio Uriarte, has been caught drunk driving, when he crashed into a Taxi in Madrid. Uriarte has resigned from his post as PP representative in a Road Safety commission of the Spanish senate. Unfortunately all he said is that he “made a mistake“. That’s no mistake, Mr. Uriarte. Having a few drinks too many before hoping into your car is not a mistake, it is a willful act of irresponsibility. There’s no mistake there. So he has resigned from a small role, but not from his seat in congress. Poor display of “assuming his responsibility”.

To make matters worse, the Secretary General of the PP, María Dolores de Cospedal defends Uriarte, and says that resigning from his seat in congress would be an exaggeration, and this is not necessary.

Drunk driving, along with reckless driving and any other activity that endangers other people, must be heavily punished. The attitude of Uriarte, for keeping his congress seat, and the attitude of his Party (PP), for defending that he should not lose his congress seat, are both despicable. The PP, like any other party, should be far more strict in defending the majority of citizens who cause no harm to others, and stop protecting people like Uriarte, who have shown no respect for the law and for others, specially because he is, supposedly, a representative of the people (he was elected to congress).

Responsibility in Spain? It’s rare… very rare, and vanishing quickly.

European Elections Campaign is a Political Campaign

A couple of days ago I was in Brussels, and I saw in the airport a big billboard encouraging people to vote in the European Parliament elections of June. I think it’s good to get people involved in voting. However, campaigns to promote participation should be void of political messages. Sadly, the European Parliament has decided to taint this pro-vote campaign with particular views of their own.

One such billboard reads “How much should we tame financial markets? Use your vote in the European Parliament Election – It’s your choice!”.

European Elections 2009 Campaign

Perhaps we should not tame them at all. Maybe it’s public bodies, central banks and governments who should reconsider and reform or eliminate policies that have introduced cheap money in markets and that have introduced distortions in the market, removing incentives for market players to control themselves. Perhaps financial markets free of interference, and which ensure that players of the financial markets are left to their own devices, and subject to risks, would result in fair, non-abusive practices, thanks to the self-imposed auto-regulation that would be necessary to properly face risks.

With this campaign to encourage voting, the European Parliament is using a popular topic (the alleged excesses of financial markets) to attract voters, reinforcing the tall tale that markets should be regulated, while diverting attention from the responsibility of governments and public bodies (ah right… the European Parliament itself is one of them, I get it).

Embarrassing European Union

Ireland and a few other European countries decided to ask their citizens in referendum to ratify (or not) the EU Lisbon Treaty. Other countries simply voted in parliament.

In June 2008 the majority of Irish said “no” to this treaty, while the rest of Europe voted yes. The single “no” vote meant, in theory, that the treaty was not accepted (officially all 27 EU member states had to vote “yes” for the treaty to be approved).

So… what to do when the vote is not what you want it to be? Just make people vote again, and see if you get the result you want this time! That’s exactly what the European Union proposed Ireland to do, and it seems Ireland has agreed to this “solution”.

With “solutions” like this, who needs rules at all? If the rule was that all 27 members states are required to vote yes, then the treaty was dead the minute Ireland said “no”. Maybe EU leaders were too optimistic thinking all 27 would say “yes”, but once they set that rule in the beginning, they ought to stand by it, or else resign from their positions. They have lost all credibility.

If we are going to have Ireland repeat their vote, just because some people want them to say “yes”, why don’t we have a repeat vote in Spain, for instance? Some people are not happy with Spain’s “yes” vote, and might like a repeat vote until Spain says “no”. If we don’t get what we want on the second try, we can go for a third attempt. Why not? Once we accept a second vote in one country (Ireland), why deny others the same second opportunity?

The European Union is embarrassing.

What members of parliament of all 27 EU member states should do, first thing in the morning when they go back to work tomorrow, is to establish a single electoral constituency in Europe, for all Europe-wide matters. A referendum about the Lisbon Treaty should be voted simultaneously in all 27 member states, on the same day, and there should be a single EU-wide result, not 27 individual results. The aggregated “yes” votes should be compared with the aggregated “no” votes, and there you’d have the answer of Europeans to the Lisbon Treaty.

The same system should be used for European Parliament elections. As a European citizen, I want to be able to choose from all people and parties running for a parliamentary seat, regardless of whether they are from my own country or any of the other 26 member states. I want them to campaign Europe-wide, and I want to choose among all of them, rather than being restricted to picking among politicians from my own country.

Granted, we’d probably see the number of members of parliament from a given country decrease and others increase. The government of the less-represented country may not be so happy about this, but that’s only because they oppose nature. If people are really free to choose among candidates from all over Europe, the resulting parliament would be a mere representation of the wishes of all Europeans, including those from the underrepresented country, because it means they chose to vote for people from other countries.

A few roadblocks may be on the way to implement such a system (language barriers, opposition from smaller countries, others…), but precisely the single Europe-wide electoral constituency may very well be the first necessary step to achieve integration of Europe’s resources and strengths, to get us all working together, and to erode (with time) the hard edges that cause friction in internal European relations. Unless, of course, this is not what we (Europe) want.

USA 2008 Election

I haven’t commented much about the election in USA in this blog. Lots has been said about it and about the two main candidates, McCain and Obama. The big news headlines, as always, did not discuss the issues and the actual political programmes of these two gentlemen. Likewise, the main reasons influencing people’s votes are rarely rooted in the actual political agenda. Instead, the campaign itself, the image and the three or four big sounding messages from each candidate are what drives a large number of people to decide their vote.

Polls predict Obama will win. Clearly there’s strong momentum for him to win. Many people prefer a younger candidate versus the older McCain; many like the idea of having a black President of the USA (this is racism), while others won’t vote for a black candidate (racism as well), and most will vote according to their beliefs. And then there’s the message. I acknowledge Obama‘s message sounds very nice. I don’t see that much “change” as people assign to him, but the campaign around it was undoubtedly far more effective than McCain‘s.

A couple of days ago I came across this pro-Obama video. I must say I liked it. However, if you look closely at the content of that video, there’s nothing in its political message that McCain does not endorse. It’s a video full of generic ideas, which almost everyone can agree to. In the video, it’s Obama who sends out that message, so naturally one would relate the message only to him.

Apparently it’s difficult to have an election consisting mostly of debates instead of political rallies and campaigns. I don’t know if the majority of people would be bored out of the election, but I believe that a campaign focused on discussion and debate would be far more beneficial to understand really what each candidate intends to do and how. If that were the case, my impression is that McCain would be leading the polls on this occasion.

This post does not intend to discuss programs in detail, but from what I’ve been able to gather about each candidate’s programs, the republican candidate’s program is the one that would bring more benefit for most people. Obama‘s program is not necessarily bad (I would welcome his plans in Spain over the current Spanish government any minute). However, of the two options running for US President, I am convinced McCain would be the better one for the U.S. and the world.

Let’s wait and see what the U.S. decides tonight.

Back to GMT+1, waiting for GMT+0

Tonight (Oct 25 to Oct 26) is the end of DST (Daylight Savings Time), which has kept central Europe artificially in GMT+2, commonly known as CEST (Central European Summer Time), and we’ll go back to the usual timezone, called “CET”, or Central European Time, or GMT+1.

Along with central europe goes Spain, which however is geographically far from “central” europe, and thus we ought to be using a different timezone. GMT+1 is not right for Spain. At 7am there is sunlight coming through your window in Rome or in Zurich, while in Spain it’s pitch dark. At that time, it ought to be 6am in Spain, or GMT+0, the same time as in Portugal or the United Kingdom, our meridian neighbours.

I encourage all readers to advocate for Spain to change its official timezone to GMT+0 (also called UTC or UTC+0). This is what will truly save energy (the earlier in the day we can make use of natural sunlight, the less energy is required to light factories, streets, etc…), while also adapting work schedules to natural light conditions, surely helping people have a healthier life. More info on my blog’s Spain in GMT+0! page.