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Inset image: Spain's allocation of the EU's 70bn recovery fund
By Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt
Lawyer - abogado
12th of February 2021
Please indulge me making a little historic digression to better explain where we are at.
During Spain’s golden apex, some 500 years ago, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria, King of Spain, ruled the largest sprawling empire the world had known to date. To assist him in his daunting task, he created a body of technical sages whose purpose was to provide high council on Matters of State. This council was the forerunner of what we know today as the Consejo de Estado, or Council of State.
This is one of, or dare I say, the leading think tank of Spain which has assisted all Spanish rulers over the last five centuries. It is comprised by elite civil servants, most with an in-depth legal background, which task is to draft the most detailed and thorough legal reports you could possibly imagine on all-assorted complex legal matters. Although these reports are not legally binding, they are generally followed by all rulers. The only exception is when Reasons of State dictate otherwise, and override their meticulously laid out considerations, but always with the best interests of the nation in mind.
Right, history lesson over. Let’s fast-forward to the present day, to our lovely virus-ridden world. Spain’s overreliance on Tourism has brought its economy down to its knees, suffering a severe blow unseen in 85 years (since the fratricidal Spanish Civil War). Over six million unemployed, and with hundreds of thousands of viable companies teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Mercifully, our kind-hearted European Overlords saw fit to chip in, and have set aside an overwhelmingly generous 'recovery' package of 150 billion euros, of which 70bn are non-refundable; that’s billion, with a ‘b’. To put this (insert mind-blowing adjective here) figure into perspective, so everyone understands the magnitude of the number, it's almost the combined accumulated net wealth in 2020 of the two richest men in the planet: Mr. Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Mr. Bill Gates (Microsoft). Source: Forbes.
As is standard procedure in such cases, Spain’s Council of State drafted a detailed report reviewing how these funds are to be allocated to those in (dire) need. This report should have been made public, or at least shown in Congress, and shared with other political parties. But alas, no. Our social-communist government has gone to great lengths to ‘hide away’ the report from prying eyes.
Despite this setback, some kind soul leaked the high-ranking report to the press. The report could not be more damning for our communist government. It establishes that, in general, any public fund allocation in Spain needs to pass though several stringent controls before the funds are allocated to any given purpose. These rigorous controls are applied even to ridiculously low amounts (typical Spanish red tape). But alas, our communist government receives 70 billion euros from Europe, an exorbitant amount of money anyway you look at it, and all these thoughtful checks and balances, which are normally in place, are magically lifted. Leaving the allocation of this massive rescue package under the unbridled whim of only two men; our two beloved social-communist leaders; Pablo and Pedro, Pedro and Pablo.
Pedro has never worked in his life in anything other than politics, living comfortably off the state, and Pablo's job resume is limited to being an assistant Political Science professor from 2008 through to 2014, on an under 900 euros/month payroll. So how is this relevant you may be asking yourself? Well, I want to drive home the point that both men have never managed assets to the tune of millions, let alone billions. In truth, neither has worked in the private sector, ever. These two men will now hold absolute power & control over the allocation of 150bn euros of public money. Hell, that's a lot of money.
Reports from El Consejo de Estado should never be ignored, unless there is a damn good reason for it. It stands to logic, that if the state implements stern controls over the expenditure of public funds (even on small amounts) to avoid misuse, with all the more reason they should be in place on dealing with dozens of billions of euros generously 'gifted' by fellow European taxpayers in solidarity with Spain's ailing situation.
I don’t really fancy over-extending myself on this point, but given the ideologic track record of both men, and how human nature is fickle, you simply cannot trust our social-communist government to allocate this massive amount of money unbiasedly, period. The European Union *should* bend over backwards to appoint a neutral third party (preferably with no ties to Spain) to oversee the correct use of this vast amount of money, to the last euro-cent.
Otherwise, we will not have learnt lessons from Spain’s past, and stand to repeat the same mistakes all over again.
And no, I don’t need to go back again another five centuries on this one, only thirteen years back, under the ruling of the then Socialist prime minister, Mr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero (another prime example of someone who's never worked in anything but politics). In 2008 Spain’s economy suffered greatly from the subprime meltdown (in what later on would be dubbed as the Great Recession). The incumbent decided to enact a so-called ‘Plan E’. A massive aid stimulus package, inspired by the Keynesian school of thought, that would help - in theory - to kickstart the ailing Spanish economy by creating jobs in the millions, on giving unemployed jobs in public works (think of the US’s Hoover Dam Great Depression project, but on a humbler scale). Well, so goes the theory anyway.
What really happened next, was that Mr. Zapatero squandered over 8 billion euros of public money achieving next-to-nothing in our economy, nada. Moreover, Spain would almost default three years later (in 2011) with our national credit-rating ballooning out of control by reputed credit-rating agencies. Mercifully, we managed to dodge that bullet at the eleventh hour, with the economy bouncing back as from 2014 on the wake of a global recovery.
Our Tribunal de Cuentas, State Accounting Court, which oversees the proper use of all public expenditure, years later heavily criticized the gross misuse of Plan E’s public funds due to “the countless irregularities that marred its planning and clumsy execution.” The bottom line was that the much-vaunted Plan E served no discernible purpose, and to put it bluntly, was a perfect good waste of public money that did not create any lasting jobs, nor did it help to save them, either on the mid or long run. It also did not help to save ailing SMEs either. But all those billions of euros did end up somewhere, eh?
You’d think our politicians would have learnt their lesson from 2011’s close call, yes? Think again.
Our social-communist government has now carbon copied a large number of the ill-fated public expenditure projects from 13 years ago sponsored by Mr. Zapatero’s, now infamous, Plan E to warrant the need of the EU greenlighting the 70bn aid packet it’s been taunting us with.
I understand our EU Overlords are busy and have a lot on their plate right now with all that is going on (Brexit, virus, Russia), but it would be nice - and perhaps even recommendable - for the sake of all Spanish people, they appointed an independent body to oversee the correct allocation of these EU funds to avoid any misuse. It’s imperative to ensure these funds reach the millions of jobless, struggling SME’s, and in general, all those who are in desperate need of them, with total independence of their political affinity.
You know, so all those billions don’t wind up in all the wrong places, heh? God forbid.
“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865). From an impoverished humble background of corn farmers, this self-taught American lawyer, strategist, and politician would rise to serve as the 16th US President. He resolutely ensured a pro-Union victory, strengthened the federal government, modernized the economy, brought about the emancipation of slaves and preserved the Union. During his tenure, he held presidential elections in 1864 to be re-elected, amid a devastating Civil War that threatened to tear his country apart and engulf it in a sea of darkness; yet he gave example in the face of adversity, holding steadfast to his ideals, steering the ship safely into port and acting as a beacon of Democracy which light shone with a fierce intensity the likes of which the world has never witnessed, before or since. Never again would a country hold presidential elections amidst a bloody civil war in what constitutes one of History’s greatest democratic feats to date. But most importantly, he went into great lengths to ensure the festering wounds left open during the fratricidal Civil War were healed; generously reconciling both sides in equal terms, as one nation, indivisible, under God. Through his courage and sacrifice, which ultimately would claim his own life, he laid the groundwork of what was to become the greatest and most powerful nation on earth over the next two centuries. A true statesman that would always put ahead of any consideration the best interests of his people, by tearing down divisive walls and fostering at every opportunity union. It is for this very reason, that more than two centuries on, he is widely regarded as the greatest American President to grace the White House. Likely, the greatest American of all time, towering above the rest.
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