Many of the pundits and newsreaders who refer to the current economic malaise threatening Europe use one term more than any other: contagion.
The suggestion is that the troubles that have afflicted Greece and now Ireland are a sort of water-borne disease, transmitted through the sewage-laden streams of international finance. And all we want to know is: how do we protect ourselves against this nasty infection? How do we beat the contagion?
The problem is that the crisis affecting Europe isn’t bacterial or viral at all. As Portugal, then Spain, Italy and France stand like dominoes waiting to be toppled, economic ministers (who often know nothing of economics) flail around looking for a vaccine. They don’t seem to realise that the contagion isn’t contagious at all. It’s a cancer.
The cancer of neoliberal capitalism has metastacised in multiple countries. It sucks the marrow from the bone and leeches the oxygen from the blood. The only way to get rid of it is surgically. By removing the financial sector from the centre of our national economies, we free ourselves from the carcinogenic effects of its vapours. We might be weakened after the operation but we’ll come back stronger.
If there is a spectre haunting Europe at the end of this miserable decade, it is the spectre of neoliberalism. And socialism is the doctor we need. Or the ghostbuster, or something.
Poor old John McCain. Yes, he of the strange shape. Yes, he of the hilarious “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” song. I’m not writing about the US presidential elections for various reasons, but given that this is a Spain-related story, I couldn’t resist.
Republican presidential candidate, John McCain was being interviewed recently about how he’d manage relations with the various leaders of Latin American countries upon which the US wreaks havoc at will who don’t have great relations with the United States. As if in training for another GenericOff, McCain muttered about standing up to America’s enemies etc…. But when the interviewer asked him about Spanish PM, Zapatero, McCain allegedly went blank and blustered for a bit, clearly clueless about exactly who this Zapatero guy is.
Now there will be some out there who see this as a surefire sign that Zapatero’s a loser who has taken Spain ‘off the world stage’ where it was put by prince Ansar. That’s the wrong tack, I reckon. The truth is that these days, politicians (and especially presidential candidates) have to answer so many questions about so many things that all they can really do is bluster banal generalities, hoping that they don’t mess it up. McCain’s an old man (which makes this sort of thing that much harder) and clearly suffers from some psychological problems, along with cancer, so I think people should just cut the man some slack and leave him be.
Yes, he’s a dangerous fool; yes, he probably will be president (and potentially an even worse one than GWB); yes, he called his own wife a cunt; yes, he will probably die in office, leaving the the “ugliest hottie ever” to manage the world’s only superpower in the style of a hockey mom…. but you know, there are a hell of a lot of things that McCain doesn’t know, many of them far more important than the PM of Spain’s name.