It seems like Spain is in an economic “spiral of death,” doomed to give up some of the social privileges that makes it such a unique country. Chased by the European Central Bank and other European countries to bring, once and for all, stability to its growing deficit and swimming against the 20 percent unemployment rate, the government has no choice but to cut down on expenses, wherever they are.
For starters, President Mariano Rajoy has been talking with Finance Minister Luis de Guindos to engage in budget cuts of around 4 billion euros in education. If approved, this will translate to higher tuition rates. For those unaware, the Spanish education system is heavily based on public schools, high schools and universities. Less government funding would mean more to pay from the citizens’ side. As of now, a student wishing to pursue studies in medicine would have to pay about $2,100 for their first year, or about $13,000 for the length of the program, which is six years. You can imagine why people don’t want the government cutting down on education.
The other big victim is the health care system. The jewel in the crown of the country, the health care system is enjoyed by everybody in Spain, whether it’s for a cold or a heart transplant. With the economic recession, however, the government is seeking to save up to 6 billion euros in health care for next year’s national budget. They can’t expect to find any hint of approval if they even dare to consider suppressing services, so I would bet the government will instead lower salaries or introduce cheaper third-party service providers. Whatever they do, the uproar in Spain has already started, and I don’t think they want it to go any further.
Analysts are very interested in a new development in the way power is balanced at a European level. Where there used to be a two-headed body of power flowing from France and Germany, it seems as if the French side is fading more and more every week.
It is unquestionable that Germany overcame worldwide recession far better than any other country in Europe. It is not so obvious that this would drive France to fall silent and rather jealous of Germany. We can find proof of this in the recent campaigns for the presidential elections next month in France avoiding any direct reference to European politics. Plans and proposals are off the table right now, as far as presidential candidates are concerned.
Some argue that French intervention is a necessary force to keep Europe from simply becoming an extension of Germany. Not that this would be bad, but it is true that sometimes German elitism and strict economic policies can backfire and give far worse results than a mixed approached using more “relaxed” techniques that give some slack to the population. Not everybody is cut to work in an ordered and efficient matter, you know.
Moving east, we find ourselves with Tehran and their conviction that upsetting western powers with their nuclear program is in their best interests. Even though they claim that nuclear facilities will only be used to produce electric energy, they go ahead and stockpile on 20 percent enriched uranium bars and build protected underground facilities. So much for their not-meant-for-war nuclear plans.
The U.S. and its Gulf allies don’t fall short on mistakes, either. It is either Iran giving up nuclear energy or a preventive military strike. There is no point in arguing what will happen if such a war happens, just because the U.S. would be involved and it still has some of the biggest guns.
Just to prove this fact, last weekend Americans conducted sea-air military exercises in the Gulf with its allies, obviously both a showoff of black powder muscle and a warning for Iran.
Don’t you think it would be a pity to finish without mentioning China? It just so happens that a very influential leader has been arrested under charges of abuse and corruption. Mr. Bo Xilai’s downfall started the day Wang Lijun, police chief of Chongqing, sought refuge in the American consulate of the area. This revealed far more than any authority could have foreseen. Even worse, it shows cracks in the otherwise impeccable Chinese government.
Where some thought there was only unity and consensus, there is a war for power. This could harm China’s economic interests not only because of internal inefficiencies but because they are showing to the world that even their own nationals don’t trust their own authorities and rather prefer to run seeking the help of Americans.
Federico Garcia Lorca is a senior in Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology.