If you’ve followed the European economy much, you probably know the following things:
- Spain has been particularly hard hit by the 2008 crash and its aftermath, with official unemployment at 25% and youth unemployment at 52%.
- Spain’s problems were almost all caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. Before that, the country was running a surplus.
- Nonetheless, the EC (read: German bankers who don’t want their bonds to take it in the teeth) are forcing austerity measures onto Spain that are making a horrific situation worse.
And here’s something you might not know: A newspaper editor who once helped fight off a military coup against a fragile new democracy is now a newspaper CEO who has joined the rapine:
“When you look at it from here, it doesn’t seem like there’s a crisis on,” observed one of the striking El País journalists I spoke to later that evening, gesturing at Madrid’s central shopping district, lights and logos glistening in the rain. But he said it wearily – he was above the cut-off age of 50, specifically earmarked by El País chief executive Juan Luis Cebrián as too old to be needed. A week before the high profile general strike, the newspaper’s employees were on strike over the “ere,” a kind of mass lay-off with next to no severance pay that had been enabled by the new labor reforms. El País will sack 139 journalists from a workforce of 450, a plan implemented by a chief executive who, they despaired, had once been a brave, campaigning editor, using his newspaper to fight the attempted military coup in 1981 with passion and integrity, and helping to establish a new pluralistic, democratic ethos in a febrile country still feeling its way into the light after 40 years of dictatorship.
Cebrián, who takes home 13m euros a year, told his striking journalists “we can’t keep living so well.”
For those of you keeping score at home, at the current exchange rate of $1.2975 to the euro, that’s close to $17 million. So if Cebrián could satisfy himself with making a ton of money instead of a shit-ton of money, he could pay the laid-off workers an average of more than $86,300 a year and still have $5 million left over for himself.
We can’t keep living so well?
¿Quién, hijo de puta, es este de quien hablas “nosotros”? Who, you son of a bitch, is this “we” of whom you speak?