Monday, April 14, 2008

The new Zap cabinet hasn't been slow in announcing what its economic plan is: Solbes, at the IMF meeting in Washington, said that they're going to spend €10 billion ($15 billion), more than 1% of GDP, on stimulating the economy. So there goes the balanced budget out the window, and inflation will roll on indefinitely, as the Zapsters try to keep consumer spending high and unemployment down. Ironic that Zap and his admirers are always going around criticizing the strawman of Dehumanizing Globalized Neoliberal Consumer Society and how shallow it is.

About €6 billion of the stimulus package is Zap's €400 per taxpayer refund, half of which will be paid in July and the other half in December. If we're going to stimulate the economy, then I thoroughly agree that the best way to do it is to give the taxpayers some of their own money back so they can do with it as they see best. Again, it's interesting that this is a flat tax refund, rather than (as one would think knowing the Zapsters) a progressive refund giving back more to the poor than the rich.

The other €4 billion, though, looks like it's mostly free money given out to special interest groups. It will go to 1) aid for small and medium businesses, basically a government subsidy for the petite bourgeoisie 2) guarantees for mortgages on dwellings under "official protection," basically a government subsidy for the banks 3) public works spending, which if done right doesn't have to be a mere government subsidy for the construction industry, but if done wrong will be just that 4) "reordering the energy industry," which sure sounds like a government subsidy for Repsol and the electric and gas utilities 5) paying immigrants to go home, which is of course a government subsidy for said immigrants, and an indirect subsidy for the unions, whose members will face less competition.

Solbes also said that the government's three economic priorities would be innovation, modernization, and "expanding equality between men and women." Seems to me that gender quotas would cause a negative effect on innovation and modernization.

He's still living in Disneyworld on economic growth: the IMF says Spain's growth rate for 2008 may be as low as 1%, and the Spanish banks predict between 400,000 and 600,000 Spaniards will be added to the unemployment rolls by December.

The Socialists have been nattering on about George Lakoff and how their political strategies are based on his theories. From what I can tell, Lakoff thinks humans interpret everything as a metaphor, which of course is unscientific, and taken to the extreme means that humans are incapable of truly abstract thought. Lakoff's political metaphor about conservatism being a "strict father" and left-liberalism a "nurturing mother" is not precisely original. He adds that leftist politicians should attempt to define and frame the issues according to the metaphors they believe in, which again is not precisely original; he seems to really be saying that leftists should invent euphemisms to avoid using what he believes to be conservative discourse and metaphor. So it figures that Zap and the Socialists would buy into such tosh. Karl Rove or Lee Atwater would eat these guys up and spit out the bones.


Anonymous said...

Zaps government's policies are as neoliberal as any other western government. If you really believe that because a political party is called "socialist", "labour" etc., that means they have non-neoliberal policies, it's back to grade one maths (not even economics) for you.

If you have spotted some under-the-carpet nationalisation going on then share it with your reader.

John said...

Dude. Learn to read. The irony is that Zap and his minions are always complaining about "neoliberalism," whatever that is, along with shallow consumerism, but the largest part of Zap's stimulus package is a non-progressive tax refund specifically aimed at fomenting consumer spending. There's nothing "socialist" about that at all.

And, by the way, I completely agree with Zap's tax refund, because I'm a "neoliberal" too. I have a problem with the rest of the stimulus package because it looks to me like just passing out everyone's tax money to special interest groups, including major corporations like the energy companies and the banks.