Sunday, 29 March 2009

Why is Spain so corrupt? Ask El País

Economist's Charlemagne comments in his notebook an article published in the Spanish newspaper El País entitled "Why is there so much corruption in Spain?".

My friend A. told me once that he likes The Economist but gets annoyed at its little knowledge about Spain. This post by Charlemagne unfortunately supports his opinion.

To start with, Charlemagne bafflingly states that El País is Spain's best newspaper. On what base? Why does a fact-led magazine such as The Economist step into such muddled waters as judging what is better or worse? Wouldn't have been enough saying "best-sold general printed newspaper"? Apart from this, I don't understand how Charlemagne can praise so much a paper whose editorial opinion is opposite to The Economist's.

Second, I find it funny that a researcher who publishes in El País wonders why Spain is so corrupt. He should simply ask El País' owners! El País belongs to Prisa, a company that has made corruption its main method of expansion. Prisa is a media holding founded by Jesús de Polanco Gutierrez who managed it until his death. Prisa is politically and commercially linked to the Spanish socialist party PSOE leveraging on Polanco's personal friendship with the former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González.

There are very dark cases in Prisa's enlargement and enrichment of its owners which leads me to accuse El País and Prisa of corruption. For example, the concession of the third private TV licence to Prisa's Canal+ TV station was possible by the explicit modification of the law to allow it to be pay-per-view.

Another infamous case called the Antenicidio illustrates the misuse of the political connections of Prisa to be allowed unlawful actions. In 1990 the radio station Antena3Radio takes over Prisa's radio station SER as the leader in Spain's radio spectrum. Polanco unlawfully bought Antena3Radio and then closed the latter incorporating its more that 100 stations to SER. Spain's High Court of Justice declared illegal the purchase and the closure of Antena3Radio but so far Prisa has not been made to comply with the Court's ruling.

Another example of the power exercised by El País and Prisa was the Judge Liaño case. The judge Gómez de Liaño opened a prosecution against Prisa's cable TV platform Sogecable in regards to the Canal+'s members' deposits which were diverted to Prisa's digital TV platform Canal Satélite. After the pressure applied by El País and Prisa on the government, PSOE and Spain's High Council of Justice, Justice Liaño was not able to carry on his prosecution, but he was prosecuted himself and sent to prison for prevarication. Justice Liaño was later pardonned by the People's Party government and re-integrated to its functions against the opinion of Prisa and PSOE. In 2008 the European Court of Human Rights stated that Justice Liaño had not been judged by an independent and unbiased court. But the damage was already done and Prisa escaped punishment again for its unlawful activities thanks to its media and corruption power.

There are lots of other examples of the corruption inducted by Prisa and El País, but another high-profile case was the merger in 2002 of Prisa's digital TV platform Canal Satélite with Telefónica's Via Digital. The merger agreement gave control of the merged platform Digital+ to Prisa, what was considered in Spain a victory of Polanco against the former Prime Minister José María Aznar of the People's Party, who had unsuccessfully attempted to curtail Prisa's power. The merger was allowed even when Digital+ would have (and indeed had) the monopoly on Spain's digital TV field; some feeble, temporary restrictions were imposed which Prisa was happy to accept since it was going to give them monopoly of the pay-per-view TV in Spain as well as sole broadcasting rights for all football games and many other entertainment, business, information, porn, gambling, and education TV channels and programs.


In regards to the article's question, Why is there so much corruption in Spain?, well, because Spanish can be corrupt. And why can Spaniards be so corrupt? Because of the same reason any other nation's citizens can be corrupt, because some of them have power over other people that they can misuse and they will misuse it if needed to thrive in life: the use of any means for survival of itself and its offspring is the number 1 rule of Mother Nature to every living being, including humans. Bluntly, Spaniards and any other nation's citizens are corrupt because there is government and because governments are made of people, who in turn are living beings, not angels.

Solution: get rid of the government and devolve power over their own lives to the individuals.

Love and freedom.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Letter to City AM's Editor

From: Borjabrela
Date: 26 March 2009 13:33
Subject: Comment to "Time running out for dollar dominance"

Dear Allister,

I have the pleasure to follow your letter every weekday morning in City A.M.: I learn very much from it so many thanks.

Today's Editor's Letter gave a good solution for the avoidance of the periodical credit bubbles and crunches. Your solution openly addresses the main cause of these credit cycles, i.e., the current money supply structure with fractional reserves and state-controlled currency.

In the current money supply structure national governments or central banks (i.e. the State) have official control of the currencies, which subjects the currency supply and value to the government's whims. At the same time, the fractional reserves give any non-central bank the power to effectively create money with little control of the State. This structure results in a situation of unaccountability: the non-central banks blame the central bank for its decisions, and the central banks blame the non-central banks for their lack of responsibility. As a Spanish saying goes, neither one nor the other and the house is left dirty. At the end the ones who lose are the citizens who always have to pay to clean up the mess with unemployment, inflation and currency depreciation (an outright robbery by the government).

Your solution is creating a super-currency, controlled by no single nation (you suggest the Bank of International Settlements), whose value fluctuated depending on the underlying price of the basket of commodities to which they would be pegged. "A proper store of value, not a fiat currency".

In my opinion, your solution goes in the right direction as it attempts to stripe the governments of power over money; however, it isn't the best solution. I have also read many other suggestions and recommendations, but no one seems to remember that the optimal solution was already proposed by Friedrich Hayek in "Denationalisation of Money" (1976): free market of currencies and financial operations, whereby anyone (even the government!) can set up their own currency and financial operations and compete in equal conditions for the favour of the Market.

As the Market is the most efficient way to distribute resources, it is time to make the Market the only controller of money, which is its main resource. This way the Market will be accountable for its mistakes regarding credit as it already does for almost anything other type of mistakes. This way the States will have it more difficult to spoil the economy again.

It is high time someone remembers Hayek, who gave the best explanation of the economic and financial cycles.

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Talk on free-market security

Albert Esplugas invited a couple of Spanish-Londoner acquantainces to attend one of the libertarian talks that French libertarian Christian Michel hosts in his own flat. I was lucky to be within the group of invitees so I promptly (and punctually!) showed up at this "home-made" debate.

Last Friday's guest speaker was Dr Tim Evans, President of the Libertarian Alliance, the UK’s radical civil liberties think tank. Tim Evans has a PhD from the London School of Economics and has worked for the Foundation for Defence Studies, for Slovakia's Prime Minister’s Policy Unit, for the Independent Healthcare Association in London and for the Centre for the New Europe, the leading European public policy think tank. Impressive career.

The evening's debate was about security and law enforcement in a free market. Tim Evan's talk consisted of showing how the private sector is already fulfilling an important role in the provision of defence, police, prisons, administration of justice, and other security-related functions.

As the introductory email from Christian Michel read:

The figures are startling. For every policeman in the UK, there are more than two private security guards. They patrol stores, shopping malls, office buildings and the thousand ‘gated communities’ in the country (in the US 6% of the population live in these enclaves with their own police). Non-state companies operate an increasing number of prisons in England and Wales. And as the country’s publicly funded court system fails to keep up with demand, ever more people are seeking legal recourse through a range of private arbitration and mediation services. Certainly, when I was in business, I don’t think I ever signed a contract that didn’t call for private arbitration.

There is more. A large number of defence-related services has been privatised or contracted-out to the private sector. Under rubrics of ‘greater competition’, ‘efficiency’ and ‘value for money’, much of Royal Navy fleet servicing, logistical support, personnel training and even, bewilderingly, warship provision is now reliant upon private sector capital.

What’s going on here? For-profit prisons? Gunboats owned by investment companies?? The media haven’t really seized on the issue; yet the state signing away swathes of its core functions must have long-term consequences on the social and political foundation of the country. How should we react to these developments? What should we watch for in the years ahead?

Tim postulated that the private sector has deployed the security and justice functions in the past, but that the state has taken over not because of an optimisation of the cost-benefit calculation but because of both the corporativism and the government's pursuit of all-mighty power. These two forces are recurrent behind the statism. The damage of the corporativism is clearly explained by Milton Friedman in Free to Choose. The suppliers who are already in the business would push to increase the barriers to entry and to do that they will convince the government to regulate the activities in such a way that the current suppliers are the only ones that can perform such business; those suppliers would soon dictate the regulations themselves either by lobbying or directly forming the regulatory councils. All this is always allegedly done for the general interest, but always end up benefiting the particular interests. This is obviously NOT free market but on the contrary the main obstacles for the free market.

Tim Evans claimed that 150 years of libertarian literature on this topic of free market security and law enforcement was being fully ignored by academics in the theoretical debate. Libertarians should pay more attention to this topic of security and justice, which is one of the main objections that a non-libertarian raises against free-marketeers. If the libertarians find appropriate response and approach to these objections, lots of people who are now sceptical of the free-market would embrace libertarian ideas.

The after-talk debate raised issues around how to handle terrorism, foreign attacks, state-led agressions, or petty crime in a region with no central government-led security. All in all a very interesting evening which I wish can be repeated soon.

Love and freedom.

Friday, 20 March 2009

In search of a libertarian rethoric

We are going to behave like progressive Conservatives, pursuing our aims of a fairer society, an opportunity society, a safer society and a greener society in all that we do. But we will pursue these progressive aims through Conservative means - including proper control of public spending.

David Cameron, (20/03/2009)

Following my post En busca de una retórica liberal, I noted David Cameron's latest comments in the regarding Tories' failure to pledge to maintain the tax band rate for the UK's richest.

Cameron is mastering the art of rethoric that Labour politicians around the world are so expert at. "Progressive Conservatism"... Does anyone know what that means? Apparently it means agreeing to achieve "progressive aims through Conservative means". But Cameron does not say what aims are progressive, what means are Conservative and on what base you may claim that.

Instead, I am afraid that Cameron is acquiring not only the manners but also the ideas of the Labour Party such as raising tax rates: hence where are the "Conservative means"?

I understand that Conservative ideology does not equal Libertarian ideology and I know that, at the end of the day, the only aims and means all political parties seem to agree with is to grab power at any cost, retain it by any means and enlarge the government's and the party's power as much as possible at the expense of the citizens.

Should Libertarians follow the mainstream political parties' styles in order to reach power? Should we do it even if that means loosening our principles and radical (of root) propositions, just like Labour, Conservative, Lib-Dem, and other ex-commies parties have done?

This is one of the debates I am more interested at, i.e., what is more important for you: principles to rule or power to rule?

Love and freedom.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Prime Minister Zapatero and his false election promise of employment

Spanish socialist party PSOE has betrayed its voters many times in the past: Saharawi conflict, NATO poll, Jugoslavia/Irak wars, etc.

Spanish Prime Minister Zapatero has often displayed the attitude and the skills of a liar. For example when he had signed the Agreement for the Liberties and Against Terrorism with the other main Spanish party, People's Party, whereby both parties agreed not to negotiate with the terrorist group ETA at the same time when some PSOE people with the acknowledgement of Zapatero himself were belatedly negotiating with the ETA's political arm. Sickening.

Regarding people's wallets issues, PSOE, as many other socialist parties, has shown little knowledge of economy as it has driven Spain twice to an unemployment rate peak, one in the 1980s and the other in the 2010s, though of course PSOE members and socialist voters would accept no correction to their disastrous policies.

Zapatero rallied towards the re-election in March 2008 promising to slash the unemployment in Spain as shown in the video below. As his second watch turned out to be, his promises were lies or illusions. In the first case, Zapatero is a liar and should not be Prime Minister; in the second case, Zapatero is stupid (scientifically speaking) and he should not be Prime Minister.

Those Spanish voters who elected Zapatero (again!) in 2008 were fooled by Zapatero's promises. It is very likely that those who voted him in Extremadura, Andalucia or Catalonia are now on their way to the dole.

As the saying goes: if you are cheated or stolen something once, it's the cheat's or the thief's blame; if you are cheated or stolen something twice, you are to blame.

Spain and the Spanish people have what they choose.

Love and freedom.

Friday, 13 March 2009

British jobs for British workers??

From: Borjabrela
Sent: Fri 13/02/2009 15:25
To: Work colleagues
Subject: I was wondering

I was wondering:

Do you agree with the statement: "British jobs for British workers", and do you agree with last week's strikes?


From: Cheeky work colleague
Sent: Fri 13/02/2009 15:28
Subject: I was wondering

Anything to stop all those lazy Spanish who seem to be popping up all over the place ;)


From: A motorhead work colleague
Sent: Fri 13/02/2009 15:32
Subject: I was wondering

Here here to what [our cheeky colleague] said ;). Seriously tho, can't comment on the strikes cos I have no idea what they were about. As for the jobs, there's a duty for a government to support its economy by creating - and making available - as many jobs as it can for its people, within reason. Equally the capitalist in me screams "no! Save as much money as you can! Use cheap foreign labour!".

Gut feeling - it is a bit frustrating to see loads of benefit frauds when there are immigrants doing so much manual labour.


From: Cheeky work colleague behaving as the Oxford-educated man he is
Sent: Fri 13/02/2009 15:28
Subject: I was wondering

My understanding of the strikes is that a company had hired a foreign third party to build something/provide some service, and the third party had hired predominantly foreign workers to complete the work, which went down badly with the UK employees of the company, resulting in the strike.

I guess in the current climate there is a bit of a "protect your own interests" mentality, although X [our motorhead work colleague] makes a good point about the cost - if foreign workers are cheaper then it's in the company's best interests to use them, especially with the state of the economy as it is.

As far as the statement "British jobs for British workers" - I'm not sure I agree with the idea of discriminating against employing someone based on their nationality. I like to think that if two people are applying for a job then the job should go to the one of them that is best-suited to the requirements. In this case, you could even argue the foreign workers are better suited, since they will speak the same language as their superiors in the foreign third party, come from the same culture etc etc.

However, based on the media reports, there might have been a case of discrimination on the part of the third party (ie they were hiring foreign workers even where they were less suitable). If this is the case (and I don't know anything about the accuracy of the reports) then I can perfectly understand the feelings of the workers and would probably support the strike action - the idea of non-discrimination has to work both ways.


I have not yet received a reply from our labour-leaning Blackburn work colleague, whose opinion I am very keen to learn.

Love and freedom.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Liverpool beats Real Madrid in Champions' League

From: Borjabrela
Sent: Wed 11/03/2009 09:32
To: Liverpool fan from work
Subject: Liverpool win

Congrats, dude. Fair and square win. I told you Liverpool was going to beat Real Madrid, though I didn't think that Madrid's performance was going to be so embarrassing. We have a problem with Champions League's quarter-finals...


From: Liverpool fan from work
Sent: Wed 11/03/2009 10:06
Subject: RE: Liverpool win

Cheers mate,

Thought you were a little unlucky with the refereeing decisions - both the first two goals could have been disallowed. That said, we could have been 3 or 4 up by that time if it hadn't been for Casillas playing a blinder. It's not often the goalie on the end of a 4-0 defeat is the best player on the pitch!

Thought your defence was a bit ropey though - Pepe didn't look good at all, and Cannavaro is definitely looking a bit old now. I like Ramos though - I'd be happy for Rafa to buy him in the summer!

Hopefully you can pull it together now and catch Barcelona - I'm a bit bored of everyone going on about how good they are...


From: Borjabrela
Sent: 11 March 2009 10:06
To: Liverpool fan from work
Subject: RE: Liverpool win

We are just 6 points behind Barcelona with one game to play against them, so that's not that much difference for how good they are supposed to be and how badly we are doing it. Everything could still happen.

The problems in Madrid are deeper.
First, we just came out of a disastrously stewardship by a corrupt president who poached the elections and should be in court.

Second, the administration currently is on hold until elections are held again in July (in my opinion they should have been held asap, so we would have a properly elected president already with time to hire players for next year).

Third, the main power in Madrid is Raúl but he is very old and limits the progress of Madrid. He was the best forward in the world in 2001/2 and I think he should have been given the Gold Ball back then, but now he is not fit enough for the Champions' League and that is why we have not made semi-finals since Zidane retired. His opinion makes coaches be fired (Bernard Schuster) and players not hired (David Villa). Although I am a supporter of his courage and determination, I admit that he is dragging Madrid down because (and I am very sorry to say this) he is not Di Stefano (in my opinion the best player in history, though he doesn't have World Cups) and he is not Santiago Bernabéu (the best president in Madrid's history).

Fourth, our current squad is very feeble and the players are not worthy of Madrid. Robben is great, but made of glass. Guti is great, but a prima-donna (and Real Madrid requires warriors who die for the privilege of wearing Madrid's shirt... such as Raúl). Cannavaro is an old hole in the defence. Pepe is a waste of money. Higuain, Heinze, and etc. are good, but Villa should be the number 9 in Madrid. Diarrá cannot replace Makelele or Chendo. Van Nistelroy is injured and old. The best player of all of them, and the best goalkeeper in the world is San Casillas (which does not help if you want to score goals to win games!).

The biggest surprise in La Liga is how Madrid has been able to win the last 2 Ligas with such a sorry team...


Love and freedom.