Spain is a nation of exceptional beauty. Most have heard of Barcelona and Madrid, but with its winding streets, great tapas bars and rich history, Granada is my favorite Spanish city. And across the land, the Spanish people are passionate, proud and very good soccer players!
Sadly, Spain is also a nation in crisis. While its economy is returning to growth after years of stagnation, despair continues to afflict one specific demographic: the young.
Youth unemployment is high across much of Europe, but the Spanish situation is especially dire. In December 2015, the unemployment rate for Spaniards under 25 was 46 percent. Think on that statistic: nearly half of young Spaniards seeking work cannot find it. But this crisis didn’t begin overnight. For most of the prior decade, construction work and service sector employment drove Spanish economic growth. But when the recession struck, the tourists stopped coming, investment drained up and Spain’s economic model imploded. In particular, while successive Spanish governments ran up massive deficit spending on inefficient programs, they ignored the need for structural reforms to the economy.
The problem lies with Spain’s stenotic labor market, which is choked off by bloated labor unions and protectionist laws that keep productivity and employment low. As a result, many Spaniards leave a university or training program and enter perpetual unemployment purgatory. It’s a truly sorry state of affairs.
The problem lies with Spain’s stenotic labor market, which ultimately hurts the country’s young the most
Spain’s powerful Leftist establishment does not care about the young. It doesn’t have to. Entrenched in a system that rewards unions with patronage in return for power, the Spanish far-left prefers distraction to reform. They preach fury from their mountaintop of self-righteousness, while feasting on American capitalism. Rather than facilitate employment and economic growth, the far-Left blames businesses for Spain’s ills. “Big business” in Spain is a kind of bogeyman — a scary distraction that absolves the government from any responsibility. Don’t believe me? Google “Spain protest” or “Spain Podemos” or “Spain government” and read how the Left is manipulating Spain’s misery in the service of its own delusions. So arrogant are Spanish Leftists that today they are unable to form a governing coalition. Pay attention. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders represent a similar agenda, after all.
Spain is trodding down a dead-end path. Statistics show why: In 2008, Spain’s debt-to-GDP ration was 40 percent; today, it exceeds 100 percent. That figure is catastrophic, reflecting a fundamental divorce between what Spain’s government spends and what its economy produces. As deficit spending continues to rise and the ratio worsens, Spain’s economic potential will be diverted into servicing debt — put simply, flushing capital down the drain. Without capital investment opportunities, Spanish citizens face even greater pain when the next recession hits. And at that moment, Spanish Leftists will be shown for what they are: charlatan moralists who have led their people into a Greek-style abyss.
Tom Rogan is a Senior Contributor for Opportunity Lives and writes for National Review. He is a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and a senior fellow at the Steamboat Institute. Follow him on Twitter @TomRtweets.