Spain has unemployment levels that have reached 26.6%. If you are under 25, then you can only wish, hope, beg, plead for that level. Spain's youth are facing an unemployment level of 55%. That means Spain, alone, is bearing the social strains of nearly one quarter of all Europe's unemployment. That is one country in 27. See if the Europe-wide perspective is fair, now.
I went looking for a definition of collateral damage and found this on Wikipedia...
"It is a euphemism; abstract, agentless and affectless, so that even if people succeed in associating it with a real act or event they will be insulated from any feeling of repulsion and moral outrage"
I had to edit an article this morning that has left me depressed. It was then followed by one of the clearest bits of Green explanation. Call it coincidence. Call it serendipity. Call it foreshadowing.
The European Greens office is slowly gearing up for the 2013 Spring Council in Madrid, Spain. This is the one-two follow through that had us in Greece last fall, watching a country struggle with their debt, struggle with their declining industry, struggle with their lost homes.
Now the Greens are moving to Spain and making an effort to show solidarity with the country - some demonstration that Greens are not oblivious to the horrendous devastation their economy is enduring. Hopefully, be able to demonstrate Green solutions.
There is a habit of speaking about the crisis in European terms - just how bad unemployment is across Europe - the implicit understanding that we are all in the same boat, we are all enduring the same levels. Nothing could be further from the truth. The article I was editing had the brutal information.
All across Europe, unemployment is about about 11.8% . When I saw that figure, I actually thought, for a recession, that is not so terribly bad. I have seen it before and country's recover. Across Europe, about 23 million people are unemployed. Divide that by the 27 member countries and we all have about one million unemployed. Oh, if that were only the truth. If only misery was mathematically allotted.
Here is the second key fact to remember. All across Europe, unemployment for youth under-25 is 23.7%.
Spain has unemployment levels that have reached 26.6% - that is 5.97 million people. That means Spain, alone, is bearing the social and economic strains of nearly one-quarter of all Europe's unemployment (remember? Total EU unemployment is about 23 million). That is one country in the 27 EU member states.
If you are under 25, then you can only wish, hope, beg, plead for that level. Spain's youth are facing an unemployment level of 55%.
If Spain has a partner in misery, it is Greece. There, overall unemployment is 26%. Youth unemployment is a staggering 57.6%.
See if the Europe-wide perspective is fair, now. If you think you are "in the same boat".
I can actually pause here and read these numbers again and again until it sinks in. Takes firm hold. Read until it becomes part of that procession of facts we all tend to use (glibly, as we demonstrate our worldly knowledge) when talking with co-workers, friends, family.
If Spain and Greece are carrying the numeric brutality of the crisis, then the youth are going to suffer at levels that seem akin to a brutality closer to the turn of the 20th century. And these are the under-25s. They did not borrow exorbitantly. They did not purchase unaffordable homes. They did not put themselves into unmanageable debt. They did not lie to borrowers. They did not misrepresent finances or funds. They did not borrow billions for the state coffers and subsequent waste. But they will, it seems, pay the consequences of the decisions of the older, wiser generations. If nothing is done, they are going to pay the consequences of financial institutions and banks. They are - to use a term that was, at the time, condemned as barbaric and uncivilized - the collateral damage.
It was on that backdrop that I moved on to Natalie Bennett, the leader of the Green Party of England and Wales.
I could spend my time trying to write it again, create a new voice for what I read, but I think it is better to read the original.
This is what stood out for me...
"During a prolonged recession, many people are understandably more concerned about where tomorrow's lunch money is coming from, or next month's rent or mortgage payment. The challenge is to show how fixing our environmental crisis goes hand in hand with fixing the economic crisis. The penalty for ignoring climate change will be far greater hardship for the poorest. ... While the media and the Labour Party have simply accepted the Coalition's rationale for cuts it has been down to the smaller voices to inject economic sense. It shouldn't be down to the Green Party alone to make the case for a fairer economic model, and that's why we need allies in the movement. UKUncut, Occupy and a host of campaigning NGOs have made fantastic contributions to this.
"The Green Party should be and is one voice of many putting the case against austerity, and I certainly value the work those outside the party have done here. Together we have started to turn the economic arguments around. ... [Greens] don't just want to go back to the budgets of 2006 at the end of the boom, when more than 20% of pensioners and children were living in poverty. While Greens want to see less spending on nuclear weapons, war and zombie road building, the fact is we need to invest in a fairer society. These cuts are economically illiterate false economies."
You can read Natalie Bennett's interview here: Climate change is a political problem – interview with Green Party leader Natalie Bennett
As I have penned this barrage of dismal information, another small story has crept back into my mind. I saw it yesterday. Spain has methodically pursued alternative energy and, for the first time, Spain's windfarms produced six terrawatts of electricity - more electricity that any other source. That is more than both nuclear and coal-powered facilities and is more than a quarter of Spain's total power generation.
Windfarms break energy record in Spain Read the article here...
While Europe is insisting on austerity, austerity and austerity, Green energy is an investment. It creates growth, it develops clean alternatives. It should be encouraged. But, right now, the traditional parties are fixated on their pound of flesh, regardless of who suffers. There is a reason why Green parties have refused austerity as the sole solution. Unbridled austerity is a punishment. There is a reason why clean energy and a fair economic model are being pressed forward. It is all in there to be found. Just connect the dots.