Antoni Puigverd 27/07/2020
Restaurant without clients in Barcelona (Xavier Cervera)
The pandemic is said to act as a precipitator. It is giving a decisive push to entrenched problems and discomforts. We have a ruling class unworthy of the noble public office it embodies, co-opted by selection systems characteristic of feudalism. Loyalty to the leader and ideological doctrinarism. Many leaders gladly accept positions for which they are untrained. We should not point them out. Just listen to them these days of such seriousness. They would not know how to run small businesses, but they are managing the most serious crisis since the Civil War.
Public management responds to these two criteria: defending the estate for the ruling parties; and go pulling. With few honorable exceptions, the power in the councils, “diputaciones” or regional ministries is exercised disregarding the reverential sense that public spending should have, filling the administration of finger-appointed offices, abandoning the sails of governance to the winds of chance and agreeing with the Unions particular improvements only to civil servants, almost always excluding the needs of the public service. Investments often respond to the interests of parasitic parties and companies. As in previous regimes, the administration remains the spoils of politics.
We wouldn’t trust them with the savings; we have had to entrust them with life and future
Suddenly, the pandemic has put its finger on the wound of this obscene waste of the common good. Let’s look at three examples of sad news: health, agriculture, education.
Demagoguery over cuts prevented a serious debate on health co-management. Some practices had been tested positively to maximize the return on public investment in primary and hospital care centers, to favor the autonomy of the centers and to deploy the initiative of the health workers. But the reductionist rhetoric between the public and the private made those essays fail. Result: either outright privatization or impoverished public centers.
Agriculture has come to the fore with the Lleida sprout of Covid-19. The inhumane conditions of the temporary workers were known long ago. Only now, because of its connection to the pandemic, something is being improvised. Public opinion is alarmed: what is happening in the field? What happens? Already in 2004, gathered in Vallbona de les Monges, intrepid and generous representatives of civil society, led by farmer Josep M. Escribà and union member Jaume Sallés, proposed an unprecedented use of water from the new Segarra-Garrigues canal to overcome the limitations of agriculture in the Urgell canal. Water to promote quality rainfed crops, to respect the landscape following ecological recommendations, to keep people in the territory, to deploy inland tourism, to favor small industry. Water to give more prominence to the lands of Lleida. Water to turn the misty back of the country into the new Catalan California.
They were euphoric ideas for Lleida. But the parties distrusted a patriotic project from which nothing could be derived in terms of agrarian chieftaincy. They silenced him. They preferred to maintain traditional inertias. Outcome? Farmers are alone, with no horizon but to go bankrupt or abuse cheap labor. Indifferent to good ideas, the Generalitat chose to be a mere agrarian agency in Brussels.
Education. Now that, with European aid, we have to think about reindustrialization, a very significant anecdote. About a year ago, businessmen from La Garrotxa (whose industrial success is spectacular) visited a city on the outskirts of Barcelona, looking for specialized personnel for their factories. I repeat: staff to work. Stupefied, they discovered that there was not a single institute in the city that offered industrial specializations. The hotel sector predominated. With the demands of today’s robotic world, re-industrialization will be impossible, if the educational centers with their heads in the clouds.
We are suffering, demoralized, the ubiquitous presence of political and technical leaders whom, as the topic says, we would not trust our savings. We have had to entrust to them much more important things: our lives and our future.
The depressing reality that we are living collides with a sectarian wall. For emotional or identity reasons, many Catalans are blind to the described incompetence. So, after the torrid and strange August of Covid-19, we will have to face a diaphanous election. Or allow ourselves to be dragged through the identity theater to the well of decadence, or arm ourselves with courage and, as Catalans have always done throughout history, return to make the stones loaves without relying more than on the usual forces: private initiative, sense of civil duty, mutualization, cooperativism. And with the usual values: perseverance, sobriety, sweat. Where the good is, the homeland is, said the ancients. The rest is comedy.