Archive for Unemployment

Some Reasons for Spain’s Economic Difficulties

Posted in Benefits, Budget Cuts, Europe, European Union, Government, Government Spending, Politics, Spain with tags , , on 29/11/2013 by floroy1942

I learned today how the Spanish people are being bled dry by their inept government. It is staggering to hear that companies are being screwed by having to pay a massive 45% social security on every salary they pay out to their staff. The effect on the country’s employment rate is incalculable.

Spanish Unemployment

Spanish Unemployment

It has put most companies in an impossible position, in that they cannot afford to hire new workers because of this huge amount from each salary that goes to the government. Likewise, people are in desperate straits trying to exist on the small pay they receive because it costs the companies too much to give them a living wage.

As you can imagine, companies are loath to take on new workers due to this huge tax burden, and this I believe is one of the reasons for the huge unemployment levels in  the country.

House of Horrors

House of Horrors

The governments point of view I suppose is they consider this move necessary to cover the huge cost of unemployment benefit, which the figures show has gone through the roof in recent years. It seems the government fails to see that if they made it easier for companies to hire more workers, the unemployment figures would tumble and therefore cost them less in benefits. It’s a simple question of balance, and the government is way off line.

Even though unemployment benefit in Spain is meagre by anyone’s standards, and barely enough for an average family to live on, people are only entitled to it for a maximum of two years, after which time they get nothing.

At Wits End

At Wits End

Another atrocious rule from the government is that governing pensions. From what I have been told, you must work and pay into the system for a minimum of 25 years to qualify for a pension. In effect, this means you could be working for 24 years and when you retire you would get nothing. Most other countries pay out a percentage for the years you have paid into the scheme, i.e. if you pay in for 50% of your working life you get a 50% pension. But not Spain, its 25 years or nothing. This is scandalous in anyone’s language and has a dramatic effect on everyone.

I will freely admit to not being an economist, but one of the glaring questions over this governments policies is: Where does all this money go?

The Spanish people certainly don’t see any of it in improvements to the infrastructure or their living conditions. As a single example, many roads in Spain are in atrocious condition but not a single penny is spent on improving them. Wages have been stagnant for several years but prices for everything continue to rise at an alarming rate. Spain still has a huge debt that will take many years to overcome, and the entire economy is constantly on the verge of collapse.

P.M. Rajoy - Also Accused Of Corruption

P.M. Rajoy – Also Accused Of Corruption

Only one thing that is certain, and that is the rich will continue to get richer, and the rest will continue to suffer for some time. There is little doubt that all the corrupt politicians, both at government and local level, will continue to skim off their percentage until strong action by the law takes place and these people are sent away for a long time.

As a bystander, it seems to me this country has one of the most inefficient governments in Europe, and things will not get better in the foreseeable future. As one Spanish politician is quoted as saying recently, “The Spanish people work more hours per week than any other nation in Europe, but they also have the lowest productivity!” There has to be a message there. I wonder if anyone will take notice?

Roy.

China’s Involvement In Western Unemployment

Posted in America, Britain, Europe, Immigrants, Modern World, UK, USA with tags , , , , , on 02/11/2012 by floroy1942

Just take a look at the label on things you buy these days, anything from a coffee machine to designer clothes, and almost 90% of the time it will say, ‘Made In China’. There can be little doubt that the Chinese manufacturing sector is booming thanks to western companies, and has been for at least the last ten years. In the meantime unemployment rates in most western countries are climbing to an almost unsustainable level, and anyone with half a brain must see there is a link there somewhere.

Apple Production Line China

Apple Production Line China

I took a look at the box for my new iPhone 4S today and sure enough, it was assembled in China. Clothes my wife buys in well-known designer shops all carry a label saying made in China, and sometimes Taiwan, Malaysia and even Thailand.

While this may be good for company profits, it does nothing for the living standards of those who slave away day after day in the Chinese factories.

In many western countries people are beginning to blame the influx of immigrants for taking away national jobs, and naturally this is a factor, but by comparison to China’s contribution it is minimal. But before anyone starts waving the big stick at China we must analyze why manufacturing for western companies has moved to this communist country. The simple answer is economics! But to be honest, you have to dig much deeper to find the real reason, and those responsible. The short answer to that is we are ourselves to blame.

During the seventies and eighties trade unions were the strongest they have ever been, and never a year went by without some union or other going on strike for more pay, less working hours etc. etc. I admit freely that in some situations their demands were quite legitimate, but most were highly out of order. It is true that in many cases the union demands were based on high profits being made by the employing companies, but high profits generate growth and more employment whereas the reverse is true when profits are low. A look at history will show clearly that this incessant demand for higher and higher wages in the western manufacturing sector has generated the need of companies to examine their options for cheaper labour costs.

Designer Clothes Made In China

Designer Clothes Made In China

For manufacturers it is a “Catch 22” situation whereby if they raise their prices to cover the extra labour costs the items became too expensive, the market slumps and down go the profits needed for investment. Also, if prices went up the unions would be back demanding more money and it became a self-defeating exercise in futility. So to a certain extent it was our own fault that companies started looking overseas for a cheaper manufacturing process.

When you consider that the average wage paid by western companies to Chinese workers is something like a dollar a day, whereas in the west that would be a fraction of the hourly payment for a worker, you can see how it makes economic sense to  move your manufacturing base to such countries. Even adding on the extra shipping costs of the raw materials and the finished product it still comes out far cheaper than our own labour.

Unemployment Lines In Spain

Unemployment Lines In Spain

It is inevitable that as American and European manufacturing costs rise, more and more companies will see the sense in turning over their manufacturing processes to Far Eastern countries like China where goods can be either made, or as in Apple’s case assembled, in any country on the other side of the globe at a tiny fraction of the cost.

This will inevitably result in even more job losses in the future and with it will come increased unrest, but when push comes to shove, we will have no-one to blame but ourselves. It is all a sad fact of life that workers today must face up to, even though the truth may hurt.

Roy.

Can Trade Unions Strangle A Country? – Yes They Can!

Posted in Budget Cuts, Europe, Government, Insanity, Modern World, Spain with tags , , , , , on 30/10/2012 by floroy1942

My wife and I have a penthouse in a residential community in Marbella on the Costa del Sol in Spain, and it wasn’t until today that I realized how labour laws are strangling the country. My wife is president of the community and responsible for the day to day running of it along with her three-man committee. We have a concierge who is causing many problems by not doing his job properly, spreading rumours and has on occasion been abusive to residents. In an effort to make him more efficient he has been given a work schedule with specific tasks at specific times, but he still seems to think he can do as he pleases and for the most part ignores it. Under these circumstances you would think the simple solution would be to fire him and get someone new: Wrong! This is Spain!

Today my wife and the committee sought advice from an official labour advisor who told them he cannot be fired unless we can prove gross negligence. Such is the state of the labour laws in Spain that it is almost impossible to get rid of a lazy or useless worker – there is literally nothing you can do! The only way to rid ourselves of the man is to pay him a huge sum of money in compensation. As you can imagine, this is not really a viable option in these troubles times.

Some of the contractors that used to do jobs around the community have proven to be sloppy, inefficient and lazy which is symptomatic of many. Needless to say, they do not work here anymore.

This whole business started me thinking and examining the state of the country in light of these laws. Spain has been in the doldrums ever since the housing market collapsed and the country had sunk further into debt year by year, and as I have said previously, the biggest problem is inefficiency. Although the current prime minister Rahoy is strenuously refusing a bailout from the EU, the situation is dire. The country has one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe and with the recent increase in purchase tax, prices are going through the roof.

When you visit some governmental or local offices it is customary to find chaos, rudeness from staff, and a total lack of cooperation, plus you have to get used to waiting for long periods to be helped. At this point I must make it clear this is not a ‘blanket statement’ because there are exceptions to every rule. The local council offices (ayuntamiento) in Marbella were very quick and efficient when we visited last week, but compared to that, the labour offices in the city are a complete disaster.

The bottom line really is that in this country, if you have an inefficient, or lazy worker there is little you can do to get rid of them. The labour laws have made it almost impossible to replace someone who just isn’t good enough. It seems that provided you turn up for work and manage to shuffle a few papers around your desk every so often you cannot be fired.

I tried doing some research into the Spanish labour laws but the waters are very muddy and its almost impossible to get any real information, but one thing that is certain, like in many other countries, they evolved from trade union pressure on the government.

There is nothing more motivating for a worker than to know he can be fired if he doesn’t do his job properly, but to get that far, there has to be a major shift in government policy regarding the labour laws before the country will be able to get back to its collective feet. One thing is certain, whichever government takes on this task will find the mob outside the gates in lynching mood.

Roy.

2+2+5-7+3+4-8= ?

Posted in Britain, Children, England, English Schools, Europe, Parliament, Primary Education, Teens, UK with tags , , , , on 10/03/2012 by floroy1942

To most people a simple sum, the answer to which would be quickly worked out in the head, but sad to say, that is not true of everyone. According to the charity, National Numeracy (NN), at least half of adult Britons cannot do simple maths.

I have written many times in the past about the failing standards in British education, and this latest piece of news just about  proves what I have been saying. The NN figure of 17 million working age adults with poor numeracy is to say the least a national scandal. 

Essentials In Today's World

A Skills for Life survey questioned 7,000 16 to 65-year-olds, which revealed that almost half of the working age population has numeracy skills roughly the same as those expected of primary school children, and the proportion has risen (from 47% to 49%) in the last eight years, and in my view, this figure will get much higher as we see more of the children currently in school reach adulthood.

Our Hi-Tech World

The research shows clearly that the majority of adults have problems interpreting their pay slips and working out their tax returns. Also, without the aid of cash tills that automatically tell the cashier how much change to give, they are completely lost. Anyone who has a job that requires them to interpret graphs, charts and tables is hopelessly out of their depth.

Very few people will admit to having poor literacy skills, about 86%, but fewer, 49% are loath to tell you they are poor at maths. Many people these days are offering excuses for their deficiency by saying for example; “It’s genetic”  while some wear their lack of numeracy skills like a ‘badge of honour’.

On A Calculator Its So Easy

We have become so dependent on the electronic calculator that even simple math like the title cannot be done by most people without one. This is a shocking state of affairs!

If This Was Written By A Teacher I'm Not Surprised

So far as education is concerned, unfortunately we have a knock-on effect, for as each generation becomes more illiterate and numeracy challenged (politically correct),  so the teaching standards decline further. Its a true case of the blind leading the blind.

To break the cycle, the education authorities desperately need to set a high minimum standard of education for teachers, and train them to a level where they can actually do some good. This could well mean a teacher going back to school in their chosen subject for a minimum of two years. Only in this way can they learn what they should have learned during their time in ordinary school and teacher training.

Back When Teachers Knew Their Stuff!

In my day, every teacher needed to know the subjects he/she taught inside out. When kids asked a question of him/her they had the answer in their heads and didn’t need to consult a textbook like the idiots we have teaching today.

One thing is certain, the country cannot go on in this fashion, because we are getting to the stage where British people will become unemployable in today’s work place.

Pretty Soon Dole Queue's Will Be A Mile Long

After we led the world in innovation, industry and science for so many generations, it is indeed sad to see the rotten decay in our education system that has turned us into a nation of dunces! As I have often said, Tony Blair and his gang have a lot to answer for. It truly upsets me having to write so many negative posts about Britain these days, but from  my viewpoint, the whole country is going down the tubes at an ever-increasing rate.

We desperately need a government with the balls to sort out this mess (among others) and get the country back on its feet and give the people something to be proud of again. The trouble is, like most politicians these days, they are more worried about ‘staying in power at the next election’ than they are of making unpopular choices for the good of the country.

Modern Brit Caveman - Anno 2020

Perhaps it is time for a totally new political party to come along and start the ball rolling, because for sure we cannot rely on the current lot to do what is right, and to vote in the previous shower of crooks (i.e. Labour) will only accelerate the fall into the abyss. Pretty soon the British people will degenerate to the level of cavemen with houses and cars.

The effects of this debacle in education will have far reaching results for the entire country, for pretty soon we will be a generation of idiots with absolutely no prospects for a job, little or no engineering or scientific skills and a floundering manufacturing industry. We will become as useless to the modern technical world as the natives living in the jungles of the Amazon (no offence intended).

Incidentally, for those who are scratching their heads trying to work out the simple math problem displayed in the title, the answer is 1.

Roy.

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