Wednesday, August 17

The SMI brotherhood

As always when the minimum wage in Spain is raised, little or a lot, the SMI brotherhood has already gone out in procession to the streets, squares and media of the country, to pray for us and ask the market forces to be benevolent with our ignorance, daring or lack of solidarity; for many are the vices and sins of those who defend the climb, let alone those who seem to us to be extremely poor.

The economist brothers come out first to present us a selection of scientific and statistical evidence with which they consider settled a debate that economics has held for decades and where the ideological positions of each one weigh more, on how a labor market should function and what is the optimal degree of intervention and regulation, than the real validity of the evidence presented. Many of the data presented on the supposed destruction of employment are explained more by the methodology used or how much is left inside or outside the models, than by the indicators recorded in reality. Those who believe that the SMI is a barrier to entry into the labor market handle their arguments and alleged evidence. Those of us who believe that it implies the way to improve the conditions of access to employment manage ours. It is an ideological and also scientific option, not an incontrovertible truth.

Almost at the same time, the business brothers burst in, warning that, with an SMI already above 1,100 euros / month, they will not be able to create more jobs because if they have to pay 14 euros more per month it no longer compensates them and the best thing will be to close everything and prepare for oppositions. Which always leads to wondering how they will create jobs in the rest of Europe, in Germany or the Netherlands – more than 1600 euros / month-, or in France -more than 1,500 euros / month -, or in the free and deregulated Ireland, the paradise for large corporations, -more than 1,700 euros / month-. Nor is it a minor doubt to wonder how, during the happy years of the minimum wage around 800 euros, we were not always the great creators of jobs in Europe but we have always scored as the biggest destroyers.

Finally the senior patron of the brotherhood appears, the governor of the Bank of Spain, enrolled for years in an institutional crusade against the rise of the SMI, at a generous expense, at the expense of the public purse, to finance research designed to agree with him. The most exciting thing is that he does not do it out of ideology or interest, not even out of stubbornness. He goes out in procession for a better defense of women, young people, those over 45 years of age and those he calls “low productivity groups”, those weakest in our labor market and whom he wants to protect from so much injustice. Such concern is commendable. So much solidarity and empathy move to the marrow.

It is a pity that it does not devote the same devotion and resources to evaluating how much the evident banking concentration towards an oligopoly is costing employment in this country that does not stop transferring costs to its clients, workers and entrepreneurs included. Something that, if I’m not mistaken, does correspond to some of the responsibilities for which we pay the governor’s salary.