Public money as a narcotic of civil society

 Civican, Avda Pio XII, 2 Pamplona 21/01/2011 12:00h

Manuel Pizarro, former president of Endesa, assured in Pamplona that “the greatest narcotic in civil society is public money”. In a meeting organised by Civismo, he warned about the danger that society “stops participating in public life and gets used to living on subsidies”. In Pizarro’s opinion, “the biggest problem of the welfare state is that free stuff is not valued enough, and demand tends to infinity”. However, the solution is not to eliminate it, but to rethink the way it is paid: “It cannot be that the university is given away to students who do not attend class and that each family has a pharmacy at home”.

The speaker recalled that, by contrast, individual responsibility is encouraged in Anglo-Saxon countries. “In the United States and the United Kingdom, the crisis will clean up the financial system, rewarding those who have done well and throwing out those who have not acted with righteousness”, explained Manuel Pizarro, who gave as an example the cleanup of Citibank and General Motors.

On the other hand, in Spain “we give public money to those who do it wrong, who will continue to make mistakes with everyone’s money”, added the speaker. “The savings banks (Cajas de Ahorros) have problems raising capital because they are still managed by the same people and foreign investors are suspicious”, continued Pizarro, who, however, reaffirmed that local banks are essential: “When the economy is bad, savings banks are the only ones who continue to create investment”.

“Crises are always moments of great opportunities”

Manuel Pizarro

According to the expert, cases such as that of the subprime mortgages reveal that current economic problems are the consequence of a moral crisis, where the end justifies the means. “The building collapses when bankers cease to be and become merchants of debt securities, who do not care whether the debtor is solvent”, he said.

It’s time to invest in talent

Despite the uncertainty of the economic situation, Pizarro was optimistic: “Crises are always moments of great opportunities, turning points where we can correct what was going wrong”. The expert suggested that we should emulate Anglo-Saxon effectiveness, based on the fact that the economy “rides on the back of creative destruction”, with which it is able to extract benefits from adversity. And encouraged to undertake new challenges: “It is time to invest and start new businesses”.

Pizarro also emphasised the opportunity of the current situation to hire good professionals. And he recalled that “in today’s economy you can no longer compete on price, but rather on talent”, while he was concerned about the brain drain of well-trained young Spaniards who go abroad in search for better opportunities.