Sunday, May 31, 2009

Commie Plot

Greetings good citizen,

Every once in a while the weekend offers up a little gem for our mutual consideration.

Tonight’s offering is such a fine tidbit I’m amazed it got past the editor.

A tip of the hat goes to Some Assembly Required where Mr. Michaelson introduces the piece like so:

Mortgage Insurance: Perhaps things could be better if the government worked for the people and not for the Usual Suspects. Like in Marinaleda, Spain.

[Emphasis, naturally, mine] Spain’s housing crisis is said to be worse than ours (due to a concentration on the building of vacation properties for rich foreigners rather than their own domestic market.)

Well, it seems a teeny-tiny town has escaped the carnage and is keeping it’s people employed despite the downturn. Do you wonder what their ‘secret’ is?

A Job and No Mortgage for All in a Spanish Town

Published: May 25, 2009

MARINALEDA, Spain — The people of this small Andalusian town have never been shy about their political convictions. Since they occupied the estate of a local aristocrat in the 1980s, they and their fiery mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, have been synonymous in Spain with a dogged struggle for the rural poor.

Now that Spain’s real estate bust is fueling rampant unemployment, this Communist enclave, surrounded by sloping olive groves, is thumbing its nose at its countrymen’s capitalist folly. Attracted by its municipal housing program and bustling farming cooperative, people from neighboring villages and beyond have come here seeking jobs or homes, villagers and officials say.

Mr. Sánchez, a bearded 53-year-old who this month celebrated three decades as mayor of the town of 2,700, says the economic crisis proves the wisdom of his socialist vision.

“They all thought that the market was God, who made everything work with his invisible hand,” Mr. Sánchez said on a recent morning, seated in his office below a portrait of Che Guevara. “Before, it was a mortal sin to talk about the government having a role in the economy. Now, we see we have to put the economy at the service of man.”

While the rest of Spain gorged on cheap credit to buy overpriced houses, the people of Marinaleda were building their own, mortgage-free, under a municipal program, he said. If a resident loses his job, the cooperative hires him, he said, so nobody wants for worka bold claim in a region with 21 percent unemployment.

Vanessa Romero, who moved here with her family from Barcelona in January after she and her husband lost their jobs, said she was drawn by the prospect of work and facilities like the nursery school, which costs about $17 a month. The couple make about $1,500 a month each working for the cooperative. [Good money when you don’t have a mortgage nut to crack!]

“If a town like this, with half the resources of other towns, or less, can provide work for people, why can’t other places do the same?” said Ms. Romero, whose parents were born in the town.

Critics say Mr. Sánchez’s claims are exaggerated and that he has succeeded in dividing up misery rather than creating wealth. By promoting low-productivity farm jobs, he has kept voters dependent on him for work and handouts, they say.

“This village has stagnated,” said Hipólito Aires, a Socialist town council member and gas station attendant. [Don’t forget ‘millionaire wannabe’] He said the political atmosphere in Marinaleda was stifling and that the mayor ostracized his opponents — a sentiment echoed by several residents who would speak only anonymously.

“Sánchez Gordillo criticized the local lords, but now he acts like them,” Mr. Aires said. “The biggest landowner in Marinaleda today is the mayor.” He was alluding to the mayor’s presumed power over the town and its 3,000-acre farm, though Mr. Sánchez, who does not own a car, says he owns no property other than his home. [Mr. Aires sounds suspiciously like a ‘conservative’ that probably lost his bid to become mayor sometime in the distant past. Makes you wonder how hard the reporter had to dig to find a ‘malcontent’? We certainly can’t have ‘commie success stories’ after communism has been so solidly ‘discredited’.]

Marinaleda became a center of leftist activism after Mr. Sánchez first won the mayoral election in April 1979 as a representative of the United Workers’ Collective, a Communist farm workers’ organization that promotes government through popular assemblies and believes that Andalusia should be independent from Spain. Over the years, the residents have occupied farms, picketed government offices and held hunger strikes to demand work and land.

Their most prominent campaign culminated in 1991 with the regional government expropriating the 3,000-acre estate from the Duke of Infantado and leasing it to the town. The resulting cooperative, about seven miles north of Marinaleda, grows labor-intensive crops like artichokes, hot peppers, broccoli and broad beans, as well as wheat.

These days, Mr. Sánchez’s populism permeates life in this self-anointed “utopia for peace,” which has no municipal police (a savings of $350,000 a year, officials say).

Political murals and revolutionary slogans adorn the town’s whitewashed walls and streets are named after Latin American leftists. Every few weeks, the town hall declares a Red Sunday over a bullhorn and volunteers clean the streets or do odd jobs.
[The ‘horror’, a town using ‘volunteer’ labor!]

For one hour on television each Saturday, the mayor holds forth on politics or recites his own poetry, his trademark Palestinian scarf draped round his neck. He has rallied the residents around a plethora of causes, from resisting genetically modified crops to supporting the Sahrawi people’s struggle for self-determination in Western Sahara.

Comparing himself with another, though far more famous, bearded Communist, Mr. Sánchez said that he had been jailed seven times and that he had survived two assassination attempts, one from a fascist agitator and the other from an enraged police officer.

“His problem is, he is a permanent revolutionary,” said Mr. Aires, adding that “half the people at his rallies don’t even know where Palestine is.”[How much do you want to bet Mr. Aires is another such ‘ignorant’ person?]

Many, though, admire his zeal.

“I wish our mayor would do something like this for us,” said Francisco Pradas from the nearby town of Écija, who was picking beans at the cooperative farm on a recent morning. The farm manager, José Martin, said demand for jobs from other villages had increased since the crisis.

Back in town is the other jewel in Marinaleda’s Communist crown: a colony of neat, three-bedroom houses, built on municipal land with materials from the regional government. Prospective owners donate about 450 days of their work to the construction. The rub: to prevent people from profiting, residents cannot sell their houses.

Even so, demand from residents of nearby towns rose so much over the past few years that the town had to limit the program to long-term residents. About 350 houses have been built so far and the town plans to add 250 in the next two years.

Analysts and political opponents dismiss Mr. Sánchez’ populist bluster, noting that while he portrays Marinaleda as a Communist oasis, it depends heavily on money from the regional and central governments it decries. The materials for each house, for example, cost the regional government about $25,000. [Wouldn’t our capitalist friend ‘Flipper’ have a field day at those prices?]

Salvador Becera, an expert in anthropology at the Center for Andalusian Studies in Seville, said Mr. Sánchez had brought social equity to an uneducated, economically oppressed community. But his vision was anachronistic, he said, and the future of Andalusia lay not in the fields, but in industry and services. [Does anyone else think Mr. Becera is an idiot? Got food, Bubba?]

“Right now, they can puff out their chests because the economy is in crisis,” Mr. Becera said. “But what if they had the chance to get rich? [Geez, it hasn’t happened in 10,000 years so why does bean blower think its going to happen tomorrow?] Then who would stay in this little paradise that Sánchez Gordillo has created?”

Mr. Sánchez, though, is unshaken.

“We have an election every four years,” he said simply. “If people elect me with an absolute majority each time, I must be doing something right.”

Did I tell you this was a fantastic article or did I?

This piece has it all, frustrated millionaire wannabes and clueless intellectual morons who both utterly fail to appreciate what Mr. Sanchez has done.

Why is it these stupid bastards fail to realize we can’t all be ‘rich’? (Which is to point out that when we’re all rich, then no one will be…but it’s not like we’re in any real danger of THAT ever happening.)

Take a communist success story and dismiss it by dangling the false lure of ‘universal wealth’.

Ask yourself good citizen, is the capitalist system really that ‘warped’ that the only measure of ‘success’ is making more money than you need at the expense of those around you?

Sadly, the answer is yes…it is that warped.

Strangely, you are not to blame for your misguided values, you’ve been taught your whole life that it is your ‘right’ to be rich and that we all can be rich…somehow.

No irony should be lost on the fact that most of us owe more than we can ever expect to earn in our lifetime thanks to the banksters and the investors/employers.

There is another way and Mr. Sanchez proves it!

Thanks for letting me inside your head,


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