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Post Why a PSOE Government Will Hurt Spain's Economy
Created by John Eipper on 05/02/19 3:57 AM

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Why a PSOE Government Will Hurt Spain's Economy (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela, 05/02/19 3:57 am)

John E asked me two questions about the Spanish elections of April 28th: Whether I was in Barcelona and its mood on Election Day, and if I meant that a PSOE victory would be a disastrous calamity depending on their coalition partners, or if any government led by PSOE would be disastrous.

I was not in Barcelona that day, but in Alicante where I vote. From what I know, the mood in all Spanish cities was enthusiastic and calm. In Barcelona and other cities in Cataluña, the participation was higher than any other place, so I assume their enthusiasm was also greater.

Now regarding the second question, I believe that whether PSOE leads the future government in coalition or alone, the consequences in the medium and long term are going to be mostly disastrous, in both the economic sense and in potential political outcomes.

First we should note that, according to economists, the Spanish economy under Pedro Sánchez already showed signs of deceleration in 2018. There have been increasing public deficits and debts, a reduction of productivity, and a decrease in exports and private investments. Drastic measures are needed in 2019 to reduce the likely negative impacts. Apparently those essential actions are precisely the opposite of what any socialist government is willing to take. Based on common sense, historical facts, my own experience under a socialist regime and previous experience with Zapatero's pernicious socialist government in Spain, there are many reasons to reach this conclusion.

To mention only a few:

--It is necessary to reduce fiscal deficits. This is very difficult when there are more expenses than income, caused by general salary increases and pensions, unproductive government jobs and other social benefits, all of a clearly populist and demagogic character.

--In consequence, fiscal deficit will increase the country's debt and the country will face higher interest expenses.

--Higher corporate, VAT and other taxes will be imposed, leading to less private investments, reduced employment and less productivity.

--Socialist governments tend to create more unproductive bureaucratic employment to disguise contractions in the private sector. This seems to already be happening in Spain.

--Drastic reforms in the public Pension Funds system are necessary, and the PSOE government will not even dare to attempt this.

--The PSOE has already promised to abolish the Labor Law, probably responsible for the unemployment reduction in recent years with its imposition of more flexible employment terms and reduction in labor costs. Higher labor costs de-incentivize private investments and a sustainable recovery in the construction sector.

Equality and social justice are very desirable aspirations for any society, but without sound economic development it's a fantasy and only pure demagogy.

The potential disastrous consequences of a future PSOE government are not only economic; they would need coalition support to form a government, and this would probably require more concessions to independentistas and extreme radical partners, with a higher risk to the territorial integrity of the country.

Some final comments. Yesterday (May 1st) Carmen Negrín explained in a very clear way the composition and nature of the present political parties in Spain.  It could have been an excellent explanation except for the fact that Carmen suggest that all the "right" parties are Francoist derivatives. That is unfortunately a biased trend among socialists and communists in Spain, to call everybody not sharing their political ideology fascistas or Fachas. This is of course inaccurate and only reflects and attempt to discredit the ideological opposition.

Finally, John asked if there are any Spanish regions that don't have independence aspirations. These aspirations have always existed in most regions, as a consequence of centuries of disputes and regional conflicts, provincialism and xenophobia. But there has never been a real threat to the nation's integrity as much as recently with Catalonia. By the way, I believe this political phenomenon is not new, unique or unprecedented in most countries in Europe.

JE comments:  What is the alternative, a return to the Rajoy era of extreme belt-tightening?  That experience drove the Spanish people almost to open rebellion.

I'd like to know more about the Labor Laws that Sánchez hopes to repeal.  I presume they make it easier to "downsize" employees, in the belief that this will lower unemployment.  Nacho, can you walk us through the details?

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  • Will a PSOE Government Hurt Spain's Economy? (Francisco Rodriguez Jimenez, Spain 05/03/19 4:49 AM)
    Reading José Ignacio Soler's comments on May 2nd, one might conclude:

    If Social Democrats run the economy: Chaos.

    If Liberals run the economy: Prosperity and broad welfare state.


    Reality is a bit more complex.

    This article might clarify some myths, especially the third one mentioned:  All socialists want to abolish markets and private property.


    JE comments:  Francisco Rodríguez Jiménez's use of "liberal" should be understood in the European sense.  In the heightened rhetoric that prevails in the US today, "liberal" and "socialist" are taken as synonyms.  Moreover, "broad welfare state" is understood on these shores as a socialist dogma. 

    Ah, the many facets of American Exceptionalism.  Note that in the Washington Post piece above, José Ignacio Soler's Venezuela has become the Poster Child of what socialism is (if you loathe socialism), or what it doesn't have to be (if you like it).

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  • "Coalicion Canaria"; Origins of Spain's Popular Party (PP) (Carmen Negrin, France 05/04/19 3:53 AM)
    In response to José Ignacio Soler's comment of May 2nd on my post of the day earlier, and completing the information given on the Spanish elections of April 28th, I would like to specify two points, one, which was pointed out by a friend and ex-colleague of mine who happens to be a WAIS member but has been far too discreet, and the second point concerning José Ignacio's post on his concerns about PM Pedro Sánchez and about my description of Spain's right wing(s).

    So first, when I underlined the rise of "independentista" parties, I should have been more specific. In reality, I used the adjective "independentista" in a much too broad sense.  Thus it isn't really correct, in particular since the Coalición Canaria (CC) isn't really "independentista"; I should have said: Independentistas (like the Basques and mainly the Catalan), regional, nationalists--but not separatists--and autonomist parties (like the Coalición Canaria and a few others). Answering John, there are several separatist Canarian parties, which are not really relevant, some have joined CC and others have not, for instance the President of the Cabildo of Gran Canarias is from one of the later: Nueva Canarias.  Canarian nationalism started as far back as the 19th century, mainly originated from the left. The first main historic party was created in reaction to what was perhaps rightly perceived as colonialism and the last major one, was in reaction to Franco's dictatorship. These were respectively led by Secundino Delagado and Antonio de León Cubillo Ferreira. The latter has disappeared but others have now integrated into the CC, which is more right-wing then left and which is mainly concerned with the interests of the Islands (getting financial aid from the mainland, keeping privileges such as conserving the tax-free zone, cheaper flights for locals, etc.). I have often wondered why these local parties have been allowed to participate in national elections, just like I have also wondered why there is a PSC (Catalan Socialist Party) since it seems by essence contradictory, but that is certainly part of Spain's multifaceted charms. For more on Canarias' nationalism, I refer you to: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nacionalismo_canario .

    Concerning José Ignacio's comments on my left-wing bias about the origins of Spain's right-wing parties, I will just remind him that (a) even though I might have thought it, I didn't say that they are all Fachas, simply because many of them are too young to really know what it means, and (b) José Ignacio surely knows that the Alianza Popular was founded in 1976, by the so-called "Siete magníficos," regrouping seven parties that existed under Franco.  The leader was Manuel Fraga, who among other things was Franco's Minister of Interior, with six other colleagues. On the inauguration day, the crowd shouted Franco's name. The other co-founders were: Cruz Martínez Esteruelas, chief national-delegate of the legal council of the General Secretariat of the Movimiento and Minister of Education and Sciences under Franco (from the Unión del Pueblo Español), Federico Silva Muñoz, Minister of Public Works under Franco (from Acción Democrática Española), Laureano López Rodó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and éminence grise of Carrero Blanco under Franco (from Acción Regional), Enrique Thomas de Carranza, Director of the National Radio of Spain (ANEPA) under Franco, Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora, diplomat and Minister of Spanish Public Works under Franco (from Unión Nacional Española), and Licinio de la Fuente, Minister of Employment under Franco (from Democracia Social). It is not for nothing that Franco would brag that he left it all "atado y bien atado": even dead, others took over. As for the Partido Popular, it was a re-foundation of the AP, by... Manuel Fraga after having added a pinch of liberalism and of (if possible!) Catholicism. I don't think I have to get into the creation of Ciudadanos, who little by little is clarifying its political position, which as mentioned previously is to take over the PP. It has the advantage of not being directly linked to Franco's men nor to their corruption. New skin but similar ideas, perhaps a bit more "liberal" in the Anglo-Saxon terminology, and, so far, no corruption. At long last: Vox, which is openly the renaissance of its master's voice: Arriba España at sun break and at sunset.

    Perhaps this is only one of the many reasons why the right wing doesn't want to be bothered with the Memoria histórica. If not uncomfortable, it can be embarrassing.

    Last but not least, as for Zapatero, I would like to remind everyone of the economic situation in Spain at the time: there was the world crisis, started in... was it the US? And the so-called crisis of the ladrillo (the brick), carried out by... was the Gürtel part of it? Too many construction projects by...? You name it.

    I hope José Ignacio will not accuse me of saying that the PP was the only corrupt party. No, indeed not. But, again, corruption was part of normal life under Franco.  It was a means of survival. Comparable to the situation in Eastern Europe. And it will take years to unlearn.

    I hope at least that José Ignacio will admit that most of the fundamental changes carried out in Spain after Franco's death were carried out by the Socialist party (with the help of the Germans in great part), and I don't think that anyone can pretend that the country became a communist gulag!

    JE comments:  I teach my students (when they're listening!) that Spain's PP is roughly the equivalent of the US Republicans, and the PSOE is no more socialist than our Democrats.  Of course, the analogy is imperfect because of Spain's minor and regional parties.  I bring this up because the US Republicans were founded as the "radical" party.  One cannot compare 1854 with 1976, but here's my question:  is it still relevant to label the PP "franquista" after 44 years?  Is any of the Old Guard still left?

    (Carmen:  a WAISer who's too silent?  Please ask him/her to speak out!)

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    • Partido Popular: Franco's Lasting Legacy (Carmen Negrin, France 05/05/19 6:06 AM)
      John E (4 May) asked if today's Partido Popular can still be fairly called a Francoist party.  Obviously Spain has changed and the PP like everything else has evolved. Spain has a constitution which is similar to that of most democratic countries.

      But there are many reflexes that come back from time to time. Aznar, Aguirre, Abascal... are the modern version of the Franquistas.

      Spanish Fascism, national-Catholicism, however you may call it, has never really been officially condemned (nor have they explained why it should be) or forbidden. Franco is still glorified, certain names of streets have not been changed in spite of a specific law that has no consequence if not applied, thousands of murdered Republicans are still in the "cunetas" or in mass graves, and as Ciudadanos put it: this is not a priority. I guess it depends for whom. People are rarely authorized to rebury their family members when they do end up finding them.

      The Spanish war is like an incision in the school curriculum but somehow most kids never get to that chapter.

      You might learn that Franco modernized Spain but you will never hear that prior to that he brought it back to the Middle Ages and had to modernize a minimum in order to join the UN and the rest of Europe. So basically, their conclusion is Franco only did good and Made Spain Great Again!

      Young people don't know much about their past. It can be seen as a good thing, but I consider it's like living with Alzheimer!

      JE comments:  One of Prof. Hilton's favorite topics was comparative (by nation) school curricula.  Carmen, what can you tell us about how the Civil War is taught?  You suggest above that curiously, Spanish history ends for kids at...1898?  1808?  1700?

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      • Teaching and Learning about Franco (Carmen Negrin, France 05/06/19 5:22 AM)

        John E asked about how the Franco era is covered in Spanish schools.  The linked official bulletin explains on p. 9, Bloque 9, how the Republic and Civil War are meant to be taught.  Note that it is very vague but that there is a special point concerning 1934, which is what, according to the Francoists, justified if not caused the war.

        You can compare with the contents of the rest of the history of Spain and especially see how it is really left in the hands of whoever teaches it. But the main problem is what really comes out of it.  A relatively recent poll showed that a majority of youngsters have no idea who Franco was.


        JE comments:  This Boletín cannot be accused of a lack of detail.  It specifies that 20% of the history curriculum should be devoted to the "crisis" and the Civil War, with an additional 15% for the Franco era.  Note also (p. 2) that exams should contain a minimum of two and a maximum of fifteen questions.

        This is a good reminder of how much academic freedom I have.

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  • What Would Good Government in Spain Look Like? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/11/19 4:02 AM)
    Our editor asked me for further thoughts on the hypothetical alternatives to a PSOE government for Spain, as well as the announced repeal of that nation's current labor law.

    I am afraid John is asking for too much. This task is more appropriate for professionals in the field; however I will offer some reflections.

    A more useful alternative to a Socialist-radical government would be anyone, socialist or not, who understands the real possibilities and limitations of the country. They should propose and implement feasible laws and programs, and not unrealistic, populist agendas.

    The problem with demagogic and populist politics is that they manipulate the legitimate expectations of the people towards unfeasible and unrealistic situations. Pure socialist ideology, based on a supposed moral superiority and assuming the banner of progress, irresponsibly promises that all aspirations of social justice and equality are possible, no matter what the cost might be. That is economic nonsense, as history has already demonstrated many times.

    It is uncertain that former president Rajoy applied programs of extreme belt-tightening, but those measures nonetheless helped to solve the Spanish crisis that previous governments caused, particularly the Zapatero administration. Consider that Spain had during his administration the highest economic growth in Europe. I am not fond of Rajoy. In fact I am severe critic in many of his policies, but especially in the economic aspect I feel he did the right things.

    Now turning to the labor law that PSOE and Podemos are planning to abrogate. This law incidentally is one of the instruments that Rajoy used to tackle the unemployment problem in Spain. It meaningfully reduced it and helped the economic recovery.  The law prescribes more flexible employment terms to reduce labor costs. This might sound like an unfair and abusive capitalist imposition because makes it easier to "downsize" employees.

    The truth is that concerning contractual terms, fixed or temporary work, social benefits and welfare, fringe benefits, etc., and particularly in the number of work hours, minimum salary, holiday compensation, contract termination, severance payment, unemployment pension and so on, the Spanish law is similar to or even more generous than those in, for instance, the US or other industrial countries in Europe.

    In fact, if I recall well, the US labor laws do not require a previous notification period to fire or dismiss an employee, and they do not demand that the employer compensate the employee in that case--please forgive my ignorance if I am wrong in this assessment--but the Spanish law does. In any case, this flexibility in firing might be seen as unfair, but on the other hand it should be clear that it does support greater productivity and it surely motivates compensation by results, merit or the achievement of goals. Socialist ideologies commonly promote the opposite, a parasite working class.

    I have witnessed in real life the distortions caused by socialist labor laws.

    JE comments:  We take it for granted that if you make it easy to fire people, you're more likely to hire them.  But does practice support this assumption?  Spain's growth under Rajoy might not be the best case study.  If the economy "improved" under his government, it's because the starting point in 2011 was so abysmally low.

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    • Vatican's Almoner Restores Power to Roman Squatters (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/13/19 4:19 AM)
      "More flexible employment terms to reduce labor costs" (see José Ignacio Soler's description of the Rajoy labor law in Spain, May 11th) is nothing more than a criminal belief of extreme capitalism.

      The news from Italy:

      Facebook in Italy is on the rampage: countless non-politically correct posts have been banned.

      Also, the Vatican's Almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, has gone to an occupied building to restore electricity to the 400 illegal tenants.  He personally connected the power. Deputy PM Salvini has said that he should also pay the 300,000 euro debt accrued for the building.  I doubt it.

      Until the European election day of May 26th, everything is a mess.

      JE comments:  I learned something this morning.  The Vatican's "Almoner" is the cleric in charge of charity and helping the poor.  Cardinal Krajewski reportedly shimmied down a manhole to restore the electricity.  Who taught him how to do this?  I'd be afraid of electrocution.  And didn't he dirty his fancy red robes?

      Eugenio, a basic tenet of the political Right is to let the market decide worker compensation.  "Flexible employment terms" of course means "flexible" for the employer, not the employee.  Could you tell us more about your views on employment security and labor rights?  I predict you'll take us back to 1922-'45...

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      • Does Permanent Employment Lower Job Performance? (José Ignacio Soler, Venezuela 05/13/19 12:46 PM)
        Eugenio Battaglia wrote a rather extreme and radical comment on employment flexibility as "nothing more than a criminal belief of extreme capitalism."

        I won't debate with Eugenio on the definitions of criminal or extreme capitalism. However there are some basic aspects that he should understand in the "flexibility" concept. This does not mean exploitation of the labor force. Proper compensation is necessary, but employment flexibility and compensation terms should be based on productivity, performance, merits, talent and achievements, not merely on legally mandated terms. Would anyone believe that a worker, free from the risk of being fired, is going to strive with output and performance?

        I figure that Eugenio would sympathize more with the opposite idea he seems to imply of fully "inflexible" employment terms--namely to keep employees indefinitely, disregarding their low or unsatisfactory productivity. I am sure he would not advocate for that with any of his employees, or consider it "criminal" to fire any of them if that were the case.

        Based on my experience, I repeat, an "inflexible" labor law would ruin any business or a country and at the same time establishing a parasitic working class.

        JE comments:  As a counterargument, I offer the example of academic tenure.  (Admittedly, I'm not impartial here.)  The common myth of lazy and entitled tenured professors just doesn't apply to anyone I know.  We cannot be fired, but we still work very hard. Perhaps José Ignacio Soler's cuñado (brother-in-law) Hank Levin could add some statistics to back up (or debunk) this view.

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        • Does Academic Tenure "De-Incentivize" Job Performance? (Henry Levin, USA 05/14/19 10:06 AM)
          One thing missing from the faculty tenure discussion is how difficult it is to get or not to get. The most desirable universities for faculty usually make tenure very challenging to receive. They evaluate teaching performance, scholarship, community service, and student mentoring and rely on both internal evaluations and detailed analysis of scholarship by external scholars. This means that at the point of tenure decision, usually in the seventh year, their employing university has a considerable accumulation of data on their trajectory and ambition.

          However, many universities in the US take the tenure decision lightly because their pay and other benefits and student quality do not represent attractive opportunities. Others have a civil service tradition requiring only that employment for a number of years, sometimes just three, automatically results in tenure. Many universities in certain countries provide tenure automatically with appointment or a minimal employment requirement, sometimes by law.

          My main point is that a good predictor of future performance is present and past performance. For this reason, universities that set high standards for tenure and accumulate good evaluative data are likely to have faculty who continue their high performance. So, tenure can be a measure of effort and productivity, more than an excuse for tenured faculty to relax their efforts. Frankly, most that I know are workaholics who perform effectively because that is their nature whether or not they are tenured.

          JE comments:  Hank, my reading of the "pulse" of the US Academy is that tenure is a dying institution.  Adrian College, for example, is hiring most of its new professors on term contracts.  Is this a national trend?

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          • Tenure, Job Peformance, and the Commercialization of the University (Sasha Pack, USA 05/15/19 4:02 AM)
            My impressions of the "tenure effect" have been similar to JE's as well as to those borne out in Henry Levin's comments: where the tenure evaluation process is taken seriously, faculty remain active, engaged, and effective in advancing the mission of the university.

            Of course, we enjoy such great latitude and independence in choosing how we want to advance that mission, so why shouldn't we? Most of the time we are more constrained by our own limits than by any limits imposed by our employers. But the university's mission is not the same thing as its bottom line. In terms of the latter, how productive are well-paid tenured professors teaching small upper-level and graduate courses as compared with adjuncts or term clinicals teaching required courses to hundreds of students at a time? As many public universities move toward the tuition-driven "butts-in-seats" financial model (as it is universally known), there answer may be: not very.

            If tenure is dying a slow death, it is not so much because it is obsolete or counterproductive as it is because the university's business model is increasingly misaligned with its mission. The commercialization of many non-profit and public universities is unpopular with seemingly everyone but yet pervasive. It may be a necessary response under the duress of many pressures facing universities, I don't know. One side effect is the consumer mentality of many students. They come to view their tuition as payment for services rendered--the delivery of knowledge, cultivation of skills, and conferral of a degree. The "customer is always right" principle cannot work in education, and I have sensed its gradual creep.

            Maybe Henry or another specialist of education can calm my nerves by telling me that what I've said is perception and not reality, or that it has always been thus and we've muddled through. I'd be glad to be wrong about this.

            JE comments:  Greetings, Sasha!  We Academics have been decrying the commercialization of Higher Ed for a generation--but as Sasha Pack asks, has it always been like this?  Are we really lamenting that a university's money tends to be spent on things (and people) other than what we'd prefer?

            I'd still like to see some hard statistics on the costs of academic tenure.  Of course it is inefficient for the "butts-in-seats" model, but what about other factors, such as student retention, grants, alumni giving, and institutional recognition/prestige? 

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            • The Rise of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Appointments (Henry Levin, USA 05/21/19 6:44 AM)
              I have checked with colleagues, and they tell me that with the increase in the use of adjuncts and part-timers, it seems likely that tenured faculty have decreased.

              However, this is different than the elimination of tenure at institutions. It seems to mean that a smaller proportion of faculty at individual institutions are hired on "tenure-track" appointments. There seem to be no direct answers to changes in tenured appointments in terms of actual numbers. But the consensus among my colleagues is that there are fewer tenured positions.

              See below:


              JE comments:  The authors, Daniel Maxey and Adrianna Kezar, conclude that non-tenure-track faculty appointments "are inefficient and misaligned with stakeholders’ common commitments to student learning and the health of the academic profession."  Amen.  But are the academic Powers that Be listening?

              On the decline of tenure, Roy Domenico also weighs in (next).

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              • Distance Learning and Other Trends in Higher Ed (Tor Guimaraes, USA 05/23/19 4:23 AM)
                At the big research universities, the power balance between faculty and administrators seems to slightly favor the faculty. At so-called teaching universities or colleges, administrators seem to have gained significant political ground. There are some factors I hypothesize may be behind such trend.

                As the middle class gets squeezed financially, so are the financial support for education in general and higher ed specifically in most US states. Administrators are hungry for "other" sources of funds besides government budgets and tuition/fees. In Tennessee, administrators have received blessings from the governor to have our University President to set up a separate board he has to listen to. This board is loaded with the President's business acquaintances, has one student representative, and one faculty representative.

                One national trend seems to be de-emphasizing quality of teaching/learning in favor of distance learning which pays better, lower requirements for access to courses, more remedial courses, more automation in teaching besides distance teaching, etc. Faculty at some universities have resisted such trends for reducing quality of education for the sake of increasing access and income. The following video illustrates.


                One trend that I think very positive is the learning assessment based on students passing regional or nation certification tests for various professional groups in Engineering, Accounting, Nursing, etc.

                JE comments:  "Distance learning" is the probably the single largest shift in education models in the last half-century.  Administrators love it--no overhead besides computers!  Unlimited potential enrollment!  We faculty question the quality of e-learning, and especially lament the loss of the human factor.  How many students will cite an on-line instructor as a major inspiration in their lives?

                Yet what is WAIS other than "distance learning"?  I've learned a great deal over the years from this morning's contributors--Tim Ashby, Tor Guimaraes, and Gary Moore (next).  One thing these three gentlemen have in common:  I've never met any of them in person.

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          • Term Contracts, Tenure-Track, and "Faculty Specialists" (Roy Domenico, USA 05/21/19 9:07 AM)
            Regarding tenure--I've got a dog in this fight so I should say something:

            The University of Scranton (my employer) still relies primarily on tenured faculty, although the administration has made some attempts to curtail it with positions we call "faculty specialists." These positions are sprinkled through the sciences and professional schools. We've never had one in the History Department.

            John E's comments on "term contracts" I find disturbing. Who would accept a "term contract" over a tenure-track position? I certainly never would. In the long run, this cannot help academia. It sounds like the decision of non-academic administrators that will lead to the suicide of universities.

            JE comments:  It's safe to say that nobody would pick "term" over tenure-track, with the possible exception of a late-career academic not interested in the publish-or-perish rat race.  On the other hand, everyone would prefer "term" over the lowest rung on the faculty ladder--the adjunct.

            "Faculty specialists"--who comes up with these euphemisms?

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      • Workers' Rights in the RSI (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/15/19 7:26 AM)
        Our esteemed moderator seems to enjoy making easy predictions about my views on labor relations, when he commented on my post of 13 May: "I predict [Eugenio will] take us back to 1922-'45."


        My views on labor relations are completely in accordance with the "Socializzazione Law" promulgated by the Italian Social Republic on 12 February 1944. By this law, both labor and capital had same rights and duties and both, in equal numbers on the boards, directed the enterprise.  But these laws were a long way in coming.

        Mussolini wrote in his newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia as early as 1919: "We want to empower the workers in the directorship of a firm, also to convince them that it is not easy to run commerce or a specific industry."

        Unfortunately Mussolini had to reach his goal step by step over 25 years, going through a lot of compromises. The poor guy until the very end tried to govern by consent. In fact the period 1928-38 is called by practically all historians the "Decade of Consent."

        But also in 1944 it was not easy, as the Italian capitalists did not like the idea. They were making a lot of money working for the German war industry and tried to use General Hans Leyers, director of Albert Speer's Ruk, Rustung und Kriegsproduction, to stop the law. The quarrel between the Italian Government and the Germans was very serious but in the end Hitler told his men to shut up and respect the Italian decision. Generally the Italian capitalists in the North very closely cooperated with the Germans while at the same time they were supplying the partisans, just to be in the safe side, but on the surface they also showed loyalty to the RSI. Very despicable.

        By the way the Germans were also foolish not to favour the efforts of the RSI to have a powerful army. Instead they preferred to have Italian soldiers directly in the Wermacht or the Waffen SS. This was unacceptable for Italy and it was able to mobilize 800,000 men and thousands of women "Ausiliarie."

        The relations were never very easy.

        However, I knew a fellow who joined the 29th Waffen Grenadier Division der SS (Italianish n° 1) and he was very enthusiastic about the German-Italian relations within the division. He then joined the French Foreign Legion to escape slaughter by the "Reds." He was at Dien Bien Phu and after the defeat, he together with comrades from the RSI were the last remaining in Saigon.

        Those who never betray anyone can always be trusted. He had a Vietnamese wife who died to save him in a Viet Cong ambush.

        Sorry to have wandered somewhat in this comment.

        JE comments: Regarding the RSI, I've suggested before that you can never truly determine the success of a social or economic model when it's short-lived (19 months) and set up in the final months of a lost war.

        Yet Mussolini was a dictator:  why couldn't he have dictated his progressive labor policies in the 18 years prior to joining the Axis war in 1940?

        Eugenio, I'd like to know more about former RSI combatants in the French Foreign Legion, and in particular the sad and dramatic story of your friend's wife's sacrifice.

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        • Why Mussolini's Delay with Socializzazione? (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 05/17/19 1:30 PM)
          I will try to answer John E's three follow-up questions to my post of May 15th:

          1) Socializzazione. I am convinced of the validity of this model, in part because the first thing the partisans did on their first day in power, beside slaughtering fascists and accused fascists, was to abolish the Socializzazione.

          Furthermore both capitalism and communism, the two failing faces of homo oeconomicus, wanted its destruction by any means. Anyway some points of the Socializzazione once in a while continue to come out in labor relations in Germany and with great success.

          2) Mussolini achieved Socializzazione step by step.  First he built a Social State (now being destroyed). In his very first year as PM, 1923, he promulgated laws for the protection of children and maternity, medical assistance for the poor, insurance against unemployment, injury, and old age. Then came many other steps including the work week of 40 hours, annual compulsory vacation, etc.  In 1926-27 Mussolini promulgated the "Corporativismo" (Corporatism) and the "Carta del Lavoro" (Labour Charter), which were initiatives towards Socializzazione. In 1934 the 22 Corporations were created, while in 1939 the Chamber of the Fasci and Corporation replaced the old Parliament (the real producers could govern). Finally, Socializzazione arrived in 1944.

          About the delay in reaching the Socializzazione, please consider that Mussolini was a "dictator sui generis," as he was the Prime Minister in a monarchy where the king was the Chief of State, and any law had to be approved by him. Unfortunately Mussolini was very respectful of the lousy king instead of kicking him out and proclaiming a republic, but to be honest the victorious king of WWI was popular in Italy.

          3) I am sorry, but the former RSI combatant in the French Foreign Legion did not want to speak much about his wife's sacrifice to save his life in Vietnam. I know only that it happened during a Viet Cong ambush and the remembrance of this fact prevented him from later approaching other women more interested in silly normal things.

          JE comments:  Eugenio, do you see similarities between Socializzazione and Peronism in Argentina?  Perón admired Mussolini, and he was careful to describe his system as the "third path" combining the best traits of capitalism and communism (or more precisely, rejecting both).  Peronism did enjoy a long honeymoon period, but it too collapsed on History's unforgiving ash heap.

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