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May 10 2009

Bachmann Gets Spain Wrong

Representative Michele Bachmann has herself a new friendly outlet for her views. The Washington News Observer has taken for its mission:


to provide fair coverage of news through broadcast quality sound bites, interviews, and event coverage

If you look at what they’re doing, this means providing footage of smiling Republicans and awkward Democrats to news outlets. They’re not very professional yet, as you can see in this clip. It’s terribly cute to watch the young “interviewer” try to keep the mike close enough to Bachmann while staying out of the picture.

Now, it’s obvious that Bachmann had the warning to prepare for her camera time. It’s a true pity, though, that she didn’t use that time to study.

After a decade in which per capita income doubled – and household debt tripled – the Spanish economic fiesta is well and truly over. More than 40,000 workers are losing their jobs each week, a far higher rate than elsewhere in Europe. Unemployment is at 2.99 million, a 12-year record of 12.8 per cent of the workforce and the highest unemployment rate in the eurozone. [...]

And underpinning it all is the Spanish construction industry, which accounts for 9 per cent of GDP. It has collapsed. After those years of boom, more than 150 property companies have gone bust so far this year, going into administration as debts mounted and they were unable to pay back creditors. [...]

Even when Spain begins to emerge from the crisis, deep problems will remain. Productivity grew by an average of only 0.3 per cent a year between 1990 and 1997, according to figures from the Oorganisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It estimated that between 1998 and 2006, total productivity fell by 0.2 per cent annually.

There are more than one million unsold new homes – enough for four to five years of sales at current levels – and bad loans that could triple to 9 per cent of outstanding debt by 2010, according to Credit Suisse.

Education levels are consistently low. One in three secondary pupils drops out. There has also been a brain-drain as the most talented Spaniards seek higher-paying jobs abroad.

Yes, Spain is seeing record unemployment. Why? For exactly the same reasons that the American economy is in trouble: consumer debt leading to a housing collapse, economic growth that wasn’t based on production, and poor education stifling innovation.

So what about the rest of Bachmann’s figures? They come from one widely touted study by Gabriel Calzada Alverez. They are alarming heard on their own. They become somewhat less impressive when Media Matters puts them in context.

She did not note that Calzada is reportedly a founding member of the Prague Network, which, according to Radio Prague, is “an international grouping of institutions aimed at countering panic connected with global warming,” or that Calzada is reportedly a fellow at the Centre for the New Europe, an organization that has reportedly received funding from ExxonMobil.

This isn’t your average peer-reviewed academic study. It’s a document put out by someone active in global warming denialism. Of course, that’s not as important as the fact that it contradicts the results seen elsewhere.

Monique Hanis, spokeswoman for the Solar Industry Energies Association, said that 440,000 permanent jobs have been created in the U.S. as a result of expansion of the industry.

“This study has not been peer reviewed,” she said. “So I can’t comment on the veracity of it. But what we’ve seen is incredible – we’ve created 24.3 new jobs for every megawatt installed.”

A September 2008 study by independent consultant Navigant shows that jobs would be created if Congress extended the solar tax credits. Lawmakers agreed to extend the credits, investing $2.5 billion in the industry during the next 10 years.

Most telling, though, is the fact that while Fox News has been busy pushing the Calzada study, News Corporation is pursuing green initiatives of their own.

News Corporation has launched an initiative to reduce the carbon impact of its operations and become carbon-neutral by 2010, an effort involving more than 60,000 employees that also reaches out to the company’s readers, viewers and Web users around the world. The company opened up a dialogue with the DVD industry that eliminated 20,000 tons of carbon emissions and turned out to be cost-neutral.

When even they disagree with you, Michele, it’s time to rethink.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    William Carlton

    *Warning: Unapologetic Chauvinism*At least she cuts a nice figure in that blouse. Perhaps there is a place in Alaska politics for her.

  2. 2
    Stephanie Zvan

    William, I can never see past the crazy eyes.

  3. 3
    Ben Zvan

    Not that it’s surprising but she got the science wrong too. Abengoa, one of the companies supplying solar power in Spain, has a system of storing solar energy in molten salt to keep the plant producing base power. They are currently building what is to be the largest solar power plant in the world at 280MWe near Phoenix AZ.

  4. 4
    gregladen

    Uffda. Spain. The new France.

  5. 5
    Stephanie Zvan

    Molten salt? Okay, that’s just cool.Greg, I’ll wait to see whether they can do it (for more than just the people who will listen to anything, of course). Spain doesn’t have the historical global influence that France does and that makes it unpopular. After all, only we’re supposed to be that powerful.

  6. 6
    Toaster Sunshine

    OK, there I have to disagree. I don’t have anything intelligent to say about the post, but historically Spain had one hell of an Empire covering the Caribbean, southwestern U.S., Mexico, most of Central and South America, the Philippines, etc.. True, they didn’t carve out much of Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, but until Lord Nelson trounced the Spanish fleet they were sitting very pretty. France, IMO, has just been more involved with U.S. affairs (e.g., USA involvement in Haiti and Vietnam) more recently than Spain and as such figures more prominently in our minds.

  7. 7
    Stephanie Zvan

    Toaster, you’re right. My statements are only accurate if looking at very recent events.

  8. 8
    gregladen

    Well, the Spanish American War is much more well known than the obscure Franco-American Spaghetti-Os Conflict.

  9. 9
    Jason Thibeault

    History’s pretty egocentric. And here I thought the US-Canada Soft Lumber Dispute might have come to mind before the Spaghetti-Os Conflict.

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