More Relativity

This morning El País has an interesting front page article comparing US and European social models and their respective capacities to deal with the current and upcoming hard times. Armed with a wealth of statistical data, the article's conclusion was just a little surprising to me: the European Union appears much better prepared to weather the next couple of years and may even continue to generate new employment. In any case, I was thinking a little about this article while I was walking Waldo, and when we passed a couple of homeless guys who were just getting up (they looked really down and out), I started to think that maybe the European model isn't everything it's cracked up to be. Malaga is not a city Europeans would wish to advertise in terms of promoting their wonderfully wide, deep social net. But then almost immediately I started to think that in a global context, this debate is rather ridiculous. The US or Europe? Rich vs. Richer? Come on, those differences are irrelevant when we compare North to South, Rich to Poor. How's the social model in Somalia? How about that great safety net in Haiti? Have you considered emigrating to Zimbabwe? The Strait of Gibraltar, separating Europe from Africa, the US/Mexican border, that's where the difference is. And the drama. I don't know what the solution is, but until we come up with one, it seems kind of selfish of me to waste any time worrying about the state of my retirement savings and how I'm going to pay those tuition bills. Oh, poor ol' me... And as I fret and pace the marble floors I have to look out over the shiny blue Mediterranean. Vaya. Well, if I stop for a moment, and really look out to the horizon, imagine the little boats packed with women and children risking their lives in a very uncertain and desperate attempt to reach these shores, perhaps this very beach at my feet, then I can worry a little, worry for them. Stupid me.

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