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What a fool I am
March 12, 2011 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Protests spread to Portugal. As of posting, two hundred to three hundred thousand people are currently protesting the current government in Lisbon. The majority of the complaints come from the "desperate generation", 20 to 30 year olds who, although educated, cannot find a job, while facing increasing austerity measures, amidst rumors of an Ireland style bailout. The spark that set off the protests was a youtube video of a song by the popular band Deolinda (Portugese) (myspace).

The song, Que Parva Que Eu Sou (Oh what a fool I am) (translation), brings voice to the unemployment and underemployment that fuels the current protests.

via Reddit, which has some interesting discussions from locals on both sides of the issue.
posted by zabuni (48 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
The song, Que Parva Que Eu Sou (Oh what a fool I am) (translation)

Unhappy, unemployed college kids are dangerous, to society. The baby boomers are going to be in for a rude fucking awakening very soon.
posted by empath at 6:09 PM on March 12, 2011 [13 favorites]


Wow, I would not have thought the EU had as much to worry about in terms of unhappy youth causing trouble.

*looks around at US kids, feels tinytiny glimmer of hope*

Hey kids; if you wanted to revolt because stupid old racist rich science-denying misogynist (mostly) white (almost all) dudes are running the country and trashing your future?

This would be a pretty good time.
posted by emjaybee at 6:14 PM on March 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


The reaction to the song is pretty electrifying.
posted by empath at 6:15 PM on March 12, 2011


*looks around at US kids, feels tinytiny glimmer of hope*

Hey kids; if you wanted to revolt because stupid old racist rich science-denying misogynist (mostly) white (almost all) dudes are running the country and trashing your future?


A revolt in America would be spectacularly ugly. There's no unified 'youth movement' in America. Not even close.
posted by empath at 6:17 PM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


The only take-away lesson that our capitalist masters will learn from this is that universal education is more trouble than it's worth.

We are already deep into the dismantling of our educational system here in the US, precisely for this reason.
posted by Avenger at 6:18 PM on March 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


*looks around at US kids, feels tinytiny glimmer of hope*

Hey kids; if you wanted to revolt because stupid old racist rich science-denying misogynist (mostly) white (almost all) dudes are running the country and trashing your future?


If "Won't Get Fooled Again" couldn't ignite a revolt amongst the world's English-speaking youth, nothing ever will.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:24 PM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


"If "Won't Get Fooled Again" couldn't ignite a revolt amongst the world's English-speaking youth, nothing ever will."
You might want to listen to that song again, see if it is the same as you remember.

posted by Blasdelb at 6:33 PM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


That came out in 1971. A youth revolt? By post hippie Boomers?
posted by stratastar at 6:46 PM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


To get to FT.com (2nd link) without a registration, go to news.google.com, plug in the link to the story, hit enter, it'll give you the whole story, not just the teaser. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/95990eb8-4c09-11e0-82df-00144feab49a.html#axzz1GRHcFwso
posted by dancestoblue at 6:46 PM on March 12, 2011


As an unemployed, educated, 25 year old American who used to be both employed and volunteering as a community organizer until both the passion and the money dried up my opinion is lets rock and roll.

I doubt anything will happen until critical mass occurs in the international community so Portugal is a huge step. And I also doubt anything will happen until idiots like Scott Walker try to pull their over the top bullshit all over the country, all at once. One or the other? No. Both? Maybe.
posted by Glibpaxman at 6:47 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


It almost happened when Rage Against the Machine a few years ago at Coachella.

They really did seem concerned about some kind of riot. There were something on the order of three hundred thousand (an approximate median of the wildly varying estimates) people there and they took the time to wait a minute or two between songs to let everyone settle down. Though, it would have been a long, desterty march to get anywhere it would matter.
posted by cmoj at 6:48 PM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


In 2011, it seemed as if the rising tide of revolt spreading across the globe would leave the United States of America untouched. However, no one expected the song "Why do I Pay Taxes for Billionaires" (by a young Canadian pop star named Justin Bieber) to ignite the resentment of an entire country and spark what would become known as the One Percenter war.
posted by benzenedream at 6:51 PM on March 12, 2011 [19 favorites]


"The democratic uprising of the 1960s was frightening to elite opinion. Intellectuals from Europe, the US, and Japan called for an end to the "excess of democracy." The population must be returned to apathy and passivity, and in particular sterner measures must be imposed by the institutions responsible for "the indoctrination of the young": the schools, universities, churches. I am quoting from the liberal internationalist end of the spectrum, those who staffed the Carter administration in the United States and their counterparts elsewhere in the industrial democracies. The right called for far harsher measures. Major efforts were soon undertaken to reduce the threat of democracy, with a certain degree of success. We are now living in that era."
posted by anarch at 6:51 PM on March 12, 2011 [8 favorites]


Eat the rich.

What? No, no reason...I was just thinking of a t-shirt I saw once that said that...
posted by spacewrench at 7:02 PM on March 12, 2011


The number of 300,000 may be in error. This Canadian Press story says 30,000.

The Japan quake/nuke story has pretty much blown everything else out of the international news, but one would think a protest of over a quarter of a million people would get a mention.
posted by briank at 7:19 PM on March 12, 2011


Through a series of marriages and divorces, my immediate family in Madison is composed of (obviously) Wisconsinites, an Egyptian citizen, and a Portuguese citizen. Oh, and my step-brother's father is Greek. Needless to say, some genealogy research is imminent.

Fuck yeah, revolution.

This must be what optimism feels like. It's been a while.
posted by stet at 7:28 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, for one, welcome the people back to the stage of world history.
posted by Abiezer at 7:39 PM on March 12, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm thirty-five, highly-educated and recently unemployed. Guess I'm too old to protest. I just hope if protests do break out in the States the kids stay off my lawn. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll be out in the pasture.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 7:43 PM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Que Parva Que Eu Sou.
It's 1974 all over again.
Que Parva Que Eu Sou.
hit the streets what then
teargas- barricades-cameras
phone this home on the tv
come see rumors of rev rev rev
olution-no solution
Que Parva Que Eu Sou
posted by clavdivs at 8:09 PM on March 12, 2011


Never too old to protest.

Wisconsin is just the beginning.

Here's what it boils down to, logically - if the richest get richer, while the middle class get poorer? Educated and intelligent people will understand they're being ripped off and robbed.

First, the Tea Baggers realized it, but their commisars told them it was the democrats and poor people to blame.

Then, in their hubris, the neo-feudalists came for the Unions in Wisconsin. Just about the time things started to cook off in the Arab world, and now, in Europe.

In Wisconsin, the farmers have barricaded the city. The cops and firemen march, bagpipes full blare, in support of elementary school teachers and librarians, the heralded and worshipped warrior castes coming to battle for the undisputed saints of every community they live in.

The revolution is here, now. Get off your own damn lawn. The good guys will win, but it's gonna need some legwork.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:21 PM on March 12, 2011 [11 favorites]


People really are getting angry everywhere, and for good reason too.

The whole thing in Wisconsin turned my head though. It's not massive by any means (yet!!), but it's still intriguing. I always thought that us here in the United States were just too damn apathetic to do anything like protest strongly against goverment action (and not just right/left/middle wing groups who hold signs and yell).

When I ask most people my age (think teenagers, yadda yadda) about government, they either have an incredibly strong opinion, or none at all. That concerns me. A lot. And obviously it reflects some things around here.

But the fact that we've got people actively protesting day after day, and really putting energy into it? That gives me some hope that we've not totally lost our sense of power.
posted by Askiba at 8:25 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Clarification: I'm not saying people with signs outside halls and the like aren't doing something. I just think that refusing to leave and continuously protesting is a powerful tool that we don't use.)
posted by Askiba at 8:27 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just FYI, having been at the Madison rallies the last two weekends, it's emphatically NOT a youth movement. I'd say at least 80% of the crowd was over 30.
posted by desjardins at 8:51 PM on March 12, 2011


Also, almost by definition, the Wisconsin rallies focus on people who already have jobs, since they're the ones getting their bargaining rights stripped from them. The people who have been staying overnight/refusing to leave have been younger because it's easier for young people to sleep on cold hard floors/cement than it is for 40 year olds. Hell I had a hard time walking around all day today in the cold. College kids also have less to risk by getting arrested.

Anyway. Carry on.
posted by desjardins at 8:55 PM on March 12, 2011


I'm 24, unemployed, and royally pissed off at the injustice and lack of real jobs. If anyone wants to go to Augusta to raise a fuss and protest this fuckface, let me know.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:18 PM on March 12, 2011


Don't they have elections in Portugal? Or are these children demanding the return of their parents' fascist dictatorship because that would be sort of the exact opposite of the youth movement in Egypt.
posted by three blind mice at 10:08 PM on March 12, 2011


Numbers of people are quoted as 200K in Lisbon and 80K in Porto (according to organizers) and 100K in Lisbon and 60K in Porto (according to the police), according to one of the best daily newspapers (www.publico.pt). Regardless of where the numbers lie in that rage, they're pretty large for a country of 10 million people... (full disclaimer: portuguese, living in the US :)
posted by tsuipen at 10:11 PM on March 12, 2011


We do have elections, it's just that the center left and center right parties that alternate in power are mediocre (at their best) and corrupt (at their worst).
posted by tsuipen at 10:13 PM on March 12, 2011


three blind mice: "Don't they have elections in Portugal? Or are these children demanding the return of their parents' fascist dictatorship because that would be sort of the exact opposite of the youth movement in Egypt"

what
posted by dunkadunc at 10:35 PM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of the things being protested against is the contrast between younger people who are under what is essentially at-will employment, at best, or falsely employed as contractors, at worst, and the workforce that has serious job security (either through tenure or being hard to fire or by virtue of mandatory severance pay of one month per year worked at that job). This is the result of reforms in labor law, but rather than make the market more flexible it has led to a situation where you see exploitative behavior such as the contractor situation, where a person is a de facto employee without the benefits of being one.
posted by tsuipen at 10:43 PM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


three blind mice, please.
posted by - at 10:44 PM on March 12, 2011


My own opinion is the USA and other OECD countries could use a little more Portugese style youth protest, as the political class everywhere is selling out the average joe to keep the financial system ticking.
Young people can work and earn money, it is the old who are dependent on their investments. I'm rapidly approaching middle age, but its hard not to conclude the economy is stacked in the baby boomers favour.
posted by bystander at 1:45 AM on March 13, 2011


Portugal has great healthcare and social systems. It also had a huge influx of money and investment soon after joining into the EU. So, what happened?

I hate to say it but these protests strike me as a new generation experiencing a sort of culture shock. The job security and pensions which the previous generations had are just now dissapearing. In the US, they dissappeared a long time ago. And in the US, healthcare was never there. So, these kids actually have it better than US kids.

What about jobs? These kids are also part of the EU common market. They can move elsewhere and get jobs. It is not easy, I know. But again in the US, if there are no jobs in your Midwestern town, you go to NYC or San Francisco and try to make your way. You might have to leave your family behind but, well, thats how things work. In the EU you still have language barriers of course but many of the economic and political barriers have dissappeared.

There are jobs in Portugal but many are considered too demeaning for these kids with college degrees. So the gap is filled in by Brazilian and other immigrants who are all too happy to fill that labor hole.

Finally, if these students want change what they should be doing is organizing themselves politically. It is all well and good to complain about corrupt politicians but voter turnout is amazingly low in Portugal. Get out the vote! There are about 7 political parties not two. Make some practical suggestions as to what should change and how. The Lisbon demonstrators had placards saying "Act now!" Ok, but what Acts exactly? Nothing substantive is really discussed other than "Things suck and they must change." A hard policy to implement.

I am not unsympathetic. My wife is from Portugal. Her family is in Lisbon and I know what the situation is like. But I am also an American living in London with family in Mexico. And part of me also feels that these kids don't have a clear sense of what is going on in the wider world and how privileged they are to be in a country with still great social systems with a functioning democracy. The signs shouldn't say "Act Now!" because they, the protestors, are Portugal. The signs should say "How can we, the Portuguese people, fix this?"
posted by vacapinta at 5:57 AM on March 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


The job security and pensions which the previous generations had are just now dissapearing.

It's not a fucking act of god.
posted by enn at 6:15 AM on March 13, 2011 [10 favorites]


Massive generalizations follow. Good policies for young, unemployed people include: no restrictions on working hours, no restrictions on low pay, no restrictions on firing people, no restrictions on competition. Good policies for employed people include: restrictions on working hours, restrictions on low pay, restrictions on firing people, restrictions on competition.

For example, when I was young, I worked long hours, which got me promoted. Now I'm old. Restrictions on long hours would now be in my interest since it would stop some young punk working longer hours to be more valuable to the company than me.

When I was young and without a job it would be great if it was easy to sack someone and give me their job. Now I'm old and with a job it would be great if it was hard and costly to sack people.

When I was young I was affordable temporary labor, which made it cheap to employ me, so I could prove myself and gain the experience I needed to get up the payscales. Now I'm old and have experience it would be great if everyone had to be paid nearly what I earn: then why would you employ some young punk without my skills? So I'd be safe from young punks getting experience to be able to challenge me.

When I was young my first job was in a call centre in the newly-deregulated telecoms sector. Increasing competition had enabled my employer to enter the market and make some money, so they needed some staff. Now I'm old I it would be great if my current sector was regulated, maybe with minimum standards or professionalisation or something, so other companies have a higher barrier to entry so there is less competition so my company can charge more for its products and pay me more money.

So state regulations are often counter to the interests of young people.

Now, how did the North African protests get started? No left-wing revolutionary. No, a young man like I was (a much braver, better, more desperate young man) set himself on fire to protest at government regulations preventing him from buying and selling market produce. He killed himself over state regulations. Now, maybe the regulations were great: maybe they enforced a maximum working week, or they were designed to protect incomes in the market stall sector. You know, interventionist state solutions to perceived injustices in the private sector, which we generally cheer individually. But taken together, these things make it harder to enter employment, to start new businesses, to respond to changes in demand, to grow small businesses - all the issues that most effect young people like the ones now rioting.

And the Arab countries now have millions upon millions bright, talented young people. Young men and women who want a chance to get on, to prove themselves, to see a future. This means getting a job and working hard and getting promoted. But the policies of the Arab states, regulating their economies, have not been aligned with their interests, but with powerful lobbies for people with jobs or who disagree with free-market economics. Hence the rioting and revolution. Young people without jobs make revolutions.

And Portugal? Europe has similar problems of mass unemployment amongst the young. We're richer, so we can afford more transfer payments to buy off them off. But the same tensions are there.

So I don't see here a mass movement for a grand new socialist settlement. I see young people who want to get a start, and are being kept back by poor demand for their labor. And I blame policies designed to favor baby-boomers and older, employed, politically-powerful people (like me) for much of this poor demand.

Of course, many of these same policies are positive and beneficial (to people with jobs, caregivers, women...) and the result of many years of effort. Many were composed in boom years, such as the last decade. Do we want to just scrap them? Well, no. But how else do we meet the needs of these young people for jobs? Small business startup and growth generates the employment they need. This needs a lightly-regulated free market, which is unpalatable in many ways - long hours, low pay, hiring and firing without regard to need or social conscience. But the only other way to generate employment for young people is deficit economics, which creates even more well-positioned lobby groups and can't be sustained for more than a few years without crisis and default, and the impoverishment of us all.
posted by alasdair at 6:28 AM on March 13, 2011 [9 favorites]


What's this crap about less worker's rights being in the interest of young people? Less restrictions on pay? It's not in my interest to get paid jack for being at the bottom of the totem pole. Easier to fire people? I need job security a lot more than someone who has had time to build up monetary reserves, who already has contacts and friends in businesses. No restrictions on long hours? I don't need to be working 60 hours instead of 40 when I still have get more educated to improve my job prospects. Just because a race to the bottom will screw young folks less than everyone else because we're already closer to the bottom does not make it a good thing. Don't try to condescendingly explain to me that this crap is in my best interest. It's not. It's not in the best interest of anyone who actually plans to work for a living.
posted by Zalzidrax at 1:10 PM on March 13, 2011 [7 favorites]


I couldn't disagree with alasdair's post more.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:17 PM on March 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree though
posted by Catfry at 1:23 PM on March 13, 2011


So state regulations are often counter to the interests of young people.

No, they're possibly counter to the very short-term interests of young people. Those young people are going to become old people. alasdair, I think you're in the UK, and I don't know what group is on the bottom of the employment ladder there, but here it's Spanish-speaking immigrants. Right now, having a horrible, illegal, low paying job seems better than whatever exists wherever they came from, but I'm 100% certain they'd rather have a living wage and safety protections. Selling out someone's long-term interests is never a good idea for society, but corporations do it all the time.
posted by desjardins at 1:24 PM on March 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually not all points, but certainly many workforce regulations exist to protect the existing at-work workforce from the competition of the new generations.
posted by Catfry at 1:25 PM on March 13, 2011


desjardins No, they're possibly counter to the very short-term interests of young people. Those young people are going to become old people.

Yes, and unless they get into the job market and gain skills and expertise, they're going to become very poor, long-term-unemployed old people.

Their long-term interests are served by getting into the job market, right now. I keep trying to use myself as an example because it's a good one. I'm much more employable now, at 37, than I was at, say, 22. I have more skills. I have a resume with relevant work experience. I have business sense.

All things being equal, 22 me is never going to get a job over 37 me.

So either 22 me makes things unequal - works longer hours, works for less money - or he's never going to get a job. 37 me will always win out. He's better.

So 22 me has to work longer for less. But by working those longer hours and working for less money, 22 me gets the skills and expertise and experience to turn into 37 me and earns much, much more money.

If the state says that you must pay 22 me and 37 me the same, or suffer a huge financial hit if you replace 37 me with 22 me, or stop 22 me working long hours to make up for being less productive than 37 me - well, then, companies are going to employ 37 me and not 22 me. So 22 me ends up without a job.

And that's what we're seeing right now, across regulated employment markets. If there had been a restriction on hours worked when I was 22, how could I have worked the hours I needed to get promoted? If there had been a high "living wage" when I was 22, how would I have got the $8/hour first temp job that proved to the employment agency that I was worth putting up for the $9/hour slightly-better job where I got promoted? My long-term interests as a young person were served by allowing me to lever my advantages in the job market: willingness to work for not much money at pretty much anything. If I had been denied that then, even for my own good, I would not be the prosperous man I am today.

To put it bluntly, this is kind of a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose situation. I'm the well-protected already-employed older guy I think is the 'problem'. If I lose this argument then we keep lots of regulations like limitations on how long I can work (more time in my comfortable home!) how little I can be paid (drive up my salary!) and how hard it is to fire me (so I keep my job even if I slack off a bit!) All sounds good to me. So, fire away!
posted by alasdair at 3:49 PM on March 13, 2011


alasdair little speech is libertarian economics 101 kiddies

But let's forget about the fact that real wages in the united has been stagnant for the vast majority of workers since the 70s, and let's ignore the fact that gdp since 1970 has about quadrupled.

No no, let us instead deregulate markets because that is the logical argument, we just can't afford to pay workers the wage we are paying them. But don't worry, I'm sure Alasdair 22 year self of today will, in 15 years, be making more than enough money to support mortgage and family, because I haven't sustained attack on the value of labor, have you? No I don't see any sort of global drive to depress wages of the vast majority of people while taking all the extra wealth and dividing amongst a few friends, no, no no, that isn't happening at all.
posted by Shit Parade at 7:04 PM on March 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm much more employable now, at 37, than I was at, say, 22. I have more skills. I have a resume with relevant work experience. I have business sense.

All this means is you're a better cog. You may be personally more employable but you are less useful to overall economic growth. Why? Well, you have skills, yes, but you also have children and a mortgage and insurance and health care costs and all those adult responsibilities. So you can't work longer hours if you wanted to. You can't work for lower pay. You can't just get up and relocate if the local market is crap. That makes you less adaptable, and (at least evolutionarily) weaker.

Your expertise benefits existing economic structures, but you lack the flexibility to build new ones. You're not going to start the next Facebook, and I would guess that you'd be the first one to happily agree with that statement because you'd rather have the guaranteed paycheck and the higher salary than try and convince your wife and newborn children to eat Ramen for 6 months until your beta is out.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:35 PM on March 13, 2011


Shit Parade: But let's forget about the fact that real wages in the united has been stagnant for the vast majority of workers since the 70s, and let's ignore the fact that gdp since 1970 has about quadrupled.

I'm pretty sure what's happened is that (1) we've lost the mass-employment industries like steel production, from moving to China and from increased mechanisation and (2) as we've gone higher-tech the rewards for higher education and "smarts" have increased, so that proportion of the population that get into university have done much better. And then at the very top we've got some extraordinarily rich people. So "middle-class wages" mean a number of different things. Meanwhile, the proportion of the economy - now four times bigger, as you point out - devoted to wages/consumption has dropped a little, but not that much.

So, with fewer opportunities for entry-level jobs without degrees and contacts and other meritocratic bonuses, we need to make it easier for young people to find jobs. Otherwise they'll find it harder and harder to find jobs. Which is what we're seeing, right? What's the alternative?

Civil_Disobedient All this means is you're a better cog.

Yes, okay. Not sure how that is pertinent to youth unemployment? Are you suggesting that high rates of youth unemployment should be solved by their becoming entrepreneurs? I like that idea, but I'm not sure how feasible it is. And it brings us back to many regulatory costs.
posted by alasdair at 12:22 AM on March 14, 2011


vacapinta: "What about jobs? These kids are also part of the EU common market. They can move elsewhere and get jobs. It is not easy, I know. But again in the US, if there are no jobs in your Midwestern town, you go to NYC or San Francisco and try to make your way. You might have to leave your family behind but, well, thats how things work. In the EU you still have language barriers of course but many of the economic and political barriers have dissappeared."
Yeah, very nice. But the language barrier is the biggest of all; you're not getting a job in Germany if you're not speaking German &c. There's a reason the UK and Ireland draws a lot of intra-EU-emigrés, but their economy isn't at the moment a lot better than Portugal's.
alasdair: "All things being equal, 22 me is never going to get a job over 37 me.

So either 22 me makes things unequal - works longer hours, works for less money - or he's never going to get a job. 37 me will always win out. He's better.
Of course Alasdair worked for less at 22. Or are you saying you've gone 15 years without a pay raise?
posted by brokkr at 3:03 AM on March 14, 2011


I'm pretty sure what's happened is that (1) we've lost the mass-employment industries like steel production, from moving to China and from increased mechanisation and (2) as we've gone higher-tech the rewards for higher education and "smarts" have increased, so that proportion of the population that get into university have done much better. And then at the very top we've got some extraordinarily rich people. So "middle-class wages" mean a number of different things. Meanwhile, the proportion of the economy - now four times bigger, as you point out - devoted to wages/consumption has dropped a little, but not that much.

Mostly to bolster this point, I'd like to make clear that I was in Lisbon this weekend during the protests. All of the kids marching were clearly middle-class. This was not a blue-collar march. Blue collar jobs are actually plentiful at the moment. My wife actually overheard an excited zoo worker speaking to someone else: "You should come over here! There's tons of jobs! I'm making almost 1000 euros a month!" His job? Cleaning zoo cages. Not the dream job of your average University graduate. The upper-class kids of course are fine as they always have been. Dad's buddies can get them a cushy management job no problem.

The problem is too many college graduates, not enough professional jobs. Partly because of an older population that is not retiring, partly because of an economy that is not growing fast enough to accomodate them.

It's a tricky problem to solve. Which is a large part of the reason that, as I said above, the protest was full of few specifics and was more of just a general malaise.
posted by vacapinta at 3:34 AM on March 14, 2011


Yeah, very nice. But the language barrier is the biggest of all; you're not getting a job in Germany if you're not speaking German &c. There's a reason the UK and Ireland draws a lot of intra-EU-emigrés, but their economy isn't at the moment a lot better than Portugal's.

I have a follow-up to this too. I was actually recently speaking to a guy from a UK company that was doing business in Portugal. Some wealthy Portuguese family was trying to turn their estates into something profitable and was thinking of transforming it into an eco-tourist park that would attract foreign tourists.

They had to hire a UK company because they couldn't find a Portuguese company with the necessary English language marketing skills. In fact, these UK guys were brought in by a smaller PT company that realized what they lacked to fulfill the contract.

So this wasn't about working abroad but about having the skills to compete in the global economy - which is increasingly dominated by the English language. I know this must feel like a slap in the face to those protesting kids in Lisbon, but this UK guy actually told me they didn't have enough staff for the project and so they were hiring UK University graduates!
posted by vacapinta at 6:05 AM on March 14, 2011


vacapinta, the youth unemployment rate in Portugal seems very high: 16.5% in 2008. But it's higher for women, who generally work for less money and status, so why are they not taking all these jobs being taken by immigrants?

Hmmm. This paper suggests that it's a high minimum wage for young people: The impact of minimum wages on youth employment in Portugal (PDF). This has pushed employment up for 25-year-olds, which supports my general "young people need to be able to work for less money" argument. Maybe that, combined with the higher aspirations of young people after university, both decreases the demand for young workers and also the supply of willing young people.

I guess I'm trying to say that I'm never comfortable with saying "look, these people aren't taking these jobs, that's the problem!" with the implication that they should change behavior, because usually people are good judges of their own (short-term) best interest, and it would usually be a bad deal for them. I can't blame a poor person who chooses to take social security even when there is a lousy job available if the difference in income is tiny or even negative.
posted by alasdair at 5:03 AM on March 15, 2011


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