In a town in Andalucia, southern Spain, the mayor is staging robberies of supermarkets (all proceeds go to the poor) and marching across the desert trying to convince other local government officials to ignore central government demands for austerity. The Guardian paints him as a slightly eccentric folk hero and Spanish newspaper El Pais seems to be filing him in the “Dangerous Revolutionary” drawer.
So far, so heart-warming. It’s a guy angry at the way [insert country here]’s government have been punishing the poor for the greed of the rich, and thinking stealing on their behalf is the best way to prove a point. A modern day Robin Hood to cheer us up amid the rain, post-Olympic blues and recession. The end.
If it were that simple, then the media could portray him as a criminal and move along. However, look a little closer and you will find out that rather than a random act of criminality inspired by righteous anger – Mayor Juan Sanchez Gordillo actually has a working economic plan.
The New York Times reported on the low unemployment and low cost of living in Marinaleda about three years ago. No one is out of work for long, as the local farming co-operative will find work for them. This idea is so attractive, that people are moving from as far as Barcelona in search of work there. High employment, low and comfortable cost of living mean more disposable income floating around.
Imagine that – government creating work for people so they don’t starve during a recession! Why didn’t you think of that, Cameron and Osborne?