What can I do for my country

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you— ask what you can do for your country.

A couple of weeks ago Jose Manuel Campa was nominated new Secretary of Economy in Spain. The position was being held by David Vegara, but he had expressed his intention to leave the job when his former boss Pedro Solbes was removed from the Ministry position.

That seems something uninteresting even for Spaniards. Not the kind of post I should write in this blog. And certainly with no apparent connection with the quote at the beginning.

But the fact is that I find this piece of news rather inspiring.

Jose Manuel Campa is a Bussiness School teacher, respected academic, and a successful professional. He seems wealthy enough, and Spanish Secretaries don’t make more than say $110000/year (which for the record is much more than I earn, but seems pretty low if compared even with people managing a medium-sized company, not to say a whole European country)

And the more puzzling part of this story is that current Spanish administration seems to have an economic leftist view, whereas Jose Manuel Campa seems to have more rightist views. The Government is more “liberal” (in the American meaning), and he seems more “conservative”. His views seem quite the opposite of current government views. He even signed a petition advocating for a change in labor market, something that is very controversial in Spanish politics.

And the job is going to be an “ugly” one. The whole world is under economic turmoil, but Spain seems to have an even more difficult position, because of a number of reasons. First, for 15 years we’ve been building houses, and now don’t know how to do anything else. Second, we don’t have control over interest rate (we depend on ECB who set rates on whole Europe). And although our banks didn’t buy American subprime mortgages, they DO have loans to housing developers, with land of little to no value as collateral, and now those loans are starting to default. Also, we have 4 million people unemployed, and 100k more each month, for a total population of 44 million. And last but not least, current government did take a bunch of measures, but without a long term goal, hoping that in two years World will be better and Spain will recover. In conclusion, in the coming months, Secretary of Economy is going to be a hard position, giving bad news, and proposing tough measures.

So Mr. Campa won’t earn more money (in fact, probably less). He already had a respected position. He’ll have to fight every measure, every law, and every budget. And he’ll be the bad guy in a government ready to give money everyone until money disappear.

Many people in the Spanish financial sector think that he won’t last in the position.

Then, why did he accept the job?.

Maybe he wants to be well known. Maybe he’s going to lose money a couple of years, then make much more.


… maybe he has asked himself what can he do for his country.

First published here