Friday, October 23, 2009

Yesterday, the leading right-of-centre paper, El Mundo, celebrated the 20th anniversary of its launch. Today, its front page featured a photo of both the President and the Leader of the Opposition attending the celebrations and smiling broadly. Which is a tad ironic, as the paper routinely gives both of them a rough ride. But I guess you’d never succeed as a politician if you couldn’t force a smile in any circumstances.

El Mundo also carried today the result of a survey on whether Spain is a better place than is was 20 years ago. A total of 27,000 votes was registered and the result was a No from 61% of them. Which surprised me at least. As it happens, I recently decided to ponder a similar question as I live through my tenth year here. As of now, I’d have no difficulty with coming up with a Yes. But we’ll see how the year progresses.

One thing that certainly hasn’t got better is billing from the (monopoly) utility suppliers. My water bill for the last quarter, for example, is only 10% below what it was in the previous period, even though my consumption was 50% down. This is because - as I’ve said before – most of the bill comprises fixed charges. Which means, firstly, the company is making easy money and, secondly, that low users like me are subsidising the wastrels. I believe Spain’s per capita use of water is towards the high end of the spectrum, which is unlikely to change until there’s more correlation between use and bills. Which may still be some way away. Despite the fact we all have meters.

One thing I am sure about is that Spain is a more equal society than the UK. So I was interested today to read an article on the benefits that flow from this. The was also noteworthy in suggesting there are ‘progressives’ on both sides of the political divide who've taken on board the importance of this issue. As we know, ‘progressive’ is now the most abused word in the political lexicon and usually reserved for one’s own side. Particularly by those on the Left, who appear to think that ‘progressive right-winger’ is an oxymoron. Anyway, the writer concludes:- Altruism makes us happy. Supportive communities create better people. Inequality and stigma rob us of potential. Good guidance helps us make wise decisions for the long term. All these seem commonsense conclusions, all are now based on evidence. They break the oppressive grip of Homo economicus on the right and the alluring but dangerous myth of human perfectibility on the left. Instead, we are left with the mission of progressive humanism; to develop practical utopias based on the good enough people we really are. If interested, you can read the whole thing here.

2 comments:

El Casareño Inglés said...

I feel sure that many expats from Northern Europe would agree with the poll, but probably only on the basis of the spiralling cost of living. Many things have improved for the better, for example the efficiency and openness of the state. However, as in most societies, the cost of filling one's belly is higher up the concious agenda.

I can't add much to your views on water bills, save to say that ours have been the same in the five years we've owned the house, a paltry €2,15 a QUARTER, that's less than nine Euro a year! Clearly Acosol can't be making much money from domestic users in old properties. Their bill assumes we use at most 27.000 litres a quarter, which to me seems on the very pessimistic side.

I would argue that Spain is more equal than the UK if you are Spanish, but not if you are a foreigner. I don't recall any Spaniard I know referring to "los marroquis" as anything other than "los Moros", something which upset our Morroccan neighbours, but which they accepted as inshallah. If this seems minor, just remember that our choice of words influences our choice of action and our attitudes to others. Timely given that the BNP figures large in the news in the UK at the moment.

Colin said...

Thanks, CI. I agree about the CoL.

Do you have a pozo?? My bill (for just me) is around 33 a month, htough half of this is rubbish collection, I think.

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