Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The word “fairness” is much in use in the UK right now, as deep cuts in public expenditure are initiated. Of course, “fairness”, means different things to different people, even in the same culture - as the dozens of articles and commentaries in the British press amply show. And then there are the different perspectives as between cultures. Back in the UK, one gets the impression that 60+ years of welfarism have moved things along a certain continuum. Or, in effect, changed the terms of debate. As most isms, do. Here in Spain, welfare is less advanced (if that’s the right word) and people, perforce, generally depend more on themselves and on their families, compared with the UK. Perhaps this explains why some, at least, of the things which obsess the Left in the UK seem to matter not a jot here. For example, all state school teachers here are civil servants. Like teachers everywhere in the world, they tend to be a left-of-centre lot. But no one thinks it strange they have private medical insurance. Similarly, it doesn’t seem to be a huge thing here in Spain that levels of healthcare spend differ from region to region. As does the quality of provision, of course. It’s accepted as a fact of life. Or, rather it is now, but one wonders whether it will be in, say, twenty years’ time, when state provision of welfare has inexorably increased.

By the way, while there may be a lower total of welfare provision here in Spain, certain elements of it are superior to those in the UK. Pensions, for example. Though this, too, is something that differs from region to region, without causing an outcry about a ‘post code lottery’. Ditto state education.

Despite believing that everything strange in a culture not your own will eventually prove to be logical and cogent, there are several things about Spanish society I wonder if I will ever fully understand. One of these is the property market. Specifically the rental sector along this coast. Another thing is the structure of the country’s police force. I say this because the eleven Lugo policemen I mentioned yesterday come from at least three forces, all operating in the same city. But, as I regularly say, it must make sense to someone. Otherwise it wouldn’t happen, would it?

As I type this, there’s (naturally) an (unwatched) TV showing a film in the corner of this bar. Without looking at it, I can tell – with 100% conviction – that it’s dubbed. This is because of the artificial tone of the actors – as if they’d all recorded their bits on different days and in different places. Or as if everything’s being delivered by male and female computers, with the latter doing every part from five to ninety-five. Does no one Spanish ever notice or object to this, I wonder.

So, Paul the octopus has passed away. Without forecasting his own demise, I suspect. And he got his own obituary in El Mundo today. Which is still more than can be said for poor Norman Wisdom.

Finally . . . . For those interested in Getting to Galicia by air and road:-
  1. Rubbing home the point I made the other day – that they have all the best cards – Ryanair have declined to attend today’s meeting of the Technical Committee of the Committee for Galician Air Routes. Instead, they’ve invited the Xunta to send a negotiating team – cap in hand, I guess – to Dublin. If the Xunta didn’t previously know what a hard bunch of bastards they were dealing with, they do now. If you treat your customers like muck, you’re hardly likely to give regional governments which don’t play ball better treatment. Amateurs against professionals, I fear. Even if the former weren’t divided among themselves, they’d be up against it. But it’s nice to see the Irish using the divide-and-rule strategy of their erstwhile perfidious colonial masters . . . .
  2. The Galician business community has appealed to Brussels in respect of the indescribable mess created by the Portuguese government’s mis-managed installation of booth-free tolls on all major roads into Oporto and its airport. Meanwhile, it’s still not clear how you can get hold of one of the expensive gadgets which will stop you being hit with a huge fine when you (inescapably) venture onto one of these. And it comes to something when the Spanish banks which thought they’d be able to sell the gadgets attribute the confusion and delay to “Portuguese bureaucracy”. But everything is relative, I guess.


Traction Man said...

The Portuguese have a knack for shooting themselves in the foot while stabbing themselves in the back. The tolls on the SCUT motorways are a fiasco. I dread to think what will happen next time I visit and hire a car at Porto airport. I guess the hire cars will have to be fitted with the electronic boxes but it's all more bureaucracy. But that's something the Portuguese are masters at; the Portuguese bureaucracy makes Spain look like a Libertarian paradise.

CafeMark said...

It may be a blessing in disguise to do without Ryanair. I'm amazed they still make money (and must give them kudos for that fact alone). But I suspect I'd never fly with them again; I'd be too uptight about getting hit by hidden charges that verge on sheer extortion. I'd sooner pay a bit more to start with and be more relaxed about going to the airport.

Eugenia said...

I totally agree with your description of Ryanair v the Xunta. Mr O'Leary will surely make them pay now. Through the nose. We flew with Vueling to A Coruna recently and they were excellent. Let Ryanair pull out of SDC as long as Vueling continue from London to A Coruna - and even better if they bring back the Vigo route.

moscow said...


30 yrs ago I would have agreed the UK is more "advanced", because I would have thought Spain would follow the same path later on. And it is true that Spain has expanded its welfare state in the 80s and 90s - and a little bit more under ZP. But the trend worldwide (at least in Europe) is not going that way - something you, no doubt, welcome.

The welfare state as it was devised in Western Europe in the 60s and 70s is probably not going to be wholly dismantled but the erosion it has suffered in parts over the last 20 yrs in Scandinavia, Germany, Netherlands and so on mean that Spain and these countries will meet sort of half-way down the line at some stage - if they haven't already.

It is true that ZP's politics have contributes and will continue to contribute to the further decline of "the Family" in Spain. I can't really say whether this is a bad thing or not. In some ways it will lead to even more changes in society, but I doubt the welfare state will expand much further.

MemorialHall said...

Most exposure to nondubbed content spaniards get is in the form of poor quality telenovelas, and generally poor quality spanish movies. Dubbed tv/movies are then almost always better.

This results in the association of dubbing with quality. Whithout the clear, deep, even voices a movie sounds somewhat... unprofessional. Nevermind that half the actor's skill is wiped out of the acting, most spaniards are incapable of appreciating undubbed content.

I wonder whether the accolades any above average spanish actor gets here are partly due to the fact that undubbed mediocre acting is on par to dubbed great acting.

Renovation in Galicia said...

It comes as no surprise to learn that Michael O'leary has now walked away from the table, he is not used to having to deal with people who would be unable to organise a piss up in a brewery.Love him or hate him, he brought in new money to the area, the knock on effect of him withdrawing is enormous,Brits still have money to spend as do the Germans, his cheap flights left more money to spend in an area which appears to be in decline. He also had wanted to open up two new routes, Paris and Brussels. OK, there is another airport flying to the UK, but Santiago is supposed to be one of the main tourist attractions in Spain. An area only prospers when new money comes into it, not by recycling money already there.

Colin said...

Interesting to see that the Xunta have now made a marriage proposal to Vueling, who are playing the nationalist card. What next?

Renovation in Galicia said...

Rather proves that although Franco is dead his ideals are not!

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