Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pardons galore; Government liars; Disincentives; Entrepreneurs; & The orang-utan artist.

One of the things the Spanish are growing ever more unhappy about - quite rightly so - is the system of pardons handed out to convicted criminals. There are hundred of these sought from the government every year and most of them appear to be granted. Which has serious implications for the theoretical separation of powers here. But there's one sort of beast who doesn't seem to get the benefit of a forgiving executive branch and this is a campaigning judge who's upset both the Left and the Right. I'm talking, of course, about Báltasar Garzón. His application for a pardon - and the contingent restitution of his right to practice - somehow 'got lost' for 18 months. What a coincidence. And, as ever, the people responsible for this don't appear to be the slightest bit concerned about how it'll look both to the Spanish and the rest of the world.

I did actually catch a semi-serious program on Spanish TV on Sunday night. This was examining the claims of various spokespeople. The first was the lawyer for Princess Cristina, who faces a judge in early February. Her lawyer had announced she'd waived her right to an appeal and would appear 'voluntarily' in court. This, of course, was a lie, as she has no bloody choice in the matter. The second group looked at were 3 members of the government, each of whom had issued a statement on the price of electricity. Two of them had said this had risen only marginally and the third had said it'd actually reduced. An industry expert said these were all nonsense and the price had risen, as everyone with a brain knows, quite significantly. As ever, one was left wondering whether the government believes everyone in Spain is an idiot. The may be because as I've said, there's no program here where politicians are called to account as they are on British TV. And I suspect that, if there were, they'd simply refuse to attend. There's an arrogance about politicians here that needs to be seen to be believed. But it's a young democracy, of course, and things will surely improve . . . 

If you want to go into business on our own account here, you become an autonomo/a and you pay the government a princely sum each month for the privilege, whether or not you are making a single cent profit. This is for 'social security' and it used to be 256 euros a month but has recently risen to 320. Or over 3,000 euros a year. Which is not much of an incentive either to go into business or, if you do, to do so legally. Indeed, a friend of mine who went to discuss this with the tax office, on the grounds she wouldn't be able to afford it, was advised she shouldn't become official until she could. Very pragmatic, the Spanish.

Talking of national characteristics . . . It's sometimes alleged the Spanish are not very entrepreneurial. Well, here's something that gives the lie to this.

Finally . . . If you're going to be down Zaragoza way, you might want to pop into this exhibition. For a laugh.


Ferrolano said...

To be fair to the Spanish Social Security system, what is the minimum NHS contribution in the UK for a self employed person?

Colin Davies said...

Well, it starts at 12 quid a month, I believe, (NI contribution) and rises with income. Of course, you don't get much for these (Class 1?) contributions but things improve as your business does and you pay more.