Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 14.9.16

Spanish Society: So, is it as corrupt as some say? Or is it only – as a Spanish reader once said – merely a country of low ethics

Well, there can be little doubt that, at a macro level, Spain is extremely corrupt as regards the corporate-political nexus. Witness its (worsening) ranking with Transparency International. And the endless (and admirable) litany of accusations, arrests, trials and sentences. The latest example of these is a Catalan family accused of defrauding the Tax Office – i. e. we Spanish taxpayers – of hundreds of millions of euros. And who've just been permitted to escape jail by paying back a mere 93 million of these. Witness, too, the recent news that Spain was bribed by Churchill to stay out of the Second World War. Doubtless some would argue that today's politicians are no less corrupt than they were in the 1940s.

At the micro level of everyday life, it's certainly arguable that there's no corruption; you never have to pay someone for something you're entitled to. But cronyism and nepotism will certainly impact on your life, as you are pushed down various queues. And you will certainly pay more for everything because the already very rich are avoiding and evading taxes on a monumental scale. And because corporate overheads frequently include bribes to politicians. Or always in the construction sector.

That said, it's more true that you will be hit far more obviously by low ethics. The end result of the latter is that no one here trusts anyone they don't know. And quite a few of those they do know:-
  • Your ID is demanded for absolutely everything, regardless of how irrational and unnecessary this is.
  • A new insurance company won't trust your alleged No Claim Bonus.
  • No one will believe your Full Service History when you sell your car. So, they don't even ask for it.
  • Friendly bar staff and waiters will charge friends less than they should, if at all.
  • Everyone assumes that any 'proof' of anything you provide has been produced by a friend.
  • No one believes the banks and insurance companies can be trusted at all. 'Errors' will be made regularly. Ditto the monopoly utility companies, of course.
  • No one believes the conclusions of official investigations into tragedies such as those of the Prestige oil spill and the Santiago rail disaster, both here in Galicia.
  • No politician ever resigns until, rarely, he or she is sentenced to a brief spell in a luxury jail.
  • Etc., etc.
One very obvious exception to this is the wonderful trust-based system of paying for drinks in bars and cafés only when you leave. Which, being an exception, tends to prove the rule that no one is to be trusted.

So, is Spanish society corrupt? Make up your own mind.

Words: Fisty-cuffs??? Over at the no-longer-barbaric Tordesillas 'festival'.

Amazon: Here's an interesting looking book:-
Pompa y circunstancia : diccionario sentimental de la cultura inglesa: By Ignacio Peyro Jiménez
The price:-
  • Amazon UK: £52.14. Paperback
  • Amazon Spain: €47.03

. Tapa blanda.
So, not planning to sell a lot, then?

Talking of books . . .

Galician Literature Now available in English:
Incidentally, Amazon tells us that the former is in neither Galician nor Gallego/Galego but in Gallegan. This is a new word to me but it seems to exist. Though only as a noun, not an adjective.

Finally . . . The Oporto metro. Very clean and efficient. But can anyone tell me what happens if you don't take your ticket from the machine and then 'validate' it before you go down to the platform?Does the ticket spontaneously combust? Or you can't get out at your destination if there are exit machines? Or are you just fined, if you get caught, for doing something that seems to be rather pointless. And, in my experience, unique.


The sort of electric fence that local farmers resort to in order to keep out marauding wild boars. Which I read yesterday are now a menace in Egland as well!


Eamon said...

When I was a boy in Canada electic fences were found everywhere. I also remember the cattle prod that farmers used. Follow this link for information.

Maria said...

Spanish society is tribal. Each of us belongs to several tribes that sometimes overlap. The tribe always furthers its own members. The first and most important tribe is family, both immediate and extended. The second tribe that affects us is the circle of friends we belong to. I assume it has a historical genesis, from when Spain was truly a collection of tribes trying to ward off the invading Carthaginians, Greeks, Romans, and a few stray Phoenicians. Can this be considered corruption? That would depend on how developed the nation state and its society is. At this point in history I think Spanish society can easily be called corrupt, at least on a more intimate level. Corruption in politics merely mimics corruption at the local level. Add to that that each Spaniard considers himself sovereign, and you have the modern Spanish calamity of a state.

Colin Davies said...

Possibly a tad harsh, Maria. But the fiercest critics of a country are usually disappointed natives. As i will say tomoorow - it's nonetheless a great place io live in certain circumstances. Even if it would be easy to predict it's going to hell in handcart.

Colin Davies said...

Possibly a tad harsh, Maria. But the fiercest critics of a country are usually disappointed natives. As i will say tomoorow - it's nonetheless a great place io live in certain circumstances. Even if it would be easy to predict it's going to hell in handcart.

Anthea said...

The very first time I used the Porto metro I did not know about validating tickets. An inspector got on and gave me and my friend a severe telling off, implying that we might have been fined but for our naivite and foreignness. he then validated the ticket |I had for my return journey but in the process rendered it useless as I was not using it immediately. it time-expired and I had to buy a new one.
every time I use the system I have to relearn it as I use it so infrequently.
No spontaneous combustion though.

Colin Davies said...

Ta. But why is it nececessary? Just to give the inspector a job??

Alfred B. Mittington said...

Surely you meant to write 'US Spanish taxpayers'??


Diego said...

At the shop where i work the vast majority of customers buying something as a favour to a family member ask for a receipt to show them.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Diego. Do you mean they are doing a favour by going shopping for them? Or buying them a gift? I assume the former and that they feel the need to prove what the price was.

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