Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 28.3.18


Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here.

Spain
  • I've cited Vincent Werner's book It's Not What it is; The Real (s)Pain of Europe, which aims to tell the world what's really going on here. Here's the Amazon blurb for it:-
The world needs to know what is really going on in Spain. Visiting tourists are served beautiful beaches, sports and gastronomy numbing their senses. There are a lot of things going on in Spain that never make the headlines in their home countries. “Things” that are important because they ultimately determine the state of Europe and its position in the world.

The EU, which has focused strongly on expansion, is fractionalizing. Politicians, who follow outdated economic indicators, fail to see what is going on. They are clueless! Economic indicators, like corruption, are measured “post-action”. Therefore, they are merely consequences and not the causes of social-economic turmoil.

How can Europeans, speak of human rights issues in China, when thousands of women are working in “alegal” prostitution in Spain? Many of whom were brought to Spain under false pretenses. Not to speak of the 100,000 African immigrants who work and live under slave-like conditions in Almeria.

Close to 30% of Spanish citizens lives on the verge of poverty. The EU keeps on pouring money into the largest single beneficiary, but “Espanistan” keeps on wasting it. It has the richest politicians and former politicians in Europe.

The country is run by an invisible force that goes by many names (la casta, el establishment, el tinglado) and which places itself above the law. This force overturns Supreme Court rulings, replaces critical judges, silences and bribes witnesses and exercise the outdated gag-law. A law that clearly contradicts freedom of speech. In 2017! In the EU!

Unfortunately, these practices rub off on corporate structures and society. The country is proving – time and time again – it cannot run its EU-course without intervention. IT IS NOT WHAT IT IS provides deep insight and presents 8 characteristics, which keep Spain from using its full potential.

The way you look at Spain will never be the same again.
  • If you go to the Amazon page here, you'll see that 31% of readers rate it 5 stars but 39% give it only one. And not all the latter are Spanish. In fact, one of them is a Dutch chap who goes so far as to apologise to Spaniards for this cynical and hypocritical piece of nonsense. Which is almost certainly isn't. 
  • Several of the negative reactions – What about Holland and Germany?; You don't speak fluent Spanish; Were you dumped by a Spanish woman?; What about the things you liked during your nearly 20 years here? You are a racist – are classic off-beam stuff. They fail to realise that, like nearly all foreigners here, Werner loves Spain and the Spanish people but is concerned about the country's severe faults and very worried that they represent a serious risk to the entire EU project. Of which he is clearly a fan. 
  • The real question is not Why didn't you present a balanced picture? but Are the criticisms accurate and fair? My answer would be that, although the book certainly has the several faults identified in the reviews, the picture is one I recognise. 
  • For what it's worth, I've gone through the book and produced a list of Werner's criticisms and appended it below. It's long, at times repetitive and certainly severe. And it's true that Werner doesn't make much attempt to balance it with what is admirable about Spain. But this wasn't his professed aim and I believe his intentions are genuine. He wants Spain to recognise what's wrong and to do something about it, not only for her own sake but, even more so, for that of the EU as well. It's gratifying to note that quite a few Spanish readers agree with him. 
  • As to the future . . . Well, I've confessed I find it hard to be optimistic about how Spain will cope when all the EU funds stop flowing and the country has to rely entirely on its own resources, but a lot will depend on whether the faults/deficiencies identified by Werner are taken to heart and dealt with. One major one, of course, is political and corporate corruption. On which the signs are not promising. 
  • It's been said that 10-20% Spaniards work as hard and as well as any people in the world but the rest are passengers on SS Spain. If true, the hope must be that this percentage rises rapidly. 
  • As for the list below, I set out trying to put comments under various headings but gave up and simply began to include everything under Points. If you disagree with anything, please tell Werner, not me. Though I'd be interested to see views.
  • On a lighter note . . . Mouthwatering Spanish Easter dishes from guess who.
Social Media
  • Yesterday morning I deleted all the 51 cookies on my computer. Within a few seconds, 10 of them had reappeared, without me doing anything. So, I deleted these and then logged on to my Times subscription. This time 14 cookies appeared, including ones for 15gifts and gravatar, about which I know nothing. But I did recognise the 2 for Facebook, which I quit several weeks ago. Do any of us really know what is happening?
  • The head of a UK parliamentary inquiry expressed astonishment that Mr Zuckerberg isn't prepared to come to the UK to answer questions on Facebook's activities. Really? I'm astonished he was astonished.
  • Here's an article I can identify with.
Galicia/Pontevedra
  • The number of camino 'pilgrims' passing through Pontevedra in February was double that of last year – 746 v 328. I had thought we had 55,000 in 2017 but the number reported yesterday was 70,000. Close to the population of the city. This Holy Week there isn't enough accommodation here for them all and the Sports Centre is being used as a hostel.
  • Foreigners here in the city now number, 3,682 – if official stats are to be believed. Portuguese 421, Brazilians 390, Moroccans 387, Colombians 277, Romanians 226, Venezuelans, 223, Chinese 174, Italians 172, Sengalese 116 and Argentineans 110. Plus a smattering of folk from Norway, Mauritius and New Zealand. Brits weren't mentioned in the article . .
Finally
  • Talking about how they'd been forced to do something about plastic, a MacDonald's spokesman yesterday said the company had been 'on a journey' for the past 10 years and that he was 'very proud of our journey'. Ye gods! Hamburger pilgrims!!

Vincent Werner's It's not what it is.

POINTS
  • Invisible forces, invisible strings
  • Weakest link in the EU chain
  • Over administered
  • Intentional deception versus the EU
  • Insufficient supervision from Brussels
  • Way behind other western countries in their development – only superficially similar
  • Worse than Italy
  • Everything in Spain works differently
  • Everything takes a lot more time. The concept of fast food has been turned into slow food.
  • Extremely difficult for outsiders to understand
  • Well paid civil servants, who work fewer hours than German civil servants
  • Government office service levels even worse than the private sector. Email even less likely to be answered.
  • Govt stats differ from those of international organisations
  • No one really knows the number of unemployed
  • Both young and old Spaniards aim to make their working life as short as possible
  • The active working population lacks experience and creativity
  • Ignorance and lack of interest leads to postponement of decisions until things are too bad to ignore
  • Despite ignorance in financial matters, everyone considers himself an expert
  • At the start of the Crisis, no one took responsibility or control. Despite massive Sp mistakes, foreigners were routinely blamed.
  • In Sp no one ever takes responsibility when things go wrong. A scapegoat is always found. [preferably dead]
  • Sp society is unfamiliar with real leadership. But 'followship' is everywhere.
  • Being a prime banker or politician is an incredibly lucrative business
  • A big country like Sp which is still lagging behind in many areas, which has a reactive attitude and is averse to risk is a danger. It calls for stagnation. Affecting other countries and slowing down the EU as a whole.
  • Sp presents less than 1,000 patents a year. Germany, 20,000. 17th in R&D investment.
  • Why don't they change? Fear. Of:-
- losing security
- being frowned upon
- economic loss
- the unknown
  • The fear of the highest boss in a company is extraordinary
  • Authorities are never questioned. Which is convenient as Sps are dogmatic by nature and therefore avoid asking questions
  • Very few employees take initiatives outside the job descriptions of their work
  • Sp's tourist sector is a very reactive one
  • The Reconquista is the only significant change which S has ever provoked voluntarily. Tho' not completely time efficient
  • Many people, looking at S continuously floundering feel that change has been too rapid for too many people
  • Sp is an old society. Progressive ageing is not new and it will get worse. By 2050 Sp will have the highest average age of any country in the world
  • Sp management positions are mainly occupied by older people. The success of a young entrepreneur would not be understood.
  • Many changes now are technology based and harder for older people to understand/keep up with
  • Half of Sp society doesn't finish secondary school
  • Many Sp companies operate in a way which can be achingly time-consuming, causing unnecessary delays.
  • The traits of lack of info and a zero risk, profile caused a great part of the real estate debacle
  • Sps need to risk more, but not everything
  • Copying competitors is the norm. Easier than being creative. Shares the risk. A cowardly strategy but common. Innovative strategies or marketing campaigns are rare in S.
  • Entrepreneurship is viewed differently from in other countries.
  • The Sp envy people who show early signs of success. Prefer to relate to failure.
  • There are huge differences between Sp supermarkets and those of N Europe. Much greater customer orientation.
  • The Sp are fond of pyramid selling. Via 'friends' and relatives. Attracted by the prospect of easy money. Ignorant of the downside of these companies. S is flooded with multi-level marketing schemes. Even more impressive than the construction companies.
  • Sps view change as a risk
  • The zero risk profile generates an attitude of conformity preventing people longing for growth. They want stability and comfort. A steady job with a regular salary. Or to win the lottery.
  • They avoid taking responsibility, where mistakes can be made
  • Possibly Sps don't see the irreversible changes:-
- globalisation
- the unification of Eur countries
- the change in the financial industry
- English becoming the most important global language
- the pension system becoming unsustainable
- the development of modern technologies
  • Fear and timidity turn the majority of Sp consumers into loyal customers. Even when, as with the banks, they know they are being fleeced by their 'friends'.
  • Sps make marketing plans without planning. No 'what if' scenarios. No contingency planning.[Trust in their spontaneity]
  • The administrative system of devolved competencies promotes regionalism. No overview.
  • Sps have difficulty thinking a year ahead, never mind the 5-10 years of a plan
  • People go to interviews with little or no preparation. CV circulation without thought.
  • Lotteries are huge business. People want to be rich but without having to work hard to achieve this.
  • Instead of planning for their financial future, Sps prefer to leave things to chance. The Sp government bets on the EU coming to its aid when things are no longer sustainable.
  • The vast majority of Sps have not taken any measures to secure any income for when they retire. To them, putting money aside for a rainy day is the least sexy thing you can propose.
  • The Sp pensions system is poorly planned. Input and output don't match. The looming results could have been avoided with planning. As in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark.
  • 70% of Sps still don't save for old age
  • Cortoplacismo. Short termism.
  • Catalans believe they are different but they aren't. They also lack western ethics
  • A sense of urgency simply doesn't exist in beautiful Sp. Not in meetings, in presentations, or in public places where you stand in line. Or in doing what Brussels demands of you.
  • The biggest problem, lying at the root of so much else, is that the Sps simply don't value time.
  • Sps arrive late for both business and social appointments.
  • As they don't value their own time, they certainly can't be expected to value yours.
  • Decision-taking processes are slow, the working day is long and unproductive and not replying to emails sent by clients is a national phenomenon. The time and effort of the sender are ignored.
  • 'Time is money' doesn't apply in S. Time is only respected when you bill it. For example after the second non-productive meeting with a prospective partner.
  • In Sp time and people are rarely the bottlenecks. Deadlines can always be postponed [the AVE, the A54, etc] and there are always more people to employ. Money is always the only deal-breaker
  • Sp society doesn't teach the value of time to its young.
  • Sp parents don't involve themselves in homework. So kids play.
  • Dropping out and arriving late for school are not reprimanded
  • Untrained kids will run into time and planning problems for the rest of their lives, personally and professionally
  • Every year the Sp economy loses €25.5bn from absenteeism. So, 25% unemployed and 75% taking a lot of time off. Sp leads the Eu list on this. Per the Sp Business Confed, 35% of absenteeism is fraudulent. Assisted by 'friendly' doctors.
  • Sp banks have the reputation of borrowing to the permitted max from the ECB, claiming it is for entrepreneurs and SMEs. Then they use it for their own benefit. Expansion in SA or in real estate. The problem lies not in the amount of money but in the lack of control over what's done with it. The EU makes the mistake of assuming that all countries have the same mechanisms and structures to deal with the EU cash. Too much of it sent to Sp ends up in the pockets of politicians and their friends.
  • Explaining the difference between 'plans' (in the Sp sense) and 'planning' to a room full of Sps can get you into all kinds of trouble.
  • Proper planning is often impeded by amiguismo, complacismo and pride. The AVE is an example.
  • The Minister of Culture: “We are managing public money and public money doesn't belong to anyone.”
  • Not a single AVE track comes anywhere near the numbers that would make it profitable.
  • The Madrid-Barcelona track opened 19 years after the Madrid-Sevilla track.
  • Xenophobe’s guide to the Spanish: Senior executives are usually the sons of the managing director, his nephews, or married to the chairman’s daughters. No director will gain respect by asking subordinates or anyone else for their opinion. It is considered a sure sign of weakness and will generate insecurity among the staff. Those in command must not seek advice but take decisions themselves, which is why they are so highly paid. In big companies, heads of departments are not encouraged to communicate so that they will not interfere with each other’s work.
  • You often see incapable people taking decisions without taking into account the many variables at play. Though there are some companies good at planning.
  • 70% of Sp managers won't be aware of 'MS Project'. Many can't work with Excel.
  • Inefficient companies with inefficient managers expect their employees to work more hours to reach the company's targets. 50% do unpaid overtime.
  • Instead of using the many mistakes to learn from, Sp prefers to keep them out of sight. Hiding them, denying them and not taking responsibility for them. No learning curve.
  • Before every major holiday, whether it's Xmas or summer holidays, people are mentally absent weeks before they are physically absent.
  • Work ethics are acquired at an early age, or not. Part-time jobs in N countries. Dreams of independence and a career. At 20, the average Sp dreams of having his/her own car.
  • What will young Sps develop into? Uneducated, inexperienced and dependent.
  • The sad thing is no one is corrected or stimulated to change their ways. As we already saw, Sp society presents poor role models. Consequently, work ethics are low and no one is taught the need for achievement. There is no need or no hunger to win. If you fail, you can get a bailout. If not by mom and dad, it will be by the government or Brussels. This attitude leads to a phenomenon, which has gained major visibility over the last decade in Spain…. Corruption.
  • A new government has an huge impact on an enormous number of jobs. Sp has 450,000 politicians, the highest in Europe. Double that of the no. 2 country, Italy. The number actually increased during the financial crisis, by 2,300. 40,000 official cars. USA x 22.
  • Sp's politics comprise an infinitely complex set of historical events and excessive personal greed.
  • Sp needs to get rid of its over-powerful elite, an invisible group which places itself above the law.
  • Why does Sp pretend to be much better off than it is? It is all about show. How good you look. Reality is not too important; it is mainly about looks and what appears to be.
  • Sp has 24 airports, more than Germany
  • Fair, open market competition hardly exists in Sp. Competing is not necessary if you have friends in high places.
CULTURE
  • Conservative, risk-averse. Too dependent on property
  • Badly educated in financial matters. Insurance and pensions.
  • Ill-informed, most of all by the banks.
  • Poorly educated
  • Not entrepreneurial
  • Conformist
  • Average Spaniard is not ambitious. Career chasing is not understood. Individuals not competitive, so the country isn't either.
  • Racist
  • Breeds mediocrity in everything – people, service, products
  • Incredibly low service levels – Lots of waiting, time-wasting. Service treated as a dept, not as a corporate concept/credo
  • Poor consumer protection
  • Unwilling to take responsibility
  • No decision-making below the top management
  • Entitlement culture
  • Averse to the new
  • No 'global' thinking. Self, own department, etc. No national/international perspective/framework.
  • Consumers not as demanding as elsewhere. More passive. Moan but . . .
  • Consumers quite gullible. Mistakenly trust their 'friend' in the bank. Bought into useless products from the unscrupulous banks. Which don't, of course, do anything to widen knowledge. Bank employees trained on how to be friendly, not efficient.
  • Entrepreneurial mistakes always considered a failure. cf. The USA
  • Committing to contracts on the basis of a guarantee from third parties is a Sp phenomenon. Sometimes without the knowledge of that party.
  • The only EU country which publishes prostitution ads. Very lucrative.
  • Prostitution is popular and socially acceptable – despite the women trafficking. Not pursued.
  • Many Sps are unaware of their behaviour which contributes to an uncontrolled or out of control environment. It is in everyday normalities that we see people dodge their responsibilities. For example double parking for easy access to . . .
  • Amiguismo – the practice of favouring friends and family members. Raised to heights which can only be matched in countries ruled by dictators. Control doesn't come from the inside and needs to come from the outside.
  • General controls are not as tight in Sp as in other countries. As a result it attracts all sorts of swindlers and criminal organisations.
  • People are not bothered by people trafficking, drug smuggling money-laundering and tax evasion as they don't pose any direct threat.
  • The overall attitude in Sp is one of comfort. If people are comfortable the feel safe and there is no reason for change
  • Most Sps are not ambitious. They would rather have more spare time than money. To expand their comfort zone rather than aim for higher goals.
  • If a new product or service is not seen as providing instant pleasure or immediate economic benefit it is likely to be seen as uninteresting.
  • Typical Sp behaviour: “I prefer apologising to asking permission”.
  • The launching of new laws is as reckless as Sp planning [Model 720].
  • Sps may not be good at respecting time but they are very skilled in killing it. They are highly communicative and spend a great part of the day chatting.
  • A meeting with Sps can be a comic display. Much motion and movement. Everyone interacting loudly. Never clear who's leading it. Everyone trying to be heard, not listening. No note taking. No minutes. Topics dealt with reopened, though many are not dealt with but just postponed. No one acts on what has been discussed. Extended coffee breaks.
  • A Xenophobe’s guide to Spain: There is no point in arranging meetings as no-one will turn up. In the case of international corporations or companies dealing with exports, meetings are arranged to please foreign management and visiting clients and some people will turn up if coffee is on offer, but no-one will take any notice of what is said as the final decisions are always made by the boss.     
  • The national mantra of It is what it is, is one of laxity, a conformity failing to strive for improvement, clarity and honesty.     
  • 40% of the electricity tariff comprises social- and electricity politics. What on earth are social politics. If these were removed, bills would fall by 65%.                            
  • Splitting Sp into 17 ACs was completely inconsistent with its upcoming EU membership. Can't  be overstressed. No coherence or knowledge sharing. Inefficient, uncontrolled and expensive. Unstable financial projects.
  • There's been a vast increase in the number of millionaire politicians in the last 20 years.
  • "In Japan they call it Yakuza, in Italy la Cosa Nostra, but believe me when I tell you the Spanish equivalent of those terms is called “el Gobierno” (the government). - Jordi Encinas, former international director at Codorníu" 
THE ECONOMY: BUSINESS
  • Not as strong as perceived
  • Chronic unemployment the only real measure
  • Low productivity
  • 'Introvert' businesses – don't listen to clients
  • Play at customer service – don't reply to emails
  • Excessive role of banks and construction – imbalanced
  • Poor people in key positions
  • Superficial changes to institutions, only under EU pressure
  • Piecemeal reforms – never enough
  • CNC fighting a losing battle against cartels
  • Regardless of economic indicators which might say otherwise, Sp does not function.
  • Relatively speaking, Sp's economy is still taking baby steps. It is still in its learning phase, its infancy, and it is struggling.
  • People could observe Sp's economic indicators for a great many years without finding the causes which keep the country from using its full potential. Corruption is not a cause but a consequence. It derives from the characteristics of no one taking control and the lack of Western ethics. Plus it is not limited to politics and public bodies. It has trickled down through Sp's corporate structures. Unmatched in any other EU country.
  • If the EU wants to take itself seriously, it should stop sending money to Sp without installing local control points throughout the country, controlled by Brussels
  • The EU did not punish Sp for threatening the stability of the EU and the EU via its banking crisis but instead 'rewarded' her corruption, theft and inefficiency with a bagful of money.
  • Spanish politicians play dumb but all know what is going on.
  • Sp's economy can still only be described as weak and unstable. For which it is rewarded by the EU Cohesion Fund. In 2017, 2 of the 8 sectors creating employment were construction and agriculture. Sp seems incapable of shaking off its limiting patterns.
  • Germany is one of the largest exporters in the world. Spain is one of the smallest in Europe. They have a similar number of companies but German value added is 4 times higher.
  • Tribalism impedes growth [Galician airports]
  • The boom from 2004 was one huge political set-up where valuation companies, banks and construction companies collaborated behind the scenes and the Bank of Spain turned a blind eye and the government liberalised the real estate/estate agent market so that any fool could set up shop.
  • The high job insecurity is deliberately created.
  • Unpaid labour indicates the labour market is still corrupt
  • The EU still doesn't understand the true nature of Sp unemployment.
  • One of the reasons why so many young Sps don't have job is that they don't want to work!
  • Spain has a student body that is not inquisitive, which does not know how to write, how to set priorities or develop an argument.” - Víctor Pérez-Diaz, winner national award for sociology and political science (2014)
  • The EU was mistaken in thinking that those who caused the economic turmoil could solve it.
BANKS
  • Banks never penalised for their practices or for not paying their debts
  • Cut off funds when things get tight. Just when needed.
  • Bank subsidiaries number is madness, tho' much reduced now. Not cheap. Hence high commissions.
  • No clarity for consumers
  • Insufficient supervision of the banks by the BoS and the ECB
  • Skilled at smoke-screening
  • Withhold important information
  • Maintain and then abuse the ignorance of their customers
  • Hide the info they're obliged to publish
  • Many managers have little understanding of finance/economics
  • 'Boring' retail banking very profitable in Sp
  • 125 bankers earn over 1m euros
POLITICS
  • Too many politician
  • Inefficient and incompetent
  • Ignorant of finance
  • Stupid comments eg re the crisis and Spain's growth to above that of France and Germany
  • Repressive – 'Gag law'
  • Lying politicians
  • 75% are lawyers/notarios. USA 25%.
  • Rajoy has amassed more than €20m
  • No interest in improving the country. All about self-interest and amassing money as quickly as possible
  • Continuous growth of govt apparatus, even during the Crisis.
  • Too much power and money in (too many) local administrations
  • Local spending not limited!
CORRUPTION
  • Corruption always starts at the top. The shocking truth is that Sp has never been ruled by a government which is not corrupt.
  • If you know how to look for it, it is literally present throughout the entire society.
  • We need to look beyond the traditional definition of corruption. No matter where we look in Sp society – the labour market, its official institutions, the banking system, the majority of the IBEX 35 companies, they are all corrupt in the broad sense of the word.
  • Sp is Europe's paradise for fiscal fraud and unreported economic activity
  • Largest number of 500 notes
  • Transparency Intl. verdict
  • Pujols
  • Bribery. Gifts.
  • Huge sums from the EU embezzled
  • Revolving doors. Directorships
  • 9 people in the Gurtel case have died, many suspiciously
  • Judges moved/sacked
  • Public indifferent to Europe's biggest case. Numbed?
  • No one resigns
  • And money is never paid back
  • Bribery is something completely reasonable in Sp business and politics. Sps just don't call it bribery.
  • Fabra won the lottery 9 times in 12 years.
  • The cases of political corruption affect all levels of administration.
  • The OECD has criticised Sp for not doing enough to tackle corruption in government institutions.
  • The reason it's not tackled is that everyone is implicated in it.
  • One of the biggest flaws in the EU is the presumption that people who work at the same level are alike.
  • If Sps all cheat their own systems, what incentive is there to do things differently with the EU?There are currently 39 former politicians on the payroll of the energy companies.
  • Major companies all have former politicians and members of the royal family as consultants and pay millions for non-rendered services.
LOW ETHICS
  • 20-30% black economy
  • Amiguismo – not the best candidates
  • Crony capitalism - Enchufes
  • Employees not paid for hours worked
  • Bank charges – mortgage floor clause
  • Rip-off culture
  • Countless unethical acts are performed every day in Sp, many banned in other Western societies. Don't make the news. Considered normal by many Sps
  • With the right connections, money will get you very far in Sp to acquire things or favours only accessible via legitimate ways in countries which take ethics seriously.
  • Fake products sold widely and openly. Nothing done about it.
  • Confidential information doesn't exist in many Sp companies
  • Not unethical to ask candidates questions not permitted elsewhere
  • Discrimination and racism in selection procedures. Always denied.
  • Racism is barely discussed in Sp, yet it is omnipresent.
  • No presenters of African, Asian or S American origin on Sp TV. Sps don't notice this.
  • Government decisions often arbitrary and damaging to entrepreneurs. [eg solar energy]
  • Sp politicians grant and revoke licences to whoever they want. Regardless of any law.
  • Politicians taking such decisions are never prosecuted when clear signs of fraud are lacking.
  • Hecha la ley, hecha la trampa.
  • Sps are raised in a society where the moral codes of conduct differ greatly from those of other N Western nations. Unethical behaviour flows through society top-down and people are literally lacking in role models to see and learn how things could be different. They are not guided by guiding principles. A Sp who has not learned at home or at school what good and bad moral values are is likely to develop unethical qualities. Simply because it is everywhere around him.
  • If you can cheat the system and get away with it, you are a hero.
BUSINESS/EFFICIENCY
  • Poor managers. Not professional. Many family businesses. 500,000 SMEs gone since 2008.
  • Poor grasp of English. Translation delays. English not seen as essential, tho' it is. Spain is linguistically isolated.
  • Amiguismo at work
  • Mushroom management. Restrict info flow.
  • Inadequate, so afraid of subordinates.
  • Endless calls to secretaries to set up meetings. Meetings postponed again and again.
  • General slowness
  • July and August useless for business
  • Afternoons not good for business
  • Plans but no effective planning. No 'what-if' scenarios. Unprepared
  • Short-termism
  • Off-putting for investors
  • No cooperation between departments. No synergies
  • No corporate-interest attitude
  • Customer not king
  • Low investment in training
  • Very low investment in R&D
  • Attitude that a customer will contact us again if really interested
  • Preference for face-to-face dealings
  • Complaints and suggestions not appreciated
  • Banks have second highest commissions in the EU. Easy money.
  • Contact forms on estate agent sites are not followed up and phone responses are un-interested.
  • Price gauging telecoms companies
JUDICIARY
  • Politicised
  • Slow
  • Statute of Limitations
  • Arbitrary movements/sackings of judges
  • The judges of Sp's Supreme Court are political appointees, who will never bite the hand that feeds them. The judicial system is run my marionettes controlled and abused by invisible political power-circles.
EDUCATION
  • OECD says Sp's primary and secondary education is among the worst in the world.
  • Along with Italy, Sp is bottom of the EU table.
  • Young Spss particularly bad at problem solving. [rote learning?]
  • Not taught to be inquisitive [Not encouraged to ask?]. Suppressed under Francoism.
  • Don't learn to prioritise
  • Minority go to uni
  • Average for a degree is 9 years
SOME FINAL OBSERVATIONS
  • The strange thing is that, even when Sps are standing in the middle of their own chaos, they don't recognise it a such. Even worse, they believe what they are witnessing is not that bad and they feel a misplaced need to boast about it.
  • Fortunately, there is a small but growing group of Sps becoming more aware of the changes in the world. More critical, more price-conscious and more prepared to claim what they consider to be their rights.
  • Most Sps think they have fewer rights than in other countries. With the exception of the 'Gag Law', this is not true. What is true is that they are less well-informed than in other countries.
  • If I were to summarise the Sp economy in one word it would be 'inefficient'.
  • Sp is a country where everything is delayed – democracy, austerity measures, restructuring, students finishing their studies, inter-company payments, children leaving home, the introduction of microwave foods, opt-out button in spam mailing lists, participating in a single European patenting registration procedures, modernisation of housing interiors, the disappearance of fax machines, online banking, the use of Whatapp, translations of media, setting up a limited company . . . EVERYTHING arrives later than in other western countries. EVERYTHING takes more time. Sp is never a front-runner. It is always following and tagging along.
  • Sps not only have more difficulty in accepting new things but also in letting go of familiarities and outdated concepts
  • If Spaniards want to look at and plan their future, they have to be aware of their country’s deficiencies. Spaniards need to understand where they are coming from. They need some understanding of where other Europeans are coming from. They need to explain to the younger generations money they spent over the last decade was not theirs to spend. They also need to understand their country evolved rapidly by stimulation and support from outside.
  • Many Sps don't see the bigger picture. Many fail to notice the low service level throughout the country and how these damage Sp as a whole.
  • Sp needs definite plans for its specific problems, not ad hoc decisions and solutions before figuring out the facts.
  • In the world we live in, you can't be competitive without being efficient. Unfortunately, Sp sees this as lowering costs, i. e. salaries. Unfortunately, efficiency is not a switch which can be flipped.
  • Innovation is driven by the unconventional and Sp is very conventional
  • Many concepts which have been around for decades in other countries are still new in Spain.
  • Sp's version of democracy is now 40 years old and rar from mature. Still unfair and arbitrary.
LAST WORDS
  • Sp is not a country where hard work pays off.
  • Many people have stopped caring and this plays into the hands of the corrupt.
  • I yearn for a country in which people strive to give their best because they know their contribution matters.
  • Most of all, I dream of a Sp not being ruled by conformism.

© Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 27.3.18

4 comments:

Maria said...

A couple of thoughts on these points. The person who wrote that book about Spain wrote from a northern European, Protestant point of view. It is clear in his remarks about work and savings. Part of the EU's problem is that most of the powerful countries to date, namely Germany and Great Britain, have those Protestant ethics based on Calvin's teaching as part of their national character. Those people, and countries, that don't follow those ethics are not considered as part of the elect.

Another thing that weighs down Spain within the EU is that most of its conservatism on minimal risk taking, etc., is thanks to Franco and his reactionary removal of modernism from Spain for forty years. People have learned to be leery of change, and are still not convinced after forty years of "democracy" in which too many trappings of the former dictatorship are still worshipped. In fact, most older people warn that another war will be inevitable.

Finally, the low-ethics approach has evolved over the years to avoid entanglement with corrupt higher-ups in charge. It was better to do things on a personal level rather than deal with bureaucracy which would be twice as costly when the necessary palms were greased.

Colin Davies said...

Thanks, Maria. As perceptive as ever. I will be returning to this subject this morning . .

sp said...

All these words, and not one of them is "oposiciones". Get rid of those and you'd solve most of the above problems.

Colin Davies said...

Very interesting point. I will check the book for any mention.

One aspect of this being that, for example here in Galicia, you'll get nowhere - however experienced and able you are - unless you are fluent in Gallego/Galego. Endogamy, I guess. CertInly not meritocracy. Which, by the way, I think is another word that doesn't appear in Werner's book. But I will check this as well.