Category: social disparities


Ok, just let me get this straight. I don’t work for fun. I work because I need to, just like 98% of the population. What makes things harder on me, is that my time is mostly divided up between my several jobs that I tend to have, since none of them not even nearly covers my expenses, and none of them nearly gets me anywhere to some kind of financial security. But, hey, what’s it to me anyway. I am a translator, a free spirit, someone who is blessed to live the way they want to anyway. Right? No, wrong. Big time wrong.

It’s funny to see that my last entry on this blog was about the World Cup being used to cover up for a lot of what I would summarize under the Big Rio de Caca or Spain’s internal crisis. The truth is, now some 45 days on in history. I’ve had my own private Rio de Caca here and then. Why? Let me explain.

As I said, I work as a translator. What I do is that I try to get some jobs here and there to somehow get to the end of the month. That’s basically what I do. Things are not going especially well, not with some people not understanding that a real translation is something else than doing “copy/paste” with google translate. Plus, the market is full with so-called translators who don’t do this profession any favor by calling themselves translators. Anyway, that being said, I was ecstatic when I received an email informing me about an urgent job to translate from Castellano to English. I asked if this was a one-off, but no. It was meant to be a regular thing. Since I was in the last throes of my other almost regular job, I tried to postpone it, but no, of course, it was just now and then. So I agreed to make an appointment. The appointment went well, I got the job, and I was told to be working from now on from the own privacy of my home, a thing I very much appreciated, since the pay was just as much as to cover the actual time spent on the translation (as foreseen by my employer).

Ok, since I was being quite in the middle of a very hectic week, I agreed that they would prepare me things to sign, and since I had their word and a handshake, I thought everything was fine. At least, that was not some kind of back alley deal. That is a newspaper. This is group of different media companies (TV, newspaper, and what not) which have been here for years and years. So I thought, it would not be necessary to show any mistrust against them. A handshake used to fine in this case. So I thought.

In the very first couple of days, things went very chaotic, if not totally unprofessionally. I got sent texts of an amount where I needed to extract about an article of 20% the size and sometimes the titles were this large I was only allowed four to max. five words in the title etc. Plus the texts were sent very late, and many other things that were not really helpful in terms of me having a normal and useful working environment, because my only contact with the company were the emails that were sent to me.

I tried to get back in touch with the man who hired me. I asked him for a second interview even though I had a good mind of simply telling him that this way, the work is not really workable. Not in one or in one and a half hours, which was the base for the amount he was willing to pay. I was actually willing to quit after four or five days, it wasn’t even a week. So I sat him down and talked him through my pains. He listened very carefully and then told me he would change the system, and he could understand my concerns, etc. etc. In the end, he even lowered the amount of articles from 8 to five articles per day, which was absolutely necessary since they always arrived extremely late and it turned out that I had to not only translate them, but also revise them, sometimes rewrite them to make them fit into the small space they were given on one page. I asked for the texts to be sent earlier in the day so I would not wait around so much and could also make use of the afternoon or evening.

A couple of times, the arrangement worked, but mostly, it was simply very chaotic.
At the very beginning of our cooperation, I informed my boss of a course I would be doing in Barcelona but he would not have to worry, I would still be translating that week. I really wanted this job so much. I wanted to move mountains in order to achieve something. He had talked about giving me a proper job in the editors’ team.

Ok, fast forward 40 days. I started on June 15th. I was supposed to get my first cash on July 15th. However, since that was exactly during the week I was in Barcelona, I thought, no big deal, I will be paid the week after. Right? Wrong…

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Last week I showed up at the office, throwing in an office day to say hello and ask about the payment, which I thought at the time, was no problem at all. I mean, they had been printing all my articles and they had thanked me for sending them the articles, so I thought, good. I need to pay my invoices just like anyone else, and so I asked when I could have my money. I was referred to someone in the administration and this someone asked me what type of agreement I had with the paper. I said 30€, went back to my desk, continued translating, was called in after I’d finished and was told that I would need to make myself self-employed, a thing which is absolutely impossible on 900€ (supposing the 900€ = deducted from 30 days per 30€ payable). The thing was we had spoken net amounts, and I told them, I could work on a normal parttime schedule, with the three hours every day and so forth. But then, I was told that the 900€ would be a brut amount leaving me with much less. When this happened, I asked them to send me a comparative study so that I could make up my mind which way to choose. Although I surely wasn’t happy about any of this. 30€ just about covers me, but 30€ minus 25% or even 30% that simply wouldn’t do it.

However, they never send me the comparative study. In the end, I was notified, after I had again send them an email and still kept on working, that the situation had changed. All of a sudden, the word was that I would be reimbursed with 500€ flat, as it had been agreed upon in the very first meeting, before I had even finished three days at work, and when there was no talk about working seven days a week… But no, 500€ instead of 900€ and that was it. No questions asked. I just couldn’t believe it.

I made a short calculation, saw that this amount would simply not cut it for all the hours I lost each and every day. So, I told them, again, in the nicest way possible, that there has got to be a mistake. But right now, I don’t think that any of my doubts, are being heard. I haven’t heard back from them, even though I yesterday (Sunday) sent out a reminder to ask for my due pay for working 40 days non-stop. This company owes me 1200€. And they don’t care that I have worked for them like a clockwork. Never failed them once.

It is now 45 days after my first day at work. I tore the ripcord, stopped writing for them, last Friday (after being informed that my monthly pay would be 500€! For 30 days, for 3 hours, and 5 articles daily). At first I could simply not believe it that a newspaper will act this way. Basically, they are not willing to pay the amount we had an agreement for. This was 30 € / day. I averaged in between two to three hours work, but there were days when I needed four to five hours since I waited for the articles to be sent or because the big article was still missing or they would have problems with the headlines or whatever. So let’s speak of an average of three hours (which under normal circumstances, could have been two hours, but that’s about as low as it gets in terms of time). They claim now that we had a different agreement, which rounds of at 15.60€ / day which is truly quite unbelievable.

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I had a similar case happen to me in spring. When I translated a comic or let’s say I proof-read it and didn’t get paid. I had given them a lousy and ridiculously low price. But even so. It’s still money, and it’s still time I invested into someone else’s work and where I didn’t see any benefits.

But this is so much larger in terms of scale. I am so sick and tired of being ripped off. If I had known this, I would have stopped working for them much earlier. But as things are, I need to stick around, fix things somehow, it just breaks my heart cos my kids ask me to go to the beach, summer time, to relax and enjoy the time, but I can’t. I need to say no, since I am here, in my home office, looking for a new job, a way to get back on top of things. Being ripped off for one and a half month of good work is quite something.

One thing for sure, I am sad and angry. I feel treated like I am some kind of idiot. I feel ridiculed.

Now I can remember what my old primary school used to say “You’re my first class here. Act like you know that you are going to pave the way for many many new primary classes to come. If you blow it, it’ll be on your head.” That was always something that impressed me lots. We were an exemplary class.

I just hope that this company will make the same bad experience one day. And I also hope that then they will realise the true extension of their antisocial and irresponsible behaviour. They are paving the way to being “antisocial” being accepted as a “business model”.

I’m not finished with them.

– To be continued –

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They say if a door closes, another one opens. Right now I can see where the saying is going but to be quite honest, I don’t really believe it as yet.

Things right now could not be worse from my standpoint. Ok, but this post is not strictly about me but about people who find themselves in a similar situation. It is about the people who will suffer a lot because they frigging have jack shit in their pockets, jack shit to eat, jack shit to spend on their children, jack shit to clothe themselves, and jack shit in order to follow a cultural life.
Apart from the ones who have been made homeless since they could not pay up their rent, apart from the ones who took their own lives in desperation, it is now quite predictable that a huge tidal wave of families or couples is coming who will be stuck in the same situation as me, which eventually looks like this: A family of four. One partner’s got a steady job, earns some cash, not the world, but somehow they get by, the other partner has a more or less steady job but as a seasonal worker (fijo discontinuo, which is not an uncommon scenario at all). For those of you who don’t know what this means, it is a specialty of the Spanish labour law, meaning that you have a seasonal contract for a certain time of the year, while the rest of the year, you will be jobless, simply because there is no need or no necessity to have a worker in this job in the low season. The contract revives after the low season again so you are truly a steady worker.
So, beware. Singles and one parent families can now safely breathe deeply cos they won’t be affected. This time around the families that this law is after, it is actually rather disturbing when you think about it. So, if you are married, it will basically happen like this: The woman (or whoever is the one with the seasonal contract) has completed her six month of seasonal work and applies for the usual state benefits for the upcoming six months where she is on the dole.
Then, the shock arrives. Instead of receiving 426€ state benefit, she will know only receive 105€ no matter whether the couple have got kids to support, whether they dire need the money just to get by. It does not matter the least.
I informed myself and it seems that if you have a partner who (now listen up, this is really good!) earns more than the so-called “intersalario minimo” (the average minimum wage) of 640€ / month, the law applies leaving you with 75% less of your normal state benefit.
So, instead of receiving a total of 2.556€ in a six month period (which in my case is to be expected as the island of Ibiza does not tend to have so many jobs to offer in the Winter months) you will receive 630€. The almost 2.000€ gap is something that a family of four is left to draw conclusions themselves.
That’s pretty, no?

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I would say this is the most horribly unjust law of the 21st century I have ever read about. This is a crime, and I don’t say this not just because I am affected too (which truly fucks me up too, admitted) but the core of this post is that I really envision what is going to happen in terms of the affected families, how will they deal with it, what will happen in Spain, on the peninsula, and also on the Balearic islands, and the Canaries.
It is not too difficult to foresee what will happen. Basically this here.
By taking away the last bit of money, not mentioning the last shreds of their dignity, not mentioning stripping the last bits of social mobility from this group, it basically spells poverty, cruel and not to be hidden poverty, poverty that is no fun at all. Not being able to pay all the necessary monthly bills, having to juggle things where to make another cut, in order to somehow scrape things together and get to the end of the month. Simple as that.
Taking into account that at the same time there has been a growth in nouveau riche people coming to the lively Spanish cities and hip islands, so the nouveau riche is just a stone throw (quite literally, in this case) away. This again heats up the rivalry between rich and poor, between have and have not’s. If Karl Marx were still alive, he would get out his pamphlet about the class battle.

Today, people seem to have forgotten that today’s world shows even stronger and much more cruel signs that there are three if not four classes today.
1) The poor, the unwell, the lower class – the ones who are either out of a job, too wasted, too ill or too socially unfit to work. The ones who are denied access to the big ferris wheel.
2) The mixed working and middle class – which slowly but surely seems to disintegrate – they either fall back into the group of the poor and unwell or they somehow make it into the group of the well off people. They are also struggling, they can get by, depending how clever they are, trying to work the system here and there. But basically, they are the working force of the new millennium. They hate the class 1 people because they think they are really just scum and don’t want to work. And they envy the class 3 people for obvious reasons.
3) The upper middle class – the well off people – they are also working people, at least formerly, but mostly they don’t really need to work anymore. Somehow, they are able to enjoy life as it is. They are able to lean back and watch what happens around the world. They despise class 1 and they belittle class 2 people. They envy class 4 people for obvious reasons.
4) The stinking rich – self explanatory. Of course, they know nothing of the sorrows or the pains that class 1 and 2 or even class 3 people go through. They could essentially make a difference with their wealth, but they don’t. They are reluctant to activate themselves. They observe and journey from yacht to yacht. Their biggest worry might be the question what to bestow their sons and daughters. Basically, this class is the real trouble. They are the root of all evil. If they understood that the world has come into such a crass imbalance moneywise and also in terms of division of wealth, and therefore if they would let others participate in their immense wealth, the world might be a better place. But, let’s face it, hey, this isn’t a fairy tale and I know it won’t happen.
When it comes to categorizing people, I tend to be quite ruthless, sarcastic to some extent, but I can spot the people in their peer group and make out their characteristics. I used to be middle class, today I can safely say that even though I try to hold on to middle class for dear life, I drifted back into the arena of the poor and unwell and it is only a matter of time but I eventually will stop posting blogs since I might be more than busy with the fight for survival. This is pure social Darwinism.

I know that I will need to somehow generate an extra of 320€ out of thin air. My husband works, he cannot get more money. Sincé we have been trying to cut down costs, I don’t know where another cut could be made, I don’t see any job opportunities either, especially not ones which are viable when you have two kids. So, even though economy is down, and the season is ending, I know I need to have an extra job for the winter, which is not going to happen as there are no jobs. So there is no need to worry at all. The poor and unwell are all waiting for me.

Noam Chomsky called it the class warfare. Listen for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=9o7yQIMx17s
Back to Spain: Which conclusion can be derived from this? The sacred cow named family has now officially been killed. Or to put it plainly, it has been slaughtered and its entrails hang out its guts.
Had I been divorced or would I be a single mother, this would not have happened to me. Brave new world that has such people in it!
But being a happy mother and not a divorcee or single mom made me conspicuous. I see. Duh! I could have understood it if we were talking Franz Kafka, otherwise this scenario is just too Kafkaesque for me.
Apart from these schizophrenic mind-warping thoughts of some politicians who came up with this ludicrous law, I have other, still darker visions to share.
What about the children? Will I tell them to eat 75% less, to consume 75% less of a needed education, to need 75% less clothes, to give me 75% wear and tear to compensate, to grow 75% less so they can still wear last year’s clothes, take part 75% less in children’s activities which are not for free as we all know??? I don’t think so.
Luckily, you might say, you live in the countryside. Here the differences are not as crass. Yes, that’s what you would think. But they exist nonetheless. And my children have spotted the differences a long time ago. What is going to happen now?
The thing is poverty, seen from the outside might seem like a romantic hideaway, like a safe haven from the crazy world, but the truth is that poverty basically means, that your life is not much fun, and basically it is also going to end sooner and in a fashion you won’t like as much.

Poverty basically means:
– Not having the means to pay for a doctor (and here is to people who plea the national health service in Spain was good: Please spare me the discussion. Don’t come up with national health service and how good it was, I would hate the discussion and you know, NH in Spain is ridiculously bad in some areas, and to some extent, so let’s cut the crap and face up to some realities. I’d rather ram a rusty needle into my arm and do nothing about it than ever let a Spanish NH gynecologist ever touch me again. That was the most traumatic and dehumanizing experience at a doctor’s!!!)
– Not having the money to buy the most sensible food and therefore consequently not able to follow the most equalized and sensible diet. (Even though we know which food is better, sometimes your wallet decides what you buy. Simple as that. Look at the prices in a supermarket, compare what you can buy with 30€, and then you will see what I mean. Sugary, fatty, basically all highly processed food is dirt-cheap whereas natural, authentic, sensible and good food is quite costly.)
– Not being able to buy the educational books, toys, you name it that you as a parent wanted to provide for your children (and yes, we are all avid users of a public library, but there are books that are not available, and nothing can substitute a book that belongs to you, etc.)
– Not be as relaxed, nor as well-informed as others as you keep struggling with the mere and naked existence as it is. (this may be a secondary effect, but nonetheless it happens like that)
– Not able to make the cheapest choice since in effect you are forced to buy at a time when others lean back and say, “No, I will wait until the prices fall, and stabilize at a lower level.” You, as an impoverished person, are often forced to buy at the highest rate. And yes, it is true. This makes you even poorer. It is a vicious circle.
– This situation leaves you wasted and wane
– Not happy
– Not healthy
Ok, I could continue this list for ages, but even if we suppose that you are still capable of providing yourself with the needed information, still able to cut corners here and there, there is a physical limit to all of this. And the majority of all people affected will – and here you can be pretty sure – not be as realistic, and not as rigid in what to buy and what not to buy, they will also fall into the typical poverty traps. Therefore, their poverty might even look worse than the one depicted.
But the bottom line is this: poverty cuts you off from the rest of others. Shuts you up.

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Why? They are tiny things really. You will say NO more often and at times where you want to say YES. You will say NO when invited as you don’t have the money to buy a present. And you will also say NO because even though it may just be 25 kilometers, the trip of 50 kilometers just for a party plus a present you need will leave you skinned. So you got to decide. You will say NO because the last time you were invited and this time it would be your turn to invite but you haven’t got the money to invite, so you don’t. Poverty makes you lonely.
It sounds like it was copied out of a Dickens novel, a tale of gruel, and the workhouse, but this is the bare and naked truth.
I wish for some Spanish politicians and businessmen that they may come to experience the full-blown and fucking awful situation like this.
I know there are families which are even worse off than us. There are families where both lost their jobs and so on. But I don’t understand how the state can agree to destroy familiar unity with a law like this. I nudged my husband and asked him if he wanted to divorce me so we would get the full state benefit. It is so ridiculous. The bitter truth is that nobody cares about families anymore, let alone children growing up safely. This is something that makes me angry and sad.
For me, as an adult, things are much easier. I can survive on six months on nothing but the cheapest spaghetti and the blandest yoghurt, and nothing else. I will not be able to pay all my bills, so I will have the odd problem here and there, even though I have a very good consumer’s morale. But what bugs me the most is the crime of stealing a piece of childhood, which they are taking away from our children. The innocence and the feeling of carelessness is somehow lost along the line.
Apart from needing vitamins, proteins, vegetables and fruit, children need the feeling of being protected and well looked after. They need stability. They need laughter and also the safe home which is theirs. They need clothes, new shoes every now and then. It seems so incredible that all of this seems impossible just because the state decided they would rather help out some criminal bankers and some thieving politicians. No wonder that there is no money left to help out families.
How foolish to think in the 21st century that a family is something the state wants to protect by law. How sad to be mistaken in this point.
Ever since I was 15 I have been working. There is a multitude of jobs behind me, not all of them were good ones, but each and every one of them taught me something. And I do remember and also cherish this. When you work, you should go home with a smile on your face. Today, this smile is wiped away. It has been replaced by constant worries of will I have enough to pay my bills. Will I be able to keep up this rat race? With people who are (for whatever reason) on the dole or only part-time workers, things are even worse. You are being looked upon as some kind of underdog. You are an outcast of the system. There is something you’ve done wrong. Something in your personality that did not quite fit in. Oh, you have children. See? Told you so. To have children and to be proud of them is something that our society does not want to hear, much less cares about.
So, basically, I won’t take this lying down and I hope I can keep my dark sense of humor and still make things funny and worthwhile for my children, my husband, and for me, but if truth be said: in spite of being a born optimist, I have most extreme doubts of how we might get through this long, dire drought period, how well we will be able to adapt this time, how to make our way through the winter period. How to spin gold out of thin air.
It is going to be a tough ride.
Not to mention all the burglaries and muggings, which will start happening for sure.
Ibiza is a place for seasonal workers. Most of them leave the island after the season, but some of them live here, so these families will be in deep problems. Just like us. And there is no cloud, and sorry also no silver lining.
On mainland Spain, similar problems will arise with focus on big cities like Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid. I am curious how the crime rates will develop. This should be a fun thing to watch.
Oh, and another thing. It is pretty clear that this law is another red herring, a decoy to take away the force of criticism off Mister Rajoy and his ridiculously incapable leadership. So sad if people cannot just say “I fucked up. I take my hat and leave.” He does not seem to get the message.

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It is time for a new beginning. And time to shake up the system.

Orwell –  a dystopian writer or a socio-realist?

Down and Out in Paris and London” was the first book Orwell ever wrote and therefore it demands some special attention. He wrote it in 1933.

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Who was George Orwell? He was born Eric Arthur Blair 110 years ago, on June 25th 1903. He died on January 21st, 1950, some 46 years later. To me, Orwell has always been an important touchstone, a true pleasure to read since he is different in as much as he combines some traits I find important for any writers: will for social and political justice, very clear language, intelligence, sharp observation, wit and accuracy in the depiction of social realities.

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I’ve read him ever since I was little and funnily enough, at school, we read 1984, just in the year of 1984, when I was 13. Yes, it did make a huge impact on me. I cannot say anything else. We discussed the book. We wrote essays on it. We saw the movie 1984. It was a blatant attack against totalitarianism. That much was clear. And for a classroom with a lot of rebellious hormones flying around, Orwell was just right in showing us what society would be if we allowed ourselves to be let astray. Everyone in class including the teacher was sure that there would never be any similar surrounding, that everything depicted in the book, was pretty much a dark pessimistic fantasy, way out, and that basically this was a dystopia which would never happen.

Now about 30 years later, I am not so sure anymore. I find that Orwell had the unusual talent of absorbing very slight historical tendencies and thinking them till the bitter end and turning it into fiction. Orwell’s fiction is never just fiction. It is a moral signpost that says “Don’t go there. It might happen if you don’t watch out.” On the other hand, he wrote a lot about what happened in real life. He was in no way a writer in his ivory tower. He was pretty much connected and set in the real life of his time and confronted with real-life problems. “His work is marked by clarity, intelligence and wit, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and commitment to democratic socialism.” That’s what Wikipedia says, and I solidly agree with that.

Orwell. The dystopian writer, the social critic

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There are many books by George Orwell, well worthwhile reading which are hard to come by because of course, 1984 and Animal Farm are the evergreens and the bestsellers that cannot be surpassed.

Retracing his steps, we find that he was basically a middle upper lower middle class son, who was born in India, grew up in Burma, living a privileged life within a well bred family. But as he grew older, and after having returned to Europe, he seemed to have been a wandering spirit. He tried out multiple ways in order to live, he had something inside him, a search of something else, a weariness of everyday life about him. Something that made him seek out adventures. He led an unusual life. Orwell wrote his first book with the title “Down and out in Paris and London” (1933) which I would like to recommend today with all my heart.

In a nutshell, it is a desolate depiction of what the social reality for poor people, for people out of a regular existence, jobless, homeless, sometimes vagabonds and basically impoverished people must have been like. The daily search to get by on a minimum of money is shown with a pinch of salt. It is not someone who is crying into his bowl of water-soup at the workhouse. There is nothing that resembles rage or an accusation against the state or the state of things in there. It just shows the reality of what things were like. Without commenting as much on it. That is Orwell’s English side. And this is what made me have goose pimples all over when I first read the book at 20. It was hair-raising. The cruelty and the sometimes really very harsh if not brutal realities are depicted in a very formal and sometimes offhand manner. It is something hard to digest at first. But that way, the reader gets to the bottom of things, to the places where Orwell leads him, to the darkest corners in pre-war Paris and pre-war London. The reader must ask himself what made Orwell endure all of this. He wanted to be a first-hand narrator. He did not want to narrate the hell of others, of vagabonds, he first wanted to endure it so he could write his books with a totally different stance. Today, we might call him an investigative journalist. Yes, but Orwell was more than that. He was a critic in his way not to criticize anything but depicting every cruel detail of what happens to poor people and what happens if you get to the point where you lose your job, you home and your social framework. Something which in the nineteen-thirties must have been something not so easy to endure.

Another very good book by Orwell is “Burmese Days” where Orwell actually lets us in on the secrets of his upbringing in the colonies. It is an eye opener. Truly recommended.

All in all, I can only recommend George Orwell again and again. I know, that 1984 is a must read for many classes (at school as well at university) but it rightly is so. As well as Animal Farm has become a total classic. However, Down and Out in Paris and London, as well as Burmese Days and his collected Essays should find more readers, the way I see it.

Orwell was a bright man, with a vision.

Ending this post, I would like to point out that in fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel that Orwell is a more than a modern classic, he is a post-modern writer, someone to foresee something sinister that was about to happen. Let’s us all see to it that we can make this dystopia stop before Big Brother and the thought police become reality.

I wonder what Orwell would write if he was alive today.

I’ve been living in Spain for the past 5 years and a couple of months. It is strange how your perspective changes during a period of time, especially when you compare the before and after.

I remember back when I arrived here, Spain seemed to epitomize everything I was looking for: freedom, a friendly, lively and open society interspersed with strong family values. I won’t say that this was all gone now. I won’t say that. That would be as untrue as some pre-election preachings by some dopey politicians. But truth is the time here has made me re-evaluate what I was looking for and also if these values are actually here, to be found in this country.

With today’s approval of the new educational law (by Wert) for the upcoming school year 2013/2014, things again have gone step further. A bit further in a direction I personally do not approve of. Spain and its current educational system changes have become my personal nightmare.

Wert and his wish to "españolizar a los niños catalanes"

Wert and his wish to “españolizar a los niños catalanes”

Spain seems to have changed a lot on the whole. Apart from having undergone two (!) upgrades of the VAT: one from 16% to 18 % in 2008 (or 2009), and one in 2012 from 18% to 21%! The mínimum wage still is at 650€ while France and the Netherlands have mínimum wages of around 1300-1400€. Any questions??? In other terms, it’s ridiculous.

 

Spain changed a lot. Politically, but also when it comes to forming a society.

On the other hand, I doubt that there is something like a country that does not change. It is pretty much normal that changes occur. The point is always your point of view. To make it clear: it largely depends if you LIKE or DISLIKE the changes your country is experiencing and actively forging. For me, this kind of evaluation, always has proven difficult back when I was in the old country, Germany. Since I am half Greek, half German, I’ve always felt kind of torn in terms of chosing one philosophy, one way of life and one type of political or society system. I never felt at ease living in Germany. I felt like I was betraying the Greek side in me. Here in Spain, I’m just another foreigner which somehow is liberating. 😉 One who, if I criticize too loudly, will be told to “go home where you belong…” Whatever. I know this could very easily be the case. So I try things on a different level.

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Returning to my situation here in Spain. Of course, the first years in a new country are always the hardest. You fight for survival. You learn the language, try to get a job. You help your kids integrate. You try to integrate yourself as much as you can. You try to basically keep your head above the water. If you still have time to share a joke with friends, maybe have a beer, every once in a blue moon, then you’re good. Actually, holding my head above the water is what I still do now. Economy’s pretty much weakened in the past five years, the job prospects have never been as scarce and as insecure as they are now. To be honest, a whole month sometimes can be pretty long, but your money needs to go that long way and you especially as a family need to make ends meet, somehow. Sometimes, you buy the dirt cheap crap that you know is unhealthy as your kids need new shoes, or you need the money to buy books or you have to repair the car or whatever. Poverty is not a nice friend to have. If always sticks it ugly head in when you least expect it. But that’s what happens. But somehow, we always manage. Somehow, we really do. I cannot complain. But that’s a joint force. Because we are a family and we are tight knit and we kind of don’t want to surrender. Up until now, we have done well I would say. But I’ve seen people come and go. And I know what I see. I know that the coming years will be harder, and more of a financial tightrope. We need to be stricter about the things we never used to think about. The only luxury we ever indulged in every now and then was a journey once per year. And I am pretty happy we did that journey, because that is something no-one can take away from us now. But if truth be told, after what happened in the past couple of months, I very much doubt that next year we will be going on any holiday at all. Plus the income possibilities are getting weaker and weaker. Everyone is trying to get by. Somehow. Every tries to cut corners. And sometimes your job is their corner they need to cut. Understand? Things are gonna be tough. And this is not a fairy tale. This is true shit. It is happening. It is already here. And it is here to stay.

Actually, when I look around me I truly find that there more and more people like me, meaning: educated, well motivated and somehow empoverished. They put everything on one card, moved away from their home town, from their home country, in search of a better country. Often like myself, 2nd generation immigrants, who themselves decided to move away cos they were not happy in the country they were living in. Sometimes, university graduates, like me, going abroad as their homecountry does not really care about them, and their abilities.

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But when we get down to brass tacks: A true exodus of brains already happened ten or even twenty years ago, the retrograde development of educational systematics in terms of the double language system in Catalonia, the continuous cutbacks in important government subventions especially in the region of culture, education and infrastructure – this is all so wrong. It can only be called wrong, sinister and I do say it, it is criminal. It is a crime against the next generation.

When I think back on my days at school, I do need to say one thing. School was basically fun. We had books, we had teachers who worked on a nice payroll, they were happy, we had facilities, we had rooms, we had tables, benches and chairs, books, films, educational material, money for excursions, and there were always things to do and the equipmment was pretty new. I was lucky that my formative years fell into the Eighties when Europe was in an alltime high in terms of economy and also financial possibilities. I feel truly blessed. But that is not the point. I was basically just lucky.

I know that the reality today looks pretty much different. It looks much more like a country in Eastern Europe. Could be Bulgaria, could be Romania, but stop, hang on, it’s Spain.

What happened? There are still enough millionaires around. The money of millionaires is actually in this country. Trouble is they don’t need to pay taxes. We – the stupid ones, the workers – we do. We are the slaves of the 21st century. A lot of money is to be spent. They do it. Politicians do it. Millionaires do it. Black money. I would very much say so. Anyone who disagrees is entitled on a free course of how the Spanish state financially works. Anyone who disagrees lives in denial.

If someone dares me, I will start to burn a Spanish flag any day. Any day. And I would go to prison for it because I think there is seriously something really wrong going on here.

Especially on a cult and supposedly rich (hahaha) island like Ibiza you get to see crass discrepancies of the extremely rich and the extremely poor. Here you have the big spender in his Hummer sipping champagne on the beach, snorting cocaine and bribing pólice officers. On the other side of the road you will have some nearly hungry and practically homeless kids, living in some sheds, working for next to nothing, only to get some shelter and put some food on the table. Those kids get picked up by the pólice for doing a joint and they wander into prison for having a gram on them while others walk free. That’s Spain today. The social disparities are getting crasser each and every day.

From a personal standpoint, I think I have found my home. I do feel so much at home here in Spain, and more so in Ibiza, but the thing is the political and social decisions here are getting more and more on my nerves. I feel almost violated through the insanity of the decisions that we are served each and every day. I detest reading or listening to the news. It makes me manic. Each day there is something that really hits my nerve. The worst is I cannot do anything against it except for let others know what I hear, what I see and make them think for themselves. My hands are tied so I am damned to see and do nothing more which in itself is torture. But I have to inform myself. I cannot pretend I would not know anything or I would not care about what is happening around me.

The current happenings here in terms of school and language options, the so-called Balearic decisions, and the Wert law that passed government approval today, make me think that the decisions by the minister Jose Ignacio Wert are truly a joke. No, serious, they are a threat to a well founded education of my children. Thus, the only thing I can do now is hope that we and others too will take the Wert law and throw it back in his stupid idiot face. I cannot believe this is happening. How can someone be that blind and that ignorant? How much must he hate the catalán language and culture he really wants to eradicate it from the educational sector and from the minds and hearts of people. 30 years. All for nothing? I don’t think so.

Trouble is though I cannot vote against him since I don’t even have a right to vote in Spain.

Another thing that is worrying me is that there is no real figurehead, no personality in Spain who is counteracting what is happening here, and who has the power to change things. The Royal family are themselves a desaster and a laughing stock, Rajoy, well, I won’t start on him now, and Wert, well, I’ve covered that area with today’s post. Are there no people around who are activist enough to do something? I wish there were. If I would see a cause I would deem worthy enough, I would surely try to be part of it.

The times to be non-political are definitely over. Even if you think you are non-political, you are indeed political. Wanna know how? If you say you are non-political or unpolitical, you let everything pass by, not assuming responsibility, and thereby cementing the current players who are in control. By you being passive, they actually gain power and you are thus inadvertently helping the current government. Like it  or not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

There-are-no-dangerous-thoughts, Thinking itself is dangerous.

Wanna think this over?

PS: Actually, the more I think about it, the more I come to think that the whole language discussion is a red herring maneouvre to distract from current inner politics that went wrong as well… By the whole language debate, the catalonians will get worked up, and thus their power will be diminished… Therefore, it is so important to keep an eye on moving forward in terms of Independence.

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