Sunday, March 28, 2010

Social Commentary from Madrid, I

Hello, again.

So, within maybe 20 minutes of landing in Madrid, my cabbie (who was as dark skinned as I am) confused me for an Ecuatorian. I naturally didn't say anything other than give him a dirty look because I was TIRED.
Apparently half Ecuador is here (understandable) so...whatever.

But, yeah, I'm [back] in Madrid. Last time I was here was Christmas before last, also on the tail end of a European tour. Nothing's changed since...well, even if something did change I'm not exactly going to notice.
Unlike Granada, Madrid's not half-covered in works (Thanks, Plan Engaño!), and it's huge,
Note that I am not by any means dissing Granada's public works program. When it's all done it's going to make the city more beautiful than it already is.
Which is going to suck for the tourism industry because people are NOT going to want to leave.

Back to Madrid.
Let's talk about the subway.
The subway is such a novel contraption I wish it could be placed everywhere in the Rio Grande Valley. Except we can't really build one, what with us being on sea-level and all that.
(And there's a number of people who would break the rails just by virtue of their mass)
But if anything, we should make more use of our public transportation system. Cut our dependency on our cars.
And don't get me wrong, I love driving, but hell, if I could have a reliable way to get to say, South Texas ProBAR without having to drive or pay an expensive bus ticket, I'd really appreciate it.

We should bring back the trains, too. It'd be a great source of employment.

So, how about some social commentary?
I think I already talked enough about healthcare and education.
So how about POLITICS?

Well, in brief:
Earlier in the 20th century, there was this war in Spain. The Spanish Civil War.
Horrible affair. The right-leaning nationalists (fascists) versus a conglomeration of anarchists, socialists, democrats, communists and international volunteers.
The "fascists" won because of their unity and because Franco was a BAMF in his own right. I use the term in quotations because Franco wasn't anything but...Franco. He saw opportunities and took them, the ultimate pragmatist. That led him to make buddies with Hitler early on just to be able to use German technology against the Republicans. Combined with the fact that the Republicans had pretty much been like "LET'S KILL ALL THE CAPTAINS OF OUR SHIPS IMPERIALIST PIGS!" without the foresight of having Republican backups to said captains, Franco had the technological edge.
Later on, when Hitler was doing his stuff, he was like " know those planes and stuff we sent you to help you win? Yeahhhh, it'd be cool if you joined me, cuz, you kinda owe me."
Franco was like, "Sorry, no hablo Aleman" and that was the end of it. Yeah, there was a Spanish Blue Division who fought for the Germans in the war, but it was an entirely volunteer regiment formed SOLELY to fight the Russkies.

So what ends up happening is that Franco rules the country as a dictator for awhile, and then when things settle down and several dozen thousand Spaniards are put to death or exiled, he restores the constitutional monarchy in his deathbed. The government is socialist-leaning but with conservative values. So there's a period of conservative leaders from the Partido Popular and then BOOM, the mudjahaddeen bomb the Atocha train station in Madrid as retailiation for Aznar's support for the Bush Invasion...right before the general election.

Oddly enough, the people flipped out and elected Zapatero, the candidate for the PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) and then there was a pull out.

So there's a lefty-leaning government, the opposition party is a right-leaning lefty party, and there is a new center-standing lefty party that's gaining prominence called "Union Progreso y Democracia" who's like Whoa, you guys both suck, but here's my legitimate gripe with you.

Why do I bring up politics?

Because I don't like the way the PSOE is running things. And I think there's room for more debates about fixing shit in regards to crime and punishment. Murderers getting away with...well, murder, is not right. Life imprisonment is NOT inhumane.

Speaking of inhumane, there's certain inhumane subsidies that have prejudiced the people of Spain in this foreigner's opinion.
There's lots of stores called "de chinos" which, as you imagine, are Chinese-owned stores. Problem with these stores is that unlike Spanish stores which tend to close on Sundays and some close from 2-5 for the siesta, these are family joints that run all week.
Which, y'know, is the capitalist thing to do, right?
They get subsidies to do so. A Chinese-owned business pays no taxes for five years. Which is weird. I'm all for immigration, I'm all for a lot of things, but I am not for the philosophical jeopardizing of a nation's autonomy. What happens is right before five years are up, the owner transfers the lease to a family member and 5 more years of no taxes!

If you know me, I'm a big fan of immigration. However, those benefits should also be given to domestic industries as well, if you're going to start giving those handouts.

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