THE CULTURAL TIGHTROPE
THERE’S YOUR EXPLANATION
I find myself rushed off my feet trying to achieve some kind of work-life balance
In his article on the facing page regarding the economic status of Barcelona and Madrid within the Spanish state, Eduard García – a member of the Economy Section of the Catalan National Assembly – clearly spells out the challenges that Barcelona – and therefore also Catalonia – faces as the leading economic power in Spain due to its relegation in importance given that Madrid is the state’s political capital. I would like to thank Eduard for his explanation, since it provides a clear picture of the scenario I have for years tried in vain to successfully portray to friends and acquaintances, whether fellow residents or visitors.
I visited Madrid very recently for several days to attend a conference. Naturally, given my 28 years living in Catalonia, I have been many times before, and my impression of the city, although admittedly only brief this time, was once again one of a rather contented people calmly going about their business, which contrasts dramatically with the lifestyle I find myself wrapped up in living here in Barcelona.
Allow me to clarify: here in the Catalan capital I find not only myself, but many of the people I come into contact with on a daily basis, rushed off their feet trying to achieve some kind of work-life balance, while bemoaning the fact that the infrastructure around them is not up to the standards you would expect given the busi-ness – in the literal sense of the word – of the people who live here. And as I have constantly told people for years, and mentioned in this column at least once, that lack of investment is partly due to the Spanish state not meeting its financial commitments with the tax money it receives from the various regions, Catalonia being one of the principal – although I hasten to add, not the only – victim of this economic negligence.
I am constantly met with the same argument by anyone who actually takes the time to listen to my moaning, namely that it is the same everywhere: the wealthier regions of a state must bear the weight of paying for the poorer ones. At which point I have historically struggled to formulate an argument as to why “Spain is different” in this respect, despite knowing deep down that it surely is. Fortunately, Eduard has now done that for me with his precise explanation on the facing page of how the wings of regions, industries and people are “economically clipped” in order to benefit others.
So to all of those who have had to tolerate my constant moaning about the unfairness of working our a**** off here in Catalonia and not reaping sufficient rewards for all that hard work as our taxes flow into the pockets of the corrupt and the incompetent, rest assured that I won’t be airing such grievances ever again, I’ll simply send them a copy of Eduard’s article for them to gain an appreciation of why we are not living in a much more efficient and prosperous city. Not to mention the obvious economic reason why many Catalans think independence would be the right move for Catalonia.