American in Spain

Socialism and Liberal Morals

February 2, 2011

I live in a country where the two dominant parties are The Socialist Workers' Party and The People's Party, both of which would be regarded as immorally Communist by half of my countrymen (the third place is The United Left!). With decent unemployment benefits and almost free healthcare to all, even the far right Spanish politicians are to the left of most Democrats in the United States.

By becoming a parent, I have been introduced to a lot of Spain's socialist help-the-poor policies. Simply by procreating, my wife and I were eligible for 2,500€ "baby check" in government funds, a measure introduced in 2007 (and scrapped in 2011) to try to raise Spain's birthrate. My region of Cantabria provides additional subsidies for child-bearers. My innate and learned moral values have given me such a sense of empathy for the less fortunate, that I cannot help but find myself on the liberal end of the political spectrum. I feel in my heart that it is Society's responsibility to care for the poor and downtrodden, which logically leads to being in favor of "tax the rich" Robin Hood legislation.

Although I don't consider myself rich (who does?), I am certainly richer than I have ever been, and what little debt I have is totally manageable. I am very much aware of the tendency for wealth and age to push one's political beliefs to the right due to the "I earned this! Get a job, you bum!" line of thinking. I can feel this tendency pushing on me, and it takes strength to push back.

Recently we were given forms from our daycare provider to submit to the local government to request subsidies for our daycare expenses. Can you imagine that, my fellow Americans? At the moment, daycare is probably the best appreciated value-for-money of our monthly expenses. It's totally affordable for us, so it just seems unethical to apply for help from the government. In theory, the government drone that would look over our application would take one look at our tax return from last year and discard our application, but who knows. I feel better not submitting it at all and not risk receiving money more needed by another family.

Apathetic Empathy

I rather like the idea of "charity through laziness", where a non-trivial application process is required to receive government aid which weeds out the people who don't really need it because they just can't be bothered. It seems like the perfect solution to avoid the "welfare sucklers" that the political right fears the most...or at the very least it will imbue them with an understanding of "work → money", which fuels the capitalist engine.