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Now the Spanish are dealing with La Crisis

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Now the Spanish are dealing with La Crisis

Post by Boothjendar on Tue Aug 30, 2011 3:49 pm

Yes it’s tough for so many people in Spain at the moment, especially with an unemployment rate of over 20%, but if anyone can see it through it’s got to be the Spanish.

I was sat the other day sipping a lovely coffee at a bar in the local village, talking to a group of locals of varying ages. Some were in their thirties and some were in their eighties. All were in the bar “shouting” at each other. They had no choice, being a typical bar the TV was on quite load so they had to shout to be heard. Why is there always a TV in a bar?

I digress. The point was that the topic of discussion was the usual one: La Crisis.

From which I concluded that there are two reasons that Spain and its people will be able to weather the storm much better than other countries possibly could. These are:

1. Tight family support

2. A return to a cash-based society

Let’s take a look at each one and throw in some examples too.

1. La Familia

In Spain the family is just so important. Talking to a good Spanish friend the other day, Lola, she was telling me that the one thing her mother made sure all her kids knew more than anything else (seven children in this case) was that it was always family first.

Now they are all grown up and all have their own families, Lola and her brothers and sisters are incredibly close. Her children have so many cousins and second cousins that afternoons at the beach and weekends away are always with other members of the family.

And Lola and her brothers look after each other. She told me that if one of the members of the family is having a tough time then all the others chip in. No one goes without. Together they form their own support network, financially and emotionally.

No Benefits

I was reading the other day in the Sur in English that over 60,000 unemployed people in the Malaga area receive no benefits whatsoever. Here in Spain benefits end after two years, although for some they may never have paid enough social security and so may not even have been able to claim benefits in the first place.

That’s quite a scary thought. Just imagine if all your income stopped tomorrow. Would you be able to survive? Nothing coming in at all. Forget paying the mortgage, what about simply buying food?

Not every family in Spain is like Lola’s. Many families still have no one to fall back on. That’s for sure. These may depend on local charities or help from the local town hall but it’s not a long term solution.

However, most of the families I have come across are definitely in the Lola camp. They are their own support network; I suppose we could think of it as a cooperative.

Some good friends of ours, Diego and Isa, left our village to return to their own village in Almeria as his benefits stopped. Their whole family lives in Almeria and they told us that being in Almeria means they’ll never be hungry and they’ll always have a roof over their heads. In fact, since they returned they’ve never been happier.

So the family in Spain is a big factor in people coping with severe unemployment and a lack of long term benefits. The older generation always tells me that they’ve been through a lot worse before and so they can survive this, no problem.

2. Cash Society

When we arrived in Spain over seven years ago you didn’t see many people pull out a cash card or credit card to pay for their shopping at the checkout.

No, they would pull out a wad of notes instead. This seemed quite normal and it always used to surprise me that people would be walking around with so much cash in their pockets.

I suppose half the reason for this was because paying by card just wasn’t possible, or should I say inconvenient, in many places. Systems were generally very slow and unreliable and so people resorted to paying cash for everything. It’s better today!

The other half of the reason being that many people were being paid for jobs in cash and there was a huge amount of “black” money circulating around. It was the stereotypical money under the mattress scenario.

But that cash culture never died. In fact, I think it’s probably stronger than ever today.

For example, being self employed in Spain is expensive, very expensive in fact. Paying your social security and other costs totaling around €300 every month, that’s a lot of money to pay out regardless of how much you earn.

Knowing families here who survive on less than €600 per month, half of that is a huge amount to forfeit. So many have decided to stop paying it and keep the cash instead. They still do what they were doing before but they just work for cash now.

Before I get shot down about this, not everyone does this but I do know enough that do.

Let’s take another example. Earlier in the year there was a campaign to form the longest unemployment queue in the world for the Gusiness Book of Records. This should have been easy to do in a country of over 4 million unemployed. They only needed 4,500 people to turn up.

Only 80 turned up on the day!

Checking some Spanish forums to see what had happened, the general consensus was that most of these people were actually working (for cash) and so couldn’t take the time off to join the queue.

Those aren’t my opinions but those of the Spaniards posting on the forums.

It seems that the money circulating around at the moment is going from person to person and bypassing the government. The government, I’m sure, is well aware of this.

But this is how many families are surviving these tough times, and I mean surviving. Many are just making enough money to pay most bills and put food on the table. If everyone tried to pay all their social security and tax obligations then it might be a different story.

It’s Still Tough

No matter what level of family support is out there or how many cash jobs people can do, it’s still very tough for many Spanish families at the moment. It’s the same story in many other countries too.

But I think that the Spanish mentality and culture will see them through it and things will start improving again in the not too distant future.

Written by: Justin Aldridge (EOS)

About the author:

Justin has been running Eye on Spain for over 5 years and recently with his partner Susan launched their popular moving to Spain video guide, Spain Uncut.

Posts : 526
Join date : 2010-03-21
Age : 50
Location : Los Carriones

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