Social awareness

An interesting table in the ‘programa’ section of the website of Joan Saura (Ecosocialist hopeful in the upcoming regional elections in Catalania) shows how much spending on social policy increased under the tripartite coalition government which took over from centre-right nationalists CiU.

The table shows 40% spending increases in health and education and a 651% rise in housing. Internecine squabbling and a ‘more Catalan than thou’ approach to communication meant that spending increases didn’t get a lot of attention, but worth bearing in mind for anyone seriously considering a vote for a return to the bad old days of nationalist government. 

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~ by Daniel on October 12, 2006.

4 Responses to “Social awareness”

  1. Fried dough planet,
    Do you mean that we should base our vote decision on a spreadsheet? Shouldn’t we consider facts and reality too?. Maybe we are spending a lot of money on education and housing, but the reality is that Spain (Catalonia included) ranked last in the most recent OCDE study on education among the different members and that they have decided to cancel the upcoming housing summit in BCN because they feared huge demonstrations. How comes those analysts and security advisors did not look at your favorite table?
    Looking at the table, my only interpretation is that the current coalition pocketed €4 billion more than the nationalists (who, by the way, must have pocketed quite a lot too).
    Everyone can make nice tables, but I prefer the bad old nationalistic days with Jordi, rather than these Excel masters that you so much support.

  2. Ian,

    I really don’t know where to start. No, I’m not suggesting we base our vote on a spreadsheet at all; I’m saying that anyone who values public services should consider the fact that the tripartite reversed a longstanding downward trend in public spending on social policy following 23 years of nationalist government. Is it really that difficult to interpret?

    I know Spain and Catalonia rank badly in international comparisons in education, which is precisely why I’m suggesting that spending on education be taken into account when casting votes. You may well remember that Jordi, as you refer to him as, was happy to dish out public money to elite Opus Dei schools, which Artur Mas justified by saying there was plenty of money swilling around. Is giving subsidies to exclusive schools the way to improve education? There’s some info from Vicenç Navarro here:

    Public Spending on Social Policy (%GDP)
                                     1993     1999
    CATALUNYA          21.8 % 17.5 %
    ESPAÑA                  24.0 % 19.9 %
    UE-15                     28.8 % 27.6 %

    Your argument about the housing summit is one of the most bizarre non-sequiturs I’ve heard in a long time, though your comment about the current coalition ‘pocketing 4 billion euros’ gives it a run for its money.

    Come on Ian, I really think you can make me work a bit harder if you try.

  3. It is hard to be witty, when you ask me to compare rotten apples (Ecosocialist) with rotten oranges (CiU).

    Personally I do not believe in a welfare society. therefore public spending does not mean much to me.
    I am more interested in lean an efficient public sector with an empowered private sector that drives the economy and pays its employees well, so that they can afford housing, a good healthcare insurance and an outstanding education for their kids.

    The only area where I would agree to put lots of public money is security and yes, education, as long the money is properly used, what rarely happens.

    And if you cannot link the dots between the cancellation of the housing summit and the continuous protests on the street because of lack of affordable housing that contradicts your theory about how much more better we are now with respect to public housing thanks to the Econosocialists, it is your problem.

  4. Regards your last point, my point is that if housing is a problem (which you admit) then better to vote for a government that is prepared to invest in this. I can link the dots between a lack of housing and protest, what I can’t link are the dots between a lack of housing and voting for a nationalist government which does not invest in social policy. Obviously you can’t replenish the public housing stock overnight and the problem persists, but at least some investment is being made. The market on its own is not sorting this problem out, I’m sure you’ll agree, and something needs to be done. If you have a free-market alternative, I’d be genuinely interested to hear it.

    As it goes I agree with you about efficiency in public spending (the bureaucracy, spending prioritisation on sectors of interest to regional powerbrokers and not the people and dishing out of favours, as well as a politicised civil service here all work against this). And where the market works (I’d take education, health and public goods like roads etc out of this), I’d rather encourage entrepreneurship and free it up as far as possible (no favourable tax deals for botiguers, no dishing out of cash to inefficient ‘friendly’ companies as happened with Jordi’s Institut Català de Finances, no hand-outs to Catalan media companies that couldn’t survive otherwise etc.)

    You don’t believe in public spending, so obviously you’re not interested in a government which is, but lots of people do value public services. Try asking people over here to give up a public health service and see how far you get.

    You see, I told you could make me work harder!

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