Points mean prizes

Artur Mas, the super-slick centre-right nationalist runner in the Catalan regional elections, has come out with what is arguably his silliest proposal yet. Artur wants to issue immigrants with voluntary cards on which they can run up points according to the degree to which they’ve established roots in Catalonia; those with most points would have access to a wider range of social services and those on tempoary work visas would get the chance to stay on a bit longer (assuming the Generalitat is given powers to control this area). So it’s a bit like a supermarket club card, only instead of getting a special deal on a coffee-maker, you may get the chance to extend your stay in Catalonia. Will there be a quiz-show host figure at the immigration department who bundles the unlucky losers onto a plane with a booby prize in the shape of an inflatable Catalan donkey as he extends his arm out to the Catalan landscape and says “here’s what you would have won”? Sick? Yes, just a bit, Artur.

Artur was careful not to specify which social services would be subject to this gameshow approach to social justice, though health and education would, for the moment at least, not be entering into the wheel of fortune. He’s played around with a few ways of amassing points, with Catalan courses and understanding Catalan culture unsurprisingly being an option for anyone wishing to up their points tally. Fine for people who’ve got time to take courses, but not much good to your average construction worker. No points for any forms of community action unrelated to the use of the Catalan language, however.  

The scheme has been likened to the points system used for driving licenses, so there will presumably be the possibility of getting points docked for anyone caught flirting with the devil by indulging in uncatalan activities such as flamenco dancing or listening to Radio Teletaxi.


~ by Daniel on October 20, 2006.

3 Responses to “Points mean prizes”

  1. Daniel, are you an immigrant too?.

    Many immigrants come here demanding for all the rights and accomplishing no duty. For instance, you know that we have one of the best Social Security systems all around the world. We, the Spaniards, want to keep it that way. So everybody has to do the duties, even with the taxes.

    I am sure that your language is very nice, you are a great boy, your Social Security is wonderful, and perhaps you play banjo. But, here, we want to be as we are, we have no interest of changing our habits, laws, language, rights, freedom of speech, absence of burka, and many other things that are a part of us. We, the Spaniards and Catalans, try to respect what we find when we go out. You, coming here from outside Catalunya, have to respect what you find when you come here, and you will be welcome.

    The average construction worker coming from Morocco, for instance, can speak Spanish well. He had the same chances to learn Catalan instead of Spanish. But he took a decision. And also you have to know that there are many FREE Català language classes all around Catalunya, you only need the willing of assisting, because many of them are given in the evenings and nights, the same chances for Spaniards coming from outside Catalunya.

  2. Interesting stuff, Rochonf, and well put. A couple of points:

    If a Moroccan construction worker speaks Spanish instead of Catalan, as in the case you cited, and Catalonia is a bilingual country, why should he be denied certain social services, which is what Artur Mas is proposing? Is this fair when immigrants from other parts of Europe, like myself, are not subject to the same conditions? Would an imaginative linguistic policy not be far more effective than having to force people to learn Catalan under the threat of withdrawing social services?

    I come from outside and consider myself to be quite careful about respecting what I find, though I probably do overstep the mark on occasions, but as a taxpayer and long-term resident, I think I’m entitled to have opinions on the place where I live, aren’t I? And I do feel very welcome, which is a great testimony to the Catalan people.

  3. Absolutely agree with Daniel’s reply, if you want people to learn the language then you make it easy for them – but youi don’t create categories of “good” immigrants and “bad” immigrants. Nobody should be obliged to “integrate” (whatever that means), those social services which Mas wants to ration are also being paid for by immigrants. I believe its fair to say that immigrants are generally much less of a burden on social services than many of the natives. Respecting someone’s culture does not mean that you have to live your life in the same way as them.

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