Socialism and Liberal Morals

February 02, 2011 By: erik Category: Politics, Spain 547 views

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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.

  • Paul

    Having your day care cost less, but only if you bother to ask the government to pay “their share” reminds me of how your iPhone upgrade cost less, but only if you asked if you could pay less. Here in NC, all the grocery stores, and now almost all the department stores and pharmacies, have their own store cards which give customers a rather substantial discount on most items. The whole scheme seems to be a sort of tax on the careless, newbies, and out-of-towners. Perhaps America’s dumbing-down trend will reverse course or at least stabilize when all of society’s needs are being met by the voluntary taxes of the careless and ignorant.

    When you say you find yourself on the “liberal end of the political spectrum”, I assume you are talking about the American spectrum, and not the Spanish political spectrum. From what you say, it sounds like there is absolutely no room for anybody on the port side of the Spanish boat.

  • You know what, I’ve been away from America so long that the PP seems pretty far to the right to me. Guess a little exposure to Sarah Palin would probably change that. 😉

    So, what’s your opinion on the whole retirement age issue? Just curious.

    • erik

      Spaniards used to start work at 18 (or earlier!), retire at 60, and die at 70, thus working 66% of their lifetime, and 14% getting retirement benefits.

      Today Spaniards start work at 30 and die at 90. If they retire at 60, that’s just 33% of their lifetime spent working, and 33% getting retirement benefits. It seems like pretty simple budget economics to me that the retirement age must be increased.

      Even if we backed my cynical “start work at 30” parameter back down to 18, the fact that life expectancy has increased means that the government needs more income tax to pay for higher retirement costs.

      • Yeah, makes sense, but I guess it’s going to be hard to get people to understand it. And I don’t see getting the starting age anywhere near 18 with the way things are going now…which means we are looking at many years ahead with our kids living at home. I laugh about it because when Carmen was about 4, and she used to get angry with us, she would say she was moving to Paris when she turned 16. She’s almost 16 now and there’s no sign she’s interested in leaving home any time soon, in fact she would like to live with us until she finishes college, and at some point she said she’d stay until she was married.

  • Fcperpiglia

    But you know someone else is paying for the checks you’re receiving from the government and you ask yourself “why should they be paying for me?”  And that’s the crux of the moral issue:  Societies have always taken care of those who were unfortunate enough to not be able to take care of themselves. 

    But to have the State – which has the power of arrest and jail – to be in charge of selecting who gets taxed and who gets aid is immoral.

    And you’ll soon find that out when “they” decide YOU aren’t paying your “fair share”.