On Poetry and Culture Shock

"In this country"

Spaniards (and some foreigners) think that the Spanish Administration, or Spain as a whole, even, is an inefficient country. They think our bureaucracy is the slowest in the world and our "funcionarios", the civil servants, spend their days taking coffee breaks. Nothing ever works well in Spain in the understanding of some people. I'm no patriot, but I think this is of course a mistake (there is inefficiency in Spain, sure, but no more than in other places), and I can give several first-hand accounts of American inefficacy (and one or two British ones too).

Today I read something surprising about England. There is a tax there that charges not what you own, not what you earn, but the value of the house where you live. Many (most) people rent their homes, so this is not a tax on property. I can't think of an unfairer tax. So, lately, people's pensions have grown much slowly than the prices of houses, which means that there are old people who cannot afford to pay council tax. and at least one person has gone to jail for not paying her taxes. Yes. Jail. Not for fraud, not for forgery, not for theft. Jail for not paying taxes.

I just find that amazingly culture-shocking. And what is even more culture-shocking is that Spaniards think we should look up to countries like the UK. Wow.

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