Theodore Dalrymple compares the quality of life in Spain and Britain in an essay in the Daily Telegraph entitled The cost to Britain of confusing money with wealth.
There are differences in public behaviour, too. I saw more litter in a hundred yards on my return to Britain than I had seen in a thousand miles in Spain (this is the most literal truth): and I couldn't help recalling the title of a book about the Spanish as seen through Nazi eyes, entitled Intrepidos y sucios, Intrepid and Dirty. But it is now Britain that is well and truly the dirty man of Europe.
Spanish youth, while disagreeably noisy, certainly does not behave with the hideous, determined vulgarity of British youth. It does not eat in the street, is not menacing in appearance, nor does it display the egotistical malignity of its British counterpart, which turns almost any social interaction into a potentially violent confrontation.
In America so much of politics has been taken over by a battle between entitlements spending, defense spending, and tax policy that ideological wars dominate too much of our political discourse. Ideological libertarians argue that we have a government which is too large, intrusive, and harmful. I even agree with them. But there is a public space that can not be removed and the whole "Broken Windows" approach for controlling crime argues very convincingly that the appearances of houses, office buildings, and public spaces matter a great deal. But the Left is too busy fighting for extensions to the redistributionist state to have time or even money left over as they busily try to enact more entitlements. Republicans fearful of the senior vote are about to vote in the beginnings of a huge old folks prescription drug benefit even as existing old age government entitlements are about to grow to unaffordable levels
Of course the Spanish have their own unsustainable entitlements. But somehow they've managed to appreciate their public spaces and to do a much better job than the Brits of passing culture along to newer generations.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 July 04 03:56 AM Civilizations Decay|