the two in between
March 7, 2010, 12:48 pm
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: , , , , ,

In a town in south Spain life remains good in spite of high unemployment.  How do they maintain their high standard of living?  With a blend of support from black market, family, and government.  Us capitalists have come to believe there is only one way of supporting yourself:  get a job or start a business.  It’s a good way and it works for a huge majority of people.  It’s an idea that allowed the middle class to flower.  But as an idea, it does tend away from plural thinking and toward orthodoxy.  Can’t the idea of working or owning coexist with other ways of living and supporting yourself and people?  Shouldn’t there at least be the willingness to listen to other ideas about how to live?

I feel like we are in the age of the Market, and that we aren’t doing so well, and that we need to blend our faith in this high religion with other ideas that are ecumenical, nimble, open, in order to make things better for more people.  People don’t like change; they go completely cold if change involves challenging orthodoxies like the market.  But change is good, and now may be the best chance we have to take a close look at what’s behind all the gold, and raiment, and smoke.

Joblessness has climbed to 19 percent in Spain, the highest in the euro zone, after the collapse of a housing bubble. But here in Cádiz, it is at a staggering 29 percent — and has been in double digits for decades.

Elsewhere in Europe, such high numbers would lead to deep social unrest. Not so in Cádiz. Here, as across the Mediterranean, life remains puzzlingly comfortable behind the dramatic figures, thanks to a complex safety net in which the underground economy, family support and government subsidies ensure a relatively high quality of life.

“This is a place where you can live well, even when unemployed,” said Pilar Castiñeira, 30, as she attended a performance of carnival skits in a downtown theater. “Life is four days long,” she added, recounting a Spanish saying. “On one you’re born, on another you die, and in the two in between, you have to have fun.”

Persistent Unemployment, Without Lingering Pain, by Rachel Donadio, The New York Times

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