Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Catalan Politicians

As much as I like to complain about language politics, I have to say that as a whole, politicians in Catalunya still seem to be relatively idealistic and seem to actually care about affecting what they think are positive chances in society.

They are also remarkably poor. Outgoing Montilla was worth about 365,000 euros and incoming Artur Mas clocked in around 502,000 euros. (There is always the question of undeclared or wifely assets, but none of these politicians leads a particularly extravagant lifestyle.) In the US it would be unusual for a successful politician at the governor level not to be a multi-millionaire.

This is also in remarkable contrast to many other parts of Spain, such as Madrid, Andalucía, and Valencia, where the political class seems to exists primarily as a way to flow government money and favors to the richest and most connected.

One loosely connected anecdote: I recently went on a tour of the super-computer Mare Nostrum, where one of the applications they were showing was a collaboration with the Generalitat on modeling pollution in Barcelona.

The contrast with Madrid couldn’t be more pronounced. After numerous complaints at the EU level, Madrid solved its pollution problem by moving the measuring machines to less polluted locations.

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