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My Political Motivation !
On balcony of our Hillsboro Beach apartment Campaigning in West Palm Beach

Many in my generation, who grew up after the Spanish Civil War (under Generalisimo Franco's regime) had strong political views. I am not different. I have been quite an opinionated individual most of my life. After Franco's death Spain became a Socialist Monarchy.

Most countries in Europe are very socialistic if compared to our way of life in the USA. For starters, do not forget that the Social Security system was invented by the Germans, and not in the USA as many Americans believe. For instance, in most of the European countries workers enjoy a compulsory 4-weeks of yearly vacation, plus many more holidays than we do.  Maternity leave often can be extended for up to two years (like in Sweden) without risking losing your job.   In the developed world, only Koreans and Japanese work harder than we Americans do.

In Spain two of my brothers got early "compulsory" retirements three years ago. I am 53 years old, and chances are that "the one who left for big America, the Engineer guru" will have to work until he is 68 or 70. Not that I mind to work hard, I have plenty of intellectual inquietudes and projects that I am sure will keep me motivated to work until I drop dead or become senile. However, I would not like to have to work "for a living" until that age.

My brother Elias, who worked for a major bank as branch director opted for early-retirement at 52 at 80% salary. Another brother -Amador- who was an administrative manager in a shipbuilding facility was "released" at 56 (also at 80% of salary). In Spain, they do this with the idea that the Workers' Union [called Sindicatos] would now have a better chance to offer decent jobs to the large pool of young unemployed aspirants. Another benefit is that the "apparent" unemployment rate looks better that the "real" rate would. That helps public perceptions, and the nation's economic mood.

If you ask me if there is something wrong with the European way of life I would have to reply: "Yes! ... But, it works quite well, though".   Corporations are taxed more than in the US, and that slows business development and labor-market growth somewhat. Excessive taxation definitely is no good.

On the other hand, I miss the relaxed life my relatives enjoy in Spain. Most mothers over there are homemakers, or have not very demanding jobs. Children -therefore- enjoy a warm family environment rich in quality-time.  Did you know that in the US 43% of women work? versus 9% in France

There are popular festivities on every town of Spain, almost every day there is a "Fiesta" somewhere.

In Barcelona alone there are 140 annual street festivities. Crime is under control, and people live -by choice- in the cities. Only hermits live in the suburbs. Streets are crowded with social activities and a lot of human contact.

In Europe, people speak with a multitude of tongues, often the vernacular language is not the national one, and that is pretty OK, as a matter of fact they are very proud of that. After leaving Puerto Rico, I have spent many years in several "English-only" States of America, only to find "refuge" in the greater-Miami area. Here I can feel my Hispanic roots. My wife feels also very comfortable in Broward County, where more than 150,000 Brazilian immigrants live. I am committed to stay here for good.

Divorce is an option in Spain, but the rate at which marriages break is a tenth of the US rate. In my opinion, it has to do with the bonding that develops between family members -and spouses- when people has enough time, vacations, and holidays to live experiences with their close relatives. If we could put a price to the social cost of not having a 3 or 4-week compulsory vacation for everyone in the USA we would be shocked at the findings. In my opinion, it is astronomically more expensive to our society the lack of vacation, than the cost-benefit to our corporations of those few weeks of non-vacation.

I do not have to overly state that life in the USA is not quite the same as in Europe. We all pretty much know that we live quite stressful lives on this part of the Atlantic. Yet, somebody may point out: our homes and cars are bigger and we spend a lot more money at the malls.     That's true! We are more materialistic.  And if you ask the children of broken marriages, you will find out that we also pay dearly for that materialism.

With this preamble, I can now go into saying that when I came to the USA in 1971 I used to agree more with socialistic platforms than with capitalistic ones. My first vote as citizen of the USA was for Jimmy Carter, a deeply religious person, a decent man. During the 80's I was trying to start a software business, then I found the Republicans a little more understanding with the need for creation of high-tech "incubators", and a strong America, so I voted for Reagan.

I was a pioneer in the development of software for micros and PCs. Articles about the database engine that I had created (to keep control of herds in dairy farm operations) appeared on several newspapers and magazines, and I was invited three times to appear on television in Puerto Rico. From 1980 to 1985 (in Puerto Rico), and from 1991 to 1993 (in Wisconsin) I had very close contact with dairy farmers. I met personally most of the 600 registered dairy farmers in Puerto Rico, and probably 300 in Wisconsin.

In Latin America a farmer with an "hacienda" of 50 or 70 cows is considered wealthy. Even in Puerto Rico such a small cattle farmer will do fine. But, I was shocked by the hard work and miserable life that those small cattle/dairy farmers had in Wisconsin. Their children before going to school, and after coming back from school, had to help with the farm chores. Often with frigid temperatures and walking knee-deep on the snow. And yet, despite all this family effort, I never saw so many dirty and decrepit houses, as I saw in Manitowoc, Sheboygan, and some other Wisconsin counties. I have seen people on Welfare fare much better, and with a lot of less effort on their part.

In 1998 I lived for a few months in St. Cloud, MN, and I saw and heard about the plight of the hog-ranchers. It brought me memories of the misery I had seen in Wisconsin -ironically and from what I saw- suffered by the people who could not work any harder. It was not fair!

Those scenes made me move back to my socialistic roots.

I voted for Perot in 1992, and for Clinton in 1996.  I became committed enough to the Democratic platform that for the first time in my life I registered with the Party in 1998.  In June of 2000 I filled out a questionnaire on the internet, and it came back indicating a match of 98% with the views of candidate Al Gore.  I voted for him!

In my wife's hometown (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) With my sister and her family in Spain

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Proofreader: JX
This page was last updated on 09/16/08.


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