Friday, February 23, 2007

Catalan and Market Economy

Unfortunately the best word to describe us Catalans is a Spanish one: “gilipollas”. There’s plenty of Catalan words that have a similar meaning (“beneit, ximple, babau, beneit del cabàs, curt, poca-solta, …”), but none of them describes this special kind of acquired moronity that characterizes us. Led by politicians whose brain is the size of a mosquito’s testicle, we act as a divided people with neither ambition not pride. It’s 500 years of lowering our heads and those who dared to raise it were betrayed by their own neighbors ("botiflers").

I love market economy and I am appalled by the fact that most Catalans put all the responsibility of the situation of our nation and especially, our language, on the government. Dear fellow citizens, our government is useless, the brainpower of the whole cabinet put together would not rival the one of an Australopithecus having a bad day. Write them off. They would sell you and their mother, for an ephemeral political gain.

The power is in our cash, credit cards, cash cards, checks and bank accounts. Let’s put our money only on those products that offer user interfaces, directions for use, call centers, labels and advertisements in Catalan. Let’s value the customer focus of those companies that believe that satisfying the Catalan customers is worth while the effort of creating diversity in their product portfolio.
If a company from Albacete offers a product labeled in Catalan and a company from Palau de Plegamans offers a similar product only labeled in Spanish, let’s all massively buy the one from Albacete.
Even assuming that only 50% of the Catalan speaking people gives a damn about their language, that makes a good 5 million people with a purchasing power bigger than many mid and small size European countries with solid line borders around them. When the market share in the Catalan speaking areas of those companies who refuse to offer their services in Catalan plummet, you will see how quickly all of them will offer their products and services in Catalan.
I personally hope that one day, every product distributed in Catalonia will be labed in three languages (Catalan, English and Spanish), any call center and service website will be in those three languages and every shop assistant, taxi driver, policeman, etc will be fluent in those three languages too.

It is in our hands. Let’s not look at the country of origin of the products to decide whether we buy them or not, let’s check whether they have been tailored to satisfy our needs, thinking that we, Catalan customers, are important for this or that company, let’s favor those businesses that value us and are willing to spend some resources to meet our needs and let’s be ready to pay a little bit more for those products too.

If we act this way, you will see how fast the language will be normalized and we will be able to reserve the adjective “gilipollas” only for our politicians.

Note: as a business person, I am aware that the distribution of multi-language labeled products poses a big challenge in Spain. Many Spanish people would boycott products that are labeled in Spanish and Catalan and distributed outside the Catalan speaking areas, simply because Catalan is also on the label. As you can see, Spain is not Belgium, Singapore, Switzerland or Canada.

I am getting ready to fly to Shanghai and practise my Mandarin. Zai jian.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Pep Priorat i Aguiló: Presidente

As some of you will still remember, today is George Washington's birthday and so is mine. Therefore I plan to write about a president that will never exist, Pep Priorat i Aguiló, "Presidente" of Spain.

Many inside, but especially outside Catalonia thought that Catalonia would never have a president that did not have Catalan roots. They all have been proven wrong. Our current president, José Montilla Aguilera, has no Catalan blood whatsoever and he was not even born in Catalonia. He did not even change his first name to Josep (he did that only in previous elections, but not anymore) and he is clearly no "Terminator" either.

Personally I think that laws should require a president be born in Catalonia to run for office, mainly trying to avoid conflict of interests and to warranty allegiance to the country he/she serves. But anyway, José was elected legally and democratically and therefore he is our president, whether or not I like it, and most probably he will do a better job than many of his colleagues of the "tripartit".
So yes, it is proven, a non Catalan born person can become the president of Catalonia, but could a Catalan become the president of the Kingdom of Spain? The answer is categorically NO. Any party that proposes a Catalan candidate to run for office would definitely lose the elections, Pep Priorat i Aguiló has absolutely no chances at all to win the Spanish presidential elections. And you will ask me why? Very simple, Spaniards consider Catalans Spanish, but not as Spanish as the rest. They do not trust us, they believe that we are different, but they are horrified by a potential split.
Let’s not forget that when Miquel Roca i Junyent ran for president in 1986 as the candidate for the Reformist Party, he only got 0.96% of the votes and not a single representative in the House. If he had been called Miguel Piedra Afluente, he would have got a much better result, maybe even the presidency, but he had the wrong name and the wrong origin. Funnily he was born near Bordeaux (in Caudéran, to be exact) when his parents fled the ditactorship, so he could not be Catalan president either if my rule took effect (neither could my son, a New Englander).
Some of you may point out that indeed there were two Catalan presidents in the past.
Estanislao Figueres i Moragues (February 1873 – June 1873) and Francesc Pi i Margall (June 1873 –July 1873) were the first two presidents of the Spanish first Republic, but the fact that they stayed altogether 6 months in power, only proves my point.
Finally, some of you may suggest that I am forgetting one Catalan president of the second Spanish Republic, Alejandro Lerroux, but he was not a Catalan. He was, as our current president, also from Cordoba.

Conclusion: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a Catalan to become president of Spain." (Mark 10:25 with some help)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Fake politics

Since New Year I have been traveling continuously. Seattle, California, Arizona, Germany, The Netherlands, Florida (3x), and I have had no time to write any meaningful posting yet.
And when I am at home, I try to spend some quality time with my wife and the kids.

Two weeks ago, I netflixed "When harry met Sally ...". I had seen this comedy 15 years ago, but I thought that my wife (remember that she grew up in communist China, where western films were normally not shown) would enjoy it.
I had totally forgotten the scene where Meg Ryan fakes an orgasm. It is one of the best comedy scenes in history. To hell, Catalan politics.