Monthly Archives: August 2007

Fake "road accidents"

Spanish media pays special attention constantly to so called road “accidents”. Talk shows and debates on radio and TV discuss the causes for the high number of fatalities on Spanish roads, while Road Traffic Authorities (the Spanish DGT) puts out information campaigns aimed at reducing the number of such “accidents”.

It is frustrating to see how most people on debates and drivers associations blame authorities for the problem, arguing poor signalling, bad roads or other excuses.

The real problem is calling things by the wrong name: what they call “accidents” are no accidents. An accident is something that occurs by chance.
Car crashes rarely happen by chance: they are merely the responsibility of the people driving them. The overwhelming majority of drivers are responsible, but not all are. It’s a lie that road deaths are caused by accidents. Those deaths have direct responsibles are can be easily identified. Yet, everywhere you can hear talk about “accidents”.

There’s only a small percentage of people who do not like to be accountable for their actions. They take no care to observe the driving rules that matter the most: when traffic is dense, you should keep a safety distance; when changing directions or lanes, use the turn signal; when foggy or rainy, slow down; if tired, one mustn’t drive; if drunk, don’t drive. However small percentage of drivers they may be, they endanger everyone else on the road.

By strictly following driving rules, most (almost all) car crashes would be avoided. Yet most (if not all) car crashes are due to someone who drove too fast, too tired, drunk or who didn’t comply with driving rules.

Given that accidents do not exist, all deaths on the road are homicides or even killings. The driver who performed the risky manoeuvre, the reckless driving or the illegal action should be treated as a murderer and tried as such.

Road “accidents” per se are only those caused by acts of nature that couldn’t be predicted (say a sudden storm, an earthquake, a sudden drop in temperature). In just about any other case, humans are involved, and therefore the road “accident” is directly related to a driver’s responsibility behind the driving wheel.

PSOE's "Spain" Marketing

During the present Government (of the Socialist Party, PSOE), the opposition (the Popular Party, PP) has said repeatedly that the Government is “dismantling” the Spanish Nation while empowering multiple nations within the State. The Government denies such accusations, and in turn blames the opposition for “borrowing” the idea of Spain for themselves.

It is true that the PSOE has helped several small nationalisms rise within the State. Such practice, which the PSOE has encouraged and started in Catalonia, Galicia and Andalusia, is a sure source of confrontation and division among people.

When politicians encourage differentiating sentiments in a people with
respect to others, they are motivated by any of these reasons:

  • Divert people’s attention from their real needs and problems
  • Avoid the hard work of governing
  • Assert control over the people (obtain votes) arguing the people are being discriminated against, or attacked/controlled by others

In order to call up the “national” characteristics of a people it is necessary to do it in reference or in comparison to other peoples. I.e., it is required to pinpoint everything that’s different. In this way, a feeling can be created of “unity” before that which is strange. While the ‘strange’ or ‘external’ elements may be friend rather than foe, the more friendly it is, the less chances for differentiation are available to the politician to use as crowd control tool.

Precisely, the Government of Prime Minister Rodríguez Zapatero is playing a delicate equilibrium stimulating small nationalisms here and there, highlighting differences between different regions in Spain. In other words, they attempt to concede a leading role to the “Nations” in Spain, while making the Spanish Nation disappear. The fact that one nation, two nations or three-hundred nations exist is meaningless: what’s important here is the damage the Government is causing people by bringing out political differentiation among territories.

Nevertheless, in order to silence their critics in the opposition, the Socialist Government of Rodríguez Zapatero has begun changing the Government’s media publicity campaigns. Lately, advertisements of Government ministries or agencies on TV, radio and press end with a written or spoken signature, saying “Gobierno de España”.

Why “Gobierno de España”? There is no room for confusion. Could some other Government be advertised in Spain? Do the French Traffic Authorities show adverts in Spain? Of course not: Any advertisement of a Ministry or other Government institution in the press is clearly the Spanish Government’s, and there is no need to underline this fact. To point it out is actually pretentious.

Then, why underline “Gobierno de España”? By doing this, the Government begins to place in the collective subconscious mind the idea that the central Government is face to face with the regional governments (which have been using the same publicity formula since long ago).

Other pro-Spanish tactics of this Government include a series of new official stylish logos displaying the colors of the Spanish flag. On the other hand, the Government does not show willingness to enforce a law on the use of flags, being overlooked at me moment by several city halls and regional governments, by failing to display the Spanish flag in several official buildings.

Therefore, while the Government dodges criticism for not defending the idea of “Spain” with pretentious advertisements and cool little logos, it fails to do its job and focuses on promoting differences among Spanish regions, rather than performing its work of Government.