La Renta: Tax for the Church – Notes from Spain Podcast 72


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Questions raised in this episode:

1. Is it fair that tax payers in Spain should be forced to decide whether to give a percentage of their tax bill either to the Catholic church or ‘social causes’? Shouldn’t we be given more choices? What does the church do with the money?

2. As people continue to pay good money to visit the place the Virgin Mary last appeared to three shepherds, how religious is Spain?

3. As Turkey also decides on a total smoking ban in public places, how long can Spain hold out? When will they finally ban smoking in bars and restaurants here as well?

37 thoughts on “La Renta: Tax for the Church – Notes from Spain Podcast 72

  1. Ray

    1. We should not have ANY choice. No boxes to check. Government should never distribute money to any religious organization.

    2. I am very religious, I live in Spain, and I feel that Spain in general is getting lass and less religious.

    3. Smoking does not need to be banned inside private businesses at all. Business owners need to decide who they are going to ‘cater’ to.

  2. hellothere

    1. Tax payers in Spain also have the choice NOT to give any money in this instance.
    There are other ways to give money to whichever organisation one deems appropriate.
    I wish the same could apply in other countries…

    2. Some people are religious, some are not, like in other European countries.

    3. Spain may come round.
    I am convinced that the day they really have to stop, they will.

  3. frank

    Ben, you’ve upset the bullfighting fraternity, could be the turn of the “god squad”, “meapilas” and “santurrones” next! ;-)
    In a lot of respects, Spain is many years behind the rest of Europe, and it’ll probably catch up in the years to come as regards smoking. At the moment they still think it’s macho and cool, but hopefully they’ll see the light eventually. Recently, we had a stroll along the front at Torrox, and it was refreshing to see that the busiest restaurant amongst many dozens, was a non smoking restaurant. Even in Spain, in some places it is possible to enjoy a meal without having your lungs full of free smoke.

  4. simon

    well, the PP took the prime minister himself to task in 2006 for smoking in the Moncloa all afternoon while negotiating the Catalan estatut! so when you can’t even get the chief lawmaker to stick to the rules, there’s probably not much chance of getting anyone else to … yet.

  5. Tom

    The Catholic Church should be taxed. It shouldn’t receive a cent of taxpayers’ money. The only reason I’m going to do my Declaración de la Renta is to stop them getting their grubby hands on my taxes.

    As to smoking – it’s sad but Spain probably will conform with the rest of the EU at some point. I understand the restaurant ban but bars and clubs are thoroughly unpleasant without the fragrant perfume of tobacco. Besides, we’re not going to live forever, are we?

  6. BrianA

    @Tom – unfortunately whether you tick the box or not I believe they contribute a sum to the church every year, irrespective of the number of ticks. I think of it as subsidising the many festivals and all the pageantry that makes Spain such an interesting place to be. Churches in the Western world in general are sort of expected to be there for such things and to maintain an expensive set of real estate for us all to enjoy. Somehow we have to contribute, be it taxation, entrance charges or whatever. Yes it would be nice to have a choice of which church to subsidise, but that may take a while! At least the churches seem to be smoke free – except for a touch of incense ;)

  7. Brendan

    Does anyone really think the Spainish will just simply stop smoking in bars or cafes, if or when another law to stop smoking is brought into effect? Expect it to take another generation before we’ll see any change for the better.

  8. Parubin

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate, since I’m not a big church-fan myself, but in many ways it makes perfect sense to finance the Catholic Church in Spain (I wouldn’t get into specifics about how much or in what way, because I don’t really know the facts and figures exactly that I’m going to provide) :

    1) The Catholic Church happens to be the biggest NGO in Spain (in terms of charity and social programms, of course, there is always some kind of religious propaganda that could be spared when sheltering the weak and the people in need, but then again, it is the Church and they believe in their mission).

    2) The Spanish Catholic Church also supports many social causes outside Spain (i.e. Africa, Latin America…).

    3) The Spanish Catholic Church happens to be the biggest heir to Spain’s overwhelming cultural and historical heritage. Churches, Cathedrals, and all sorts of religious monuments and buildings are there for us to enjoy. Freely.

    4) The Spanish Catholic Church also plays a key role in schoolling and providing education to thousands of the Spanish wide middle-classes. Not only to religious-freaks. Of course, they get public funding for this.

    5) All in all Spain has become little interested in the Church, but it still plays a big role in the traditional folklore (what about weddings? mostly all couples wed within the Church) and still it is one of the organizations with biggest support (how many people go to mass on sundays, or have some kind of sentimental attachment to the Church?).

    All in all, the Church is part of Spain. Their influence on society will likely decrease (as much as it seems quite low nowadays) but I think, from a rational not religious point of view, there are reasons to give public funding to the Church. How much, or in what way?? I don’t know.

  9. Urgellenk

    1. Is it fair that tax payers in Spain should be forced to decide whether to give a percentage of their tax bill either to the Catholic church or ‘social causes’?

    As far as I know, you are not forced to tick any of the boxes and you can also tick both. Anyway, all tax-payers in Spain contribute with their taxes to the financing of the Catholic Church, regardless of the fact that they ticked the church box or not. The reason behind that box was that the church aimed at a self-financing through the voluntary contributions of its supporters via the income tax bill. However, the experience showed that the funds collected in that way were far from the necessary to cover the expenses of such a big institution (currently hardly 20 % of tax-payers tick the box). It was necessary that a budgetary allocation completed that contribution. A few years back, the Zapatero government reached an agreement with the church hierarchy (Conferencia Episcopal) by means of which the State contribution to the Church was increased from 0.52 % to 0.7% of the income tax money.

    Shouldn’t we be given more choices?

    The rest of religious groups in Spain have also agreements with the State and are partially financed with tax-payers money. Still the Catholic Church clearly retains a privileged position.

    What does the church do with the money?

    If you tick the Church box, the money will be allocated to the liturgy expenses (wages of the clergy, inter alia). The money collected through the social clauses box is used to finance social projects selected by the Ministries of Social Affairs and of Foreign Affairs (20 % of the selected projects are in developing countries). Therefore, it is concrete projects that are financed and not the ONG’s.

    The additional money received by the Church as budgetary allocation is considered to be a payment of the State for the services of the church to the society: the maintenance of its immense historic-artistic heritage and the social action, which includes tuition to around 1,500,000 children, assistance to immigrants, prison-inmates, orphans, ill people and senior citizens, regardless of their beliefs. Part of the money is also used to co-finance the activities of “Caritas” and other charities who work in favour of destitute citizens both in Spain and abroad.

    2. As people continue to pay good money to visit the place the Virgin Mary last appeared to three shepherds, how religious is Spain?

    Even as a non religious person, I consider that this question (and the accompanying picture) is formulated in a very little respectful manner. Not that I consider that being religious is something negative, but I believe that the only State in Europe that compares to the UK in terms of religiousness is the Vatican. In the UK, the Queen or King has the right to appoint a number of senior church officers, included the Archbishop of Canterbury, who happens to be spiritual leader of the Church. Also, the official title of the Queen, the de facto Head of State of the UK, is "the Supreme Governor of the Church”.

    3. As Turkey also decides on a total smoking ban in public places, how long can Spain hold out? When will they finally ban smoking in bars and restaurants here as well?

    Hopefully soon.

  10. frank

    “Does anyone really think the Spainish will just simply stop smoking in bars or cafes, if or when another law to stop smoking is brought into effect?”

    Not willingly,no, but if the government had any balls, like other governments, then they would have no choice. I don’t see anything special about the Spanish in this respect, you won’t get a harder drinking, smoking clientele than some of the the Irish and Scottish, but do they smoke in pubs here? They most certainly do not. When Spaniards jump on a plane, they can’t and don’t smoke, simple as that, because it’s banned. I see no difference in bars and restaurants. Here bar owners face a fine of up to £2.500 for allowing someone to smoke, if similar measures were introduced in Spain(and more importantly in Spain, policed) smoking would quickly disappear.

  11. Ben Post author

    I agree with Frank, if the government does enough, and if Spain realises that it has been done in the rest of Europe successfully, then people will happily go outside for their smokes instead. Let’s hope that day comes soon!

  12. Ray

    @ Parubin:
    1) If it’s the biggest, then it already has the largest membership base, from which to garner financial support, and definitely doesn’t need our tax money to make it even richer.

    2) There are so many churches, and non-religious org’s, that also do this. It is very noble and humanitarian, but it is not the place of Government to float their bills.

    3) Government needs do nothing to support these types of cultural activities and heritage. If the populace wants to maintain these traditions, they will, they don’t need any extra support through taxation. If a certain culture already has established norms and practices, should their money be taken away from them through taxes, just to be given back after some bureaucrat’s salary has been padded, when all he does is decide which parts of the culture are more deserving of that money? What’s keeping the people from spending their money on their own culture in the first place? (The answer is over-taxation.)
    Perhaps a government does have a limited role to play in this, such as democratically assign certain holidays, but not paying for the parties and festivals.

    4) Again, just about every religion has its own schools. The Catholic Church doesn’t do any better (or worse) job of teaching people than any other institution. And, again, if the State is funding public education, then all they need to do is refund the taxes, perhaps through a voucher system, of those particular individuals who choose to send their children to a non-public school, no matter which religion (or lack of religion) that school happens to espouse. In this case the role of Government is to establish a general standard for accreditation, that all schools must adopt in their curricula.

    5) Popular folklore has got to be the worst reason for a government to give out its citizens’ money. Should the government foot the bill for Operación Triunfo, American Idol, or Big Brother? (Wait, Big Brother is another topic, with a much longer rant.) Those of us who choose to marry, or participate in other religious ceremonies, should be the ones who pay for these church activities. For us to give the money we want to our Church, we have to actually have to have the money in OUR pockets, so we can truly decide how it gets distributed. The only way we can keep that money in our pockets is if Government stops taking it away from us through taxation, with the supposed promise that they can choose where it should get spent better than we do.

    All in all the Church is part of ANY country. From a religious point of view, and from a rational point of view, there are 0 good reasons for a government to be handing out money to a religion. Zero. Zilch. Nada. (Not even the light chicken gravy.)

  13. Brendan

    “Not willingly,no, but if the Government had any balls, like other Governments, then they would have no choice.”

    I feel the government here in Spain doesn’t like to upset its customers and this is felt even more so at regional levels. You’re right when you say “if they had balls” but the reality is not so.

    Here is an example of live and let live (or die in the case of smoking). The other day I had parked on the street legally in a parking bay, I put my money in the machine got my ticket and placed it in inside the car, I was only supposed to be 30 mins or so but this turned into 3 hours after bumping into some people I hadn’t seen in ages. Needless to say I had forgotten all about the car and putting more money in the machine, but I needn’t have worried, on returning to the car I noticed there was a parking ticket, thinking the worst I held my breath and peered down at the astronomical fine they had deemed fit for my 2 1/2 hr extra stopover… 2euros was the bill, my fine was cheaper than if I had paid the money into the machine for my extra time…
    Like I said, Government, and especially local Government don’t like rocking the boat.
    Not that I’m complaining in regards to my fine!

  14. frank

    “I feel the government here in Spain doesn’t like to upset its customers and this is felt even more so at regional levels. You’re right when you say "if they had balls” but the reality is not so.”

    Agree 100%, I have always maintained, Spain is great at passing laws, but pathetic at enforcing them. Where we frequently stay in Spain, a one way street, is only a one way street to cars and large vehicles, all the other scooters, motorbikes etc just use it as a normal street. I know only too well, after a bike running into me, going the wrong way up a one way street. (the bike that is!) In places like Ronda, there is always a traffic hold up somewhere, because someone has just stopped in the main street, put the hazard warning lights on (that seemingly makes everything OK) and just popped into a shop.
    Spain has a very high death rate in the construction industry, and you don’t have to look far to see why. They have all the right signs up, hard hats needed etc etc, and I’ve watched workmen with no safety gear whatsoever swanning around in flip flops. Cranes lifting kit, no areas taped off, people all working below, it’s unbelievable.

  15. Jonk

    Yeh I’m in agreeance with those who says the church shouldn’t receive tax income from the government.

    While I agree with the school funding – it’s my belief that every child should receive the same $ level in funding no matter their religious preference, wealth etc – no government should really be financing a clergy!!

    And if the people really want the church, let them decide! They can give money freely to the church and make a decision that is much more democratic than will ever be at the hands of the Government.

  16. luke

    Can you play “devil’s advocate” when defending the Church? :)

    Like UK royalty, the Catholic Church in Spain is part of the foundation of cultural tourism for its country. Both probably pay for themselves in the tourists/businesses that they attract.

  17. John Ross

    1. First, even though I am a Richard-Dawkins-is-way-too-moderate atheist myself, in the interests of truth I must point out that the Church is always subsidised, everywhere – the Anglican church could not survive without public money. What rankles is that the Spanish Catholic Church thinks it not only has the right to interfere in political debate about private matters like sex and abortion, but also thinks it owns heritage such as cathedrals and churches – it is impossible to visit most places of worship except when there is a mass. Stuff ‘em. Just because it’s ecclesiastical architecture, don’t mean it’s theirs. Toledo and Segovia Cathedral are mine, mine and yours, they belong to humanity, not to a bunch of castrated fascists.

  18. John Ross

    3. Just back from a trip to Portugal, our first this year, i.e., the first since a ban on smoking in public spaces came into effect, in January. We were unpleasantly surprised (we’re smokers and proud, far too much clean living these days, it’s unhealthy in the broadest sense) to find that it is generally respected – no smoking in hotel rooms, for eample. For Chrissake, that’s my rented home for a day, how dare they tell me what to do in my home! Smoking has become an elitist right – five-star hotels and restaurants can cater to smokers, they have the money to install the ventilation and so on, less exalted establishments can’t. People have to step out of bars into the rain to smoke, except the few which cater to hippy types like myself (age difference apart). The world is a healthier, sadder place, and I am less than happy about it.

    The reason EU fascism works in Portugal and not in Spain is probably related with the political structure – Spain has tensions between central and regional governments which Portugal does not. It certainly has nothing to do with the willingness of the people to accept this kind of big-brother interference – there are just as many smokers (i.e., a majority of pre-geriatric adults) there as here, or more. So there will have to be much more consensus than now on the need for a smoking ban for one to work in Spain.

  19. luke

    @John Ross
    Is it now ‘fascist’ to prevent loss of life? I seem to remember fascists being the cause of death. According to the specialist treating him, my dad died from cancer due to second-hand smoke, having spent a lot of time in pubs. I don’t mind if you smoke in a hotel room but give the maid a large tip for the amount of scrubbing she’s going to have to do to get rid of the stench.

  20. Edith

    @ John Ross

    RE ‘we’re smokers and proud, far too much clean living these days, it’s unhealthy in the broadest sense': I assume you are just joking. :D

    @ Luke

    Well said!

  21. John Ross

    @Luke
    I’m sorry about your father. Mine also died of cancer, in his case from first-hand smoke, which I don’t mention in order to one-up you, I promise. But if yours spent a lot of time in pubs, I expect it was because he was happy there, smoke and all. I really don’t mean to be frivolous about this, but it is at least as important for people to be able to live as they please as for them to have their health protected.

    As a rule, I don’t tip chambermaids, it is their job to clean after all, and thank you for not minding if I smoke in my room. But if you don’t mind, why should the EU impose itself on people’s private lives in this way? I call it fascism because the EU is not democratic, and because I feel this kind of prohibition is essentially ideological at root. You say “fascists were the cause of death” and I suppose you are referring to gas chambers and the like (forgive me if I am putting words in your mouth, it is presumptuous of me, I know), but Britain did not declare war on Nazi Germany because of them – we did not even known about those horrors until the war was nearing its end – but because it was a threat to world liberty.

  22. luke

    @John Ross
    My dad wasn’t a smoker. I’m sure he would’ve been happy to go to smoke-less pubs if they’d existed so as to live to see his grand-son, born three months after he died.

    In 2008 most people would associate fascism with a destructive loss of life as they did in 1939 when the Nazis invaded Poland. I don’t think it is an appropriate term for those who wish to prevent people from endangering their health and those around them.

  23. Ray

    @luke: Don’t take the word ‘fascist’ so seriously in an online forum.
    @John Ross: Dude, take it easy with the whole ‘fascist’ shpeel, you’re confusing the language. I believe you’re dead right about the whole tabacco, thing, though. Since posession is 9/10ths of the law, I’d have to disagree about the Catholic Church not owning the cathedrals (and the crap) they have built over the years. Yet another reason churches should never accept a single dime from the state: people will start to think the buildings belong to them, since a bit of their taxes went into to building and maintaining them.
    If The Big Church can’t keep up on straight donations and investments along, let the sell off their holdings, just like every other religions and non-religious institutions have to.

  24. John Ross

    @Edith
    >>I assume you are just joking

    Not in the slightest. I believe in sex and drugs and rock and roll, with all the sordidness that goes with them. Squeaky-clean rock and roll, for example, is not worth a damn, or worse, it is a repugnant usurpation, as when they use it to sell insurance or mobile telephones. Clean living is for the docile.

  25. John Ross

    @Ray
    >>Dude, take it easy with the whole ‘fascist’ shpeel, you’re confusing the language.

    OK, if you prefer, I’ll try to refer to “antidemocratic authoritarianism” or something. But I will mean “fascist.”

    >>…Since posession is 9/10ths of the law, I’d have to disagree about the Catholic Church not owning the cathedrals (and the crap) they have built over the years.

    Sure, these places may legally be the property of the Church as an organization (though I am not sure to what extent, and in any case, nobody owns property for ever, not even royalty, it’s theirs until someone bigger takes it away, society or the state or whoever). Morally, though, I feel they are our heritage, ours, not theirs. It wasn’t priests who carved those gargoyles, it was craftsmen, the builders who fell off scaffolds to their deaths were not bishops, no cardinal ever learned the art behind a stained-glass window or a load-bearing pointed arch. The church paid the bills, OK, but with whose money? Ordinary people’s, which the church swindled them out of with ridiculous promises of eternal redemption.

    >>Yet another reason churches should never accept a single dime from the state: people will start to think the buildings belong to them, since a bit of their taxes went into to building and maintaining them.

    Exactly.

    >>If The Big Church can’t keep up on straight donations and investments along, let the sell off their holdings, just like every other religions and non-religious institutions have to.

    My gut feeling inclines me to agree wholeheartedly, but I have to admit, very reluctantly, that there is a rational argument in favour of state subsidy of an institution which is important to such a large proportion of society. It doesn’t have to be a majority, it just has to be a lot of people.

  26. Parubin

    @ Ben & John :
    What would Keith Richards think of this controversy?
    He certainly looks clean and young to me…

    In this case I sympathise with John (hell yes, I sure like to boogie too!!) but I have to be in favour of the smoking-ban. It is not about your right to smoke (no one’s denying that), it is about respect towards those who do not want to be in a smoking environment, and, sorry, I don’t buy the argument that says “everybody’s free to go someplace else if someone’s smoking indoors”. We all know things are not like this, the best example would be the staff working in the smoking facility :

    Should they be denied their right to a healthy working environment just because they didn’t “choose” to work someplace else?

  27. John Ross

    @Ben

    They aren’t incompatible. Enormous amounts of alcohol aside, I haven’t actually taken drugs in over twenty years – it’s the principle I defend. And it is illuminating that the blog you link to quotes Hemingway, who I am fairly sure would have been the first to condemn the kind of paternalist namby-pambying authoritarianism I am complaining about.

    @ Parubin
    Fair enough, I am certainly not attacking non-smoking workers rights or those of any other non-smoker. The problem is that the fascists, sorry, antidemocratic authoritarians, use that argument and others like it to invade my personal liberties. You have to admit that there is something big-brotherish about the Portuguese legislation – every hotel not only has smoke detectors in its non-smoking rooms (100% except in five-star hotels), but has a centralized smoke detection system, presumably checked and controlled by hotel inspectors, and the hotel presumably has the obligation to report infringements. OK, they aren’t going to send smokers to the gas chamber, but it still seems pretty damn fascist to me.

    Incidentally, probably because it combines the two things we are talking about here, I have just remembered the time when the teenage me was thrown out of Westminster Abbey – for smoking in the cloisters.

  28. Parubin

    Anyway I’ve noticed that most comments lie in one of these two cathegories :

    1) Smokers against the smoking-ban, arguing the measure invades personal liberties and it is authoritarian and paternalistic. (The bottom line is that they find it hard to enjoy a beer in a pub without a ciggy in hand).

    or

    2) Non-smokers (or ex-smokers which are actually more aggressive) all in favour of the smoking-ban, mainly because they can’t stand the stinking ‘aroma’ that’s left in their clothing when they go for a night out.

    It is easy to see that these two type of arguments are biased and somewhat invalid because they rely on an egoist perception of the smokers-non smokers conflict.

    I’d like to see more comments and reasons of non-smokers against the smoking-ban and as well other way around : arguments of smokers in favour of this type of legislation.

    I can’t call myself an smoker (I don’t smoke) but neither am I a fully non-smoker (I sometimes enjoy a ciggarette or two -no more than three anyway-) when going out at night. I’ve made estimations of how much I smoke, and it turns out to be about 12 ciggies a month. Anyway, I’m in favour of the ban on smoking in all indoor public places, mainly for I see two reasons that seem to me irrefutable :

    1) The right to a healthy environment for all workers.
    2) The fact that the measure certainly prevents tabaquism.

    Ok, so reason no.2 is a bit paterlalistic, I agree. But also everyone will have to agree that most smokers want to quick the habit at some point, by just prohibiting to smoke in places where they socialize (bars, pubs, restaurants, cafes…) they will find it more easy to quite (very annoying at first for sure, true).

  29. Nancy

    As a tax preparer in the US, I found this podcast very interesting. On our federal tax forms we only have the option to designate $3 of our tax money to go to the Presidentlal Election fund (each candidate is given an equal share of this fund). It doesn’t change our refund or what we owe, it just moves part of the tax we pay into that pot. Most, if not all, of the states offer an opportunity on their tax forms to contribute to any of several different charities, but absolutely NO religious organizations. “Separation of church and state” is a closely guarded tradition here (though not, as some believe, an actual part of our Constitution). Charitable donations do affect the refund or balance due, but for some people these donations also become tax deductible the following year.

  30. Ray

    @Parubin: I am very strongly religious, but I believe churches should have NO part of money collected by government. None. Not in any way.
    I am a life-long non-smoker. I hate smoke. I dislike tobacco in general, and I believe that Law should require smoking to be banned in many places, such as public schools, public libraries, museums, courts, police offices, etc.
    These laws should NOT extend into privately owned business that do business within their non-publicly accessible, private property. No exemptions for the well being of employees need to be considered. Every single person working in a ‘smoking’ environment DID choose to work there, and to keep working there. If they dislike smoke so much, they may have even asked for a raise, or threatened to leave if the didn’t get some benefit in return, but they CHOSE to stay, and work for whatever it is that they are currently being paid. (On a side note, it seems only fair that they should get a pay-cut or loose benefits if the law does end up requiring their employers to enforce non-smoking policies.)
    Anyway, non-smoking laws are too intrusive. Taxation of tobacco (and similar products) is all that is necessary to dissuade people from ruining their health, and thus theoretically burdening the health system.
    However, even these tax rates should be determined and enforced at a politically LOCAL level, such as the provincial, as should the individual sales tax (I mean IVA.) This will allow for an increase in the strength of Democracy, as people will be enabled to thus, “vote with their feet.” Meaning, they can go to some other place within the nation, if they disagree with local policies on smoking and taxation.
    Democracy (deme=the people,) looses so much meaning with every little liberty that it loses, as each liberty is a CHOICE that can no longer be made by the people.
    @John Ross: In this sense, it IS like fascism to keep the people from ruling their own lives. I appreciate your arguments, and I regret being so sensitive about the word. It’s just that it gets thrown around so much on the internet that I sometimes forget that maybe there are still valid uses for it.

  31. Christopher

    One of my lasting negative impressions of Spain is that it was and still is most definately Marlboro Country. It became a real problem to find anywhere to sit and eat a meal without being enveloped in clouds of putrid filthy cigarette smoke. People were either completely ignorant or thoughless as to how repulsive it is for non smokers to be subjected to their stinking smoke.

    When you are travelling & eating breakfast, lunch and dinner in cafes/bars it just becomes musical chairs as you move to avoid the smokers.

    From the podcast, it doesnt sound like anything major will happen anytime soon to rectify the situation. So I will continue to enjoy the smoke free bars, cafes, pubs & restaurants of South Australia

  32. Dean Hunt

    John Ross,

    You hit the nail on the head ref smoking issues… listen, I have no issue with you smoking, and like you said, it is your rented room for the day, so within reason you should be able to do what you like… but here is where the issue with second hand smoke exists…

    When the next person uses that room, it is going to smell. Now, whilst you are probably immune to the smell, to a lot of people it is disgusting.

    So why should they pay the same amount of money for a room that you have ruined?

    Put another way… if I was a guest in that hotel room the night before you arrived, and I decided to also live the “rock and roll life” and therefore crapped and peed all over the floors and walls… would you be ok with spending the day in the room with a faint smell of crap in the air?

    If not, you have no right smoking in the rooms.

    Same applies in bars… how about for every breath of your smoke I breathe in, I will tip some of my drink onto your head.

    By the way… I know which is worse.

    Take care.

    Dean

  33. John Ross

    @Dean
    Where on earth did you get your weird ideas of what rock and roll is about?

    Whatever, it doesn’t matter whether it is their cigarette smoke, sweaty feet, sexual activities, or the unpleasantnesses you apparently enjoy committing, if your hotel room smells of the previous occupants, the hotel has been negligent in not cleaning and airing it properly. You have the right to demand another room. Doesn’t mean we should legislate against sweaty feet or sexual activities. It could mean you need potty training.

  34. Dean Hunt

    John,

    I was of course using an extreme, yet purely hypothetical scenario… the irony is that for non-smokers, the thought of sleeping in a room that smells of smoke conjures the same feelings as you felt with my example.

    Also, I often come back from bars smelling of smoke, and I can assure you that it takes more than a good cleaning to get rid of the smell.

    Anyway, don’t want to bang my head against a brick wall… we are both in Spain, and as things stand, you are more than entitled to smoke in bars. Regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

    But smoke on my property and I will push you in the pool ;-) haha

    Take care John,

    Dean

  35. Russil Alden

    I think that it is just amazing when some foreigner comes to live in a country because he likes the way things are there and then wants to start to make it just like the place he left. I lived in Mexico for 2 years (I am now married to a Mexican woman) and loved the fact that things were different from the sterile nations further north. As does Mexico, Spain has an extremely strong Catholic heritage. I realize that it is fashionable to despise the Church these days but Ben, you must admit that the culture you like living in is to a large degree the creation of the Catholic Church, not discounting the influence of the Islam, which was there for over 700 years. As far as the fact that the religious scene has changed in Spain due to immigration, it is important to note that many who opposed the more-or-less open door policy toward immigration in the rest of the Europe and North America had expressed concerns about the kind of cultural dilemmas that are being seen today. They had been called racists and other names, however, and that silences anybody.
    As for smoking, that was one thing I liked about Mexico. In the early 90s you could smoke in the theatres (there were signs but nobody paid attention to them) and I remember, as I was a smoker then, blowing smoke up into the light coming from the projector. You could also smoke on the bus. I must say that I have never felt freer as when I lived in that country, but things have changed there and the old social scale that balances freedom and security is swinging toward the latter, as it is in most democratic countries.
    We are well aware of the injustices of the inquisition in Spain, which were more political, having to do with the rulers of the day. There are many recent examples of atrocities against Catholics that get no press, but illustrate how “Western Civilization (has) turn(ed) against its own builders,” as Thomas Wood says. An example regarding Spain starts at 1:25 of the following link:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9DeolbyLSo&NR=1
    This show, “The Catholic Church: Builder of Civilization,” is an interesting, though admittedly biased, 13 part series that gives a lot of info regarding the Church that you never, ever hear in universities (a legacy of the Church) or the media.
    I was born in England and, on returning to the place of my birth (Yorkshire) a few years ago it became obvious that the beautiful old buildings, including many churches, were in need of repair (my mother says some are being used as BINGO halls). A few pounds set aside for these directly out of the tax returns might not be such a bad idea. Having lived on the West coast of North America where something one hundred years old is a big deal, you realize how Europeans take their heritage for granted. It’s a shame.

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