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Wednesday, July 9th "Success, Setbacks; Being Illegal, Capitalism; A Domain Name; The Fly I'm going to Kill NOW"

Funny how successes can also bring setbacks. You win or earn one thing which leads to questions that in turn lead to setbacks in something else. You know what I mean?!? Well, maybe not, so here goes a good example with the history of my week so far. We were so very happy that our contract was accepted for developing and marketing a site. Many prospects on this one, with some future work to create new parts of the web site as well as a maintenance agreement for at least the near future. So we're down to the part where I need to write the bill, but neither my friend or I have N.I.F., or Número de Identificación Fiscal, which allows us to properly invoice people, and for them to properly declare it, when doing our work. No problem, I thought, I'll just meet with the lawyer (I already had the appointment scheduled) and see if they can help. Well, I figured this one out in that I'll invoice them from the U.S. with my permanent address, but learned some interesting things in my visit to the lawyer:

  • Work here illegally. That was the advice I got and I think I'm going to follow it. Not only would they take a ton of money out of my check for social security and other taxes, by the time I finish the paperwork and get approval from the Spanish consulate to live here it would likely be this time next year. As for the old Schengen Agreement - to hell with it. They hardly ever stop anyone from coming and going, I was told, and many folks have been here illegally forever. So I'll take my chances and sweat it out every time I come and go. If they say something I at least have a lawyer I can call, which may or may not help me with immigration issues here.
  • Don't try to become an autonomo or self-employed person if you are from the U.S. Ever heard of reciprocity? Well, we treat Spaniards (and many others) like shit when they try to get a green-card in the U.S., so the Spanish say "¡toma!", i.e. we get the same treatment from them. If you're from somewhere in Latin America where they treat the Spaniards better it is much easier to get a visa this way.
  • Starting a corporation, company, (whatever you want to call it) here looks like a bunch of crap. Without getting into it here - I've got a philosophical point I want to make below - you'd be better off starting one in the U.S. and then trying to get a visa to work here for your own company, especially for tax reasons.

Socialism sometimes sucks more than you'd think. Ok, have a good laugh now you Rush Limbaugh lovers, even though you're a bunch of idiots who value political posturing more than you do the truth. Or if you're very liberal perhaps you're thinking - "this guy's just another conservative American getting ready to praise the values of his own society and selfish political philosophy!" Well, maybe you're not thinking exactly that...but I'll tell you I'm no conservative or Republican. I'm getting to my point, but a little background here first:

I spent a few days at a conference where the Spanish Tourist Department, the Andalucian Tourist Department and the Andalucia Rural Tourist Department all touted the need for small businesses (PYMES), especially hostels and hotels, to get online and use new technologies. Sounds like a great plan, and certainly crossing the technology front for some of them would prove profitable in an economy driven by tourism. They talked of public funds to get these businesses online, providing computers, training, software, etc. All this time I'm salivating like a good little capitalist dog, thinking this may help in some future projects I've lined up. But then I hear their further plans and I begin to get sick. "We're going to create a portal for tourism with a reservation system for hotels and hostels, offering a free website and e-mail to every hotel and hostel who wants it and just take a commission from each reservation." It wasn't enough to develop the electronic infrastructure and let private enterprise take over and perhaps create a few jobs. What they're saying, in other not so friendly words, "We're going to screw the private sector by cornering the market on web development and online reservation systems for hotels and hostels." Where will all the jobs go? The government. Where will all the profits go? The government. Where will the monopoly be held? The government. What choices will hotels and hostals have when they want to generate online revenue but pay less of a commission? None. Where will all the small web design, hosting and development businesses go who were hoping to work in this market. The toilet. To top it all off, all three departments are working on a separate system for hotel reservations without working together - the pinnacle of government efficiency is here!

So, back to my point, or did I already make it? The lawyer we met with had a great idea about starting a company. As my sister is a resident here and under the age of 39, if she started a company with me and a friend as her partners we would be eligible for 25,000€ - without having to pay it back! Granted it might take 3-4 years to get the money, but it would be worth the wait, no? Well, we were onto something here so we asked more questions. It seemed better and better as we talked, and the likelihood of me getting a work permit if we went this route was greater than trying to do so being self-employed. There was even a monthly payment that my sister would get if she had a child while running this company!

Seemed to good to be true, right? Well, it was. Aside from the 500-600€ we would have to pay for licenses, etc. (not to mention lawyers fees) while getting started we would have to pay about 200€ per month for Social Security, and then what it costs to keep the monthly books, about 100€ more. Doesn't matter if you're making money yet or barely scraping by to meet expenses - you have to pay at least 300€ a month just for the privilege to work. Then take out 40-50% for social security and taxes on all the income that you might make during those first months. Who cares that you want to generate jobs or help the economy grow when it is badly needed here? Who cares if you aren't making money at first? "Why, we want to start you off right here, ole' boy, with a never ending bill that will put you in debt on the very first day you start your company. We're in the business of charging you a hefty fee for the government so they can turn around and grant you 25,000€ if you fit the profile for one of their plans." What a a bunch of "maroons". Might I politely ask, why take the money from everyone for that 25,000 "grant" when you can keep that money (or let the others who paid taxes keep it) and just eliminate my social security bill every month? If you really want to start businesses here and create employment you don't do it through disincentives! If you really want me to get started then make it easier for me and everyone to get started!!!!!!!! This ends my "rah! rah! capitalist" rant.

Almost finally, I have one of my three planned domain names up and running, and while it's my 3rd choice it's the only one which works at the moment. You can get to my page by simply typing in!!

Lastly, there's a large fly buzzing around here so I am off to kill it. Unlike him I'm sure I'll see better days than today.

Links for today: (go ahead and click on it! You'll end up at the top of the page)