Spain has been watching the annual State of the Nation debate in parliament. On corruption, the President's response to Opposition criticisms has been the traditional Spanish “Yeah but you're worse!” (Y tú más!). Specifically - “At least our party hasn't been condemned by the courts, unlike yours.” Grown up politics?
The Spanish government has decided to do something about excess levels of (corrupt) government – by tinkering with the lowest levels. More than 50,000 mayors and councillors are to lose their jobs and mayoral salaries will be abolished or severely reduced. Personally, I'd have thought the latter measure was guaranteed to increase corrupion, not reduce it. More importantly. The targets should be the regional and provincial empires, where the corruption really lies.
President Rajoy has said it wouldn't be right to change the harsh mortgage system here as this would affect current mortgages and, besides, Spain has the best mortgage set up in Europe. OK, I know that 'Hard cases make bad law' and all that but where does he get off claiming that a few evictions (not to mention the suicides) should not be allowed to force changes in the law? Is it possible he has banker friends?
The good news imparted by Sr Rajoy is that the deficit for 2012 looks like coming in at 7%. This is only good news, of course, if you completely ignore all the targets and forecasts that were tabled/ imposed/dreamt up during last year. On now to 3 or 4% this year. Maybe. But at least it's coming down. Which must make all the pain easier to bear.
Corruption: There seems to be an emerging consensus that Spaniards are angrier than they've even been about this is because they no longer take the view that “Well, we're all in it, aren't we, one way or another?”. Maybe it's the scale of things or, more likely, it's because the biggest fraudsters are the same people who are ruthlessly imposing austerity on the populace. So, it's not only a question of degree but also of fundamental equity. In the good times, of course, this doesn't apply. It's a free-for-all.
And one which many politicians and businessmen thought, thanks to the EU, would never end. Hence all the empty new roads and airports, like that in Castellón and this one in Murcia – Corvera. No doubt all the feasiblity plans were signed off by competent, independent accountants. Who, somehow, never got to play “What if?” on their computers.
Finally . . . Today I decided I'd been an Epicurean for at least the last 15 years, but probably much longer. Epicureanism must not be confused, as it ususally is, with hedonism, or even with the modern adjective Epicurean. Meaning, basically, someone who likes good food and his creature commforts. If you're intrigued, click here.