The total of empty houses throughout Spain turns out to be around 3 million, against 230,000 here in Galicia. Because of the non-existence of a rental market, desperate people are inevitably resorting to squatting. El Pais says this is understandable but must be stopped and it calls for something better than the ‘lamentable’ coordination between the regions and Madrid on the issue of high demand and nil supply. And it stresses that renters must be given the protection of a law which stops them being taken to the cleaners by unscrupulous tenants. Meanwhile, some local governments – ours for example – have said they will eschew taxing owners of empty flats a la Catalunia and will, instead, force local councils to build more cheap, protected buildings. Strangely, the prices of these have a habit of rising faster than the uncontrolled buildings. Presumably the Law of Unintended Consequences.
The Spanish President, Mr Zapatero, boasted a week or two ago that his government would be responsible for the country’s per capita GDP being higher than Germany’s by 2010. Strange, then, that Spain will be receiving massive EU grants until at least 2013 and, if I’m any judge, for some time beyond. But I guess begging at Brussels is a safer strategy than imposing higher taxes on voters whose income has soared and then redistributing it. However illogical. To say things like this, of course, is to commit the sin of ignoring ‘European solidarity’. What this term actually means depends on where you are standing.
When I was young, I used to tease my smoker friends by claiming they couldn’t chuck the habit because nicotine destroyed exactly that part of the brain which would enable them to do so. It now seems I was half right. Scientists claim they’ve discovered a region deep in the brain, the insula, which is intimately involved in smoking addiction. If this is damaged, they say, the body's urge to light up is erased. Time to invest in companies making keyhole surgery tools.
Galician temperatures have risen on average by 1.46 degrees in the last 24 years. The range is from 1.18 in La Coruña to 1.81 in Lugo, up in the mountains. Ourense – a place of massive seasonal extremes – comes in second highest at 1.55.
I mentioned the other day that, because of a shortage of prey and carrion, wolves were venturing ever closer to our villages. Now come tales of wild boars grubbing in the nearby forests and press reports of packs of feral crows killing lambs on farms up in the hills. I guess it’s possible all these reflect the impact of the August fires on the flora and fauna of the hinterland. Any views from Biopolitical?