Just in case you’re not fed up with insights into the crook Madoff and how he did it, here’s a relevant article.
For some reason or other, the CEO of France Telecom has said that he just hopes Telefónica play by the rules. Don’t we all.
A woman writing to El País on Sunday said she’d been fined by the traffic police 341[sic] euros but didn’t know what for. However, they’d told her that, if she takes a few hours out of her life and visits one of their offices, they’ll kindly let her know. She claimed the legal speed has been reduced on many roads, so ensuring the maximum number of drivers will fall into well-laid traps. Well, there was no reason to believe the Spanish police wouldn’t be as efficient and as officious as any other once they became an arm of the tax office. As I well know.
It’s probably unfair but I occasionally visualise the President of Spain as a large Santa Claus surrounded by the loud, greedy, fractious kids which are the Spanish regions, all demanding more and more from his bag of goodies. The difference is there’s no factory behind the Spanish president producing more of the competencies/powers which the regional governments insist on being transferred to them. So one day Santa’s sack will be empty and the Spanish central government can resign en masse since it has nothing left to do. Though I suppose that, in the meantime, it could come up with more of the money being demanded by those regions which think they’re being disadvantaged against one or more of the others. Which means all of them, of course. But especially Cataluña, with whose president Sr Zapatero has recently ‘secretly’ met to talk about a new financing package for this troublesome region/nationette. The prospect of a unilateral deal seems to have all the other regional presidents up in arms – including those from Sr Z’s own party – as they feel a march has been stolen on them by the cunning Catalans. Who are admired and hated equally for their commercial nous and their successful football team. And possibly for their habit of working hard. Stepping back from the detail, I’m left with the overview that the Spanish system of government was designed to be difficult to operate when times are good but impossible when they’re bad and fear and jealousy stalk the land. Like now, for instance. Though this may not have been deliberate. More interestingly, in which direction are things heading? - a question which I think was ducked by the recent Economist review of Spain. Which, nonetheless, managed to stir up a whirlwind of protest here in Spain. Especially in Cataluña. Personally, what I’d like to see is one of the nationalist regions doing a Rhodesia and making a Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Or UDI, as it was fondly called at the time. Now, that really would be fun to watch. Especially with one eye on the reaction from Brussels. My money’s on the Basque Country. Some time between now and the next recession.
The hammer blow to the capitalist system provided by the banking and financial crises of the last year has apparently not yet redounded to the favour of left wing parties. For The Economist’s explanation of this surprising [non]development, click here.
Finally, in keeping with the festive mood, here’s one of the tunings I see around town from time to time. I think I recall Andalucian music being a favourite of the owner . . .