I’m still confused about the Spanish banks. Or maybe that should be the savings banks. For, while Banco Santander reports 2008 results equal to those of the previous year and the banking industry as a whole delivers the third best results on record, one of the major credit agencies has cast aspersions on 20-30 Spanish banks and the government has embroiled itself in the creation of a rescue fund. Which may or may not operate with more of an eye to politics than to economics. I guess it will all come out in the wash.
As forecast, the government has tripled the fines for speeding and reduced the period during which you can promptly pay and obtain a discount, though the latter has risen from 30 to 50%. Worst of all, there’ll now be no tolerance in the application of the law; you will be fined for exceeding the limit by as little as 1kph. Presumably we’ll all need to buy speed limiters or cruise control mechanisms to ensure we don’t inadvertently slip above 120 on the empty motorways. Or buy a GPS thingy to tell us every ten seconds what speed we’re doing - on pain of a massive fine and loss of points if we actually touch this, rather than the (OK) radio. You’ll also be hit hard if you wear earphones to listen to a podcast, though not if you have the radio on deafening full blast or have another four people in the car, joining you in a 5-handed (mouthed?) simultaneous shouting match. Can there be any more eloquent evidence of the intention to make el tráfico part of the tax set-up - at a time when President Zapatero is assuring us there’ll be no more tax increases? Truly has he dipped deeply at the Blairist well of stealth taxes.
Thanks to regular messages from my considerably-left-of-centre and politically-active (ex) stepson, I’m reasonably acquainted with the angst currently being suffered by he and his colleagues in the UK about what to do next and under which banner. Rejecting New Labour, they’re also unwilling to be too associated with Old Labour, Socialism or even Liberalism. And, whilst they may have more in common with Continental European Social Democrats than they care to admit, they don’t wish to adopt this label either. As I read their stuff, I get the impression they’re edging toward the public use of the term they routinely apply to themselves – the Progressive Left. You have to hand it to them for chutzpah – they are progressive and the rest of us are, thus, incontestably regressive. Que cara!
Incidentally, my (ex)stepson sees me as “a nice (and, therefore, deluded) Tory”. I suspect this is his British half speaking. His Spanish half would be far more blunt. At the minimum, I’d be “a liar”, I guess.
Finally, for those interested in knowing more about Iranian culture, click here.