Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Wages of sin; Colonisation of the Americas; EU woes: and Duck treats from Gascony.

Well, I guess there are retirements and retirements. An ex Director of the Spanish Guardia Civil is about to leave the jail he was sent to 15 years ago for corruption. Now 65, he’s reported to have a villa in the Antilles, a flat in Paris and 10 million euros in the bank. Presumably all in his wife’s name.

I mentioned that I’m reading a thick tome entitled Empires of the Western World, by J H Elliot – which is a comparison of the Spanish and British colonising endeavours between 1492 and 1830. The similarities and differences are naturally fascinating and today’s citation is of the contrasting approaches to peopling their new territories. While the British were pretty relaxed about who went – and even happy to see the back of troublesome elements such as the pious Puritans – the Spanish took a rather different line. Jews, Moors, gypsies and heretics were all denied entry to the Indies and early evasion of this ban led to a decree that all emigrants must provide proof of the purity of their blood (limpieza de sangre). From the Parish priest, I guess. The irony is that the Spanish then proved rather more adept at intermarrying with those natives who survived the European diseases that nearly wiped them out.

One of those funny coincidences that arise – I was on the tube in Madrid on Friday morning, reading that Cuzco was one of the cities in the Indies which wasn’t given a new Spanish name, when the train drew into the station of this name on Line 10.

Talking of European conditions – here’s a pretty objective description of what happened at the Greek bail-out summit on Thursday and an overview of the crisis now faced by the euro.

And here’s another article assuring us the Greek tragedy won’t break up the eurozone. Instead, the agency of this will be – as I am wont to say – the impossibility of imposing a fiscal straightjacket (and harsh austerity measures) on democratically run nation states. In other words, it’s merely a question of time before “the single currency will ultimately split and be exposed as what it is – a triumph of European hubris and political vanity over unavoidable economic logic.”

Finally . . . Can my reader in France (or anyone) tell me the difference between grattons and frittons, my suspicion being they’re the same (wonderful) duck concoction under different regional names?

3 comments:

santcugat said...

I'm at a bit of a loss about the fear-mongering coming from the UK about the imminent demise of the Euro.

I don't see how Greece would be better off with its own currency, other than the fact that in addition to their current problems, they would also have a currency crisis.

Colin said...

WEll, it certainly wouldn't be better off outside the eurozone. But the question now is whether it will be thrown out, whether it wants to stay or no. Probably not but all depends on the German paymasters. Not to mention the Dutch, who are possibly even more fed up of paying for southern Europe profligacy with their money. Bit like Catalunia and Andalucia only far worse.

santcugat said...

I don't really see how a country could be kicked out of the Eurozone. There is definitely no "kick out" clause in the treaty.

This situation reminds me more of the family member with a drug problem that needs a bit of tough love to straighten them out.

Or perhaps the German proctologist putting on the rubber gloves and saying "zees may hurt a bit"

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