Yesterday I cited the report suggesting France is the best place in Europe in which to live. One factor, of course, is a retirement age there of only 61, compared with 65+ in the UK and, indeed, in Spain. My blogger colleague, Lenox, agrees Spain is a superior place to Britain but this post of his might be seen as scraping the bottom of something to prove the point.
One aspect of Spanish life that seems to be far worse than in the UK and France is political corruption, something which almost certainly grew during the decade of a property-driven boom. The worst case to come to light so far is quite possibly this one. En passant, as I write this, it’s reported on the TV that M. Chirac is paying back a huge amount to the Parish municipality to avoid a corruption case against him.
Edward Hugh takes a cold look at the Spanish economy here. Referring, of course, to the endlessly Pollyannish President Zapatero, he insists the last thing we need is “to be told by someone who manifestly has no idea what he is talking about that the danger has already past, even as we slide, inch by inch, onwards and downwards towards the chasm that gapes beneath.” Looking forward, EH stresses “The real issue is how to restore growth to highly-indebted and structurally-distorted economies, since without growth the debt to GDP ratios will not come down and the burden of the debt will not be reduced. . . What the countries involved all need is more exports and larger industrial sectors, and no one seems to be very clear how they are to achieve them.” Ain’t that the truth.
There are reports of a spat between opposing EU groups led by Germany and France respectively, over the issue of how tough to be on members who don’t abide by the fiscal/budgetary rules. The interesting background fact to this is that only three of the twenty-seven members currently do so. This was ignored for years, of course, especially when Germany and France were the offenders, but we’re living in more serious times now.
Talking of extreme measures . . . In its desperation to get replacement revenue, the Galician government has taken to using aerial reconnaissance to identify illegal houses in the region. They’ve also announced today that more than 50% of private properties here lack an occupation licence. Which is presumably the prelude to some sort of crackdown. What’s interesting is that it’s theoretically impossible to get water, gas and electricity without such a licence. So, you tell me. I assume the companies are turning a blind eye to the lack of these. Rules is rules and we even have the Spanish president saying that those memebers who break them should be punished. Which may or may not become a domestic policy of his as well. If he's got the time before he's defenestrated in 2012. If not before.
Finally . . . Two new Spanish words for me today. Liza and Lid, meaning ‘battle’ and ‘fight’, respectively. Which was something of a coincidence, given that they came from different articles.
Tailnote for new readers: My elder daughter has now net-published six chapters of a novel which is “A fast-paced political thriller but, above all, a personal tale of pride and paranoia.” Set in a fictionalised Cuba, it’s being e-published at the rate of at least a couple of chapters a week. If this entices you, click here. And, if you enjoy it, please tell her. It’s tough being an aspirant novelist.