Sunday, July 17, 2011

The local police finally seemed to have listened to my comment that they could collect a fortune by stationing themselves down by the roundabout and fining everyone arriving without a seatbelt or chatting on their phone. Or both. At 11.45 this morning, they had someone on each of the entry roads.

Commenting on the wedding he and Lucy attended yesterday, David said the groom had worn a uniform although he wasn't a member of any of the country's forces. This was because he was a 'naval engineer'. We speculated whether this strange custom dated from centuries ago or only from the Franco era. Anyone know?

A reader has kindly pointed me in the direction of this fascinating dissertation on corruption in Spain, something which certainly seems to have increased over the years of the phony bum. It ends with the statement:- “The big unanswered question is: With Spain on the brink of financial collapse, how much longer will Spaniards tolerate the endemic corruption that is such a huge drain on the national economy?”. I wonder. Since the answer to this is “Probably for a long time yet”, perhaps an even bigger question is “Do spaniards really believe the northern european economies should/will go on subsidising those that that are this corrupt?"

And talking of the EU, the European MP Daniel Hannan has this to say today:- “We can argue over whether Greece, Portugal, or Spain are at risk of being forced out of the euro. But there is another nagging question: whether events will cause Germany and its satellites to withdraw, bequeathing the legal carcass of EMU to the Club Med bloc. This is the only break-up scenario that makes much sense.” An interesting viewpoint.

Meanwhile, it seems that – lacking a Plan B – the eurozone members are still working on the latest fudge around Plan A. As a leader in the Daily Telegraph put it today:- There are two ways of rescuing the eurozone. One is a rapid move to the kind of fiscal union beloved of the federalists. Germany would become a permanent Lady Bountiful to Europe’s weaker economies, which in turn would have to surrender their autonomy over tax and spending decisions. The other is to accept what most people know — that the eurozone cannot continue in its present form. Some countries will have to leave, including Greece. Others will need to reschedule - in effect, partly default on - their debts. Europe’s task should be to ensure this is done in a way that minimizes the damage to the wider financial system. So far EU leaders are barely at first base.”

And, on a lighter note, now for a Sunday foto special:-

Walking into town past the pilgrims' hostel yesterday, I noticed some idiot had been let loose with a brush and a tin of yellow paint. For there was a camino arrow painted on the pavement every ten metres, in a road where there was nowhere else to go but straight on. In fact, in this picture you can see six arrows in the space of about 6 metres, if you look hard enough.

Walking across the bridge this morning, I noticed a new telescope on the railings. But it turned out to be made of cardboard and was presumably someone's (nice) idea of a joke.

And here's another car parked not just on a zebra crossing but also on the pavement. In fact on the pebbled bit which is supposed to advise blind folk of the crossing. The driver of the car had dropped her mother off for the nearby jeweller's and was waiting for her to come out.

I mentioned last week there was a new roundabout on the road to and from the station and that one of the exits led into an empty development Well, here it is. I don't suppose it was really envisaged as a wasteland-cum-car park when the money was raised and (partially) invested in two blocks of (empty) flats.

I'm still trying to find an acceptable alternative to the bar I used to go to every lunchtime before it was closed during my UK sabbatical. I was unimpressed by today's, though the wine was cheap and it had a decent view from the garden.

Finally . . . The always-excellent Matthew Parris (in one of the decent bits of Murdoch's empire) today provided a list of 20 realities that he predicts will one day surprise the British public as much as reports of malpractice by their tabloids. As I can't cite the article because of the paywall, here's a slightly abridged list:-
1. Many prison officers are complicit in the supply of drugs within prisons. How else do I reconcile what’s common knowledge — that drug use is rife in prison — with the almost abusive security checks I’ve undergone when I visits friends in prison?
2. Nothing like a real competitive market exists among banks or energy suppliers. They are classic cartels, robbing their customers.
3. Many sporting records that still stand — and not just in cycling — have been fuelled by performance-enhancing drugs.
4. Insider trading. It’s absolutely endemic. In many spheres and all sorts of ways within the financial world, nothing even approaching a free, fair or open market exists.
5. The stock exchange has all but lost its original purpose — the financing of new business — and become a turbo-charged, non-stop poker school for a huge, wealthy, essentially unproductive and largely parasitic class. Unfortunately for my argument, Britain makes a lot of money from this.
6. Which goes for another financial story. The slow, centuries-old corruption by greed of the insurance principle. Insurance has become an almighty racket, with millions of naive citizens parted from billions by the unscrupulous sale, often under the guise of independent, best-interests advice, of almost worthless policies.
7. The policing of the criminal law is riddled with corruption. The Crown Prosecution Service and the police, not statute, are the real determinant of punishable behaviour.
8. This goes for the Crown Prosecution Service too.
9. The easing of credit that ministers are now pushing so hard, coupled with bizarrely low interest rates, will — as we speak — be drawing millions of our countrymen into debts and mortgages that will strangle them when interest rates rise.
10. Dentistry and the NHS are a murky business where the service and private practice appear to live in a baffling symbiosis on which dentists thrive and for which patients, both paying and would-be NHS users, choose between the queue and financial ruin.
11.The way that British ministers and mandarins can proceed, within a few years of retirement, to take up positions on the boards of companies in the fields that they have until recently supervised is an absolute disgrace.
12. So is the “government-relations” lobbying industry. We are heading for an American situation in which a whole class of expensive leeches interpose themselves between the government and the citizen.
13. The social services departments of local authorities are an incompetent and occasionally vicious element in public administration, particularly as regards child protection.
14. The way children get allocated to state schools is indefensible, and a huge anxiety to parents.
15. The public sector is chronically incapable even of understanding, let alone managing, large IT projects; and private sector contractors are guilty of daylight robbery.
16. When all is told there will have been some shocking war crimes in Afghanistan. A purpose of war is to kill people. This has been a horrendous experience for many servicemen. Normal human sensibilities will have been degraded. Awful things will have happened and been “covered up”.
17. Euro-MPs’ expenses. Enough said.
18. EU budgeting. Enough said.
19. Lawyers. This is a coming storm. MPs have bitten journalists; journalists have bitten MPs; now judges, who hate the media, are about to bite journalists. Sooner or later comes biteback time. That the practice of law in England has for centuries been a stitch-up to enrich a professional monopoly at vast public and private expense is perfectly well known — not least by lawyers, who subliminally know that theirs is not quite a gentleman’s calling. Hence their rather desperate pomposity and self-regard. It must crack.
20. August will be unusually dry or wet.  


Pericles said...

Hannan may have been referring to AEP on Sunday morning.

AEP has penned a "Modest Proposal" in which he reckons Germany, Austria Finland & the Nederlands, should withdraw from the Euro & set up their Teutonic Mark currency. The PIIGs Latin Euro would crash 2/3 in value, giving them the opportunity to eventually honour their existing Euro debts. If France opts to join & lead the Latin Euro group, the French presence could reduce the devaluation to only 1/3.

Ireland has no place in this venture. It should bide its time and then break away when the Latin euro is weakest -- and therefore Ireland's euro debts most devalued -- to launch its own Punt Éireannach. This currency would arguably rise, not fall. Ireland should henceforth run monetary policy in its own interest as Israel, New Zealand, Chile, and Sweden all do successfully.

Read AEP & ignore the comments of the cretins. ... ak-up.html

Whilst entitled to your own opinion, you are not entitled to your own facts!

CafeMark said...

Mmm maybe your highlighting of Spanish corruption (and trying to point out how northern European countries would be shocked) would have been more effective had you not listed all those corrupt practises in the UK in amongst Matthew's list at the end? It's always hard to know everything, and I suspect there are always some dirty dealings that go off, but I feel that generally British policemen are fairly clean in this respect, and a good example to the world. However the London Met force is possibly a different matter.. Probably the temptations are so much greater in the capital city?

Colin said...

@Pericles. Yes, am planning to cite AEP (inter alia) this evening. Comments usually have a disproportionate number of cretins. Though not in the case of my blog, of course! At least not since we got rid of . . . God. Can't even remember his name. Cad . . .something..

Colin said...


True but the first thing I'd say is that there is corruption and corruption. And I've always said there's a lot of corruption in the UK, albeit of a different form. The article makes the point that Spanish corruption adversely affects the Spanish economy. MP made the point - not there in my abridged form - that some types of British corruption (in the financial sector) materially help the British economy.

CafeMark said...

Colin - indeed. In fact I'm sure certain industrial figures were getting worried by new anti-corruption measures proposed by the govt. The worry was that Uk firms could never compete in certain countries for business without a certain amount of 'flexibility'

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