Over the years in this blog, I've several times termed the unholy alliance of Rupert Murdoch and successive UK governments something close to mob rule. So it's a delicious irony that the News of the World has closed as a result of mob disgust. Insiders see it as a decision of Murdoch Junior and as evidence of a changing of the guard. Whoever's decision it is, it's either genius or folly and my bet is on the latter. There can be little doubt it's a bold move. But also a cynical and cruel attempt to ensure the Murdoch empire is not shut out of increased ownership of BSkyB. It's too soon to say what all the ramifications will be but my guess is someone will buy the title and keep the (innocent) staff employed. Meanwhile, we do know that the execrable Sun will now be putting out a Sunday edition. I suppose it's too much to ask that the mob refrain from buying it. Or, indeed, any Murdoch journal. Finally on this, there must be very short odds on Rebekah Wade Brooks keeping her job. Which should please Private Eye as she's a favourite target of theirs. Can't wait to see Ian Heslop on Have I got News for You later tonight!
It's also an irony, I guess, that in a country (Spain) where the papers are full of tales of corruption journalism remains an honourable profession. And one for which you must get high marks in your university entrance exam (the selectividad). Whereas in a country (the UK) where there's much less corruption reported journalism is a discredited profession. And never more so than right now. Still, you can get to study it – not surprisingly, perhaps – even if you get only two Es in your A-levels. Or whatever they're called these days. Albeit in a joke university.
Talking corruption . . . A survey in El País today has it that the right-of-centre PP party is seen as being far more tainted with this than any other party. Which won't stop it having a landslide victory in next year's general elections, of course. As “They're all at it. So we'll go with the ones who stand a chance of getting us out of this hole”.
Talking of which . . . Here's an interesting, but depressing, article from The Economist on the challenges faced by several governments as they try to reduce their debt burden. As the magazine puts it: “Debt reduction, or deleveraging as it is known in the inelegant argot of economists, is a painful process. Growth suffers as consumers and firms, let alone governments, try to reduce their debts. Countries which experienced the biggest asset busts, such as America, Britain and Spain, have had the most disappointing recoveries. And the pain will continue: a careful look at the numbers suggests that the process of deleveraging has barely begun. . . . Even if handled well, the difficult business of debt reduction will hold back the rich world’s economies for several more years. Get used to it.” Oh, dear.
Meanwhile, almost everyone in Europe is up in arms at the perfidy of the “Anglo-Saxon” ratings agencies for deliberately trying to undermine the economy of the entire continent. And there's much talk of setting up a truly European equivalent which, like the people when re-asked, will always give the right answers. Few seem to be aware that one of these agencies (Fitch) is French owned.
Closer to home, the Crisis misery continues. “The Spanish government has pledged to inject an additional €8 billion into its ailing public-health system next year, highlighting the fiscal dangers of runaway health costs at a time when the country is struggling to ward off an international bailout. Spain's regional governments foot the bill for free health-care services and subsidised drugs, which represent the second-biggest government expense after pensions. Health-care spending has risen at a near 10% annual rate since 2002, to €70 billion in 2010. The chronic budget shortfalls of Spain's state-run health system have worsened due to plummeting tax revenue during the economic crisis. Drug companies, medical equipment manufacturers and other suppliers say they are owed around €12 billion and that average payment periods in some parts of the country surpass 600 days. Spanish officials don't dispute these figures.” Things are apparently so bad that our very own Xunta President, Sr Feijoo, has said that “Without urgent health-care overhauls, many regions by the end of this year will be forced to choose between paying worker salaries or meeting their deficit targets.”
Meanwhile, Spain is again having to pay higher levels of interest on its bonds, though demand remains high. I look forward to reading Charles Butler's comments on this on IBEX Salad, hopefully penned in such a way I can understand them.
Finally. . . . Something to distract:-
1. A nice article on a place I need to visit again, and
2. Pix of one of our summer specialities here in Galicia – As Rapas das Bestas.
Speak to me nicely and I'll tell you about the ones not patronised by tourists.