Just going back to the lists in yesterday's post . . . Can anyone imagine that in a similar list produced in any Anglo-Saxon country there would be an entry called “The intellectuals”? I wonder what this says re respective cultures.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I'd concluded it would be impossible to get a set of accounts for the Pontevedra city or province. Now comes the news that 45 town councils in Galicia are refusing to obey an instruction to have their accounts audited. I'm sure, though, they've got good reasons, perhaps associated with the proper allocation of (future) resources.
This is a foto of a Mobylette which was on sale at the Sunday flea market. If you look hard enough, you may be able to see the straw from the barn from which it was dragged.
And here is the seller – Francesco, a proud gypsy from Porriño. He aggressively demanded I pay 10 euros for snapping it but then smilingly volunteered this was a joke. However, he confessed he was a bit miffed that everyone was photographing it but no one was buying it. So, if refurbishing this appeals to you, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Francesco struck me as someone George Borrow would have loved to meet and talk with back in 1838.
Talking of things for sale . . . Here's a house five minutes from the centre of Pontevedra, down one of the back streets. It looks like it would do up well. It doesn't appear to be on the market but, in the unlikely event any of you are interested in it, let me know on the above address.
Spanish cooking tends to involve a lot of salt. But I wonder how far they take things in a restaurant called “The Salt”.
And here's a foto of a car parked across two bays. Not just ordinary bays but disabled driver bays. My belief when snapping the car was that the driver certainly wasn't disabled, as it was a sports model. Returning later, I saw a young woman with a small girl getting Into the car. Now, I'd be the first to agree that a daughter can be a handicap but one normally has to wait about 16 or 17 years for this. I gave the woman a reproving look. Which she blithely ignored, of course.
Well, the seventeen countries of the eurozone moved a step closer to fiscal union yesterday. This was via an attempt – apparently successful near term – to “to halt Europe's runaway debt crisis by pledging to buy government bonds from Italy and Spain.” The consensus seems to be that this was the essential minimum [again!], even if it doesn't really address the underlying weaknesses of the system. These are “high private and/or public debt, a lack of fiscal integration, and the absence of a euro-area-wide banking regulator with binding powers”. The solution to these is said to be much deeper fiscal integration. Or, in the words of AEP “Put up or break up”.
As to the specific next step . . . “Investors are looking to Mrs Merkel and Mr Sarkozy to sanction the issuing of euro-area bonds — in effect making German and French taxpayers liable for the debts of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and other weaker eurozone countries.”
I leave you with one commentator's overview of all this . . . .
“Although it is probably too late to make the euro work, it would be possible to devise a strategy for doing so. This would require fundamental changes and a dramatic abrogation of sovereignty by the 17 euro states. In future, there would have to be a eurozone chancellor of the exchequer, who would take all the important decisions on taxation, borrowing and public spending, while the European central bank controlled interest rates and regulated the banks. It would be difficult to centralise control of fiscal and monetary policy without imposing standardised labour market practices. The eurozone would have become a sovereign state; the 17, mere provinces.”
Plus his own response to this overview . . .
“Once it is put in those terms, the absurdity becomes apparent. Not only is there no democratic mandate for such a change. There is no means of creating one. . . . . . If there were a serious attempt to move towards federalism, there would be an outbreak of populism and widespread political instability. In reality, therefore, there is no choice. In its present form, the euro is finished. That leaves an almighty problem: what happens next? No one has yet come up with a plan for an orderly unravelling, which is most unlikely to happen. The probable outcome is defaults and a further banking crisis. That could already be imminent. For months, it has been apparent that many continental banks were naked emperors, whose capital ratios were sustained only by fantasy valuations. (Those responsible should not be in a madhouse. They should be in prison.) But it does eventually become impossible to blur the distinction between a bank balance sheet and a nudist colony. There are strong rumours that a couple of important banks are on the point of collapse. If that did happen, where would the panic stop? . . . At moments, it seems as if we have created a problem whose solution is beyond the power of the human mind.”