Well, I've been saying for years we're unfortunate enough - absent wars, I suspect - to be living in The Age of the Bureaucrat. And now it's become clear that even the presidents of such large (ex?)nation states as Germany and France are little more than senior bureaucrats who brook no disagreement from those needing their services. For which read 'handouts' in the case of Greece.
You can see my rationale by scrolling down to the EU post I made earlier today, but I'm proposing the formation of a movement with the acronym KAUB - for Kill All the Useless Bureaucrats. Clearly, productive individuals, where found, will be spared. The objective is to rid the world of parasites who've come to wield too much power, not to cut off our nose to spite our face.
There was a nice comment from a Greek MP tonight. When asked what the referendum question should be, she replied - "It can only be 'Do you want to die or do you want to be killed'".
The Bank of Spain has put some flesh on the bones of the contention - universally believed - that Spanish banks have many, many thousands of unsellable properties on their books. To the tune of a mere 176 billion euros, we're now told. More than half of which was loaned for new buildings like the (empty) ones behind my house. Actually, the grand total for all properties must be higher, as this huge figure relates only to assets which are 'toxic' - defined as 'credits unlikely to be repaid, foreclosed assets and assets under supervision'. The central bank estimates it will take 36 years to get shut of all this crap.
Spain's imminent general election: I'm guessing the take-up will be low but click here for the manifesto of the bound-to-win, right-of-centre PP party. Both in Spanish or (shorter version) in English. And click here for Graham's left-of-centre take on the document's contents and its timing.
It's been a while but it was good to see that old favourite search spain throw donkey off church tower reappearing today. There are many atrocities committed against animals in Spain but this one's a myth. Though possibly not in the case of goats. And definitely not in the case of roosters. Bulls, though, are definitely spared this particular indignity.
I started, last night, to help a young Italian woman improve her English, before going back to Padua in January to continue her medical career. It was fascinating - but not totally surprising - to see (and hear) her making exactly the same mistakes as most Spaniards do. A function, of course, of the Latinate structure of both languages. The same can also be said of French speakers. And probably Romanians. Anthea will know.
I started with the EU and am now finishing with it. Here are some Ambrose Pritchard-Evans thoughts on recent developments (my emphases):-
- Unless the European Central Bank steps in very soon and on a massive scale to shore up Italy, the game is up. We will have a spectacular smash-up. (Let me add that Italy is not fundamentally insolvent. It is only in these straits because it does not have a lender of last resort, a sovereign central bank, or a sovereign currency. The euro structure itself has turned a solvent state into an insolvent state. It is reverse alchemy.)
- As my old friend Gideon Rachman at the FT writes this morning: the Greek vote is “a hammer blow aimed at the most sensitive spot of the whole European construction – its lack of popular support and legitimacy.”