Thursday, May 24, 2012

So, more can-kicking from Europe's leaders, creating yet more uncertainty and fear, not just in Europe but also around the world. Yet, in truth, what can one expect from Brussels and the EU? They're not exactly designed for crisis management. Or even bad times management:-
- An artificial union of 27 members of widely differing cultures, politics and economies.
- An artificial monetary union of 17 members, not backed by fiscal or political unions.
- An artificial democracy of 754 anonymous European MPs, all riding a gravy train.
- Not one but two un-respected Presidents whose functions no one understands.
- An artificial management 'team' of 27 national leaders, representing nations which differ hugely in cultural, political and economic perspectives.
- A total lack of solidarity between member states which makes Spain's Madrid-Barcelona spats look like love-ins.

Frankly, what else can the EU's leaders do but agree 'solutions' based on the lowest common denominator? Which the national leaders can then try to sell to their increasingly sceptical constituencies. And what else could happen other than might (Mrs M) will be proved stronger than right (everyone else).

The result is that - while there may be talk of a Grexit - laughingly dismissed as impossible only a few months ago - we don't know whether there's a contingency plan for this. Or whether, if there actually is, it will be good enough to prevent (or even mitigate) the inevitable knock-on effect on other EU economies considered weak. Including, of course, Spain's. The end result - for me, at least - is a set of word pairings:-
Cat - Mouse
Carrot - Stick
Threat - Counter-threat
France - Germany
Germany - The Rest
Playing - Chicken
Piss-up - Brewery
Gun - Head
Brinkman - Ship
No - Plan
Right-hand - Left hand.
Markets - Panic
Self-fulfilling - Prophecy
This is a game you can try yourself at home, of course. But possibly not if you have some Greeks staying with you. Could be the end of your crockery.

As happens in Galicia, the temperature here has suddenly increased from 12 degrees to 23 or more. But it's different here; the heat is just not as pleasant, as the humidity (I guess) makes things muggy. Which is bochornoso in Spanish, I believe. Which reminds me - I met the second of my intercambios yesterday evening - a young engineer learning English while looking for a job here. Just like the other one. Anyway, he's from Granada. Meaning that he has an Andaluz accent and says, for example, ma inglé instead of mas inglés. Tough times ahead.

Where I live in Galicia, on the hill overlooking Pontevedra, I'm in walking distance of nothing except the granite carvers' school. Where they don't sell Cadbury's chocolate. Here in Leeds there's a petrol station seven minutes away which has a shop stuffed with items attractive to students. Fatal. Even when I'm going to the gym I have to walk past this, trying to block my ears to the siren calls of one choccy bar or another. But I'm as impotent as Mr Wilde when it comes to temptation. So, naturally, I've stopped going to the gym.

When I was reading the book entitled Jesus the Jew, I came across the following dictum of JC, quoted in both Matthew and Luke, respectively:-
- Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
- If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
I understand these (Abrahamic?) sentiments have caused problems for Christians, which is hardly surprising. I'd be interested to know what the resolutions are.

The other thing that confused me - Jesus appears to have told his disciples to abandon their families and follow him in his work of exorcising devils and, I assume, curing the sick. And very occasionally, raising the dead. But was this paid work? If not, what the hell did they live off as they went about doing this stuff? It being a Jewish society, they may have been paid good money for successful exorcisms or medical cures but I rather doubt they were showered with charitable donations wherever they went. The Bible is silent on these issues. By the way, why don't we see as many (very lippy) devils these days? Are even they shocked by the excesses of our society and feel that their work is done? And how many priests would know how to deal with a devil, if one did come along mouthing obscenities in English? Is it something still taught in seminaries?

Finally . . . I saw this on a university web page this morning:- A best practise guide for schools. I wonder if this included spelling.

P. S. I rather liked this comment, read long after I write the post above:- At last night's great Euro-crisis dinner the leaders dealt with all the big questions: red or white? Still or sparkling? Cheese or dessert?


Anonymous said...

Hi Colin,

It appears that you have sharpened your sword(s)lately and are wielding them without mercy. The post is scary, but truthful.

SF Bay Area

Kras Bord said...

Hi Colin,

Still answering yesterday's question.
Things are certainly fluid. Who knows? I can only reiterate what I have always said: the Euro is a good idea and I want Spain to stay in because it is good for Spain.

I often wonder whether you understand to what extent the thoughts you expose are typically and exclusively Anglo. But I guess the question of whether Europe forms a cultural unity (or not) is a matter of belief. Sorry but, quite honestly, I have no time to expand on this.

Colin said...

Hi, Kras. Yes, I do know that my views are widespread among Anglos. But not exclusively. I know at least one Dutchman who shares them.

And, yes, I do know that the EU and the euro have been the source of several positives, not least of all in Spain.

The issues are and always have been:-
- Is the EU compatible with democracy (which we Anglos have had quite a bit longer than most other EU states), and
- Can the euro work without fiscal and political union?

You don't have to be Anglo to ask these questions.

An example of the difficulties - France wants monetary union but not political union. Germany wants neither. The euro can only work with both.

Colin said...

Thanks, Jorge.

Perry said...

The Euro has not been good for Spain. Spain prospered when Germans exchanged their Deutsche Marks for Pesetas and spent them freely in Spain. Likewise the British.

In July/August 2002, I took my family to the Costa Brava, intending to stay for three weeks. I was appalled at the high prices and poor value, so after seven days we drove to Montpellier and enjoyed the remainder of our holiday. Since then, I have not returned to Spain.

It has been suggested that huge amounts of pesetas of dubious provenance are believed to have helped to fuel a cash based, money laundering, real estate boom just prior to and after the conversion to the Euro. Mafia and criminal holdings of Pesetas in the billions were poured into massive real estate projects in Spain; the real estate could then be legally sold in Euros.

Whether that is true I leave to others to judge; the reported 30% tax evasion is integral to Spanish cultural mores. In that, Spain is on a par with Italy & Greece.

Thus, Southern Europe is culturally united, with the result it is financially poorer than Northern Europe.

Spain's economy will improve when inexorably, it follows Grexit with Spexit.

Perry said...


A subject you mentioned previously.

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