I see the Pope is now on Twitter. I normally wouldn't expect to see the words 'Pope' and Twitter in the same sentence but, then, you don't get to be the most successful organisation in the world without embracing every new technology that comes along. And quite a few old ones as well.
Which reminds me . . . Up in La Coruña, the city council have decided to hit the university there with annual municipal taxes based on property values. But not the Catholic Church. Which has friends in high places, one assumes.
But on to larger matters . . . Mario Draghi – who's head of the ECB - has said that “Things are improving in Spain and that 2013 will see another year of painful progress.” To which El País has retorted “What improvement?”, adding that this year will see a 1.5% fall in GDP, with at least the same for next year. The data, the paper points out, are directly opposed to Draghi's message of optimism. All that can be agreed is that there'll be more pain.
So, where will see (painful) progress next year?
- Will the economy grow at all? No, it will continue to decline.
- Will Spain need a bail-out? Yes.
- Will we see unemployment fall? No.
- Will we see fewer suicides? Probably not.
- Will we see fewer beggars on the street? Almost certainly not.
- Will we see Barcelona put an end to the unsettling talk of secession? No.
- Will there be reforms to the Spanish 4-tier governmental set-up? No.
- Will Spain put an end to its crazy split day? No.
- Will Madrid get control of spending in the regions? No.
- Will taxes rise even further? Yes.
- Will salary growth be restricted? Yes.
So, where are the grounds for optimism? Well,
- Tourism should continue to grow.
- Likewise exports.
- Spain will finally seek and get the bail-out but with tight strings attached.
- More celebrity crooks will be join the parade through the courts.
- Some may end up in gaol.
All in all, a pretty negative balance, I'd say. With no one claiming it will get much better for several years yet.
Talking of change . . . I see that someone has at last proposed that Spain moves to GMT. In other words, puts itself on the same time as the UK to the north and Portugal to the south. I should say 'moves back,' as Spain was on GMT until 1942, when Franco changed things to Central European Time, as a gesture of solidarity with Hitler's Germany. I've always supposed that Spain would never go back on GMT because only Cataluña could then justify remaining on CET. And I doubt Madrid would want to breathe any wind into the sails of independence. But who knows. If Spain can change its working hours, it can surely change its clock. Some convergence at last!
Galicia turns out to be the second most litigious region in Spain, after Aragón. No wonder I hear constant talk of denuncias (law suits) here. Of which there are currently 160,000 in process.
Finally . . . Here's a nice article by Alan Murphy of IberoSphere. Its main focus is the Spanish educational sphere but Murphy also touches on one or two other aspects of what he calls this “vast, sleaze-plagued land”.