Tuesday, February 12, 2013

No one really understands what’s going on in our economy. This was the headline of an article in a British newspaper today. I suspect the sentence has a far wider application.

One of my favourite cartoons has a bowing hotel manager saying to a guest: “Is my fawning obsequiousness to your satisfaction, sir?” For some reason, it was going through my head as I drove from Pontevedra to Toledo today, en route to the south coast. Strange to relate, if it hadn't been, it would've occurred to me after I'd been checked into my hotel by a pleasant but extremely attendant young lady.

Toledo is, of course, a magnificent city and looks almost too good to be true by moonlight, when it's empty of the tourists with which it's stuffed in the high season. I say 'moonlight' but it's really subdued electric light. My hotel is down below the old quarter and I pondered toiling up the winding road before taking the huge escalator opened in 2000. I wondered if they charged for this but there was no sign of this at the bottom. Whereupon it struck me the city could make a killing by only having pay booths at the top and then ransoming the people who refused to pay for coming up until they paid for both the up and the down journeys. This is just the sort of 'stealth tax' needed in these hard times and I feel I should be recompensed for the idea. Fat chance, I suppose.

Leaving my hotel, the first establishment I passed was a restaurant called “The Holy Puppy”. And the second was a Chinese place called “The Great Wall”, which struck me as quite witty in the Toledo context, though possibly unintentionally so. Would have been even better (or possibly crass) in Ávila. Or even Lugo.

The Pope: I guess everyone has seen by now the foto of Berlusconi being hailed as the new incumbent. Sometimes with a rude title. If not, you will soon. Stopping off for a coffee on the border of Galicia and Castilla, I noticed that the local paper had devoted of 9 of its 42 pages(21%) to the resignation. And tonight I saw that El País had managed 15 out of 64(23%). Plus an editorial. For God's sake, you'd think this was a Catholic country.

The King was loudly booed and jeered at a recent football match. Which is pretty unprecedented but indicative of the national mood. See here for more on the travails of the Spanish royal family. Which were increased today with the announcement that three of the King's 'distant cousins' were being investigated for some crime or other.

Corruption
  • The President of Cataluña has said there's be less corruption there when the region is independent of Spain. As if. Greed will surely be at the same level and opportunities greater. Do the math, as our American cousins say.
  • The ex-President of the employers' association – who may well be in jail, as opposed to just being in the dock – is thought to have squirrelled money away in 10 countries, before announcing that his travel company was bankrupt. One wonders why.
  • The Vice-President of the Confederation of Business Owners (the CEOE) has been arraigned for paying his staff in black money. That's what counts as entrepreneurialism here in Spain.
  • I was wrong about the ex-husband of the Ministress of Health resigning; he was sacked “to protect the Ministress”. Or at least he was shoved onto his sword. One step backward. Or forward, in his case.

Finally . . . I received an email today from Jasmyne A. Barber, telling me that. “My wife and i donated $500,000 to you”. Call me an old sceptic but I doubt a lesbian couple would be showing such largesse to me.

1 comment:

Bill said...

I think the sub-text of that Telegraph article about the UK economy (indeed most economies in Europe, also the US) is one of the misapplication of resources - von Mises rather than the tired old (and regrettably not discredited enough) Keynes is what is required. Unfortunately, few politicians have the guts to tell voters this - and even fewer voters would have the honesty to accept it if a politician had the courage to tell them the truth.