Sunday, February 17, 2013

The other thing you don't get with your coffee/wine down here is newspapers. Neither domestic nor national. I guess the guild of newsagents has put paid to that. Maybe by accidentally burning down some transgressing café when protesting the loss of custom.

Intriguing to see that the horsemeat scandal isn't exactly a novelty in the UK.

More important is the surely correct perspective that, compared with the earth-shattering scandal of 1,2000 unnecessary patient deaths in a hospital in which no one has yet been sacked from his or her position, the horsement scandal is a mere trifle:- The subject which nobody wants to talk about is the National Health Service. It is just over a week since the publication of the Francis report into Stafford hospital, where some 1,200 patients died in appalling circumstances. Had any other institution been involved in a scandal on this scale, the consequences would have been momentous: sackings, arrests and prosecutions. Had it involved a private hospital, that hospital would have been closed down already, and those in charge publicly shamed and facing jail. . . . Not a single life has been lost, or even threatened [because of horsemeat in the food chain]. Indeed, so far as I can discover, no one has even fallen ill as a result. By comparison with the tragic and terrible events at Stafford hospital, the so-called horse flesh scandal does not register. It matters not a jot. It is beneath insignificant. . . Why has a story about what was effectively the manslaughter by the state of more than 1,000 people been ignored? . . What we have here, I believe, is a conspiracy of silence, just as we had a conspiracy of silence over phone hacking and over MPs’ expenses. None of the mainstream parties want to admit the blindingly obvious fact that there is something very wrong with the NHS, as Stafford demonstrates in the most tragic and horrifying way. Labour can’t or won’t admit this, because it founded the NHS and claims it as its own. Likewise the Lib Dems are bound into this consensus. The Tories fear it would be electoral suicide to do something serious about it. . . . Nigel Lawson famously remarked that the NHS is the nearest thing we have these days to a state religion. Nobody can criticise a state religion. It’s much easier, and far more agreeable, to pretend that horse meat is the big story. Psychologists would call the events of the last week “transference”. And if British politicians (of all parties) carry on changing the subject, the more certain it is that there will be fresh Staffords to come. [Peter Oborne: The Telegraph.]

Conversation with my sister this evening. I'll leave you to guess who's who:-
We'd better water all the plants, I think.
Which ones?
Well, all of them. I've just done the one by the door.
They're all plastic, you fool.

For those with the interest, the time and the energy, here's the latest take on the Spanish economy, from the man hailed by some and hated by others. But that's economists for you. I would copy and paste extracts for you but I can't face that in the middle of a Real Marid match.

And here's the The Economist's take on the messages imparted a couple of days ago by an optimistic but ever-taciturn President Rajoy. The core message is the same - Where once Spain's problems were acute, now they are chronic.

Finally . . . Heard on the radio yesterday: Invention is the relentless driver of capitalism. Or something similar. Seen on the TV today: An advert for a plug-in product - presumably a stupefactant – which will “stop your cats from being catty to each other'. Given the loss of bird-life in my garden, I'd want something stronger than that.

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