Monday, August 11, 2014

Democracy and corruption; Ill-found wealth; The present historic; & Ponters petrol


In an interesting article in today's El País on the causes of Spain's high levels of corruption, the author identifies long-standing democracy as one of the factors which militate against it. He gives the following dates as the origin of democracy in respective countries:- England (1701), France (1789 and 1848), the USA (1789), Sweden (1810); Norway (1814); Portugal (1822), Greece (1844), Denmark (1849); Japan (1890); Austria (1920), and Italy (1948). The odd entries here are Portugal and Greece which are both more corrupt that Denmark, Japan and Austria. My guess is because they've both had dictatorships since the start of democracy. This seems to take a country rapidly backwards in this respect. Spain, of course, only got shot of her dictator in 1975. And there wasn't a lot of democracy before he seized power in 1936-9.

There's a small village up in the Galician hills called Avión. Its progeny are so wealthy they have their own airstrip. This month it's being visited by the world's richest man, Mexico's Carlos Slim and here's a Guardian article on the subject. What it doesn't say is that the riches that flow into Avión come from folk who dominate the prostitution business in Mexico. Or that's what I was told years ago. Maybe it isn't true. Maybe they've diversified now.

President Rajoy was pictured doing un footing this week - or 'jogging', to you and me - and I was pleased to see his legs were almost as white as mine. It was also a relief to see pale legs because I'm tired of looking at lithe brown legs on young women in micro-shorts. Honest.

In the UK there's been a bit of a spat between 2 prominent broadcasters on the use of the present historic tense in talking about past events. For example, King X was born in 1534 and in 1556 he succeeds his father to the throne. This is a pretty common tense in Spanish and last week I even saw the future historic(?) - He will have become. Which can be a bit confusing.

Finally . . . Pontevedra province boasts the highest petrol prices in Spain, just as they did when I came here 14 years ago. And I still have no idea why. Aside from a suspected cartel, I mean.

1 comment:

Les Revenants said...

I came across that article on the Galician town separately in the Guardian and was going to mention it to you, but of course you were well ahead of me! Interested to hear the theory about the provenance of the returnees' wealth. I hadn't really thought of Mexico as a source of wealth since the days of the conquistadores, but then I don't know much about it.

As the story that is linked in the Guardian comments section [http://www.armandobronca.com/dos-gallegos-en-avion-cuento_16455/] says,
- ¿Quién es ese Slim, qué fabrica?
- No fabrica nada, que no es Alemania, Juan ¡Qué va a fabricar! Slim es un impuesto que pagan los mejicanos.


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