Monday, January 26, 2015

Greece; The euro; Little Soraya; Easy benefits; Yellow sourgrass; & Evil Facebook?

Brave New Europe? A big boost for Podemos, Spain's equivalent to Sryiza? Maybe but we're certainly living through that old Chinese curse - Interesting times. Quote: "EU officials are confident that after reforms in southern Europe and Ireland, new financial defences and a programme of cash creation by the European Central Bank announced last week, the single currency will not be brought down". Pure bluster??

Quote: "Across southern Europe the young are being forced to pay the price for the idealism and arrogance of a European elite that launched the single currency and ignored all warnings about its inadvisability. . . . Last week's explosive intervention was hailed as evidence that the powers-that-be are finally getting their act together to solve a crisis that is now moving into its sixth year, but I wonder. It looked more like the desperate act of men who know that they, and the rest of us, will be very fortunate indeed if a disaster is averted.". More here.

But back to Spain . . . A face frequently seen in Spanish politics is that of Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría. One major reason is that she's the spokesperson for the PP party/government and so usually stands in for the unimpressive President Rajoy. Especially if there's a tough question to answer. But, anyway, as she's quite young (43), I took a look at her CV, to see what life experience qualified her for this very senior position. Well, she graduated in law at 23 and then worked as a State Lawyer and Associate Professor of Law for 6 years. In 2000 she began her political career, under Rajoy, and in the interim 14 years has risen to the commanding heights. Figuratively speaking that is; she appears to be only about 5 feet tall. So, not much experience out in the real world. But is this any worse than David Cameron, who only ever worked as a PR executive?

President Rajoy, by the way, must be doing proverbials in his pants this morning. As well as the leader of the Opposition, of course. A 'government of national unity' anyone?

Keeping a lid on benefit payments is a key challenge for Western European governments and perhaps even the USA, where there's no real welfare state. One example of what they're up against is the attitude of a British women who's currently bearing her 12th child. After her husband's regular philandering - now there's a chap who can't keep it in his trousers! - and his recent departure from the nest, she's now a single mother. And she receives nearly 40,000 pounds a year from the state. Asked why she'd had so many children, she replied: "It's the Government's fault I've got so many kids. It's easy to claim benefits. I've always wanted a big family and being a mum is the best feeling in the world. We didn't rush into the decision to have more children lightly but we knew we'd be able to afford it." The point, of course, is that they couldn't afford it. The British taxpayers could, spread over 20 million of them. I first experienced the corrosive effect of welfare when I heard my rich (and wonderful) aunt say she was going to claim a benefit she didn't need because she'd paid her National Insurance contributions and was entitled to it. And who doesn't think this way in the Age of Entitlement? The challenge is to eradicate it without hitting the genuinely needy? Which dosn't seem to be the case with the British government's cap on total benefits per annum.

Reader Dulcinea has advised that my yellow weed/flower is known as sourgrass in California and kindly provided this link. Strangely, neither the cuttings in my house nor the flowers in the garden have opened. So I can't check the petals. But, anyway, it can be quite invasive. And even fatal in large quantities. Despite which, it's used in some cuisines for flavouring. Rather than as a poison, of course.

Finally . . . Despite changing my Facebook profile to something ridiculous, I've yet to see any ads for taxidermy courses or zoophilia pages. Perhaps the company isn't as evil - or as efficient - as it's said to be.

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