Saturday, September 10, 2016

Pontevedra Pensées: 10.9.16 2

Taxation in Spain: Another (partly) devolved competence. And another postcode lottery. The regional governments are allowed to set rates for property transfers, life gifts, and inheritance taxes. So, they naturally differ. Meaning, it's a lot better for your relatives to die in Madrid than, say, Galicia. That said, it seems our rates were reduced early this year, resulting in more than 130,000 people escaping the tax net this year so far. And a considerable loss of income to the Xunta. I wonder why. Perhaps folk were moving to cheap Asturias next door.

Taxation in the EU: Not content with effectively setting corporate taxes for all EU(eurozone??) members, Brussels has now indicated it will stop France and Italy imposing a lower sales tax on e-books than on printed books. Worse, it's advised that the tax must rise from 4% to 22%. I recall that the US States can set their own sales tax rates, if they want to impose one. But that would be too much for the technocrats who like to think they run a superstate from Belgium. On the basis of minimal to nil representation. It can't last. Delendum est.

How Things Happen Here: It's not only with the Tax Office (La Hacienda) that one experiences a mix of impressive and poor customer service. Efficiency and inefficiency. A week or so before the anniversary of my car service, the Honda garage in Vigo – the one in Pontevedra closed just after I'd bought the car! – called me about an appointment. I liked that and told them I'd call them back as soon as my visitors had gone. I did this last night. Five times. And this morning I'm still waiting for someone to call me back. I just called a 6th time, to find they don't seem to be open at the weekend. I'd like to have a service before the deadline for my annual road test of next Wednesday. This, by the way, was advised to me by a letter dated 22 August, which reached me on 8 September. One wonders why anyone sends out anything important in Spain's shutdown month. But, anyway, I don't know whether Spain is worse than anywhere else when it comes to these frustrations. But I suspect it is. Cue a response from Spanish reader(s) in the UK?

Portugal v Spain 1:
  • A bottle of Portuguese Super Bock beer in the centre of Oporto - €1.40
  • A bottle of Portuguese Super Bock in the centre of Pontevedra - €2.40. Premium of 71%. The cost of moving it c.175Km??
Portugal v Spain 2:
  • A glass of white wine in the centre of Oporto, price €1.40:-                                                         

  • A glass of white wine in the centre of Pontevedra, price €2.30:

OK the latter is fashionable( and so overpriced) albariño and the former is from the Alentejo region of southern Portugal but nonetheless . . .

Politics and Religion: Another example of what happens when you mix these:- Michelle Bachmann: I actually supported Ted Cruz but I also see that at the end of the day, God raised up Donald Trump who was going to be the nominee in this election. I don't think God sits things out. He's a sovereign God. Donald Trump became our nominee. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. But I do know that the Bible is true and that Daniel teaches the Most High God, which is one of God's names, is the one who lifts up who he will and takes down who he will.

Another Daft Advertising puff: Dial up the wow.

Another One Bites the Dust: The Bishop of Majorca is being demoted to 'auxiliary bishop' of Valencia, following reports of his non-celibate relationship with his (married) secretary. Apparently, in the RC church this is considered a 'massive punishment'. Yes, well. But you do have to feel sorry for these sexually-repressed men and wonder when(if) the Church will ever see sense and return to the status quo ante of the 11 century.

Postscript 1: Bless the internet's cotton socks. At the same time as checking out a cheap back-up, I investigated ways of making a dead Mac resurrect itself, after an attempt to connect my camera killed it stone dead. A very helpful article suggested I take out the battery and reset the SMC (system management control). Blow me if this didn't work. Though I haven't put everything back yet and I'm getting a series of minor electric shocks as my wrists touch the metal case as I type this . . .

Postscript 2: Here's something I added to yesterday's post: Shortly after I wrote the above paragraph, the news came through that at least 4 people died at 9.30 this morning, following a derailment at more or less the point where my daughter and I had the conversation. It is, of course, nothing but a cruel coincidence, but one which makes you go a little cold if you were in the same carriage on the same train only 2 mornings before. I've left in the paragraph  because life must go on. I have, of course, given up all hope of curing my daughter's tendency to worry excessively . . . .


These are fotos I took at Pontevedra station on Wednesday morning and on the way back from Oporto on Thursday morning, a day before the same train crashed in Porriño.

A Galician tourist train, destined for Irún on the border with France.
The fatal Portuguese train. Described as 'very old' by the thoughtless mayoress of Porriño. Built in 1985

Caminha Station in Oporto, reminiscent of several Galician stations.
The station's interior. Not a patch on San Benito but a nice staircase and ceiling.
The numerous lovely Portuguese churches en route are normally announced by steeples like this

                                         The result of one of the many recent fires in North Portugal and Galicia
A zoom
A view of the cathedral fortress of Tui as you cross the Miño/Minho river, the border between Portugal and Spain.

A few of the many estate cars noted in Oporto. Various marks . . . .  

Finally - on a positive note - my beautiful, look-alike granddaughter on the ill-fated train. As i say, life must go on:-

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