Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pontevedra Pensées: 31.1.17

Not only in Spain 1: It's reported today that the UK Tax Office has issued a massively increased number of fines for mistakes in declarations. And, of course, denied that it's going after the low-hanging middle-class fruit, rather than the big avoiders/evaders. Accountants here are said to have expressed fears that the Inland Revenue may be treating some mistakes as evasion. Welcome to the Hispanic world, where no mistakes are innocent - even the misspelling of your name - and are all heavily penalised. At least in the case of Modelo 720. Where even such a simple mistake costs you €100 and late submission at least €1,500. It's called penalty farming.

Not only in Spain 2: I saw this headline in The Times today - Boss paid for a decade without working - and thought: That can only be Spain: Sure enough it was a guy who duly logged in and out every day for 10 years, earning €50,000 a year for doing sweet FA. Or, as he put it, working on (unspecified) out-of-office projects. Officially he was Head of Books in a the Archive Department of a Valencian council. Needless to say, there weren't many books. And he never had an office. Or even a desk. Nice work, if you can get it. Whistle-blowing is not a developed calling in Spain. Especially if it's a relative or a friend. Or even an acquaintance.

I watched Donald Trump sign his controversial Executive Order on Muslim Immigration. As you'd expect, it's so large and florid this takes longer to do than to write out the order itself. As regards this legislation, the main questions - it seems to me - are not whether it's as good or as bad as anything Obama did, or whether it's a betrayal of American/universal values, or whether it's in accordance with the wishes of (a minority?) of American voters, or even whether it's legal under the constitution. They are whether - as with his Mexican wall - it will be effective, and whether it will be counter-productive. And, so, stupid. There are plenty of people - me included - who can see and understand his (alt-right?) rationale and can agree that liberals must take some of the blame for it but who reach the (balanced?) conclusion that it's an enormous mistake that will result - not just in immediate misery for many - but in greater loss of American lives. Exactly what Trump claims he's trying to prevent. It's as if he's never heard the comment that The result of every [rapidly and inefficiently enacted] major reform is the exact opposite of that which it was designed to bring about. Time will tell, as it always does. Though Trump could well be six-feet under by then, if my assassination bet comes off.

Today's foto: Of a card given to me by my younger daughter, who believes I spend too much time on my laptop . . .

Mind you . . . She is a woman who has no TV, can't find the handset to the landline and has more than 1,000 emails in her In Box because she doesn't like using a computer. But, to be fair, she does occasionally use her expensive MacAir laptop to watch videos of her favourite comedy series. Especially Curb Your Enthusiasm, so she can regularly point out how like Larry David I am. Of course, the good news is that I can write what I like about her here with impunity, as she's never going to read it. Unless my elder daughter snitches on me. Sorry, my mistake. The MacAir doesn't play videos . . .

Finally . . . Not only in Spain 3. I bought a ticket on the net for a train to London later this week. As our local initiating station doesn't have a machine, my son-in-law tried this morning to collect it at a station in Manchester, when a Collection Number - not the Confirmation Number - was demanded. This appeared in none of the 3 places Trainline said it would; so I had to download their app to my Spanish mobile and get the ticket on my phone. Which means roaming charges today and on the day of travel. Maybe the companies have shares in each other . . .

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