Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Thoughts from Galicia, Spain: 12.9.18

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable.
- Christopher Howse: A Pilgrim in Spain. 

If you've arrived here because of an interest in Galicia or Pontevedra, see my web page here. Garish but informative.

Matters Spanish
  • A wonderful looking festival down in Cordoba.
  • Here and here is The Local with trivial(?) items on Cataluña. Will I miss these when it goes behind a paywall? Not sure I will.
  • My Dutch friend* Peter in Santiago has sent me this little tale. It's set here in Galicia but I've no reason to doubt there are examples from elsewhere in Spain: The Xunta has decided that every 3rd and 4th grade pupil needs to have insurance. Total yearly costs of € 1.12. To avoid having to deal with cash, one needs to pay this into the school's bank account. However, the banks no longer want to deal with cash payments. One has to do this through their ATM, by means of a bar code. But the paper which prescribes the payment, HAS no barcode. So an ATM is no use. In short, one has to go up to the counter and solicit a favour, as in 'Can I pay this from my bank account with my debit card from your bank?'. This sometimes works, when the person on the other side happens to be understanding. And sometimes not. In short, the only sure way to do this is by digital payment, which the banks still accept even though the sum is ludicrous. For how long, one wonders? And - mind you - the school refuses to accept the inscription unless this tremendous sum is properly paid, with a valid receipt! If it weren't so utterly irritating, it would be funny! IGIMSTS.   * I say 'friend' but, as Peter was responsible for bringing my blog to the attention of Alfie Mittington, this might not be exactly the right word.
  • Maybe it's living here in Pontevedra but I find it hard to believe that the overweight tables for Western Europe have these as the worst countries for both men and women: 1. Spain, 2. Cyprus, and 3. The UK. As a regular visitor to and people-observer in the UK, I'm considerably less surprised to read that, since these tables were compiled, the UK has become 'the fattest nation in Western Europe' and 'the sixth worst for obesity across the globe'. The world rankings are headed, to no one's great surprise, I guess – by the USA, followed by Mexico.
Matters Galician and Pontevedran
  • With plutocracy being the theme of the week, it's apt that I tell you that the net worth of Galicia's richest folk has risen by 54% since 2000. By far the most of this wealth is held as property. It rose by €4.7bn last year . . .
  • And now, a real treat . . . Here (I hope) is a video on Pontevedra which – from the music and the voice, not to mention the lack of colour – must come to us from the Franco era. If it doesn't work, here's the youtube link:-
  • It's reported that more than 70 doctors here are being denied the opportunity to work after 65. But my neighbour - herself a GP – tells me this is only half the story. They've been employed on very advantageous contracts for years and are now refusing to continue working – beyond their official retirement date – on normal rates of pay.
  • Here's a bit of the conversation between my (stroppy) elder daughter and a Renfe employee on Monday evening:-
Are you catching the night train to Madrid?
You have to take a bus to Monforte to Lemos.
There's no train.
Why not?
Because the morning train didn't come.
Why not?
It just didn't.

I have to say that, whilst Renfe is not the most customer-oriented company in the world, I've always found their on-board staff to be extremely pleasant.

Finally . . .
  • Below is a fascinating forum post that came to me in one of my Spain feeds. It should be read by everyone who opposes Brexit and lumps all Brexiteers together in one box.
© [David] Colin Davies, Pontevedra: 11.9.18


Just Following on from the Brits Leaving thread.

I don't usually share my political views, but there are exceptions to everything and this is one.

It really stems from the other conversation that highlights people (on both sides of the argument) having such entrenched views that they don't actually read a post before assuming they know all about what is being said.

This is something I wrote at the time of the referendum backlash.

Four Things I Found Out About Myself Today from a Biased BBC That Should Know Better. (and all because I voted ?Leave?)

1) I am apparently a nationalistic, white supremacist, racist bigot.

That really took me by surprise, because in my dear departed Grandmas words I ?have more than a touch of the tar brush? in my genealogical make up. I suspect that a deal of that Romany and Sinta blood may have also been a contributory factor in my wandering off around the continent in a home built camper truck and spending six full years calling it home. 

Yes I?m a bit of a mongrel like most of the world. Either way, I am certainly not white enough in mind or body to pass muster at your average KKK convention.

I also happen to hold dual-Nationality and have an outlook that doesn't really make any distinction between anyone's race, creed, colour, sexual orientation or political outlook. I happen to think that everyone is born equal and remains of equal value until the day they depart this mortal coil ? even politicians and perhaps even bureaucrats.

I have no problem with anyone coming to live and work in the UK or anywhere else for that matter, whether they are from within the European Union or from anywhere else in the world. 

If they have the skills the host country needs and they are willing to work, what's the problem? 

The same applies in reverse and I have myself worked in 17 very different and diverse countries and enjoyed that experience immensely.

2) I am an ill-educated northern bloke who spends his waking hours supping endless pints of cheap bitter in Wetherspoons whilst everyone else is out working for a living to pay for me.

That was a shocker too, as I consider Tooting in South London to be the cradle of all civilisation because that?s where I was born and brought up.
The Great Rift Valley may have a historically superior claim to that title and I accept (without even a hint of bigotry) the veracity of that claim.

I guess Kim Ung-Yong, with his massive IQ of somewhere above 210, might be able to look down on me as an intellectual midget, but my own IQ of 164 is actually classified as Genius Level and is exactly equal to that of Stephen Hawking..... So I would like to know just how intelligent you have to be in order to avoid these sweeping statements from the Spin Doctors who put out this garbage? Obviously a lot smarter than me.

It?s true, I do like to partake in the offerings of the brewing companies, but generally only after I have put in my regular average working day of somewhere between 9 & 12 hours.
I can?t stand bitter of any sort though, as I have a strongly held belief that it has the equivalent effect of Drainol Pipe Cleaner on the average humans lower intestinal tract.
I am in fact a soft Southern Shandy drinker!

3) I found out that I?m part of the older generation that have cynically screwed over the young and all because we?re living on inflation proof pensions in houses we bought on the cheap in the era of Maggie Thatcher.

Well I had to go and check the mirror on that one. Sure I?m not 25 years old anymore, but the bloke looking out of the mirror isn?t 65 either. 

I don't actually have a pension and my current plan is to continue working for at least another 20 years, maybe longer. 

I didn't own my own house at the time of the referendum and all of my capital was tied up in the risky business of being in business, so I don't think I'd intentionally vote for something that I thought might throw the economy under the bus in the longer term.
I have since then bought a house (in Spain) but apparently I still don't count because I am not a "Mortgage stakeholder" and I am immune from the vagaries of interest rates... go figure.

My life as a youngster didn't seem to be quite as easy as the kids I see today - and I rejoice in that, because I think the young deserve as much opportunity as possible. 

I myself started full time work before my 14th birthday and I was 19 years old before I had enough spare time and money to go back to evening school to eventually gain my degree, but I guess I just had it easier than most!

I would also question how anyone knows which generations voted for each of the options. Your vote is confidential and that is sacrosanct in law, so how do these people know how the old/young/rest of us voted?

Ah, of course! It was because the pollsters told them so!

Hang on a minute, would these be the very same pollsters that made such a hash of the outcome of this referendum AND the last two General Elections? 

Their information gathering is laughable at best and has a sinister underlying slant that panders to their corrupt political paymasters at worst. 

To insinuate that this data is factual is just another in a long line of lies.

4) That (mainly because of all of the above) I was too ignorant and ill informed to understand what the referendum was about.


I think I understood pretty well what it was about, and a lot better than some of the highly paid (by us the taxpayers) pundits and experts who spent every waking hour lying to us on the TV and Radio stations, whilst avoiding giving any straight, provable answers to the reasonable questions asked of them by some of the more honest broadcasters front men.
I include both sides of the debate in the above, Remainers and Leavers campaign teams all told huge numbers of lies - but that is normal in any election/referendum.

Unlike 99% of these people, I have actually travelled to and through all 28 EU countries, so I feel kind of pretty well informed on a very real level.
I have seen the working conditions that a large proportion of ordinary people have to endure. 

I have witnessed the actual health & safety implementation that isn't even given lip service in a lot of countries. 

I have seen first-hand what really happens to waste and how goods are handled in the real world - not what it says is supposed to happen on some random pieces of paper in a filing cabinet at the European Union HQs in Brussels or Strasbourg.

For me, the vote was mainly about stopping the formation of two whole new classes of people that the rest of us were expected to pay for without question or recourse.

We have always had Working Class, Middle Class and Upper Class people - it's never been perfect or fair, but it is what it is - even if that offends most of us who might like to see a fairer distribution of wealth.

Myself included.

We have for the past 25 years been in grave danger of creating two whole new classes of people though:-

The Benefits Class - A group of people who get trapped in the Hand-Out system that has been a feature of our economy ever since we lost control of our own domestic laws.
These people rarely get to fulfil their potential, or enjoy their lives as they surely could if they were shown the correct opportunities. 

If these people were given the support to attain a lifestyle that gave them a greater sense of worth and self-respect, they could enjoy a happier and perhaps more affluent lifestyle.

I am not allowed to express that opinion without being vilified as a heartless bigot for looking down on those less fortunate than myself. 

What is conveniently ignored is the fact that I am not looking down, I am looking directly across on the same level because I believe those people have exactly the same worth as myself and that they deserve better. 

There is an unspoken cynicism from some politicians who know that keeping this whole section of society dependent means they will blindly vote for the system that provides the handouts that they have become reliant on.

It is in all of our interests to get as many people as possible into meaningful, productive and rewarding work. 

This would obviously obviate the need for the rest of us to pay for their upkeep, as they would be earning a respectable income in their own right and paying taxes instead of draining them. 

It would also go a long way towards negating the need for the other new class of people.

The Bureaucrats Class - This has actually become a bigger burden on most developed economies than the non-working population, because these people command serious pay packets, once again paid for by the general taxpayers. With the bureaucrats come the lobbyists, and although they are nominally paid for by the companies that they are lobbying on behalf of, if the company they were working for couldn't save more in unpaid taxes than they were paying the lobbyists it wouldn't be worth paying them in the first place - so once again the taxpayers pick up the tab in the end.

In Brussels alone there are over 31,000 bureaucrats working directly for the European Commission alone. (Freely available information from the EU itself)

Add to that the 30,000 lobbyists and their expense accounts and you are just starting to scratch the brushed aluminium surface of this highly polished gravy train. 

That's over 16 Million Euros per day just to pay for that useless lot's wages in Brussels alone (and let's not forget the whole sorry mess has a carbon copy in Strasbourg) all to produce the square root of Jack Schitt in real terms. (To put that into perspective, the huge Toyota car plants only employ 3,100 people in the whole of the UK)

I fully understand the need for a working political system, but something on that scale is frankly ridiculous.

If you think that these people are worth putting up with, and paying for, in order to keep the environmental issues on the agenda, think again! 

It is the biggest Petro-Chemical companies, you know the ones who don't want us to stop strangling our planet, who have more lobbyists than anyone else and they nearly always succeed in getting most of their own way. 

The Eurocrats would have you believe that the only way to tackle climate change is on a European level, but when you've seen the way things really are on the ground you have to say that even the hapless Roy Hodgson could do a better job. King Canute had nothing on these boys and girls.

We need to get rid of at least two layers of bureaucracy and the associated costs, so binning the European Union was the obvious choice for me and many of the other 17 million who voted. 

It could equally be getting rid of one of the two Houses of Parliament in conjunction with slicing 75% of the Strasbourg/Brussells hierarchy, but that wasn't an option on the ballot paper.

Sure, you'll be able to find a handful of racist idiots in the Leave Voters, but what makes you think that there weren't plenty of racist idiots on the other side of the vote too?

As a matter of fact, I find it extremely offensive when rampant Europhiles seek to create a two-tier world and say that you are at a Premier Level if you were born within the confines of the European Union, but you are somehow second class if you are born anywhere else in the world. Surely that is taking racism to a whole new level?

So a superbly qualified surgeon from India has to queue up behind a lesser qualified surgeon from somewhere within to EU, is that right, fair, equal or even smart?

Isn't that in fact in itself extremely racist?

I am probably the most Liberal person you will ever meet and I have been an Economically Realistic Socialist all of my life.

I believe in equality, liberty and freedom of speech & thought for EVERYONE and I understand that many of you will have diametrically opposing views to my own.

That is your inalienable right and I don't think that it makes you stupid, ill informed, bigoted, gullible or anything else - just different to me.

Voltaire was quite wise when he said "Find out who you are not allowed to criticize and then you have found out who is controlling you!"


Maria said...

Ah, yes, the school insurance payment. In Rianxo it's generally paid by a transferance. Or directly into the bank where the account is held. If you transfer the payment from your own account, you have to pay around €2.50 for the transaction, depending on the bank. The banks really know how to pick your pocket.

Sierra said...

"...So a superbly qualified surgeon from India has to queue up behind a lesser qualified surgeon from somewhere within to EU, is that right, fair, equal or even smart?"

As ever, Brexiteers ignoring the facts:

"some 97,910 doctors registered with the GMC received their primary medical qualification outside UK organisations – 37% of the total. Among the foreign doctors, 29,010 had qualified in European countries. The top five overseas suppliers of doctors to the UK are India (25,005 doctors), Pakistan (9,770), South Africa (5,282), Nigeria (4,169) and Ireland (4,046)."

Given there are now 108,000 NHS vacancies, doubt if many are turned away

Alfred B. Mittington said...

What? First you begin to hate me for being mildly critical of your more extravagant mistakes and positions; and now you start to dislike poor Dutch Peter for being a faithful friend to yours truly??

Really: you have no shame !!!


Colin Davies said...

@Sierra. Not sure your stats prove he is wrong. For a start, there's no indication of a time frame in which these people came to the UK. Nor do we know if the process - whatever it is - has changed in that timeframe. And neither do we know how many were rejected, nor from where. Nor why. I fancy there were some rejections, even if there is a glaring need for new doctors.

Of course, I don't know if he's right or wrong but I prefer to believe that, if the latter, it could be an honest mistake, not either a lie or, as you label it, deliberately ignoring the facts.

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