On Spain looking down the tunnel, is that the exit or just a train coming?

I am sorry, I know I am a voluntary expat, but Spain is just the land of the joke. Yesterday three things happened that made me corroborate as a right idea leaving the Peninsula.

1. The financial health
The FT informs us that “Spain acts to help lenders”. Is this the same Spain that a few weeks ago was still bragging about the soundness of her financial system? The same Spain that was so proud that the rest of Europe was turning towards the “Spanish way” of dealing with bank reserves? (all coming from the Banesto/Mario Conde disaster of the early 90s). And I am still watching Banco Santander with a pinch of salt…

2. The moral and legal health
On a different note, again the FT tell us of how to do business in Spain. As a Dubai friend told me once, if you are not from Dubai [Spain], don’t try to do business without a local in Dubai [Spain]. And if you do, you will probably get ripped off and the court will not rule in your favour.

Anyway, the story is that of César Alierta, the chairman of Telefónica, the telecom monopoly (let’s call things what they are) that skins Spaniards alive with the most expensive mobile, landline and internet prices of any Western country (claim denied by the Spanish government, though). This fella, just set up a company to oversee his insider trader deals. In the best interest of the few, the court just cleared him of accusations of insider trading because “too much time had elapsed between the alleged offence and the start of judicial proceedings”.

3. The job market health
We heard drums of record unemployment in Spain (near 20% doubling the rate 12 months ago and near my own prediction of 22-25%). Also that the heat wave has brought American cockroaches to Barcelona. Inspired by G.W. Bush, I decided to launch a preventive attack on the little fellas and spent this morning ringing insect exterminators for my flat in El Born.

Conclusions:

a) Unemployment in Spain is partly out of laziness or deeply stupid laws and regulations. I only found two companies who worked on weekends but none did on Sunday. With unemployment over the roof, one would think that the government would relax the law and that people would be willing to work whenever.

b) The country is a rip-off. For a Roach Killer Gel I can get in a drugstore in USA for $6, they wanted €80-180 including spraying (and a 6-month guarantee when the gel producers promise 12 months).

c) All the companies I contacted quoted me the cost of the roach-raid with and without VAT, for my convenience. “In any case”, one lady told me without even thinking I might be a tax inspector, “you will get your 6 month guarantee”.

Sunlight might be the best of disinfectants, but surely rottens your spirit.

.calvin

On what you cannot do in a public park, is general public madness taking over or what?

Remember when you use to through stones to each other in the fields and hope that “the enemy” wouldn’t catch you? Well, remember no more, I was peacefully strolling Hyde Park when I got to the Knightsbridge side and so this “peculiar” but serious poster:

HydePark

Oh, Come on! What else? Is that what the Home Secretary is being paid for? Perhaps I had a violent infancy, but no one got ever (seriously) hurt.

But I guess I was overreacting after reading the news on the Daily Mail where more than 270 pupils from four local primaries took part in the East Beds School Sports Partnership Athletics Day at Sandy Upper School in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire but (and here comes the interesting part) parents were banned from attending an inter-school sports day to protect pupils from kidnappers and paedophiles (and parents you morons!). Ridiculous or we should throw the towel in?

.calvin

On the end of the rule of law in the West, another case study: MPs expenses

I am growing more and more worried about the raising populist anger spiralling out of control.

First, it was the “outrageous” (but legally binding by contract) golden parachutes of failed investment banking executives.

It followed the popular clamour against sky-high (but legally binding by contracts) executive pay.

Then it came poor Sir Fred Goodwin and his pension (legally binding by contract), and his public grilling by the British government and puppets who have nothing else to do sadly reminding me of Dr David Kelly and the alleged sexed-up report on Iraq’s WMDs.

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On Du-BAN-i, the new Gulf Emirate formerly known as Dubai. The party is over

Can’t stay away from the news these days, can you? A friend sends me a message forwarded to her from Dubai. She looked into moving down there as a Retail Manager for a fashion house down there, but the conditions where apocalyptic, lucky enough she had her father’s employer’s legal department have a closer look to the contract and decided to pull out at the last minute.

DuBANi

However, a staff member of hers at the time, decided to go easy and move from Supervisor in London to Store Manager in Dubai. Apparently it has been a gross mistake, they pay in advance your rent and utility bills, flights in business class to Paris for training that are great to make your friends back home envious, but if you decide to quit before the 12/18 month contract expires, you have to pay everything back, or face imprisonment. She calls UK in tears every night. She could just go, but her family lives in Doha, and that would ban her of ever going back to the Gulf.

At least, my Italian friend pulled out when she was told she had to surrender her passport until the end of the contract, literally living in a sand and sun prison.

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On Barclays profiteering from honest customers using their 24/7 rule and the ‘returned payment’ chain

Hobbes, seriously, the banking system in the UK get away with so much that once they put themselves in the spotlight as brainless individuals of dubious IQ as they have, we should move to regulators (SEC? FSA? even worse hollow heads than the bankers themselves), and then get rid of this politicians who, against public opinion, should be paid 10 times more than they are and made accountable (and fired if needed) as any executive of a listed company.

Anyway, what made me mad today was Barclays profiteering. Again.

Let me tell you a little story. We’ve got a small business and we try to manage our minimal finances as independently and debt free as possible. A mistake of the past was getting a loan for 50% of the cost of a van that we needed at the time but not now.

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On politicians and voters not being on the same page, ‘Ireland does EU, the sequel’

It is just un-be-lie-va-ble. They will not accept a NO as an answer. Now I know how ladies feel when dealing with pushy guys.

I thought that the Irish were quite clear when saying No to the Lisbon Treaty. But as democracy in Palestine, voters decisions are as good as the ultimate intentions of the poll organiser.

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On things they make us think that are for everybody but they are not: Home owenership

Hobbes, I believe there is a misconception in Western societies. I guess that is my generation’s (early 30s, and working on a nice curvy stomach) fault.

We grew up on an ever growing GDP world. We grew to believe as rights thinks that older generations couldn’t even think of having one day. Over the years, I have had several discussions with my mother in regards of home ownership. Continue reading