14 June 2022: Foreigners in Pv; Feral cats; Lucky dogs; Another personal slight; Declining Britain; & Other stuff

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Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

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

Cosas de España

Almost 900 foreign folk obtained Spanish nationality in Pv last year. Of which:-

Venezuelans 120

Brazilians 120

Moroccans 79

Rep of Dominicans 63

Cubans 53

Colombians 52

Peruvians 40

Paraguayans 36

Uruguyans 35

Argentineans 32

Most of these, of course, are from ex colonies and have benefitted for a simpler system than others. So, no great surprise to see no Europeans in the list – not even Romanians.

Many, if not most, of the South Americans will have come here to work in the hostelry industry. For long hours and low pay. No one seems to be unhappy about this, immigration being a non-issue here. Possibly because folk from South America assimilate easily, for one reason and another. Societal disruption is minimal. And someone has to do the jobs young Spaniards are increasing averse to doing. Despite the very high level of 18-35 unemployment.

We have quite a few colonies of feral cats in Pv city but not as many, I suspect, as the nearby resort of Sanxenxo. There are 40 of them there, it’s reported. With implications, no doubt, for the local bird population. As it happens, there’s an article in a British paper this morning entitled: Cat-loving Brits are blind to the vicious truth about their ‘pets’. Which really should read:  . . . to the truth about their vicious ‘pets’. Back in Sanxenxo, funds are being sought for an extensive sterilisation program, which is probably opposed by the ‘kind’ ladies who put out food and water for the felines.

Hotel prices in Sanxenxo are reported to be 30% up on last year’s. Despite this, July-August occupation is high at 90%. Hoteliers say they’re very sorry about the increase but I very much doubt they really are. And they’re just charging what the market will bear, of course.

Post Covid, the Pv dog pound is experience a run on adoption demands – not exactly its experience in previous years. More than 200 have already been given away this year. No wonder there’s a lot less noise as I pass the pound these days.

Sad to report, I see that I’ve once again been passed over for an award in the Pontevedrans of the Year ceremony. But Possibly only because I live across the river in Poio. Probably a circular activity, as previously-adopted fogs are returned after a few months.

The UK 

An indictment . . . The severity of the country’s problems are not being confronted, says the author of an article entitled: Mediocre Britain has resigned itself to a heartbreaking cycle of decline. See below. 

Would that this were not as true as it seems to be from here – as I contemplate the cancellation of the August visit of my younger daughter and her 3 kids because she simply can’t get a passport for her youngest. And, even if she succeeds with this monumental challenge, might well have their flight cancelled with almost no notice.

Remainers, of course, will blame it all on Brexit but – as the author points out – this is just a convenient and expedient simplification. And a big part of the problem. 

Quote of the Day

From Epicurus:-

It’s not the young man who should be considered fortunate but the old man who has lived well because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbour, having safeguarded his happiness.

Finally . . .

This is a shop in Pv city. I’ve no idea what language its name is in, if any:-

For passing readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there. 

THE ARTICLE

Mediocre Britain has resigned itself to a heartbreaking cycle of decline. America is dysfunctional but it is painfully aware of its weaknesses. British elites have no such lucidity: Sherelle Jacobs, The Telegraph

Tumbling back down a rabbit hole is the only way I can describe my return to Britain after a road trip through America. This might sound strange, given the dysfunction that has long gripped the US. Horror is only growing over the impotence of Joe Biden, who is sinking into a quagmire of abysmal policy errors. The US economy is overheating, triggering an inflation crisis that was completely avoidable. One of the world’s largest oil and gas producers somehow faces its highest energy prices in over a decade, in the wake of a hubristic push towards renewable generation. America’s derangements stretch far beyond the Washington bubble – from the regular mass shootings to the racial hang-ups, and the addiction to debates over divisive issues such as abortion.

Still, I can’t help but think that Britain’s crisis is in a league of its own. With economic growth set to be the worst in the G20 apart from Russia, the UK risks tipping into a spiral of decline. Worse, nobody seems to care. A culture of complacency has spread across all of society, with many people merely shrugging at the failures and incompetence of not just the public sector, but the private sector too. The country’s politics, meanwhile, is descending into a soap opera. As Boris Johnson clings to power, No 10 is pushing out a parade of gimmicky policies designed only to get the Prime Minister through the week. Five years on from Brexit, the country’s divisions are nowhere close to being healed.

For all its toxic idiosyncracies, the United States is more likely to be able to weather its current challenges – and perhaps even emerge stronger. That is partly because, unlike Britain, the US has the luxury of having a large and resilient economy. Its inflation trends are nowhere near as severe or persistent as those gripping Britain due to lower worker bargaining power and vast reserves of natural gas.

But Americans also tend to be more honest about their country’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as its strategic mission. Although Washington faces an epic fight to maintain its supremacy in the face of China, the nation’s leaders have realised that it is a fight they will have to win. There is a lively public debate about the policies that might be needed to make that happen, as well as to rescue the US from the succession of blunders that their politicians have inflicted on the country. One of the triumphs of the federal system is that it allows Americans to succeed despite the failures of their leaders. Witness the tech firms fleeing high-tax California for the likes of Texas and Florida.

There also remains a certain confidence in the future. Yes, Americans are morose – and for good reason. But their culture remains intensely practical, infused by a can-do spirit that is present in politics, business and everyday life. Yes, the US might be rocked by a pernicious culture war, but it is also where the “woke” ideology is most effectively being combated, with voters throwing out ultra-progressive politicians who have gone too far.

Americans have also not fallen into post-imperial despair now that they have accepted that their role is not to be the world’s policeman. Indeed, many of them realise that their role instead is to be the model that other countries want to copy. As Joseph Bankoff, the chair of Georgia Tech’s International Affairs school affirmed at a recent conference on technology competition between America and China, “the innovation we most need to work on is our democracy experiment. Because that will determine whether our view of the world continues to be attractive to everybody else.”

Such moments of lucidity elude British elites. Wealthy medium-sized countries like ours face more complex challenges than giants such as America as they struggle to square the circle of how to stay dynamic and open but also resilient to global fluctuations, and also contend with intense competition. 

Many Britons, convinced of the country’s inability to steer itself, would happily devolve this question to the EU. Nor is there much enthusiasm for interrogating our strengths and weaknesses. In their eagerness to blame Britain’s prospects on Brexit, Remainers ignore that Britain has been an economic laggard since at least the financial crisis. Indeed, we are plagued by structural weaknesses that no government has been brave enough to fix for decades. We have prioritised efficiency over resilience to an extreme degree. While we might like to think of ourselves as a startup nation, our companies are woefully risk averse. We lack the patient capital to scale firms, and the entrepreneurial vim to exploit our own inventions. Take graphene, which was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004. But it is China that is patenting applications of the technology and taking it to the mass market. One English scientist I encountered, who had moved from Cambridge to New York, put it to me that while there is “something in the water” at Oxbridge when it comes to academic excellence, the country lacks the enterprising spirit of America where no idea is too radical.

Moreover, while the cliche is that America is exporting its culture war to Britain, when it comes down to it, our country is in many ways more divided. For all the US’s racial and religious tensions, a powerful triad of ideals – liberty, rugged individualism and radical ambition – holds the country together. The romance of the American revolution has seared these values in the historical memory. They have been reified by popular culture, which glamourises the resourceful solitude of the Wild Western frontier and the visceral freedom of the American open road . Even those who resent what they call the “myth” of American freedom – from the Uber drivers who mourn the lack of European-style healthcare to the civil rights veterans who think American liberty is a fraud – are resigned to its potency.

In Britain, such a core identity is lacking. There is no emotional argument for the Union. The country is split between individualists and collectivists, and class snobbery poisons political debate. We do at least have the Queen as a unifying symbol. Otherwise, however, we are painfully bereft of the common values that will become more important amid the radical uncertainty that is likely to characterise the decades to come.

America is galvanised by the terror of losing its superpower status to China. Britain too should be roused by the fear of our own gentle slide into mediocre oblivion. We can turn things around, but we must first confront the severity of the problem.

4 comments

  1. ‘Mi @ Mi’ semella un xogo de palabras para dicir Miami…ou será que o nome vén de dúas propietarias que se chaman Miriam e Micaela, por exemplo. Who knows?

    Like

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