23 June 2022: Covid consequences; Moribund Ciudadanos?; A cheap holiday?; British quirks; New religions; A dog??; & 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’

Covid

Quote: For the vast majority of the world, one would be hard-pressed to find a correlation between the speed and harshness of lockdowns and the excess death rate. But, like the Spanish Civil War, maybe they were inevitable. Except in Sweden.

Next time round??

Meanwhile, see the article below, entitled: Basket-case Britain is the definitive proof lockdown was an epic mistake.

Cosas de España 

Not so long ago, a new centrist political party – Ciudadanos – achieved remarkable immediate electoral success. But, recently, its decline has been as rapid as its rise, witness the loss of all of its seats in the Andalucia regional elections. The party’s leader – undoubtedly beautiful – might not be in office for much longer- assuming the party remains in existence. I confess to not knowing what this means for Spain’s (‘tribal’) politics. Possibly a return to the 2-party system of previous years and continued mud-slinging from one side to the other.

Resident in Spain, retired and interested in having a subsidised holiday here? Click here for the government’s offer. HT to Lenox Napier of Business Over Tapas for this. Note: You might have to be getting a Spanish pension to qualify.

My tax affairs aren’t complex and for 20 years I’ve always filled in the form myself. Last year, though, I was stymied for a while before I could process the form but eventually solved the problem and paid my tax. No such luck this year. The Hacienda has defeated me and I’ve had to pass the challenge to a gestor, whose fee I will just have to regard – like the many motoring fines – as just another tax on life in Spain.

Good news . . . A Spanish shipwreck which inspired a blockbuster Spielberg film has been found off the western coast of the USA – 329 years after it sank without trace. No sign of its very valuable cargo yet. They say.

Traditionally, Spanish Pharmacists have taken a relaxed view on the ban on dispensing prescription products. Or at least some of them have – very possibly for only the less dangerous items. With post-Covid doctors being hard to get, this sort of thing is reported to have increased, as have the fines on pharmacists following a government campaign to stop the practice. I guess if will still help if the pharmacist knows you. Or if, like me, you have a doctor living next door and, like all Spaniards, you’re not averse to seeking a favour.

My post-box yesterday contained a glossy brochure for the Poio right-of-centre PP party. As is the trend, this was entirely in Gallego. Not terribly relevant to me, though, as I was never going to read it. Especially as rumour has it that Brits won’t be allowed to vote in future municipal elections. Even if I do pay income tax at 21% or more.

The UK 

The above-cited article – see below – rather endorses my question of whether any other country is currently faring as badly as the UK – with negative consequences for the pound and my income in euros.

But it’s not all bad news from Britain . . . Thai food is taking over British restaurants. Would that we had just one in Pv! Or Vigo. But the food-conservative locals are averse to anything new. Especially if it’s picante. Or they think it will be. Hence the failure of Korean and Indian restaurants. But not the Chinese restaurants, which all eschew even ginger.

Possibly amusing for non-Brits: I suggest you start at minute 2.10

The Way of the World

In Scotland, a 66-year-old man was told he could not give blood because he refused to say if he was currently pregnant or had been pregnant in the past 6 months. The director of the service said: As a public body, we have a duty to promote inclusiveness. And stupidity, clearly.

Inclusiveness is, of course, one of the new religions that have replaced Christianity for those who still need a faith. We’re all expected to worship on new altars now.

Spanish 

Capullo: 1. The RAE: Un insulto – Una persona estúpida y molesta;  2. The waiter in my morning-coffee café: An asshole.

Colar: One of its many meanings: To sneak up on.

Finally  . . .

Thousands of years ago, humans started to domesticate wolves. And ended up with this:

I’m reluctant to regard it as a dog – since it was scarcely bigger than the pigeon that approached it – but I was impressed that it barked and snarled at a bigger dog. Not that it’d be hard to find one of these. Astonishingly, this creature shares more than 98% of its genes with the wolf. . . .

For new 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.

Welcome to 2 new subscribers  – Old House Projects Guide and fourtytwoweb, neither of whom, I suspect, will read my posts. But I guess it’s good to get 3 new subscribers in a week, Critical mass approaches . . .

THE ARTICLE

Basket-case Britain is the definitive proof lockdown was an epic mistake. The strikes, inflation, decay and incompetence: all are direct costs of the decision to shut down society: Allister Heath, The Telegraph

Why is anybody surprised? You can’t lock down an economy and a society, pay millions of people to do nothing, spend and borrow and print tens of billions of pounds, and expect there to be no consequences, no day of reckoning, no bill to pay.

Britain’s inflationary tsunami, the rail strikes, the chaos at the airports, the incompetence, decay and decline, can all be directly traced to Covid and lockdowns. Even before Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, inflation had already surged uncontrollably, with the consumer price index hitting 6.2 per cent by February.

Do you remember when Boris Johnson promised to put his “arms around every single worker” by financing 80 per cent of their wages? Or when Rishi Sunak subsidised our lunches during that absurd summer? We are now paying for it via a vicious stealth pay cut worth 5-10 per cent in real terms, and a multi-year 15-20 per cent decline in the value of cash.

What would have happened to support for lockdowns had voters been aware that payback would be so prompt, that Johnson’s handouts were a loan with an extortionate rate of interest, not a gift?

The World Health Organisation’s seminal study on excess death rates shows that Britain performed far better than previously thought, beating Germany, Italy and America. Our rate of 109 per 100,000 would have put us 15th out of 28 EU member states had we still been part of that dreadful body.

Yet Sweden, which imposed drastically fewer restrictions, suffered just 56 excess deaths per 100,000, a bit worse than its Nordic neighbours but much better than us. For the vast majority of the world, one would be hard-pressed to find a correlation between the speed and harshness of lockdowns and the excess death rate. (Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China are separate, but in at least three out of four cases their lockdowns came at obscene costs).

Lockdowns did have some benefits but were, on net, a calamity of historic proportions. Some lives were saved, thanks especially to the speed at which the vaccines were rolled-out. But this came at a disproportionate price that was neither acceptable nor moral. A voluntarist Swedish approach would have been immensely preferable, even had more people died. It is a stain on our national polity that we never conducted a proper cost-benefit analysis of lockdowns at the time, and that the establishment refuses to reassess the question honestly today.

Yet those of us who warned of the economic costs of lockdown were dismissed as naive ideologues at best, and mass murderers at worst. Why couldn’t we grasp that the exact same reduction in GDP would have been incurred in the absence of compulsory restrictions on activity, we were asked. The only economic impact from lockdowns and the accompanying economic support would be an increase in the national debt of some 10-15 per cent of GDP, establishment economists would insist. We could easily absorb that, they maintained: interest rates were low and we would pay back the debt over many decades and wouldn’t even notice.

The lockdowners even claimed that Covid had allowed a breakthrough in economic engineering: officials had worked out how to put free market economies into hibernation, to pause activity at will. It was the economics of Sleeping Beauty: the private sector would rebound as soon as Dishy Rishi chose to kiss it back to life again. Hayekians who believed capitalism was a complex, fragile spontaneous order that couldn’t be disrupted with impunity had finally been proved wrong. Even if the economy did find it difficult to continue exactly where it left off, we could simply unleash more QE or Joe-Biden style public spending to fix everything.

It was dangerous, delusional nonsense. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, starting with surging inflation and myriad other unintended consequences. The insane amounts of cash pumped into the economy by zero rates, money printing, furlough, test and trace and subsidised loans chased too few goods, services, homes, shares and cryptocurrencies, pushing prices drastically higher and annihilating central bankers’ credibility.

Supply chains have still not recovered worldwide, the supply of labour has collapsed in many countries, numerous industries, such as airlines, remain dysfunctional, there has been a massive cultural shift in favour of working from home even when bosses believe it to be unsuitable, customer service has regressed 20 years, and all of the hard work to reduce the numbers of those on out-of-work benefits has been set back decades. To add insult to injury, lockdowns were designed to protect the very old at the expense of the young – and now wages are being slashed in real terms, while pensions are rising by some 10 per cent.

Covid and lockdown destroyed this Government, erasing the centre-Right’s greatest opportunity in 40 years to remake Britain. The energy that could have gone into reforming the public sector, or fixing the housing crisis, or making the country more competitive after Brexit went into trying to survive a pandemic. Johnson fell badly ill. The No 10 operation tore itself apart, and the heart of government lost its moral compass, partying while the country was socially isolating. Sunak, a brilliant technician, rebuilt the entire welfare system in just a few weeks to deliver furlough, instead of turning his mind to tax reform or many of the other great free-market ideas he used to relish discussing. The Tories embraced big government, statism and paternalism.

In the absence of a complete Tory relaunch, Labour is now on course to take power. This would count as another grievous cost of lockdown, especially given that the party has also been thoroughly discredited by its approach to Covid. A bogus, destructive ideology had captured much of the Left: they believed in Modern Monetary Theory, which posits that budget deficits don’t matter and that the state should simply print money to pay for whatever it wants. Well, we tried that during Covid, and we now have inflation that is set to hit 11 per cent.

Labour, if it wins, will either trigger a sterling crisis and require an IMF bailout, or will have to rediscover austerity, high interest rates and prudence. Given how fanatically Sir Keir Starmer and his acolytes defended extreme lockdowns, that would at least add an ironic twist to an otherwise nightmarish prospect.

7 comments

  1. I think you will find that in Spain, particularly, you will continue to be able to stand for, and vote for, your local village/town council, regardless of the statement from Brussels earlier. There is a pre-EU agreement between UK and Spain regarding the rights to vote etc.

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  2. My pharmacist will sometimes give me prescription items, especially antibiotic creams. But she will not give me antibiotics in pill form anymore. The problem is, I almost always only take them for a urinary tract infection. And that’s the sort of illness where you know exactly what you have and what you need, and going to the doctor seems a waste of time just to pick up a paper.

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  3. We have three Thai restaurants in Coruña. And I think the Japanese restaurant, run by a Chinese fellow is still going. There is a multitude of Chinese restaurants. I have tried most of them, and won’t be going back to any.
    Luckily, there is a Chinese supermarket, with a lot of great stuff – Thai curry pastes, a huge assortment of noodles, a dozen brands of soy, and chilli sauces, korean bbq marinade and and and. It is probably the only time I enjoy a supermarket visit.
    I have also become very adept at making Thai curries, sweet & sour & chow mein.
    I follow a you tube channel called School Of Wok. Highly recommended.

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  4. Yes, I’d heard there were a couple in La C and 1 or 2 in Vigo, We are deprived in the capital city of Pv province, tho’ we do have the only Moroccan restaurant in Galicia, I think.And v good it is too. I am their best client, tho rather taken for granted these days,. Which is the way of the world . . . Our nearest Chinese a’market is in Vigo. Pv city is a very pretty but provincial place. C.

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  5. Thanks, Perry.

    I don’t understand why I have to approve some of your comments. Maybe those with links,

    C.

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