Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Can Ruti hospital in Badalona is on fire, though authorities say it's under control. It was very smoky and quite impressive-looking. Three floors were evacuated. Sure seems like a lot of weird stuff has been happening around here lately, what with cave-ins and blackouts and fires. Maybe the indignant Catalanists have a point--it sure does seem like local infrastructure is getting worse. You can't blame only the central goverment, though; the regional and local governments deserve their fair share of the blame.

For example: The AVE screw-up: the Generalitat and the municipalities forced a solution that nobody liked and that is turning out to suck. The extension of the N-II to Lleida: it took like seven years for the municipalities to get around to approving the route. The Eix Transversal: they decided to build a brand-new road where there had never been one before between Lleida and Girona. Great idea, but they didn't make it four-lane divided limited access. The airport: That's the fault of everybody involved, including the Greens, who got all worked up about the wetlands in the Llobregat delta. C'mon, people, I'm all in favor of conservation, and wetlands are important, but when they're right in the way of expanding your airport, well, there's a trade-off there. The economic benefit is much greater than the environmental loss.

And, of course, so much money is wasted around here on crap like institutional advertising and re-numbering all the roads and buying thousands of newspaper subscriptions and keeping TV3 in business with its massive debt and the Forum and digging subway tunnels through soil you haven't even bothered to consult a geological survey of and subsidizing movies in Catalan that will never be seen, that they could probably build a tower all the way to the moon with the squandered loot.

Can you believe that Conrad Son gets tax money to make porno movies in Catalan? That makes just no sense whatsoever. I mean, seriously. Subsidizing porn? I thought porn was one of those sectors where investors are 100% private. And often have surnames that end in vowels.

Speaking of TV3, a Socialist deputy has suggested privatizing it, which is one of the best ideas I've ever heard. A Socialist who wants to privatize government television! Wonders will never cease. Of course, the Socialists are pissed off at TV3 because they've failed to take control of it; TV3 still has a very distinct Catalan nationalist bias. Evidence: The publicity they gave the nationalist-backed demonstration a couple of weeks ago.

The deputy, Manel Mas, told La Vanguardia, that in order to become the market leader, "TV3 must open up socially and accept linguistic and ideological reality, which the nationalist world tries to hide by making it seem that it doesn't exist. The greatest contradiction for a public media outlet is the existence of a single line of thinking in a complex and diverse society. It is evident that wishing for pluralist public media outlets, beyond nationalism, is an impossible dream at our house. If we're going to think in market terms, why not privatize TV3?"

The EU says that new housing starts in Spain are going to drop from about 750,000 now to about 500,000 by 2010, basically because there is now a new housing glut and prices are beginning to fall. I keep up with the real estate classifieds, and my highly uneducated guess is that prices are down by about 25% off their high about a year ago.

Today's campaign promise: PP leader Mariano Rajoy offers an €150 a month increase in retirement pensions, which sounds acceptable to me; if we're going to pass out public money, much better give it to old people who have worked hard than to porno film directors.

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