Monday, March 31, 2008

Yearly inflation in Spain hit 4.6% in March, the highest rate since 1997. Oil and food prices are to blame. The ECB's goal was a maximum of 2% inflation in 2008. Looks like that ain't gonna happen.

Get this. Clickair, Iberia's low-cost airline, forgot that we changed to daylight savings time last weekend, so a bunch of passengers missed their flights. Unfortunately, this kind of complete screwup (called a "chapuza" in Spanish) is all too common over here. One of the best things about Spain is that it's a low-stress, laid-back country, but sometimes we can get a little too laid-back around here.

Meanwhile, Clickair and Vueling, another low-cost airline, are planning a merger in order to reduce costs and competition; this will mean even fewer flights out of El Prat, since duplicates will obviously be eliminated. I think the antitrust authorities ought to look into this. This fad of adding an -ing on the end of a Spanish word to make it look more international or something (Vueling, Bicing, etc.) has got to stop now.

Alarmist Andy Robinson gets the first two pages of La Vanguardia's international section to wax nostalgic for the good old USSR. Says Andy:

Draconian drug prohibition and absolute permissiveness for all business and financial activities. This is a good summary of the global agenda of the United States and the G-7 in the '80s and '90s, accelerated after the fall of the Soviet Union...Simultaneously, the Anglo-American model of financial liberalization, deregulating enormous capital flows, was exported, while teams of economists from Chicago landed in the former USSR and its satellites...Prohibitionism has helped the gangsters almost as much as laissez-faire...Because of all this, "it is not crazy to think that instead of prohibiting drugs and permitting the free circulation of capital, we should do just the opposite," said criminologist Michael Woodiwiss of the University of Bristop. "Strict regulations over the financial markets should be applied." The Americans should know this: "During Prohibition of alcohol and financial permissiveness, crime was endemic." What put an end to it was not Elliot (sic) Ness, but the regulation of the market, the creation of the FBI, and in general the social policies of Roosevelt's New Deal.

1) Iberian Notes completely agrees with Andy that the prohibition of drugs is the biggest mistake the American government is currently making. 2) Andy doesn't seem to understand that US foreign policy is not coherent over time; it depends greatly on who the president is, and so the US does not have a global agenda. Much less the G-7, made up of seven different elected governments including France and Italy. That lot can't agree on what's for dinner, much less a big secret global plan to let the Jewish-American financial powers that be run rampant.

3) He doesn't seem to understand, either, that today's Russian mafia is yesterday's KGB, and that the old USSR was an incredibly corrupt place. The Americans prohibit people from buying intoxicating drugs; the USSR prohibited people from buying most of the things they needed or wanted. Which form of prohibition is going to create a bigger black market? 4) Laissez-faire is a straw man. No government has ever pursued a complete laissez-faire policy; all governments have regulated the market ever since governments have existed. The question is not whether to regulate, but how much.

5) Andy doesn't know dick-squat about American history. The alcohol business was merely one of many that organized crime was involved in, the FBI didn't get into the struggle against organized crime until the '50s and it wasn't very effective until the late '70s, and the social policies of the New Deal had absolutely nothing to do with the Mafia. Duh.

In contrast to the usual wishful-thinking wet dream periodically published in the Spanish press about the decline of the "American Empire," to be replaced by Europe or China or even the Arab states, Joaquim Coello, billed as an engineer, writes in El Periodico:

The decline of the United States is not inevitable. It will be proven again that the principles of democracy, freedom, and equality of the citizens have power and strength, and despite their faults, they are superior to any other political system. The superiority of the United States's political structure, based on the principles of the Declaration of Independence of 1776, will be demonstrated one more time.

I've never seen anything like this in the Spanish press before.

Barça choked again big-time Saturday night, losing 3-2 to Betis after going ahead 0-2 on goals by Bojan and Eto'o. They played well in the first half and just horribly in the second, and as soon as Betis scored its first goal, everybody in the bar groaned because we knew the game was over and Barça was going to blow it again. Iniesta and Bojan were by far the best Barça players.

I think we need to stop speculating about who's going to be sold during the off-season, and start wondering who's going to stay. I'd keep Iniesta, Xavi, Messi, Bojan, Eto'o, Valdés, Jorquera, Giovani dos Santos, Touré, and Milito, and get rid of the rest of them, including Puyol, who is washed-up.

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