Back in Madrid I see Spain is back to normal. The weekend saw the PP organise another Controversy of Valladolid to debate the party’s future. Rajoy comes across as a Sepulveda advocating slavery – of workers – and serfdom – to the bankers – but there does not seem to be any Bartolomé de Las Casas to protect the interests of the people. And the absence of Jaime ‘Big Ear’ and Aznar cast a shadow over the event.
Spain faces a tough winter of discontent over issues such as the ongoing political crisis with Catalonia, discord over the Parot Doctrine and freedom for ETA terrorists, Gallardon’s abortion bill with opposition now extending to several European countries, judges attacking their colleagues over the indictment of establishment personalities etc etc. Gallardon’s abortion law is a perfect example of politicians taking decisions without consulting those who it affects and ignoring the views of the people, in this case women. The good news was the common sense victory of the medical profession with public support over the Madrid Regional Authority’s plans to privatise the hospitals. Can González survive another setback after the climb down over Eurovegas?
Davos came and went almost unnoticed. Perhaps the 1% of the world preferred to maintain a low profile implying it is worried about the growing inequality in wealth which is creating concern throughout the world. I noticed that Ana Botella went although it is not sure if she gate crashed or was invited. Anyway she probably had a nice coffee with Swiss chocolate to warm her up before making a speech which nobody seems to have heard.
The disclosure over the corrupt practices of China’s privileged elite, accused of holding billions of dollars in the Virgin Islands, was a wonderful scoop for investigative journalists even if it upset China’s ruling class. It could lead to a Chinese spring roll. Football too has been seen as an industry where opaque, mysterious deals and tax evasion is endemic with clubs, agents and players all involved. And spare a thought for poor Santander. While the likes of Ronaldo and Messi earn millions, Santander’s players have not been paid for months.
Could this be the beginning of a domino effect with many clubs almost bankrupt or only surviving due to Hacienda not forcing them to pay their tax debts.
Talking of Santander, Señor Botín has announced an almost doubling of profits for the bank, most of it coming from overseas. Nevertheless something must be wrong with our societies when the financial sector is making so much money while small companies cannot get loans, millions are unemployed and 2-3 million Spanish children live in poverty.
It is all proof that the global economy and proliferation of tax havens have been a god send to the richest families and corporations in every country who are, and have been, shifting their wealth offshore and evading taxes for years. It was interesting to listen to Hervé Falciani explaining on CadenaSER how the tax collectors are being obstructed in their work to bring tax evaders to justice. Until corruption and tax evasion can be eliminated and the wall of money returned to each country’s treasury departments, there can be no real reduction in the inequality and injustice, which is slowly destroying the fabric of our societies.
Tax is on the agenda everywhere and it is inexplicable that each European State still attempts to introduce measures unilaterally when it is clear that in the global economy it is like pushing back the tide. There has to be European cooperation and harmonisation of tax regimes to level the playing field as well as some form of cap on boardroom earnings while increasing wages for the lowest paid workers. But any European agreement seems to be unlikely as we have seen by the shelving of plans to separate retail and investment banking. The bank lobbies win again.
Despite Spain’s chronic unemployment problem there is injustice in the treatment of individuals and corporations by banks. The Government has failed in its promise and is still allowing banks to continue with foreclosures putting more families on the street when their arrears often do not exceed €100000. This contrasts with the practically bankrupt Spanish real estate developers with billions of Euros in debt, which are able to renegotiate terms, obtain lengthy repayment periods and even miss repayment dates, while the directors continue to receive high remuneration packages as if nothing has happened; one law for the rich, another for the poor.
This also applies to the construction groups who are crying over the lack of paying motorists on the Madrid radial toll motorways and want the Government to bail them out after having invested an estimated €4billion. This fiasco is a result of the corruption and connivance between politics and business interests. But surely this was a miscalculation on their part and as private companies they should pay for their own lack of commercial judgement.
A thought for Italy as it said goodbye to FIAT, which has moved its HQ to Holland and its tax regime to one of Europe’s leading tax havens – England! The end of an era. If Italy’s automobile workers survive a cull, they will probably become cheap workers for another global corporation?
Did you see Obama’s state of the union address? A beautifully delivered speech lasting over an hour with a message for everybody, especially the Republicans. His main concern is creating “jabs” for American workers. I copied this image of Brutus behind Caesar? I would also like to mention poor Prince Felipe, who suffered another delay on his flight to the Caribbean while rumours circulate over his private life. Perhaps it is time to change the name of the national carrier. (I may have already sent this image). Finally I leave you with Francois Hollande, who is taking special precautions to avoid being recognised on his motorbike trips around Paris.