Madrid in Crisis 1

Finally the great month of vacation has come to this country, and I have decided to stay inMadridto keep an eye on things here so that nothing happens to the city while everyone else is in charge of going to the beaches, the mountains and other parts of the nation.  We are collaborating.  Teamwork is important.  And I’m doing it for free.

       On the local front, things are looking so-so, “así así” as they say in Spanish.  We all know that the situation here is critical, even though everyone here is doing their best to ignore it.  You can tell from their “this isn’t happening” faces as they go out to dinner and try to go one with the lives they have always known.  Draghi, the ECB guy who announced the other day, paraphrasing, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right”, triggered a massive celebration among the people who buy and sell shares.  You’d think they had won the Eurocup Soccer tournament again.  That was until asked how it was going to take care of things and there was this long silence, followed by some nervous coughing.

         Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain, was trying to go with the momentum and has said the results of the Olympic Games would help to return some happiness to Spain, just the way the Eurocup had.  A joy necessary in these rocky times.  A medal or two could do us some good.  15 or 20 would be ideal.  We’ll see what happens because as of August 1, that was the fifth day of competition, this country is what the country actually has harvested to date:

            Gold: 0

            Silver: 0

            Bronze: 0

            Diplomas: A handful

          There you have it.  That’s a lot of cheerfulness, I tell you.

        Plus, there have been signs that the future does not look too bright.  The soccer team got booted in the first round, losing to none other than middle powers of the likes of Japan and Honduras.  We all know that the fact it’s a sub-23 tournament removes both prestige and caliber, but still, it wasSpain’s first big bow out in some time.

         I still don’t understand why they even bother holding making soccer an Olympic sport if they put an age restriction on participation.  Every other sport is represented by the best players in the World.  Why should we have to settle for something less here?  Well, we shouldn’t.  It’s totally worthless and probably a concession to the international football federation.

       Worst was the loss in water polo, where the outcome brought back memories of theSpainof old, when everything went wrong no matter how unfair it was.  In this match,Spainfired off a game-tying goal in the final seconds only to have the referee say it wasn’t a score.  The line judge gave it to Spain, the entire arena watched it go in on replay, but the umpire didn’t budge.  Oh well, same old story.

        I went outside to go running in the park but stopped to see a group of medical staff from the local children’s hospital and what looked like military personnel stopping traffic on the main street and complaining about the administration’s cutting back on spending.

      That’s what is happening in Spain.  The government is trying to reduce spending to bring its debt problem under control, and they are making the people like us pay for it.  And I haven’t even gotten to the part about raising taxes.   Whereas everyone is starting to say that fiscal austerity is not the road to recovery, but run away debt doesn’t help either.  Just what has gotten Spain to this point where it is the International scourge of bull markets?  What is the reality of the crisis here?  Why does life look unsettlingly normal?  I’ll be looking in this all and reporting back.  BUt I’ll be talking about other things, because there are other things to be talked about.  I think you’d agree.

          First, though, I went running and got some tension burned off before the sun did the work for me.  In Madrid, the weather pattern is pretty straightforward.  It is sunny and hot every day.  The only variant is the temperature.

         I wish I was a weatherman in this city.  They have the easiest job in the world.  All they have to do is say that it’s going to be sunny and read the number indicating the temperature.  They’ll say, “It going to rise to 100º today, then dip to 96º tomorrow; on Friday it might go back up to 98º and on Saturday, it’s a scorcher, daytime high of 103º.  But be careful; on Sunday expect temperatures to plunge to 92º.”  There is certainly no crisis there.

          I made it through my run.  It wasn’t easy.  It was my first time in ten days and 90º is never a good temperature jog in.  Almost threw up in the bushes behind the kids’ playground, but held it in.   That was good.  Kids don’t need to see or hear the hardships of low-level exercise.

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