Sunday, June 17, 2012

Spanish Infantry Develop Rocket Arm

Remember Laban's trip to Asturias this time last year ?

"I really am surprised there's not mass civil disobedience. Their 1930s forebears - right or left - wouldn't have stood for it."
And our tour of the industrial valleys ?

As you drive up the AS117 through Langreo to San Martin, you could be in the Swansea Valley or Vale of Neath - in the days when the factories were still open.
It felt like early 60s South Wales - a main road and a railway along the valley, houses clustered above where the valley was wide and crammed in where it wasn't, factories below.

At San Martin, we passed the Pozo Soton coal mine and the Galva Zinc plant. The former is now the centre of what looks like a rerun of the 1984-5 UK miners strike.

Mining has been a key element in the local economy in the provinces of Asturias and Leon for centuries. Many miners fear that government plans to reduce subsidies from 300m euros (£242m; $376m) to 110m euros will doom their industry.

Spanish coal miners armed with homemade rockets and slingshots have clashed with police over the country's austerity measures. They fired on the officers in El Entrego near Oviedo close to the mine 'El Soton' which has been hit by cutbacks in coal subsidies. Strikes, road blockades and mine sit-ins have hit 40 pits as 8,000 workers in northern Spain continued their protests.

(incidentally, I note that the Mail's coverage is much superior to the BBCs, and that you'll search the left Brit blogs in vain for a mention of this story)

Two points. I'm not at all opposed to subsidies in the right place and time. The pre-Euro Spanish government managed to keep the mines going without bankrupting itself. La vrai France, so beloved of the English, the France of small family farms and little towns full of real shops, is a product of tariff and subsidy - and long may it remain so.

And rocketry - those photographs brought back memories of a much more irresponsible Laban, and of "battles" between student houses fought across streets from attic windows. It's surprising how accurate a tube-launched rocket can be - but when launching from indoors the loader also needs to have a paper plate or similar handy, to block the rear of the tube - otherwise the room soon fills with smoke, and the sparks can set things ablaze. Just ask Mario Balotelli. 


asdf said...

"the France of small family farms and little towns full of real shops, is a product of tariff and subsidy ..."

SO I am forced to pay for goods and services that I don't want -- why else are they subsidized -- and I am not allowed to purchase what I do want. It makes a mockery of my labor. Why is that ever a good idea?

Laban said...

Alas, in a democracy where the government spends 45% of GDP we all pay for things we don't want. It's just that the things we don't want differ from one person to another.

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