Friday, 24 January 2020

Thinking about dragons,

Documents have been signed today making our leaving the EU official. It seems to have been very quiet. Some people are saving it up for next Friday when they will have a bit of a celebration. Others are just getting on with life as ever. Life has to continue after all.

In China they are desperately trying to control the outbreak of Coronavirus. And we are all wondering how far around the world the virus has spread/is spreading. Is this the way the world is going to end? A nasty virus which has spread from animals to people? Rather like a science fiction story.

Closer to home, my daughter and her partner had been planning to take their half-Chinese offspring into Manchester on Sunday to watch the Chinese New Year processions. Now they have separately come to the conclusion that there is an outside chance that someone unknowingly incubating the virus could have flown from the stricken part of China and ended up in Manchester. They don’t want to risk their small offspring.This year’s New Year celebrations, therefore, are going to be rather more low key.

Consequently I have been recruited to crochet rats (the coming year is the Year of the Rat) for the two small people. It’s amazing what you can do with the crochet method known as amigurmi! I may be making a rod for my own back as my daughter now says she would like to initiate a tradition within her family of presenting the children with a toy version of the animal whose year is about to start.

I am quite fond of traditions though and so I went out to lunch today with an old friend to celebrate my birthday tomorrow. We’ll do the same for hers in April. This is our tradition. Amazingly, nobody said a word about Burns Night!

But we won’t be going into Manchester to see the Chinese dragon. Now, unlike the Chinese dragon which, as far as I can tell simply dances, dragons in more western folk tales are traditionally hoarders. In these old stories dragons sit on their hoard of gold and treasure, not doing anything with it, simply admiring its beauty and brilliance. As I read some statistics this morning it struck me that modern dragons are the billionaires who stack their momey on tax havens. Here we go:-

  •  “A couple thousand billionaires now hold more than half the world’s wealth and with it, much of the power to change things – or to block change.”
  •  “An estimated 10 to 12% of the world’s wealth is hidden in a maze of offshore secrecy jurisdiction, trusts and shell companies.” 
  •  “A recent IMF study estimates that 40% of foreign direct investment – about $15tn – passes through “empty corporate shells” with “no real business activities”. 
So, like the dragons, their wealth is not really doing anything. It’s just sitting there. Do these rich men sit and look gleefully at their bank statements? I wonder!

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