What I Learned on My Vacation

April 02, 2007 by susan
King George

She's Baaaack!

Well, sort of. Jimfest wonders why take a spring break if I get so blue when I return. Well, we do lots of things for pleasure that leave us a bit melancholy when they come to an end, that's why. And, as Babs has noted, the weather here doesn't help, though today the sun is trying to peek through, adding a silvery glare to the monochromatic muck all around us. It's inspiring me to go remove the winter garland, which now looks like the under-arm fur of an orangutan, from our long corner fence.
But first, a light load of wash. It gets better, read on.

In Key West there are lots of museums featuring the history of the area, from the literary bad (and not so bad) boys and girls who called it home, to the salvaging of shipwrecks which provided its early wealth.

In the more commercial, yet info-packed, museum dedicated to Mel Fisher's successful quest to find the Atocha, the treasure-laden Spanish galleon that sank in 1622, I came across a plaque describing what was happening to the Spanish empire at that time.

I've copied it in below. Anyone else get that -- sinking feeling?

Spain was seemingly at the peak of its power in 1622. After years of virtually unimpeded commerce with the American colonies, widespread control of much of Europe, and the possession of a distant but influential colony in the Philippines, Spain was easily the most powerful nation on earth.

But trouble was looming. Wars with emerging or rebellious
European territories seemed never-ending and English and Dutch privateers preyed on Spanish ships. In 1618, the Thirty Years War began, which pitted Catholic against Protestant in the German states. Spain strongly supported the Catholic cause with money and troops. Also, Spain had a large noble and aristocratic class who commanded huge incomes, but, to no one's advantage but their own, were exempt from taxation.

The steady flow of silver from America made it easy to believe that the good times would never end. The reality was that the Spanish crown was spending more than it was bringing in. Foreign creditors, mostly bankers from Italy and Germany, filled the gap, and kept the crown afloat. These creditors were also the first in line when the treasure galleons arrived in Seville, and they took much of it out of the country almost immediately. For all it was worth, the sliver's economic benefits were felt elsewhere other than Spain.

Though it had an unrivalled, shining outward appearance, economically, Spain was rotting on the inside, and would soon begin to crumble. The disaster of 1622 only served to speed this process.

At least they didn't take the whole globe down with them.

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Comments

Babs (not verified) | April 2, 2007 - 8:19pm

Hey, welcome back, Ms. Susan. Tan and rested and serene. Ah, vacation bliss.

That thing in the piece above about Spain rotting on the inside? That made my guts clench. Because I am so fearful that is the true legacy of the Bushies. When the massive debris of this administration has been cleared away, the rotten-to-the-core ugliness will be fully revealed. And I suspect it surpasses anything even the most cynical among us could possibly imagine.

Pick a metaphor, any metaphor. Gangrene comes to mind. Spreading and putrefying every vital thing in its path. Okay, that was gross. But so are the Bushies.

I believe I need a vacation. Soon.

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susan | April 2, 2007 - 11:23pm

Well, how about this part: "Spain had a large noble and aristocratic class who commanded huge incomes, but, to no one’s advantage but their own, were exempt from taxation."
Okay, the syntax is a bit dicey, but, tax cuts for the uber rich anyone? Off shore accounts for Halliburton et al?
There's so much that's familiar here, which is, of course, why I posted it.
Vacations help, especially if you eschew news and the internet. But then you come back and -- you know.

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Barb (not verified) | April 3, 2007 - 10:56am

Welcoming the newest country to the Third World community: United States of America.

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