Friday, August 16, 2013

#DistrustCarpenters: Balearics Twitter economics

Twitter is an odd old thing. So is Facebook. Where you once might have had a grievance with someone and dealt with it by slagging that person off down the pub to a group of mates who were probably less than interested in what you had to say, you now go to social media. If you are a complete idiot, and it is almost a pre-requisite of using social media that you are, you will bombard your status with bile, vitriol and expletives, the target of this malevolence being the one with whom you have a grievance. When it goes too far, and it often does, you may find yourself suspended from the relevant network or, worse, find plod knocking on your door or a summons for defamation being issued.

There is, though, an alternative approach to social media Tourette's. It is the one that doesn't actually address directly the grievance or the one with whom you have a grievance. It is more subtle, more obscure, less likely to be libellous or hate-filled, and, in many ways, more effective.

Josep (Pep) Ignasi Aguiló is the former Balearics minister for employment, business and finance. He lost his job when President Bauzá shuffled the chairs around the cabinet table in May. On the first of that month, all was hunky-dory. He tweeted that he was at the opening of the Palma boat show with his Twitter friend @JRBauza. There was no other entry until 13 May; after he had been dismissed. "I have not been in politics for ambition. Power in itself has never interested me. Sincere thanks." He added a couple more anodyne comments in the wake of his dismissal and then, on 13 June, changed tack. He went on the offensive but in a veiled fashion. "Medicine saves people. Good economic theory does too." 

Aguiló also made references to improvements in the Balearic economy (attributable, one presumes, to his handling) before a few days ago coming out with this: "Always distrust the carpenter who blames the hammer for a bad result". It is a variant on a poor workman who blames his tools.

Aguiló's @PepAguilo aphorisms have aroused some discussion as well as tweeting responses. Who exactly is the carpenter? Is there no longer good economic theory? It doesn't take a doctorate in economics (which Aguiló has) to figure out who the carpenter is and that the bad result stems from less good economic theory, but there is a flaw in Aguiló's apothegm; he is speaking in the present tense rather than the future. The improvements about which he had tweeted will take time to unravel without him at the economic helm and with the carpenter let loose with a ruddy great hammer to destroy all his good work.

The carpenter, though Aguiló in suitably enigmatic style has not named him, is, one has to conclude, his old friend @JRBauza. But by not explicitly naming him, Aguiló makes as much of a headline as if he had said "always distrust a bloody useless president - @JRBauza - who is making a total pig's ear of things". Aguiló could have been more explicit by dropping the carpenter motif and saying "always distrust the pharmacist (which is what @JRBauza is when not being president, though he might, for the purposes of the Balearics High Court, deny this) who blames medicine for a bad result. It would have been clearer, but it would have also compromised his earlier tweet-aphorism, the one about medicine saving people. Or, now one thinks about it, was that earlier tweet also meant to have been a dig at @JRBauza?

Though various "sources" believe that @PepAguilo has gone for the jugular of @JRBauza by tweeting his carpentry axiom, it doesn't come across as the mad rant of one who would pick up a carpenter's saw and remove the head of the head of the government. It is, one guesses, Aguiló's way of, some weeks after getting the boot, voicing his displeasure. I'm not surprised. A victim of the cabinet musical chairs, Aguiló would have had every right to have felt aggrieved that he was being hung out to dry for what was clearly a factor in his removal - the hugely unpopular proposal for green taxes. That these were swiftly dropped (at least for the time being) after Aguiló had gone hinted that they were taxes he, and he alone, had devised. Of course he did; @JRBauza would not have had any say in them.

The reason for Aguiló's dismissal was transparent to all but the blindest of @JRBauza followers, but though it was a crude way of attempting to deflect criticism and to bolster support by the president, Aguiló couldn't really have had too much to complain about. "Good economic theory" saves people. Perhaps it does, but whoever said that putting a tax on bottles of water was a good economic theory?

Any comments to please.

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