The Malta Independent 4 December 2021, Saturday

The snows of yesteryear

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 25 November 2021, 07:57 Last update: about 10 days ago

Nostalgic for a past which he clearly believed to be better than the present in which he lived, the French poet of the early Renaissance Francois Villon asked in one of his poems... But where have the snows of yesterday gone?

These past months I have increasingly been meeting people... and they were not elderly... who reminded me of Villon’s lament. Generally they would be complaining about how all around us, the countryside is disappearing while the centres of our towns and villages, as well as their suburbs, have become the scene for development at all costs, destroying the character of the places where we live.


To be honest, when I mentioned this to a friend of mine who happens to be a fan of the future, he said: Just let’s not exagerrate. You cannot stop progress and in this country, it can only be achieved on the back of construction activity. Forget about crypto assets and I don’t know what else. After all, where did his weepy poem get Villon? He ended up hanging from a scaffold.

He went on to remind me that in fact, Villon was a hardened robber and a vagabond.



Some believe that it is a fatal mistake in politics to publicly admit having made a mistake over some issue or other. One’s supporters are scandalised and downscale their support. Those who are less in agreement with what one has to say or who are downright adversaries will not commiserate, admire or acknowledge the honesty/transparency which one is displaying. Which means that one gets flak from all directions.

So in this view, the best tactic once a mistake has been committed, no matter how major it is, would be to keep insisting that the right thing was done, but to do one’s best to bury the whole issue as soon as possible. Because people forget...

As of now I still am not so sure which tactic works best. However I have noticed that the practice was and still is that independently of whether one has been in the wrong or not, adversaries will continue to claim that the former is the case.



In the digital world, a controversy rages concerning the information that is extracted and stored by companies like Google about those using their services. With a data base covering huge millions of people, their vast information is made available for targeted advertising that segments users according to the interests and tastes they have given witness to through their online purchases and site visits.

The claim is that with this procedure the major digital companies are invading the privacy of citizens and deploying the information they possess to abusively bolster their own market position.

By contrast, those who defend the practice argue that the big digital companies actually sell the addresses they have with related information to small and medium sized companies for them to carry out their targeted advertising. Without such information, these smes would be completely outplayed by the big companies competing in their sectors of activity. Given this tool, they can advertise efficiently the products and services they output despite the competitive pressures maintained by their larger competitors.

The debate is ongoing.


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