Monday, January 23, 2012

Rainy Day Irony

Maybe I should put a weather gadget on my blog with the forecast for my area. That way you can see when it was likely to rain -- in other words, when it’s likely I’ll write.

I watched Fareed Zakaria this morning. A very informative show as always. The one I’m going to write about (at least to start with) is the one I find the most ironic.

Zakaria: Post-Communist lessons for the new Middle East

”As Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya transition from dictatorship to democracy, you'd think they'd look to America as a model for their new governments. But they don't. America is still too controversial in the Arab world.”

”Where is this new city on a hill?

Take a look at the man landing at the airport in Tunis, Tunisia: It's Lech Walesa. He's the man whose actions 30 years ago in the Gdansk shipyard in Poland helped cause Communism to crumble across Eastern Europe. Walesa was in Tunisia to pass on the lessons he had learned.”

For those too young to remember -- or so old they forgot -- Lech Walesa was the leader of a union named Solidarity. A labor union supported by none other than Ronald Reagan. And the Pope. From Wikipedia:

”US President Ronald Reagan imposed economic sanctions on Poland, which eventually would force the Polish government into liberalizing its policies. Meanwhile the CIA together with the Catholic Church and various Western trade unions such as the AFL-CIO provided funds, equipment and advice to the Solidarity underground. The political alliance of Reagan and the Pope would prove important to the future of Solidarity.”

Yes, this was during the same period in which Ronald Reagan fired the PATCO controllers. Yes, trade unions (anti-capitalist, socialist thugs that they are) helped cause the collapse of Soviet Communism. The world didn’t make any more sense back then than it does now. It is not nice and neat. Never has been. Never will be.

If you’ll read (or watch) the article, you’ll see another important economic lesson that Krugman harps on constantly. Poland’s ability to devalue its currency has helped keep it competitive. They have not suffered a recession like the rest of the world. So, naturally, they want to get on the euro. You can make this stuff up.

”The irony is Warsaw continues to see its destiny as being tied to the common currency. More than half its exports go to the EU - a majority of it to Germany, its main trading partner. Poles reason that being part of the same currency would encourage foreign direct investment in Poland. ”

Irony is not a recent invention. But it never goes out of style.

Don Brown
January 23, 2012

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