Saturday, February 27, 2010
Lost Opportunity in Romania
Talk to any Romanian, or at least any of the many Romanians I have talked with, and all will tell you that Romania is a land of lost opportunities. The reason for the loss of those opportunities, most believe, is corruption, which has long been an issue in Romania. The Romanian people believe that their politicians are feathering their own nests rather than investing in the future of the country. Romanians believe that any politician can be--and is--bought, and so nothing improves.
The clearest lost opportunity is in agriculture. It is clearest because the problem can be glimpsed during any intercity train ride.
Romania is blessed with large spreads of fertile land. Farming techniques are charmingly antiquated; shepherds still stand watch over their flocks, sometimes resting one booted foot against the other while leaning on a walking stick. Horse-drawn wagons are a normal sight; carriage wheels criss-cross the tracks of rabbits in the snow.
Which raises an obvious question: Where are the tractors? The seeders? The harvesters and other tools familiar to all FarmVille players?
Yes, it's winter, and in winter there is not a lot of planting or harvesting to be observed. But Romanians will tell you that things don't change in spring or summer. Wikipedia has some footnoted citations about agriculture in Romania regarding the relative scarcity of tractors and the agedness of the equipment currently in use.
Romanians speak of the richness of the soil with pride, as if it were a gift from God. They feel that gift is being squandered by their politicians. It's preventing Romania from moving forward. It's sacrilege.